Georgetown, KY - I don’t have a lot of experience with bicycling clubs. As a matter of fact, I have been a member of only one. Last year was my first year in the Bluegrass Cycling Club. But in all reality, 2013 was my real first year. And it was an incredible experience. What made it incredible? That is a simple answer: the cyclists. For my first 1-1/2 years as a cyclist, riding consisted of the Masher and me meeting on Pocahontas and catching as many miles as we could fit into our schedules. Throw in an organized ride somewhere in the Eastern US and we were having a blast. We caught rides in Alabama, North Carolina, Florida and all over Kentucky. If this was cycling, I loved it. (The picture above is of me and the Masher: at a much larger weight. This is the official before picture. You must stay tuned to future posts to see the after picture.)
But something happened last year. Our life schedules changed and catching rides together became harder. And I started a bad habit: excuse making. If it was cold – cancel the ride. If it was too hot – cancel the ride. If the wind was blowing – no way. Threat of rain – not me. So in 2012, after riding 2500 miles in 2011 (my first full cycling season) I managed only 1600 miles. And that was on a goal of 4000 miles. In addition, I had begun a 5-year spiritual/educational program that took me back to my college days of studying and writing papers, away from the bike. So while I was happy in life, I was miserable in my cycling/health quest. i was not progressing.
2013 did not start any better. January, February and March brought more excuses and only 8 rides and 85 miles. I had hoped to ride the Kentucky Century Challenge – Redbud, Horsey, Preservation and OKHT. Redbud and Preservation were out due to conflicts with class. Horsey was out due to my youngest son’s high school graduation. Motivation to ride the bike = unplugged . No big ride meant no sense in riding. Then something happened: the Masher was killing the bike and getting into the best shape I had ever witnessed. Redbud, Horsey, AOMM, and hundreds of miles of distance and thousands of feet of climbing. That’s what I wanted. But how can I get it when my ride partner and I were on vastly different schedules and training levels? Easy answer – club rides.
I decided in May that things had to change. So I started what I called Renaissance 2.0. I was going to focus not just on riding the bike but riding it with a purpose. I was going to get faster and stronger and lose weight to get to 222 lbs. I wanted to be able to ride 20 mph over 20 miles.
I had been riding the Tuesday Georgetown Club ride regularly. But that was not going to be enough. So on May 2, I took a chance and drove 13 miles to Russell Cave Elementary and experienced my second club ride venue. It became a regular ride for me the rest of the year. And it was a great place to ride and continue to build on the friendships I made at Gtown. AS I started to build my miles in May (240) and June (260), I needed to add some more venues. But I needed to add a trick to my bag.
I am not a boy scout, but I love the motto of always be prepared. So I started something that has proven invaluable: take your bike with you everywhere you go. In June I started to do just that by keeping my bike in the back of my car with my riding bag (clothes and gear) everyday. And that is what opened the door to more venues. I went on a Nonesuch ride where I did not know a soul. Great ride. Versailles Sunday club ride: check. July brought 350 miles. Bluegrass Bike Partners ride also took me out of my comfort zone but now I was meeting and riding with some great people. Add in some non-club rides in Louisville (Ironman test ride) with club members and continuing as many Tuesday and Thursday night club rides as schedule and weather allowed. August (403) went by in a blur.
Then it all came together. Sept started with one of the hardest rides I have ever done: OKHT. But what made it special is starting with the Masher and some other great friends and finishing to see two other club members there to cheer me across the line. More club rides and another club -sponsored century on the Little Miami Trail and September led to a PR on monthly miles: 490.
When October started, I noticed I was moving up the club miles chart. I set a goal: Top 50. And I kept riding: Tues, Thurs and Sat. At the end of the month I even threw in a Masterson Station ride for the first time. October also gave me two “A” rides – a first. All I can say is WOW. Riding fast in a group is a simple thrill that I want. Its like a drug. So I am hooked. Not just on cycling. But on the one thing that can push you beyond your limits to be a better cyclist: the Club Ride.
(As of this writing I have 2414.23 miles of which 1634 were BCC miles. Two months left in the year and I have set a year end goal of 3000 total miles. I believe if the BCC website is correct I have achieved top 50 in club miles. My weight is 232, 10 lbs from my goal. I am inching closer to averaging 20 mph on a 20 mile ride. So there is still work to do.)
Special thanks to Kevin ” KP the Masher” Pearl for getting me into cycling and pushing me to achieve more than I thought was possible and introducing me to the BCC. Also thanks to all the BCC members who have helped me towards my personal goals especially Linn L , Mark B and Tim M who have ridden more miles with me than anyone this year. Thanks to all of the ride leaders who give freely of their time, especially Fran B – who in my opinion is “the most awesomeness” of ride leaders! Thanks to Bena H. for that ride in Sept where you pulled me to a speed that I didn’t think was possible. I call that the Ricky Bobby ride because after that all I want to do is go fast. And to my newest cycling friends Rusty A and Gene F: your cycling futures are unlimited. Thanks to my Ironman friends (who are also club members): Stephanie A, Courtney G and Mark R for inspiring me to aim high, achieve beyond perceived limits and to never give up. And to all the other un-named club members I have encountered this year. Thank you for your wheel at times, an encouraging word or a simple smile.
BCC Club Members: your actions move people forward in life. Keep spinning and keep rolling.