When I first began to cycle, I used excuses as my motivation to ride. One excuse was that I didn’t spend much time with my father, “Pops,” and since he was into cycling, I thought this would be a great way of bridging the gap. A second excuse was my fitness, or at this time, my lack there of. As a former multi-sport athlete in high school, and a U.S. Marine with a completed contract, I seemed to have lost good reason to stay in shape, and now I longed for the return of my athletic competitive edge. Finally, and possibly the most significant excuse for me to ride was GABRAKY. I always excel at achieving my goals when I challenge myself through personal determination. My good friend and close riding partner, Tim the Renaissance Man, says “Effort without execution equals failure.” I tend to agree, and I feel like a good start is wasted, if you don’t finish it.
GABRAKY is a fundraiser bicycle ride for the Grand Theatre in Frankfort, KY. It was started by my good friend, Ed Stodola, an avid cyclist who has ridden with me on every “Horsey Hundred” (an annual century ride on Memorial Day weekend sponsored by our local bike club, the Bluegrass Cycling Club) that I have completed. Last year, Ed rode across the United States from Washington state to Maine. GABRAKY was originally called “Grand Autumn Bicycle Ride Across Kentucky,” but in 2009 it gained a backing from the state government and the name changed to “Governor’s Autumn Bike Ride Across KY.” This year the ride takes on another name change because the format has been slightly altered to improve some of the event logistics and allow for a more accommodating finish. This year’s name is “Governor’s Autumn Bicycle Ride Around Kentucky,” and the ride will not travel coast to coast as it always has in the past. Initially, it may seem that this would cause the ride to lose some of its’ luster or attraction, however I believe the true experience of this awesome three day ride will still produce the same cycling and group connection results.
The primary reason that I highly recommend this ride to any and all cyclists is for the total experience it provides. Leading up to the ride tends to produce some anxiety, and on Day 1, I usually experience a “what was I thinking moment? 225 miles in 3 days over the hilly roads of Kentucky?” Then, you will begin to settle in to a certain comfort level by lunch time on Day 2, realizing that you are in a war, not a battle. You will begin to enjoy the “group connection” that is mutually shared by all riders. Then on Day 3, as your mind begins to wander from the doses of adrenaline, energy, and fatigue, you will reach a point where you realize you ARE going to make it, and at that very moment, your overall cycling passion level soars to a new high. This same moment also lets you know that you are capable of completing any bicycle ride you set out to. And although you reach a moment when you are ready for the ride to just be over, on Day 4, you will experience a void that was filled by your bike the previous three days.
The first year that “Pops” completed GABRAKY, he did it on his Trek hybrid bike. He immediately purchased a Giant carbon road bike afterwards, and he’s been hooked ever since. After riding GABRAKY near the end of my first ever cycling season, I discovered my passion for pedaling, and I haven’t used any excuse to ride since. I also bought a new Trek carbon frame road bike shortly after. My good friend, Tim the Renaissance Man, completed his first GABRAKY with only about 3 months of cycling under his belt, and he too rode it on his Giant hybrid, but is looking forward to completing it on his new Litespeed carbon frame road bike this year.
I could go on forever about my memories and awesome experiences of riding in GABRAKY, but the feeling of accomplishment you receive when you complete it yourself, will trump anything you can read about it. So, if you are passionate about pedaling, and want to experience a cycling euphoria, PLEASE give GABRAKY a chance! To register, simply go to www.gabraky.com. I hope to see you at the State Capitol on Friday morning, October 7, 2011, ready to ride. You won’t regret it, I promise.
I began road cycling in 2006, and have ventured somewhere between 15,000 & 20,000 total miles on a bike since that first ride on my dad’s Trek hybrid. I challenge myself to stay in shape year round, and complete century rides throughout the riding season, however this year is the first time I ridden more than one century in a single year, having completed 3. I enjoy the time I spend on my bike, and thoroughly look forward to any challenging ride, it helps me motivate myself to train a little harder in preparation. Recently, I was thinking as the 2011 season begins to wind down, now is a great time to set some goals for next year. So many folks, myself included, wait until New Years Day to start trying to achieve new goals, and our thought process behind this idea is that we can waste all of our hard fought effort to be healthy for the first ten or eleven months out of the year, and just be a slob around the holidays. After all, it’s cold, wet, dark earlier, etc. All good reason to slow down on exercise, and pig out on the season’s comfort foods, right?
The answer to that question is, as one of my drill instructors at Parris Island notoriously repeated to us, “Not only no, but oh hell NO!” In fact, it is as simple as efficiency! In this day and age, with so much focus on people to make use of their time wisely, and use products that are highly energy efficient, taking care of our body is no different. I know in my line of work, a couple of simple techniques: never set your heating and air unit thermostat more than six degrees away from where you intend to run the unit when you are at home, because it kills the efficiency of the unit trying to play catch up when you thought you were conserving, it actually uses more energy to get back to normal operation and causes more wear and tear than needed. Likewise, it makes little to no sense to heat water in a storage tank, and keep reheating until you are ready to use it, and then hope you have enough, when the technology is now available to heat your water on demand using less energy and never run out. Well we can get so much better results out of our workouts and stay healthy if we utilize these same concepts, and just like professional athletes, stay in shape throughout the off season.
The reason so many “New Years Resolutions” fail, is simple. We dig our hole too deep in the months leading up to that day when it is supposed to suddenly automatically change for us. In reality, yes our bodies do need an off season, but that doesn’t mean to shut it down 100% and lose focus on what you are truely trying to achieve in life. I propose that goal setting is essential to surviving the down time in the off season, and the more regular you can stay healthy, the more efficient your body will remain. Maintaining constant focus on your goals is necessary to achieve them! Also, it is important to set new ones as you reach your current goals, and don’t get discouraged if you have a minor set back in your routine, understand that any set back is only as temporary as you allow it to be. The better you stay focused, the better chance you have to not only achieve, but exceed your goals.
Having said all that, now it’s time to follow through! The warm riding season is officially over, I think it left with daylight savings time, so let the off season begin. What are my goals? I have given serious thought to these, and a couple are very lofty, but I feel like I’m ready for some tough ones, because I’m not going to let all of my 2011 fitness and shape go down the drain over the holidays, like I normally do. This year I’m getting a jump start on the next season, there is no better day to set out to achieve your goals than today! So today, I begin the path towards Masher’s 2012 Cycling Goals:
1. PARTICIPATE IN AT LEAST ONE BLUEGRASS CYCLING CLUB RIDE PER WEEK. I did this a few years ago, riding mostly with the folks in Frankfort out of Capital City Cycles, and it improved my speed and stamina greatly. The club offers rides every day of the week in different locations, so I can’t use work as an excuse, if I miss Monday, I still have 5 days to get to one!
2. PARTICIPATE IN AT LEAST ONE BIG GROUP RIDE PER MONTH. Most of these will be charity or fundraiser rides, and will allow me to visit different places and ride on new roads. April through October is the bulk of the riding season, and there are plenty of rides to find. I will.
3. COMPLETE THE RAIN RIDE WITH MY CYCLING COMPANION, THE RENAISSANCE MAN! RAIN Ride stands for ride across Indiana, it is a one day trek of about 160 miles one way across the Hoosier State. We talked about it this year, but were at Panama City Beach on vacation. The most miles I’ve ridden in a single day is about 115, and it felt like enough at the time. I will need to be in top shape to complete it.
4. LOSE FIFTY POUNDS. I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s where I need to be, where I want to be, where I will be.
5. INFORM MORE PEOPLE ABOUT RAM CYCLING AND ADD AT LEAST 5 NEW BIKES TO THE IMMEDIATE AREA. This one has nothing to do with my personal fitness, it has everything to do with my passion for cycling and how Renaissance Man & Masher intend to raise cycling awareness. This will always be on my goals list, hopefully, the others will get checked off and replaced about this same time next year.
Working towards my personal goal to add more bikes to the road in my area, I had yet another coworker and good friend that called me this week inquiring about cycling. Exciting news to me, as I love to converse about cycling with anyone, especially someone that respects my opinion about the sport and wants to start riding. So now that I’ve recently been through this scenario more than once, I thought, it would be real helpful if new cyclists, or people considering cycling as a hobby, had a point of reference to get them started.
That’s the vision of this blog. Hopefully, it will prove helpful to anyone considering the opportunity to begin cycling, and more importantly, help them find a new passion. RAM Cycling is living proof that all it takes to become passionate about bicycling is to get started. I will address the introduction to cycling in an outline format with some FAQs to follow. As always, feel free to send any additional questions by posting a comment below, and we will do our best to find the correct answer for you!
RAM CYCLING: INTRO TO CYCLING
I. GEAR NECESSARY
A. Must Have
1. Bicycle (mountain, road, hybrid, commuter, etc. . . it’s your choice)
2. Helmet (please take our advice on this, I promise)
3. Air pump (inflate tires to proper pressure before every ride)
4. Bike All-Purpose Bag (mounts under seat or on handlebars)
5. Water (stay hydrated on every ride)
6. First Aid Kit (keep in AP bag for emergencies)
7. Compact Bike Tool Kit (needed for minor bike adjustments)
8. Spare Tube/Tire Repair Kit & Compact Pump or CO2 Inflator
B. Enhancement Items
1. Shoes & Clip-less Pedals (get comfortable with the bike first)
2. Cycling Shorts or Bibs (with built in chamois or padding)
3. Cycling Jersey (with front zipper and rear pockets)
4. Gloves (fingerless for summer, full finger for winter)
5. Lights/Reflectors (not just for seeing, but for being seen)
6. Sunglasses (or protective glasses to keep out flies, bugs, etc.)
7. Bike Computer (for tracking stats and knowing your speed at all times)
8. Money & Snacks ( store in AP bag or jersey pockets)
II. WHERE TO RIDE
A. Mountain Bikes
1. Trails or Trail Parks
2. Roads (not recommended)
B. Road Bikes
1. Paved Trails
2. Roads (and bike lanes in towns)
III. WHO TO RIDE WITH
A. Group Rides
1. Local Clubs (great way to learn road rules and safety habits)
2. Private Groups (not organized, but still a group)
B. Solo Rides
1. Alone (bicycling gives you freedom to ride anytime)
IV. FAQs SECTION
Q: Where can I ride on the road, and when?
A: Ride on the roads at any time, just be sure to be highly visible, especially in low lighted times of day, and follow the rules of the road as if you were driving a vehicle. Use arm signals in traffic and make eye contact with drivers. Not permitted to ride on parkways or interstates, everywhere else is fair game!
Q: What kind of bike should I buy? New or Used?
A: Consider what you plan to use the bike for most and start there. If you want to ride dirt tracks, get a mountain bike. If you want to commute to work, get a touring or commuter bike, and so on. I recommend starting out getting a used bike until you find the passion of cycling that interests you most, then spend the big bucks for the bike of your dreams.
Q: Where should I buy my bike?
A: Used bikes, you can find good deals on the Internet, just be sure to check out the seller’s background. New bikes are also on the web, but I recommend finding a local bike shop close to you and developing a relationship with them for buying and servicing your bike. They sometimes have used bikes for sale, as well.
Q: I want to ride a road bike, but the traffic scares me. How can I get over the fear of riding on the road?
A: Road fear affects us all to some extent. Join a local cycling club if possible, the group riding experience will help create a confidence for road riding. It will also teach you safe riding and group ride etiquette. Find a route and time of day for cycling that feels safe and comfortable, then plan to ride accordingly.
Q: What do I do if I have a flat tire on a ride?
A: It’s not if, it’s when. That’s why I highly recommend keeping an AP bag attached to your bike with all the necessities for bike or tire repair on the go. You can carry CO2 inflators or buy a compact pump that mounts to your bike’s frame.
Q: Do I really need cycling shorts, jersey, clip in shoes, and pedals?
A: If you are riding as a commute to work, no. For pretty much all other aspects of cycling, yes. Without going into a lot of detail about each enhancement item, once you get each, you will see and understand the difference.
Q: When is the best time of the year to start cycling?
A: TODAY! The sooner you start cycling, the sooner you may discover your hidden passion for the sport.
Hope this info helps you get started into cycling, and allows you to develop a love for the bike and the experience. If you have additional questions, please feel free to post a comment on this blog. I definitely recommend joining a local bike club if you have one available, because of the wealth of info they make available to you, as well as the experience and knowledge you gain by riding with groups. If you are in or near the Lexington, KY area, check out the Bluegrass Cycling Club at bgcycling.org . I also recommend finding a local bike shop to cater to your needs for clothing, gear, and more knowledge. Now get out there and get started CYCLING!!! *Masher
If you were to look up the definition of bicycling it would probably read something like “the action of riding a bicycle.” I would also assume that the definition of a bicycle would state “a 2-wheeled mode of transportation with a seat, handlebars, and powered by pedals.”
If you were to ask RAM Cycling how we define bicycling, we would prefer to show you in person. There’s no better way to define bicycling than to experience it for yourself. I cannot list my personal definition of cycling passion in one simple article, because it is far too lengthy to tell my entire story, however I will try to touch on the highlights.
I define bicycling as: the act of pedaling a 2-wheeled vehicle over the roads that are less traveled, engulfing the air that surrounds this earth we live on, creeping up inclines while exerting all the energy I have stored, rapidly rolling down the descends recovering energy one mph at a time, viewing the awesome scenery that is my free and ever-changing art gallery offered by Mother Nature, releasing the weight of the stresses of everyday hustle and bustle in the real world, cleansing my soul, enjoying the moments of true friendship while riding with others, mashing the pedals when I need to or just want to, and coasting when I don’t, and relishing in the awesome joy of knowing that as long as I have my bike, I can go anywhere I want to!
IF I HAD TO DEFINE WHY I RIDE IN ONE SENTENCE:
Masher: “I ride because I am passionate about pedaling!”
Renaissance Man: “I ride because I feel that cycling is the ultimate form of prayer – taking God’s gifts, your life and your body, and you push them to your limits!”
Please post a comment below and let us know WHY YOU RIDE! Thanks
ABOUT HORSEY HUNDRED
The “Horsey Hundred” is an annual bicycling ride hosted by the Bluegrass Cycling Club every Memorial Day weekend in Georgetown, KY. I happen to be pretty familiar with this bicycle social because I have now ridden in it five times, and it happens to be in my hometown! “Horsey Hundred” is the largest group ride I have participated in and this year was expected to host around 2000 cyclists that had 9 route options over Saturday & Sunday from 25 to 102 miles to choose from. That’s a remarkable statement considering all of the other rides I have attended only offered 3-4 routes. This year I was fortunate enough to complete the century route (102 miles) on Saturday, but was unable to ride on Sunday due to being out of town with family the rest of the holiday weekend.
The following paragraphs are my personal review of the 2012 Horsey Hundred including some of my struggles, some of my better memories, and please check out what some others have to say about the ride at the conclusion. Also, don’t forget to catch my overall rating for this ride at the end of the review!
PHASE I: TO SWITZER
All rides departed from Georgetown College in the heart of downtown Georgetown, KY with the routes of 102, 76, & 51 miles heading north, while the 26, 36, & 60 mile tours went south. The first 21 miles was a great start, I thought, because we had some short decent grade hills to get warmed up on with plenty of shade along the roadway. I felt great upon reaching the Switzer stop, where the line for water refill was fairly long.
PHASE II: TO MIDWAY
The next section of road was a little more flat with just a few small rises leaving Switzer, but still a beautiful section of road passing numerous farms en route to Midway about 16 miles away. By the time I reached the church stop here, I was pushing an 18 mph average and thought I better slow down and pace myself as I felt the heat starting to intensify slowly. This was a very busy rest stop because I think every route came through this spot.
PHASE III: TO MILLVILLE
The next part of the route joined and left most of the other routes at one point or another, in fact, if folks had pondered about riding 76 or 102 miles they had to make their decision early on in this phase. There was no doubt in my mind, even though I knew it was going to heat up, I came to do the “Horsey Hundred!” Still somewhat flat with leisure rollers and continued beautiful farm scenery along the road way, I intentionally slowed my pace in an effort to not over work. I Had the advantage (or maybe disadvantage) of knowing the route somewhat, and knowing that the toughest climbing was coming after Millville. At Millville, I waited on my riding mate, the Renaissance Man, and he looked worn out stating, “I’m starting to feel the effects of the heat.” Inside I was proud of him, that he made the decision to continue on the 102 mile route, and I felt good knowing that thus far, I had not eaten any shot blocks or gels, only bananas and oranges and home-made trail mix. I would soon wish I had been fueling myself a little better.
PHASE IV: TO JACK JOUETT HOUSE
As we left the Millville stop, the route went up, climbing a hill immediately. A few miles later as we approached a long steep descent, I warned another rider to go slow until the sharp left curve. The Ride organizers also warned us with 3 or 4 road paintings in all caps: SLOW! It was a scary moment entering the sharp curve I spoke of as we witnessed a rider against the rock wall with several other cyclists tending to an obvious injury. I’m not sure how bad it was, but we heard an ambulance was called to pick them up. My route continued, and continued in low gears as we had a long normally fairly easy grade for me to climb, but I was starting to struggle. I could feel myself slowly starting to bonk, and I finally reached a nice flat spot and found a shade tree to stop under and rest. I ate 3 shot blocks and drank a bottle of water at mile 60, leaving me short on water for the next 10 miles which included even more tough climbing, especially for someone on the edge of exhaustion. I’ve never in my cycling career had to make an unscheduled stop on an organized ride (first time for everything). I was thrilled to see a water hose at the Capt. Jack Jouett house rest stop and I took a long break drinking water, and cooling off under the hose. This stop was exclusive for the century riders as we received our “2012 Horsey Hundred Century Rider” pin from a very pleasant gentleman proclaiming the worst was behind us and the next 30 miles was all downhill with the wind at our back. He was the same guy who had jokingly harassed me the night before at registration because I was wearing a Cardinals shirt. It was nice to hear his positive and cheerful voice, considering how rough I felt, and looking around, I was in common company! I went on and put my pin on, just to make sure I made myself make it.
PHASE V: TO KEENELAND RACE TRACK
The next 15 or so miles was still tough as we probably were now riding in the hottest temps of the day, and the rollers were starting to make me frustrated. I recall turning onto a road called “Dedman Lane” and thinking how appropriate. As we turned onto the Lexington airport property I passed one guy walking his bike up a short steep hill and another guy sitting on the guard rail at the top, as I reached the summit, I ask “why do we do this to ourselves?” He said, “No clue!” Again, I was more than happy to find a water hose with cool water at a barn area where we stopped for fuel at Keeneland Horse Track. I was past physical exhaustion by this point, but I still had it mentally, because I knew how close I was getting to home now. Three more shot blocks in and off I went.
PHASE VI: BETHEL ROAD STOP & FINISH
Only 8 miles down the road was our last stop and I stopped briefly to refill my water bottles again. Back on the road less than a mile from the last stop, I felt a wobble on my tires. I stopped to find that my front tube had somehow forced a small section of the tire off of the wheel. I was amazed that it had not popped, but mad that I had to deal with it. I let the air pressure down until I could re-seat the tire, the took my portable pump and went to work. It was at 40 psi when I began pumping, then about 15 minutes later, the Renaissance Man rolled up to find me struggling and offered a CO2 inflator. I was at 80 psi and I was whipped. Then the Scheller’s SAG van pulled up with a real pump, and I was relieved. I managed to break the stem trying to pull my pump off, so I gave the bike tech my spare tube and he generously changed it for me. Back on the road, I got to finish with my good friend Tim the Renaissance Man and was very happy to be done. His wife Kelly and son John were waiting on us with smiles, and soon after we finished my wife Maria along with my sons Charlie and Dawson arrived with my vehicle that conveniently had my bike rack mounted. We cycled to the start that morning from my home 2 miles away, but were more than happy to rack our bikes and sit in the air conditioning on the way home.
WHAT OTHERS HAD TO SAY
* Karen G. from Denver, CO rode the 60 mile route and gave it an (A-) grade saying, “Long line for water at the first stop. The staff was very nice. Wanted a bench to sit on at Keeneland.” She told my wife how she had forgotten how beautiful this area is.
*A. E. U. from Richmond, KY rode the 50 mile route and gave it an (A+) grade saying, “There were plenty of stops with everything you needed to refuel. The road markings were very visible and easy to follow! I’ll come back again, just please put sprinklers at the finish line … too hot!”
* Larry Cheser from Harradsburg, KY finished the 76 mile tour and said of the ride, “Great and Excellent. It is well ran.”
* Libby Barnes of Nicholasville, KY rode the 102 mile route and gave it an (A-) overall grade commenting, “Wonderful, beautiful, scenic, and plenty of fuel.”
* Linda S. from Mansfield, OH finished the 60 mile route and gave it a grade of (B+) stating “The breaks could have had food variety and some seating. It was HOT and beautiful.”
CONCLUSION AND MASHER’S GRADE
I had set a personal fitness goal to complete the 102 mile tour in an average speed of 16 mph or better, but in the back of my mind was the knowledge that I had never ridden that far in that kind of heat, and the ultimate goal was to finish 102 miles. Well, after bonking around mile 60, I focused on the ultimate goal and achieved it. The stops were well positioned to enable riders the chance to complete the century ride in temps near mid 90s, and everyone was very friendly along the way. I saw no real traffic issues either. All things considered, I look forward to riding in the “Horsey Hundred” again next year and will definitely recommend it to followers of RAM Cycling as I give it an overall (A) grade! For the registration fee, I would like to receive a free t-shirt, but I will admit that the quality of the ride t-shirt is 2 or 3 times better than the ones you get free at other rides. Great job Bluegrass Cycling Club, I look forward to Memorial Day weekend next year!
If you think your ride is worthy of a rating from RAM Cycling please contact us, we are always looking for rides to complete and review. Please click on the “Contact Us” box in the right side column on the home page. Thanks.