Give GABRAKY A Chance
Aug 2011 23

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.

Masher

Constant Goals Focus is Necessary
Dec 2011 08

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.

*Masher

A Glance At The Past, & A View Of The Future
Jan 2012 13

Wow, time certainly flies and I can’t believe 2011 is now history. Well, it was a memorable year, one that helped me find focus on cycling again, after a great finish to 2010. We recently posted short blogs by Renaissance Man & Masher with their Goals for 2012, but we have yet to publish the Goals for RAM Cycling, until now.

First, let’s reflect on the awesome happenings by RAM Cycling in 2011, then we can take a look at where the road leads for 2012 and beyond. Some simple, but important events accomplished by Renaissance & Masher in ’11:

*   First century ride of the year (first ever for Renaissance Man) was the “Wheels O’ Fire” in Hamilton County, Georgia on April 2, 2011

*   The idea of RAM Cycling first came to light on a Renaissance & Masher shared spring break vacation at Jacksonville Beach, FL during the week following that 1st century ride

*   Our second century ride of the year was “Horsey Hundred” in Georgetown, KY on Memorial Day weekend 2011

*   RAM Cycling was officially launched on the world wide web & twitter around the start of July 2011, we are claiming 4th of July as our Birthday

*   Renaissance & Masher cycled in the sunshine state some more on vacation at Panama City Beach in July

*   The months of August and September saw RAM put in miles and miles in prep for GABRAKY

*   RAM Cycling rode in GABRAKY 2011 in October, a 3 day cycling event that travels around Kentucky (this was our second consecutive year, and included our 3rd century of the year)

*   RAM Cycling closed out 2011 moderately by posting several hundred more miles before rolling into 2012

Now that we have reflected on the recent past, RAM Cycling can only move forward by setting some Goals, just like Renaissance & Masher did personally. The good news is, RAM is a reality, and here are some of the goals we hope to achieve this year or in the very near future:

***   Bring excellent news and memories from our charity and group ride events to life right here at the RAM Cycling website

***   Fight to have legislation introduced and passed into Kentucky Law to raise awareness and safety for bicycling, including a 3-FEET TO PASS LAW, more bike lanes, more Share The Road signs on roadways, more local bicycling events for the public & more

***   Gain corporate backing of some close partners, in order to help support our push for legislative updates and help us promote a more healthy and bicycle friendly America, and also help us support  local charity groups that host events we intend to ride in this year and in years to come

***   RAM Cycling intends to host it’s own bicycle ride event, however the details are still in the planning phase for time of year, course, total miles, and location (expect this to be 1st class when it happens!)

***   Design and purchase our own cycling jersey to wear at events to help promote RAM Cycling, and t-shirts to give away

***   Obviously, we intend to support Renaissance & Masher in all of their bicycling endeavors

***   We want to develop a free membership club for the purpose of distributing important cycling information and legislative updates through a monthly newsletter

***   Finally, we will be excited to publish all of the good news we can find and relate to regarding bicycling

Thanks for visiting RAMCycling.com We hope you will continue to visit throughout 2012, as we try to accomplish our mission. So far it has been a wonderful ride, but it’s a journey that we are glad you are sharing with us. PLEASE feel free to leave a comment on any post we publish, or send us an email at any time. Your feed back is important to us and helps us improve our site for you. You can also follow us on Twitter @RAMCycling. Here’s to a great year in 2012!

WHY I CYCLE!  WHY DO YOU CYCLE?
Mar 2012 05

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

____Change Is Necessary, Or Is It?
Sep 2012 03

“Change is necessary,” is a quote often preached by campaigners during our election seasons, or by management in a struggling business, or within schools or athletic teams as policy becomes out-dated. But I will argue that even when sometimes change is referred to as necessary, it’s not always the case. In this feature, I will give you two examples of change that are not necessary, and my opinion on why though not absolutely necessary, they are great decisions!

 

Recently, the citizens of my hometown, Georgetown, KY have experienced a change in the way they travel through downtown because of some lane changes. About two months ago, it was reported in our local newspaper “Georgetown News Graphic” that the state highway department had decided to change the lane configuration through town on Broadway St., which is also KY HWY 25. The change would include mill work, followed by re-paving and re-striping, in which the four lane street would change to a two lane with dedicated turn lane in center and the two north and south bound lanes would be bound by bicycling lanes. Well, you can only imagine the chaos and confusion this caused and city officials hastily tried to have the plan reconsidered, holding town hall meetings and sending messages through our state elected officials. How the state highways are constructed and striped is not a matter that they vote on, but I also spoke with our State Representative and State Senator personally, just to ensure that they heard a voice in favor of it. Well I, for one, and I imagine I am in large company, although we aren’t voicing our opinion nearly as loud as the complainers, am very happy to see this change come about. I can only assume that anyone owning a business or living in this area, the state has done them a huge favor by slowing down traffic, making the roadways, sidewalks, and the entire downtown experience safer for all.

Before the construction began, there were numerous wrecks on this stretch of highway within a residential area that encloses an elementary and middle school while extending to the county high school on the north end and another elementary school on the south end. Even the “nay-sayers’” primary complaint is that it has slowed traffic down, creating congestion, and people are stuck in traffic. I will always argue that you are not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic, but  my wife happens to use the Broadway St./Hwy. 25 corridor on a daily basis in the process of dropping off our three sons at three different schools (1-elementary, 1-middle, 1-high), and then picking them up from school, and sometimes returning to drop off for sports practices. She claims at no time has it taken her more than five to ten minutes to get through town. While some city officials have been on record in the local newspaper (over and over) stating that all the state has done is create a mess in downtown, the reality is, that now the integrity of our downtown, and the safety of our citizens’ travel will be a little more prevalent than how quick you can maneuver from one end to the other.

Before this highway re-construction project began, the state offered statistics from two or three similar towns where the same change had taken place successfully. Now that it is complete, they can include Georgetown in the statistic for the next town. So now that an unnecessary change has taken place in our community, we will benefit from the changes. Our downtown is not a mess. Once again, it’s a downtown that offers slower moving traffic, highway safety for all commuters, including walkers and bicyclists along with drivers! I’m sure our downtown businesses will benefit as we become a trend setter as a bicycle friendly community, which is a movement very rapidly growing across the United States.

 

The other unnecessary change I want to speak on involves our mission statement. RAM Cycling is committed to increasing bicycle awareness and will always remain committed to the enhancement of this great health and safety improving sport/past-time. We have also claimed to be committed to having a “3 Feet 2 Pass” law implemented in the state of Kentucky. This is part of our mission that I feel we should change. Now, before you get upset as an avid cyclist, hear me out, please.

For those unfamiliar with a “3 Feet 2 Pass” law, it is a bicycle friendly road right that has been passed by numerous other states, that sets a legal limit of three feet minimum of space between a car passing a bicyclist or pedestrian while walking or jogging. Make no mistake about it, I am not against the passing of this law, I hope one day it can be passed in our great state of Kentucky. I simply feel that it should no  longer be part of RAM Cycling’s mission to see that it happens, and now I’ll explain myself briefly.

We actually have no idea how many laws are currently on our books, and in the United States, an average of hundreds of local, state, and federal laws are written or changed on a daily basis. What happens when a new law is passed? Well unless you are made aware of it, you don’t know about it, and as we all know, that makes it even more difficult to enforce it. So how does all this come to light with new laws? Money! It takes $$$ to get laws passed, then more $$$ to make people aware of it, and even more $$$ for training of officers and the process of enforcing it. Being naturally conservative at heart, I’m not opposed to raising money for something I believe in, but I think the money we may be able to raise at RAM Cycling will do the community much more value by putting it all back into the “raising awareness” side of our Mission. After all, it’s also a fact that many laws are broken on a daily basis anyways. The matter of allowing a safe distance between your vehicle and a cyclist or pedestrian while passing them is a human moral value, and doesn’t need to be law to be followed. Simply imagine that as you are about pass a cyclist or pedestrian, how would you pass them if it were your spouse, child, or parent? Because that’s exactly who is on the road.

To find out about safe roadway travel in Kentucky and how the State Transportation Cabinet feels about it please check out their website at: http://transportation.ky.gov/share-the-road/Pages/default.aspx

* Masher

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