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!
It is perfect timing to talk about “The Fogs Of Cycling” considering I just completed my first solo century ride. First, lets address, what is the fog of cycling? I will define, attempt to relate, then conclude with some examples. I define “the fogs of cycling” as the moments you experience while riding on the bike that are impossible to create or recreate, simply put, they’re surreal feelings you experience of being one with the natural world. When you enter the Fog of Cycling zone, it’s possible to be completely removed from everything else in your world, for a brief time period.
When I served in the USMC, we once watched the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” Gunnery Seargant Foster, our class instructor, described the scene in which Tom Hanks’ platoon landed on the beach of Normandy to be greeted by an ambush blood bath, basically a suicide mission, as “the fogs of war. “There’s a moment when Hanks realizes what’s taking place, and he enters a zone that’s impossible to explain or put others in the exact same moment, but the movie does a really good job of conveying the feeling of “the fogs of war.” While the fogs of cycling are nothing similar to the fogs of war in the moment of life or death, they share the common thread for the person experiencing them by the manner in which they go into the zone of surrealization momentarily.
Earlier this year, I completed the “Assault On Mt. Mitchell,” and I put in months of training, planning, prep for the ride that would take me to the top of the highest mountain in the eastern United States. As I ventured 102 miles to the finish line, I was very positive through a very trying time as it took me several hours to reach the top and I was more than happy to be there. I entered a “fogs of cycling” moment as I rounded the final turn and entered the tunnel to the finish. I briefly forgot all I had just put myself through to get there. I could see the big clock, I spotted my best friend Tim just beyond the finish. Everything else was a blur. I could see in my peritheral vision, spectators and volunteers, but I was removed from reality for a brief moment, and as I crossed the line, I felt so emotional, I could’ve cried, but didn’t as I claimed “I made it.” That was a true “fog of cycling” experience.
It doesn’t have to be a big summit or the finish of any event, it can happen out of no where, in fact, that’s when I experience the fogs of cycling more often, I can just be cruising along enjoying the ride and it will hit me. It’s the smell of the air, the feel of the breeze on my face, the sound of streams rolling over rocks along with birds singing, the view of rows of crops and golden brown rolling fields in front of miles of ridges and knobs covered with multitudes of trees as a backdrop that meet the blue sky filled with clouds of all shapes, sizes, and tints of white on the horizon.
I ride a bicycle for multiple reasons including for fitness and strength, to unwind and relieve stress, as a form of prayer, to connect with others and enjoy the fellowship, to challenge myself both mentally and physically. Maybe the greatest reason I ride is to experience the fogs of cycling. As I mentioned before, it’s impossible to convey the exact feeling of being in the fog zone, but once you experience it for yourself, you will look forward to the next ride in hopes that another moment will find you. I don’t go riding looking for the fog because I have figured out you never find it that way, it always finds you when the moment is right and only you will know you just witnessed the fogs of cycling!
It wasn’t that long ago, I was an overweight husband, out of shape father, aspiring cyclist, poor fitness role model friend, individual often in search of changing my destiny. Happily, I write this blog today as the same person, however, missing some of the previous adjectives! I was recently discussing cycling, running, and fitness in general, at a summer concert at the Old Capitol lawn in Frankfort, KY with a great friend and fellow cyclist Jen Miklavcic, and she mentioned how she thoroughly enjoyed reading our stories on the website. Then, I saw the look of intimidation in her eyes when I mentioned we should get together for a ride sometime, as I thanked her for the nice blogging compliments.
She shared her reservations about riding with me, stating she would be worried that she would “hold me up, or not be able to hang.” I was a little surprised, and assured her that I don’t always race when I ride, as I informed her that I appreciate cycling with friends as a means of enjoying the ride for the scenery, fellowship, and fitness, without always trying to better my average speed. She told me I was basically out of her league, but there were many people that could benefit from learning about where I came from to get where I am now … especially since it wasn’t that long ago that I was also out of my own league from where my fitness is now. So, as she requested, here’s for you Jen, and hopefully a positive reading for others, as well.
Less than two years ago, I weighed between 240-250 pounds (depending on which day of the week it was), I would struggle to complete a century ride averaging 13-15 mph and needing at least a week to recover, mostly riding 20-40 miles at a time and feeling like I was going all out to break a 15 mph pace, often feeling tired and low in energy as I tried to juggle work with all the active things I wanted to do at home with my wife and sons, along with my cycling adventures. I now weigh around 200 pounds and though I’m no body builder, I’ve converted a serious amount of body fat into muscle strength. A normal ride for me now, can be anything from 20-80 miles, in which I will easily average a pace at 17 mph or above, and have recently completed numerous multiple century months (including riding the flatter ones at paces from 16-19 mph). I’ve even been able to cross train some now by also running occasionally. The depressing adjectives that described my person in the first paragraph were real, and now are a lifetime away because I chose to change my destiny by deciding to alter my lifestyle.
In full disclosure, my first decision wasn’t a lifestyle change. Though I wanted to be the opposite of the person I was a couple years ago, I was not committed to the idea of giving up all the things I loved, such as beer, chips, cakes, soft drinks, etc. and replacing them with rigorous work outs, riding harder and faster (getting dropped by the fast group; which ultimately feels like failure). But much like the time I gave up smoking cigarettes (yes, I was once a smoker for nearly 15 years!), when the time was right, when I truly wanted to be the other person, it was easy to transform. Of course, it didn’t happen overnight, and of course, it wasn’t exactly “easy” to do the things I’ve done to be who I am today, but it is much more simple to manage mentally, when I think about who I was and what I’ve gone through to become who I am today.
The two things that keep me motivated the most about living the lifestyle I enjoy now are my mental attitude of thinking “I’ve still got a ways to go” (my wife constantly says “why can’t you just take a compliment?” when I respond with this statement to her encouragement about my improved health), and the other thing that also keeps me going is my inner peace. Make no mistake, all the other changes help too, including the outpouring of compliments I get from friends and family (especially the moments when I have friends try to outdo me on Strava segments or challenge me on a hill climb or county line sprint). Other motivators are personal messages I get, the personal records I achieve on rides, the better endurance and speed I have from improving my overall fitness, the pure joy I have from feeling much more energized as I’m enthused to juggle all the husband and fatherly duties waiting on me after a long, hard day at work.
In closing, the best advice I can offer if you find yourself wanting to be someone other than the true complete person you see in the mirror, is start out with a serious challenge, but don’t focus on the entire big picture … the enormousness of the lifestyle change can be enough to discourage you and easily knock you off course. Instead, listen to your inner peace: focus on minor changes, one at a time, and as you begin to see the results from these changes, you can find the big picture motivation to stay the course, keep the grind going, knowing you like your person better after the results than before! And remember my focus: there’s always room for improvement, so while it’s great to celebrate victories, don’t dwell on them, because you’ve “still got a ways to go!”
Please know this, Jen and any other friends (whether you typically ride 4 mph faster or slower than me), I enjoy cycling with all of you. I get a sense of passion and happiness out of riding with both groups at times. So if I go out and pour my guts out trying to hang on a group way out of my league, or if I choose to spin more casually with a group that thinks I’m out of their league, the most important fact is that we’re riding our bikes, and putting a positive spin on our fitness, both mentally and physically. Yes, I’m happy with the person I’ve become, but I aspire to do more (juggling the balance between content and acceptance is much better than avoiding looking into a mirror). I strive to be a better, more active father, husband, employee, and I dream of being a faster, stronger, cyclist with more endurance and stamina in life. To achieve these, I know there’s always room for improvement, but I’m never out of anyone’s league, ’cause I’ve still got a ways to go, and I’d love to stay the course while enjoying a ride with any of my friends at times!