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.
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!
As the season winded down in 2011, I had my mind set on a new bike purchase and pulled the trigger in October, buying a new Jamis Zenith Pro road bike. I was anxious to begin putting miles on the new wheels, so I chose to take the standard set up on the bike and hop on. Hind sight proved that was not a smart decision. I rode moderately through the winter months, and with the mild weather, began accumulating great base miles in March, but I was not comfortable on the new bike like I was the old one.
I loved the feel of my new ride, the new components & gears, and the look. However, when I went out for a 15-30 mile ride, I experienced finger numbness, lower back pain, and some moderate knee soreness. I actually caught myself thinking at one point “I wonder if I could buy back my old bike?” That’s when I got some much needed advice in the form of a referral from my good friend and cycling companion Tim, the Renaissance Man. “Call Pedal Power Bike Shop and schedule a custom fitting with Alan. Trust me.” So I did. I spent about three hours on a Saturday early in March, being custom fit with my new bicycle, and I am proud to say we are now a real pair. Since being fit by Alan Brady at Pedal Power, I have accumulated over 500 miles on the new bike, and it feels great. No more pain and discomfort on an average ride, and no more thinking about the old bike . . . it’s now a great memory, but a good bike for another new local cyclist!
I should have known sooner to ask Tim for help, because he went through a similar experience. As his first ever cycling season closed out in 2010, he completed a ride across the state of Kentucky on his Giant hybrid frame bicycle, and decided he was committed to cycling. That’s when he got a new Litespeed carbon frame road bike for Christmas, and began the new season a lot faster than the previous. After completing his first century ride in April in Georgia, he began to have some serious discomfort on the new bike. He had purchased the bicycle online, taking advantage of some points that had built up on an account. He had the bike adjusted and fit at a local shop, but as he began to feel comfort issues arising, he began to question some of the settings. He, like me, loved the new bike, and just thought he had to suffer through some of the new pains.
In the month of May, he completed the Horsey Hundred century bike ride in our hometown of Georgetown, KY. Following the Memorial Day weekend riding, he could not bear the pain any more. Now, the numbness in his hands was occurring even when not on the bike, and he got to a point when he lost all strength in his hands, making it nearly unbearable to ride. After seeing several doctors and specialists in the medical field, and being recommended for surgery, he decided to follow his original gut instinct and have a second opinion on his bike fit.
He was spot on! He visited Pedal Power Bike Shop in Lexington, KY and had his custom bike fitting session with Alan Brady. Alan is certified by the Seratta International Cycling Institute (SICI), and uses the techniques and standards that he learned at the SICI school. Both Tim and I highly recommend going to see Alan and Pedal Power if you experience any discomfort on your bike. Trust us! A direct link to Pedal Power is on the right side column of this page and our home page. Please feel free to click on it and check out all of the services that they offer.
I would have to say that my custom bike fitting with Alan Brady at Pedal Power Bike Shop is one of the most thorough experiences I’ve ever had with my bike, other than an actual ride, and because of that experience, my rides are once again enjoyable. So if you’ve added or lost weight, or had any uncomfortable rides lately, maybe a custom bike fit is just what you need, whether you have a new or older bike. Please feel free to share this info with all of your cycling friends and tell Alan that RAM Cycling sent you!
RAM Cycling recently completed the Redbud Ride in London, KY. This was the 5th anniversary of this cycling event in southeastern Kentucky. Tim, the Renaissance Man, and Kevin, the Masher, both had been training since the start of 2012 for this and several other century rides that are on the wish list. We have done a pretty good job of taking advantage of the mild and moderate winter weather, and building our base for a busy cycling season.
Leading up to Redbud, all the talk with locals that had previously done it, and all the social media talk was positive and complimentary info. After having completed it, I have nothing but good things to say. I’m not personally a Facebook user, but on the night before the ride, I read some of the posts by others on Renaissance Man’s page regarding the Redbud Ride. I was anxious, with this being my first century of the season, and the thought of how bad the weather could turn out to be, I didn’t sleep very well at all.
Our ride started out by meeting Jim Simes from South Carolina for the first time in person. We have communicated via Twitter this year and he surprised me when I sent out a random tweet inviting followers to join us at Redbud or Horsey Hundred, by replying “see you at Redbud!” I’m also looking forward to meeting another twitter friend Adam Crowe from Kentucky at the Horsey 100. It was an honor to ride with Jim, who happens to have ridden over ten thousand miles in about a year while losing over 80 pounds! He destroyed us on the climbs and eventually pulled away and finished well before RAM Cycling. I gave Jim a bottle of KY Bourbon after the ride to take home as a souvenir from our great state, and he commented “The Redbud 2012 will be one to go down in books as a ride to remember.”
He’s absolutely right, and the following review of the 2012 Redbud is my random thoughts from a great ride, definitely one to remember! We pulled out of the London Farmers Market around 8am on the Red Route (100 miler), and the sky was gray, the air was cool, and we knew moisture was on the way. Around the 10 mile mark the 4 routes became 2 as the 25 & 50 milers turned right, while the 75 & 100 mile routes went left up our first climb. At that point, I was uncomfortably cool, but rapidly warmed up. This climb separated Jim, Tim & I for a while. Then came rain … it was a drizzle, then steady, and then it poured. I caught back up to Jim at a turn, where he stopped to put on some rain gear. We tried to talk, but it was more important to watch the road at this point, considering the heavy rains and unknown roads. He kept moving as we arrived at the first rest stop, but I was ready to stop for a moment. A few minutes later, Tim arrived saying, “Are you kidding me? This is crazy.” I played it off smooth by responding, “What do you mean?”
Inside, I was freezing cold, as I chose not to carry rain gear (extra weight in my mind at the start), but I saw frustration in his eyes, and knew he needed some motivation to pick him up. He had an abnormal work week leading up to Redbud having to work over 40 hours in a couple days as his company made some equipment changes at one of the mines they own, and now with the weather set in, he chose to continue on the 75 mile route. So I pushed off immediately, to try not to finish too far behind him. Still raining, I ventured through the beautiful Daniel Boone National Forest over some rugged terrain and difficult pavement that I know was complicated by the weather. My second stop was along the Rockcastle River with a local group playing true KY Bluegrass music in a gazebo! I spoke to several riders and volunteers, and then set back out following a guy from the area that actually told me we would pass by his house on the route. We reconnected with the 75-mile route, crossed a wooden bridge where we had to get off and walk across. Then I slowed to check on a tandem couple off the bike. The husband said “we are just taking some pictures” and the wife said, “We are not yet ready to turn right here.” I soon found out why, as I turned right myself and read the message on the pavement “Gear Down Baby!”
I had arrived at the infamous Tussey Hill, a climb that actually has its own Facebook page. Uhm yeah, I knew I was in for a work out immediately because it is one of those hills where it turns out of site from the bottom, so you don’t know what lies around the bend until you get there. As I made it up to the first turn it slowly tapered off with another bend ahead. Just as I made it through that sweep and caught my breath, the road went up. Straight up. I saw a sign near the top of this section, then I put my head down and just mashed the pedals and mashed until I could read the sign. It said “Congrats: 22% Grade!” As the road slowly began to flatten out again, I was struggling to catch my breath, and doggone it; we had more to go up. Up, up and away, I finally reached the summit, and know the toughest part of the ride was behind me. Shortly after peaking Tussey Hill, I arrived at my next stop.
Pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, and snacks, and beverages. I warmed up, refueled (regretfully, I passed on the BBQ), and headed back out behind a good friend from Frankfort that I ran into at the break. After a mile or so, I caught and passed him up, only to have him blow by me on a steep winding descent, the pay back from Tussey, but now with the rain steady again, I was timid. Moments later, I heard what sounded like “On your left” being screamed, and sure enough, a crazy female cyclist hauled past me, her bike was doing the wobble as she negotiated the slippery wet sweeps on the downhill. We all came together at the bottom, and I gave her props (I just knew I was going to witness a bad accident, glad I was wrong). They all turned off, as the red route forged straight, I spent the next 15-20 miles in deep thought, with soreness starting to set in on my legs, thanks to Tussey. Next stop was the official lunch stop, where I had a piece of Papa John’s pizza, and took twenty minutes or so to warm up. One of the volunteers approached me as I pulled in and asks, “Are you the Masher?” Stunned and surprised I answered, “Yes sir,” then he informed me that the Renaissance Man waited on me for a while at this stop, but went on and headed back out. It was nice to know he was doing well, since my phone battery had died.
Before I left the stop I ask an elderly gentleman cyclist if this was the last stop for the red route. He said “no, there’s one more at a turn, and then you hit a steep climb immediately after that.” I though to myself, how steep can it be? Surely my thoughts of steep were considerably different than his idea. I mounted up and took off feeling strong still, passing several riders. I did stop at the last stop, only to use the restroom, the caught another group of guys at the base of the elder’s “steep climb.” I felt pretty stupid about half way up it, when it took all my energy just to keep pushing the pedals. Near what I hoped to be the top, painted on the pavement was “20% Baby!” I told the guys in front of me “I hope that doesn’t mean where only 20% of the way up.” The elder cyclist spoke the truth, and the last 10 miles were tough as I was beginning to wear down both physically and mentally, I recall passing a family (a couple with several teen girls) all on mountain bikes, then I pulled back into town and strolled into the finish, very excited to be greeted by Tim the Renaissance Man along with his wife Kelly, and my lovely wife Maria just before 4pm!
What a feeling of accomplishment I had by completing the Redbud Ride, considering the rain, cold, breezy weather. I never once had a close call with a vehicle. I didn’t even get honked or yelled at. The ride was very well organized, with plenty of up front info leading up to the ride, SAG was awesome, I witnessed numerous vehicles on all sections of the route, all the turns were well marked, all the volunteers were very pleasant and overly friendly. The only disappointment I can report is that I didn’t get to see any of the beautiful Redbuds along the route, but that’s due to the fact that half the miles or more that I rode were behind rain drop covered glasses.
In closing, I am glad that I was able to ride in the 2012 Redbud Ride in London, KY. I would give the overall ride an A rating, and will highly recommend it to cyclist to try for 2013! Thanks Redbud, for a ride that will never be forgotten.
Stay tuned for more cycling event reviews coming in May. Tentatively on the upcoming schedule are Gran Fondo Louisville, and Horsey Hundred in Georgetown, KY! For questions or comments regarding RAM Cycling info, please feel free to contact us in the tab on the right hand column of this page.
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.