This past week, Renaissance & Masher decided to pick up the pace a little and enjoy a round trip tour from downtown Georgetown to downtown Lexington via the, newly opened last fall, Legacy Trail. Our typical weekday rides consist of a twenty to thirty mile loop, depending on the heat index, and time of ride start. The trek from home to the end of The Legacy Trail is a 35 total mile trip, and with daylight beginning to last shorter as the days go by, we had to take our average pace from 14-15 mph up to 16 mph in order to finish the ride safely before night fall.
I think we both enjoyed the boost in speed, it’s nice to progress in a training regimen from time to time. Whether we are enjoying a typical loop with our weekly time trial, or a hilly route, or just a relaxing recovery ride, we are always training for a grand ride. We mostly train for century (100 mile) rides, but another big ride coming up in October will be our second annual GABRAKY ride, which will consist of 225 miles over a Friday through Sunday weekend. Training for century rides includes riding distances typically ranging from 20-65 miles, sometimes on flat courses and sometimes on tougher hilly roads. We focus on speed, endurance, proper nutrition and hydration, and base miles. These training skills are necessary to complete century rides, especially considering many of the summer rides reach temperatures over 100.
You don’t have to be an avid cyclist to enjoy the new local path, The Legacy Trail. In fact, you don’t even have to be a cyclist. The trail is open to walkers, runners, and all types of bicycles. Renaissance & Masher rode on the Legacy Trail many times last winter when we couldn’t get off work in time to beat the daylight, and didn’t want to chance our lives on the roads with vehicles after dark. We would turn on the spotlights and tail lights and go get our 16 miles in on the trail, sometimes dodging others with the same idea. We rode in the rain, freezing rain, snow, wind, dark, and sometimes I thought is it really worth it? It was without a doubt, worth every mile we gained. The beautiful thing about cycling is that, unlike some other forms of exercise, there is not nearly the level of suffering through the workout. With some exercise routines, the best part is when you finish, however, for Renaissance & Masher, the ride is always the best part, whether it’s a 20 mile leisure loop or a century ride at a heat index of 110.
I highly recommend to anyone who would like to feel better, to give the Legacy Trail a chance. Whether you want to ride, walk, or run, we are all welcome to participate at our own pace and intensity level, for any distance we wish to achieve, and all free from the hustle and bustle of traffic. Please be courteous of other users, though, and do not stop in the middle of the path. If you need a break, or stop to talk to passers by, or just stop to enjoy scenery, kindly step off the path to keep others moving safely! The Legacy Trail boasts some beautiful scenery, long flat winding sections, to gently rolling terrain, modern bridges, interesting art work on the path, and much, much more. RAM Cycling is trying to get a Sunday afternoon ride scheduled with friends in the very near future. With the rides we are already committed to, it looks as though it will probably be sometime in late September, but once we get it started, we hope to make it a monthly routine. Keep your eyes open for the first RAM Cycling ride on the Legacy Trail, coming soon. But don’t feel like you have to wait on us to get a group together, get on out there and enjoy an awesome path without the scares of busy traffic infested roads. Enjoy the Legacy Trail today!
In Part I, I talked about a transformation that is taking place within myself, involving my health and fitness, on and off the bike. Now, in Part II, I want to discuss what it takes to transform my community into becoming bike friendly. Previously I defined transformation, now let’s define bike friendly: a manner in which those who ride bicycles are made to feel welcome and respected as an intricate part of a local existence by those who do not ride bicycles.
When Tim and I first decided to begin this RAM Cycling website adventure, I had huge dreams for how we would affect bicycle awareness in my community. Wow, in reflection, I must be somewhat of a dreamer. But if you can’t dream it, you can’t achieve it, some have said. Now, nearly two years later, our hometown has new dedicated bike lanes through downtown, numerous bike art statues located all around town, a group of citizens committed to extending “The Legacy Trail,” a dedicated cycling/pedestrian paved path, into town from its current stopping point at The Kentucky Horse Park, which would connect us to downtown Lexington via a trail with no traffic, and the Bluegrass Cycling Club (our local group of cyclists) now offers group rides with support to multiple paces twice weekly from right here in downtown Georgetown. Considering all these changes, one would think our community has begun to fully embrace the bicycle friendly state of mind.
That’s exactly what my heart wants to believe, however my association with non-cyclists and some other harsh realities are unfortunate reminders that we’re just not there yet. I will offer a couple of examples. I have been told by local elected officials that all they have heard about the bike lanes on Broadway St. are complaints, and they are going to ask the state transpo dept to conduct safety studies to determine if the lanes should stay or if it would be safer to revert back to a four lane highway going through the center of downtown. Yeah, a four lane highway for cars through a residential and multiple schools zone sounds much safer than two lanes for cars and two for bikes?!
The next example is a little more unsettling. Our most recent victim to lose their life on their bike was about a month ago, when an avid seasoned cyclist was struck by a car on his daily commute home from work. I will not comment on the details of this specific accident because I was not, nor have I spoke with a witness. But I will say this: there are two sides of the story in any accident, and unfortunately we never get to hear the cyclist side. What I will comment on, is the statement that was left by an individual at the conclusion of the accident report on a local news website. The comment stated: “Cyclists in my town have a death wish. I hope they get what they deserve.” If that doesn’t make you question the level of bike friendliness of your community, nothing will. The sad fact is, that person is probably not alone in their sentiment.
Well let me say this in response, “I am a cyclist in my town, and I too, hope all cyclist get what we deserve! What we deserve is spelled out above in the definition of a bike friendly community. While I fully understand there is a risk of a fatal accident every time I choose to ride my bike on the road, where I belong, no cyclist deserves to die for making that decision to ride. And certainly no spouse or child deserves to learn the news that their spouse or parent or loved one was killed while riding their bike.”
I will always have hope that we will continue to grow as a more bike friendly community, and that one day those who embrace the idea of bike friendly will be the majority. In the mean time, we will proceed to do our part in our commitment to raise awareness for bicycles and fight for bicycle safety here at RAM Cycling. This transformation is possible, all it takes is effort, and given the changes we’ve made over the last two years, I’d say we’re headed in the right direction!
As my Saturday evening was winding down, I was warmed with joy as I checked my Strava feed and discovered numerous kudos and comments posted on my first activities of the year. I recorded my first 2 miles of the year on foot last Wednesday, then added my first cycling miles on Thursday when I joined Rusty for a 20 mile cruise on the Legacy Trail and around the Ky Horse Park.
While these were my first true distance miles on foot and bike, they were not my first activities in 2016. I had been slowly increasing my workout effort and total time both walking on the treadmill and cycling on the trainer over the last few weeks. But there’s a certain difference in stationary activity versus on the road activity, especially the added resistance due to hills and gravity. While I was confident that I was ready to take my exercise outdoors, I was a little nervous about how my knee would respond to the real resistance and I certainly cannot afford any setbacks in physical progress.
The Legacy Trail was the perfect test because it has plenty of curves which allow for more chances to slow down and speed up than a normal road route. Also, it only has a few very short hills and not very steep, so I could really get a good feel for how my knee felt without putting it in jeopardy. We took it easy, I rode the entire route in my small chainring and averaged almost 13 mph, but most importantly, I felt like I was ready for more.
So, on Saturday morning, I took advantage of the awesome 60 degree February weather, and set out to get more with my good ole buddy St. Onge! He and Brandon and I rode a nice route through Midway and back across some familiar bicycle friendly roads in Georgetown for just over 30 miles and I raised my average speed to 15 mph with a few more hills than my first ride, although still nothing too steep. I could definitely tell on the hills that my surgically repaired knee is still very weak, as it wanted my right leg to do all the work. But all in all, my general consensus is that by the time I get my few lazy pounds back off and get in good aerobic shape, so too will my butt be ready for hours in the saddle and my knee will be back to a comfortable power level.
I conned Rusty back out on Tuesday this week, knowing we had some wintry mix forecasted for the next few days, and our planned 20 or so ride got us 40 miles on my longest ride of the year and still averaged over 15 mph. I’m ready to rebuild my strength and endurance, and finally I can enjoy this mandatory time off work rather than going stir crazy washing dishes! I’m still going to physical therapy 3 days a week, but I plan to ride as much as I can provided that my knee and the weather continue to cooperate. At last, my goals are becoming a work in progress instead of a waiting game.
Consider this fair warning Rusty: start carrying 2 water bottles and plenty of those energy gels! And maybe even some lunch money … I see Colville covered bridge and Frankfort loops in our future. You will probably be glad when I go back to work my friend, but I am very appreciative that you reached out to me to go on my first ride of 2016, my first ride after knee surgery. Also huge thanks to all my friends for all the kudos and comments … it feels great to be cycling again, and all the positive mojo amplifies my excitement! Hope to see each and everyone of you on the road soon … @KPtheMasher