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.
The Kevin Morris Story by Masher
I’ve known Kevin Morris for almost two years now, since I joined forces at Team Fayette as an employee in the H2O Maestro plumbing division of Fayette Heating & Air. Kevin is a commercial service technician in the HVAC department and is also a licensed electrician. I see Kevin almost every morning in the break room before we begin our work day, however these days we are starting to see a lot LESS of him.
Morris is an outgoing guy, the kind of person that probably never met a stranger growing up. He is very good at talking to anyone and everyone, finding out what he has in common with you, and proceeding to make friendship through it. He is a family man with high interests in the outdoors, especially fishing and most recently bicycling. Kevin is a typical blue collar American with an extraordinary story of improved fitness, and his story holds some chapters not yet revealed, it’s a work in progress. Check out the recent conversation Masher had with Kevin Morris and listen to some pretty motivating words if you are trying to lose weight. It’s also interesting how his perception of cyclists has changed from “dorky” to “a new love in life.”
If you’ve ever needed to lose any weight, whether i’ts 10 pounds more than 100 pounds, there’s a good chance that you also wanted to lose that excess weight. And it’s completely normal, if you tried one or two or more different methods, but failed. Some failures are caused by health reasons, while others are simply a lack of commitment. It’s never easy, I know personally, having gained and lost, lost and gained weight several times in my adult life. I certainly need to shed some excess pounds right now, and have failed to commit myself to a plan, but I’m very motivated by Kevin Morris’s story. You see, Kevin made a commitment, and is on the brink of losing 100 pounds. And he is not finished!
QUESTION: So what was different about this time? Surely you tried a diet plan or two in the past, and what have you done that has allowed you to follow through this time and what convinced you to do it most?
ANSWER: “Commitment is absolutely the key to success in losing excess weight. When I decided to get on this (no sugar, low carb) diet, I made myself go four months before I cheated, and I only cheated then by having a dinner out and piece of cake with my wife on our anniversary. Then it was straight back to the meal plan. It probably sounds somewhat corny as an excuse, but I was convinced I wasn’t going to be the person who couldn’t be active with my son, who is only one year old now.”
QUESTION: Why the low carb, no sugar meal plan similar to the “Atkins Diet?” There are so many options out there, what made you try this one and stick with it?
ANSWER: “I struggle with too many options, such as a “Weight Watchers” plan or counting calories, etc. I needed a plan that had more limitations, so I would know I can only eat this or that, and it’s a lot easier for me to plan my meals this way.”
QUESTION: Don’t you get burnt out on the same old meals?
ANSWER: “No, it’s amazing how diverse a salad can be when you change it up by adding or subtracting the foods that are on the plan such as meats, cheese, and nuts. And it’s not salad all the time, but salad is something I love so I eat it as often as possible. 0-sugar peanut butter has become my dessert, and I look forward to my spoonful every night!”
QUESTION: So exactly how much have you lost, you look like a different person? Of coarse, seeing you all the time, it’s not as noticeable every day, but it’s crazy to look back at a picture from the old you.
ANSWER: “Well, I was around 350 at my heaviest, and I’ve sort of plateaued over the last two weeks, but I now weigh 255. My original goal was to get to 265 with out having to exercise. I hate exercising, in fact, I told myself I would quit the plan before I start a workout.”
QUESTION: Almost 100 pounds? WOW, that’s amazing!!! You obviously changed your mind about exercise since you recently bought a bike and began cycling, right?
ANSWER: “Sorta, kinda. In my mind, I consider exercise as working out indoors, at a gym, etc. Since I ride my bike outside, I just feel like I’m relaxing in the outdoors more. I perceive bicycling more as a recreational sport, than a workout or exercise plan.
MASHER COMMENT: “I can relate somewhat, but I know for a fact, that I can get as much out of a bike ride as I put into it. As a former moderate runner, I compare the two sports by claiming that the worst part of a run is the run and you always feel better when you finish, but the worst part of a bike ride is the end, and the best part is the ride! Either way, I would much rather be outside than inside on a treadmill or stationary bike any day.”
QUESTION: So why cycling? Of all the outdoor “recreations” or sports you could have dove into, what made you pick bicycling?
ANSWER: “Well, I have to give that credit to you, Pearl (KP the Masher). I didn’t have the first clue what to expect from bicycling, but I remember passing people on bikes on the road and thinking they were a bit dorky, and slowing down traffic. Now I am much more aware of cyclists on the roadways and am happy to be riding myself. I had no idea what I needed to get started and where to go get it, so that’s where you came in and gave me great advice. If I didn’t know you and pick your brain about cycling, I’m confident I would have never given it a thought. I owe a big thanks to Masher.”
QUESTION: What keeps you motivated? You have slowed down some on the weight loss, which typically means you are getting close to your target healthy weight, so what will keep you on track now?
ANSWER: “That’s what I worried about, but staying focused is part of the commitment. I know we are going into a tough time of year for cycling because the days get shorter, and the weather gets tough to ride in, so I already got a membership to a local gym, and plan to do exactly what I thought I never would. I plan to work out and stay on the same diet, it’s worked for me so far, and I know it has. Looking at some of the old pictures of me are a brutal reminder of where I came from, and that is great motivation to stay on track.
MASHER CLOSING COMMENT: “Kevin is a very good friend, I am proud of him. He has given me more motivation, that I need right now, to improve my health. I have ridden over 2500 miles this year to date, including 3 centuries, and in 3 different states, and I feel like I’ve got a good grasp on my exercise, however I definitely can improve my eating habits. I WILL have my own weight loss story soon, too, I am confident of it, because I am ready to make a commitment. It is very gratifying to hear him give me credit for him becoming a new bicyclist. As our Mission reads here at RAM Cycling, we are committed to raising bicycling awareness, and what better way to do so than to add people to our bike population. In fact, Kevin also bought a bike for his wife, who is an avid runner, and she is also enjoying getting started in our beloved sport, as is her cousin, who followed suit. Thanks to RAM Cycling, we have added 3 bikes to the area! Keep up the good work Kevin, I hope you join RAM Cycling for a century ride next year, and you have plenty of time to train for GABRAKY 2012, also!
Masher’s new ride as of October 15, 2011 is a brand new 2011 Jamis Zenith Pro carbon frame road bike with SRAM Force components. As you can see, it is a beautiful black, white, and yellow machine, and it rides as good as it looks. I purchased the bike from Troy Hearn at Capital City Cycles in Frankfort, KY.
I took it out for my first ride on my birthday, although it wasn’t an actual b-day gift. I was joined by some friends and family for a 30 mile out-and-back ride including the Legacy Trail. My initial impression was that it begged to take off from the group, but I didn’t think that was necessary, considering we had two teenagers with us. I was able to satisfy that craving on my second ride, though, and it delivered excitement as I hoped. The bike is very responsive, handles like no bike I’ve been on before, and turns on a dime. It is very quick, climbs well, and in general, it’s fun to ride. I’m sure when I take it to it’s first big group ride, it will be a head turner. I am still getting used to the SRAM Force “double-tap” shifters, but the bike as a whole is AWESOME! I would compare it to my Trek Pilot road bike as though I went from a sports sedan to a true sports car. For example: from a Nissan Maxima to a Nissan 370Z. Oh yeah, it’s like that!
Why a new bike? Not totally sure the correct answer to that yet. I have hit a spot in my cycling career and fitness training where I feel like I needed a change of scenery, change of pace, and I hope this bike will help provide that much needed bump in my road. I also feel like I was ready for a step up in bike including upgrading frame, components, etc. and decided it is more cost effective to buy new than try to upscale. I’m super excited about receiving free lifetime tune ups, as well.
Why Jamis? This is a little easier to answer: first, I trusted all of Troy’s (Capital City Cycles) recommendations in relation to bike, size, components and cost. I feel like I got the most bike for my bucks spent. I also did some research online, and decided I wanted the SRAM and Jamis has built a solid name for themselves over recent years. I did notice some pretty good close out deals by purchasing a bike from a direct dealer online, but my final decision was to go with Capital City Cycles and the Jamis Zenith Pro. (The bike weighed in at 17.2 pounds fully built with computer and water bottles mounted.) My philosophy is, “if you can’t support local people, you shouldn’t expect them to support you!”
I know we are nearing the end of the 2011 riding season, and I’m sad about that, but I am very excited about training through the winter and rolling out early in 2012 with goals to accumulate more miles than ever in a single year, and attending one “Big Ride” charity event every month from April through October. In fact, please post a comment and let us know when and where your favorite ride is, so we can add it to our most wanted list and try to attend in 2012! And stay tuned for the first ever RAM Cycling Ride Event, it is still in planning phase, and we hope to have some more solid details by the end of the year!
In closing, thanks again Troy Hearn, Capital City Cycles, and Jamis for my new Zentih Pro road bike! I am looking forward to the next phase in my cycling like, thanks to you and your product! *Masher
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.
The information in this post may be a week or even a month overdue, however it is vital to surviving the cold weather on a bicycle. If you are anything like me, only so much time on the trainer, indoor bike, and/or treadmill is tolerable. Sure it’s a great way to stay in shape through the off season, but it doesn’t compare to the fun and freedom of being on the open road.
Luckily, there is gear available that will not only protect you from the elements of winter, but even enhance your riding experience throughout the year. I was fortunate enough to visit Norway twice while serving in the U.S. Marines, and the cold weather survival training I experienced as a result of those trips gave me a leg up on how to cycle in the winter. Utilizing the tips I will share with you, don’t be afraid to get outside and keep cycling through the dead of winter.
WINTER CYCLING TIPS:
1. Eat, Eat, Eat
2. Drink, Drink, Drink
3. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
5. Protect Extremities
6. Maintain Comfortably COOL
7. Use The Buddy System
First, and foremost, your body needs more energy in the winter to keep you going, therefor you need considerably more rest while consuming more food and water. Hydration is just as important in cold weather as in hot, and naturally you need more stored energy to burn to keep you warm, hence eat more.
Clothing should be kept simple, and are similar to summer cycling gear, with a few added layers. Closest to your body needs to be covered with a base layer of a tight wicking material to keep moisture off your body because you will sweat. I recommend poly propylene, this layer includes your head and feet. The next layer should be an insulating layer, but not too thick, and needs to be a breathable material such as polar fleece or wool. Finally, your outer most layer is your shield from the elements. This is a layer that will protect you from the wind, rain, snow or sleet, and gore tex is a great material for this. Full finger gloves, polar shoe covers, and insulating head wear covering ears are all a must. The extremities tend to get colder first, and can make you miserable if not properly protected. Remember, maintain a Comfortably Cool body temperature, not cold, warm, or hot. The last three will certainly lead to frost bite, hypothermia, and/or dehydration and overheating. Allow your layers to vent or simply remove and replace as needed. Listen to your body!
The last basic tip I can offer to help you continue cycling outdoors through the winter season is to do it with a friend. Your layers, when worn properly, will protect you whether you are moving or not, but in the event of an unexpected stop, it is always better to have an extra set of eyes to monitor. Another general rule of thumb to go by is try to avoid riding when precipitation is expected, for example rain, sleet, or snow, for obvious reasons. Keep it safe, check on your riding buddy often, just to make sure all riders are comfortably cool. Also, beware of salt crystals on the roadway for snow melting, as this is nearly as bad as riding over glass, not to mention, what it does to dry out and clog up your chain and cranks.
So get on out there, with your winter gear, rest, stored energy, and fully hydrated of coarse, and keep right on rolling through the depth of winter on your bicycle! I recommend centering your focus on time on the bike, base mileage, not speed and long distances. Keep it simple, keep your butt and legs in shape, and enjoy a spring season with less pain of getting back in bicycling shape.