May 2018 05

 

Only On A Bicycle.

Ever notice things on a bike ride that you otherwise wouldn’t? I remember our parish priest preaching about “awareness” one Sunday at Mass many years ago. He ask the question: have you ever arrived at a location, and immediately thought, I don’t remember the ride. Scary to think about sometimes. Especially if you just drove there. Yet it happens daily.

We submit to processes, routines, and the destination that too often we don’t pay attention to the journey. Fortunately, it’s not as easy to lose awareness on a bicycle ride. Sure, everyone finds themselves lost in a zone from time to time on a ride. That’s the medicinal benefits of riding. When you travel to work, school, the store, or anywhere that’s routine, you don’t pay much attention because you’re so familiar with the route.  However, when you travel anywhere via bicycle, you are forced to use multiple body senses, and the result is awareness. 

 

Which Way Do You Look?

Can you identify more details of landscape, or architecture features on a bicycle or in an automobile? I’d be willing to be it’s not even close. I notice something nearly every time I ride my bicycle that I wouldn’t see or hear or smell or taste if I was driving or riding in a car. And I realize it when it happens. It’s as if I notice something spectacular, then immediately give thanks that I was on a bike to be blessed to bear witness to it.

Ever ride a familiar route in the opposite direction you usually ride it? Try it sometime. I’ll bet you see things you haven’t noticed before. I have realized that I notice the landscape to my left a lot more than the scenes on my right when I’m cycling. Sometimes I go the opposite direction for better flow. Other times, I opt for more of a challenge. Simply a different view, is another reason or changing it up. Sounds crazy, I know, but it’s absolutely true.

 

Sightings From My Saddle

Recently, I rode a familiar route with my friend Nathan Rome. As we were closing in on our final descent back into the Frankfort river valley, from a ridge road behind Buffalo Trace Distillery, I pointed out the new warehouses built and being built off in the distance. Then I couldn’t help but notice the numerous trees along the road side that were decorated with glass bottles. It went on for at least a mile. Not huge trees, but just all different shapes, sizes and colors of bottles stuck onto the branches of tree after tree.

Another familiar scenic route I rode recently was a forty-something mile loop around my wife’s hometown area of Loretto, KY. I’ve ridden the area numerous times, and for some crazy reason, I tend to always go in the direction of the infamous Pottershop Rd. If you’re not familiar with it, you don’t want to be, I promise. It boasts some beautiful views out over rolling hills and knobs, but it’s an unforgiving climb to get the views. You’ll push your pedals with all your power to rise up the initial quarter to half mile at a gradient near 25-30%. Enjoy a steep, fast descent, then hit the replay button two more times, and expect your legs to be mad before you finish your ride to anywhere! On to my sighting…I have always had company on this loop before, so I guess I just never payed as much attention to the scenery like I did this particular ride. This area has an unbelievable amount of crosses along the roads. I didn’t keep count, but I’m not sure I can count that high anyway. I counted 5 crosses at one location, and numerous other sites with multiple crosses.

My final example I want to share of a moment noticed on my bike that I know I wouldn’t have in a car, also came on the recent ride with Nathan. As we left the valley of Peaks Mill, headed back toward Frankfort, he gave mention to never before seeing a narrow tributary flowing under Sullivan Lane in a sharp curve. He first heard the water rushing over the rock ledges in the bed of the small runoff, headed into the Elkhorn Creek. A perfect example of using multiple senses and being much more aware of surroundings on a bicycle than possible in a motor vehicle.

 

 

Share Your Moments As Seen On Bike

Please tell us about your sightings by joining in the conversation on social media. We will post this blog link to our Twitter. Anyone interested, please reply and start or continue a thread by posting your memorable moments…only witnessed from the saddle of your bicycle. We look forward to hearing them all.

 

Apr 2018 24

 

This year, I decided to give myself a new cycling challenge and commit to riding ten centuries. To help drive my self motivation, I explored the Kentucky Cycling Challenge, formerly the KY Century Challenge. I was one of just a few folks that completed the century route at each location (8 rides total) for the first two years of the Challenge. After skipping most of the rides the last three years, I decided it was time to renew my passion in the challenge again.

 

As I was researching the new rides that are participants, I discovered the main sponsor for the cycling challenge is Ale-8. For those of you not familiar with Ale-8, it is a citrus soft drink with a great ginger flavor that is made locally in Winchester, KY. If you are a central Kentucky cyclist, you’d probably claim it to be your official drink. I really don’t know anyone that doesn’t like it. I also discovered that they were offering a cycling ambassador program. The idea was to help promote their brand, and I just had to apply.

 

 

The application process was an essay format where you tell the selection committee why you should represent their brand as a cyclist. If selected to join the team, Ale-8 asked that you agree to be photographed and mentioned on social media, and wear the jersey they give you at all of the Kentucky Cycling Challenge events. Huh?! Yeah….you heard correct, a free Ale-8 One cycling jersey!! I’m not sure how many people applied, but I’m positive that they could sell the jersey for $50-$75 and probably sell as many as they want.  That makes the 21 of us chosen as the initial ambassador group feel that much more special, knowing we are the only ones with the awesome jersey.

 

 

It took the committee a couple extra days to officially select the total group and they must have had some excellent entries. I was very ecstatic to have been selected. Many of my friends reached out to congratulate me, and ask if this meant that we get free Ale-8 after all our rides. That’s my awesome friends, for you. LoL! Now that I’ve received my jersey and completed the first ride in the challenge, I plan to wear my jersey proudly on rides regularly. I couldn’t help but notice that no one from the largest city in Kentucky was named to the ambassador team, so I definitely plan to help promote Ale-8 by wearing my jersey anytime I ride in Louisville!

 

 

In closing, I want everyone to know how greatly humbled and appreciative I am to have been selected as an official Ale-8 One cycling ambassador. I highly encourage all of my friends and family to patronize the brand and I promise to represent them properly. By the way, we had an ice cold Ale-8 waiting on us at the finish of the Redbud Ride this past weekend… you’re welcome,  my friends! P.S. I can’t wait to try the new cherry flavored Ale-8!

@KPtheMasher

Mar 2018 03

Never before in my 13 years of cycling have I been lucky enough to get in a solid week of cycling in mid eighties and sunny weather in February! Nor have I ever had the fortune of completing a century ride as early as February before. Until February 2018 arrived, that is. Doesn’t seem possible in north central Kentucky, does it? You never know what to expect in the winter months in the bluegrass state. We’ve seen polar vortex temps to massive snow storms to ice storms knocking out electricity for days and weeks, to mild temps with gray and rainy days.

 

A few months ago, I had a couple coworkers invite me to join them on a fishing trip in February to Lake Okeechobee in Florida. Florida in February…hmm, tough decision?! I’m not quite the dedicated fisherman they are, but the sound of sunshine and mid 80’s sounded pretty appealing, for sure. I agreed to go, with one small stipulation. We had to make room in the boat to bring my bike! They obliged and I was thankful.

They intended to fish twice a day, every day that we were there. A morning trip that would start at sun up, a break for lunch, followed by an afternoon session that would end at sunset. I picked the times I would fish based on when I wasn’t cycling. Having never been to this area, I was not expecting the degree of rural where we travelled to in Florida. I have only ever been to coastal towns or Orlando. This place felt like home, except for the weather and sunshine!

I was fortunate to find nearby access to a paved section of trail that sits atop the lake levee. Our vacation rental house was about two miles down the highway from a canal/lake lock that includes entrance to the recreation trail. I ventured in both directions (north and south) as I was blessed to get to ride my bike for 5 straight days. I took a day off on the last day there, as my legs were tired from the work I had put in. I managed to accumulate a little over 250 miles over the five days, including finishing with a century ride on the last day.

 

Although, I was unfamiliar with the area, it didn’t take long to find my way around on some roads that weren’t too busy. The roads coupled with the trail made for a great week of R &R, R & R! Yes, four R’s! Rest. Relaxation. Recreation. And recharge. The cycling was typical Florida…flat, hot and always windy in one direction or another. All said and done, I know how fortunate I was to get to see the sun shine every day for a week, while doing a couple of pastimes I love. Especially considering the amount of rainy days we had at home in February. I hope they invite me to go fishing again next year!

I have set some pretty lofty goals for my cycling in 2018, and one of them is to complete 10 century rides. It’s a great feeling to be excited about lofty goals and finishing the first of ten this early in the year brings a smile to my face! I don’t intend to preach about my goals though. I’d rather let my actions speak for me!

@KPtheMasher

Feb 2018 10

 

 

I’ve yet to find a better way to pass my spare time than riding a bicycle. In my adult life, when I’m officially clocked out from work, I’m most often joining in the fun of following my children’s activities. When I’m not doing either of those, I have ventured into several different personal pastimes. Golf, boating, poker games, and running are just a few of them. In my thirteenth year as a cyclist, I can say with firm validity that I could give up all the others, and most of them I already have, except for bicycling!

 

My passion grew even stronger in 2017 when I finally crossed over into the mountain bike world. I definitely surprised myself at how much I enjoyed it. Changing up the monotony of any routine can bring new energy to a passion, and that’s exactly what happened with my love for cycling. I recently had a local cyclist message me through Strava or Twitter (can’t remember which one). She ask about the advantages of mountain biking versus road cycling. I’m not sure that I’m completely qualified to answer since I only finished my first full year of mountain biking, but I’ll give it a try. From my vantage point, at least.

 

BAD NEWS

The weather definitely dictates when you can ride single track trails. “Mud on your heels or wheels? Stay off the trails!” That’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to use of any trail system. I recommend a Google search on “freeze/thaw” to better understand when it’s okay to ride your trails.

Trails are more dangerous than one may think. The trees are often very close to the trail. Plenty of roots, rocks, and just constant changes in the trail surface make paying attention paramount. Any wreck on a mountain bike  ride can range from a simple scrape to potential paralysis or even death.

You typically have to drive to ride. I like when I go for a road ride, I just hop on my bike and go. I have yet to ride my mountain bike (on a trail) without having to drive to get where I want to ride.

If you’re a mileage or average speed junkie, you’ll find yourself upside down on your data. I compare mountain biking to running without the impact that causes joint injuries. You will go much slower speeds  and shorter distances than when you road cycle.

Sometimes I want to go for a ride just to let go of all the stresses and worries on my mind. Just get out, spin and let it all go. Be miles into a ride and start looking around to figure out where I am because I’m lost in thought or dreaming. That doesn’t happen on single track. Riding mountain bike is like playing a video game. Everything is right in front of you and it happens too quickly for you to lose focus on the trail.

 

 

GOOD NEWS

When you don’t have enough time to get in a good road ride, mountain biking is an excellent workout in 45 minutes to an hour. It’s all up to how you ride. If you ride mountain bike for about 4 hours straight, you may only have 30ish miles depending on the trail difficulty, but your body will feel similar to doing an 8 hour ride on road bike.

You should never have a worry about getting run over by a vehicle on your mountain bike, assuming you’re riding a trail. Thus far, all of the trail users I’ve crossed paths with (including walkers, runners, and other cyclists) are typically very courteous about sharing trail.

 

In my short mountain biking time, I’ve witnessed growth in it’s popularity and hear and/or see of many new trails being developed in our nearby riding region. Some parks are adding to what they have. Some are changing existing features on the same trails. Some are cutting in new trails all together. There’s plenty of trails around here to ride, and it’s growing!

Mountain biking improves mental focus. Reading books, working crossword puzzles, eating certain foods, and other exercises are proven to help keep the mind sharp. I would place mountain biking high on that list of other exercises. One true way to improve anything is make it workout regularly. Hop on a mountain bike, hit the trail, and it just happens.

 

 

NEUTRAL NEWS

Cost… I don’t give an advantage or disadvantage to either road cycling or mountain biking when it comes to cost. You can’t spend as little or as much as you want on both sports.

They are both a great ride whether you ride solo or socially. Granted, you will talk more during a road ride if you’re in a group pace line. However, I’ve felt more social with a group on a trail as we periodically will stop and enjoy conversation as we regroup. Likewise, I get much enjoyment out of a good solo ride in either sport also.

Rather than coming right out and saying I enjoy one over the other, I revert back to playing sports as a youth. My favorite is the one I’m riding at the time. Truly, my favorite part is the ability to have a completely different ride experience from one to the other.

For example, December was not a good month for road cycling. Too often when I was available to ride, temps were below 20 F and since the ground was frozen I was hitting the trails to avoid the wind on the road. I broke out my road bike on our first warm day in January and felt like a kid in a candy shop. Then as the ground was unfrozen and/or wet most on January, all of my rides were on the road or indoors. Finally last weekend I was able to get back on my mountain bike early before the ground thawed. Instantly, the kid in a candy shop feeling returned!

In closing, I can say with confidence, I love both road cycling and mountain biking! Hope my opinion helps anyone give either a try. And because I enjoy the change in monotony so well, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before I give the gravel bike thing a try. That seems to be the latest greatest sport I hear many of my cycling friends talking about. I don’t expect it to happen this year, but I’ve learned to never rule anything out 😉

 

I don’t ride a bicycle to add days to my life, I ride a bicycle to add life to my days * @KPtheMasher

Jan 2018 27

 

The new year is already nearly a month old, unbelievable how fast time flys. Looking back over our most recent content here at RAM Cycling, I realize I lost track of my writing in 2017. However, I’ve never lost my passion for cycling! Before I roll out my plans for the riding in 2018, let me briefly touch on/ wrap up a few things from last year.

 

First, I have to publicly express my huge feeling of pride in Tim the Renaissance Man! I was lucky to witness him accomplish his mission in becoming the Iron Deacon by completing the official Ironman Louisville triathlon last October. Very few folks know how many obstacles he had in his training schedule, but he never let anything keep him from accomplishing the mission. Awesome job Tim!

 

Next, I need to apologize for not writing enough reviews about a couple of my favorite rides from 2017. My first full year trying the new adventure of riding mountain bike climaxed when I participated in the “12 Hours of Capitol View” race in hometown Frankfort. It was a blast! Tons of cyclists from numerous states.  Over a thousand miles were ridden on the single track trails in my backyard and it’s an awesome social event. I managed to complete 66 miles in 6 full laps! I was whipped, but had a huge sense of accomplishment.

 

I also completed the century route again with my fundraising friends of Team Just Cycle at “Bike to Beat Cancer.” This is a ride to benefit Norton’s Cancer Institute in Louisville, KY.  I can’t put into words of  what an awesome feeling it is to participate in this event. It has so much meaning behind it and is supported as well as any ride I’ve ever done. I’m looking forward to this ride for years to come and hoping to raise even more money each year. Please let me know if you can help! Trust me, you can! And it’s greatly needed and appreciated!

 

Finally, I owe one more apology. I chose not to host my annual “RAM Cycling Oktoberfest” ride for a couple reasons. We have held it during October the first three years and I knew that would be problematic with Tim’s triathlon training. I didn’t want to have the event without him. My fitness had some peaks and valleys in 2017, and that was another reason I chose not to host it. For those of you that have attended one of these rides, you’ll be happy to know I have plans to replace it. This year I will introduce a new century ride “Bourbon RAM Fondo.” This ride will be a challenging century route around Frankfort and there will once again be bourbon at the finish! All of our friends are invited to attend, I will set the date very soon. Secretly, I hope to gain local interest in this idea and possibly grow into a partnership with Buffalo Trace. My interest in bourbon heritage is on the rise and I’m very lucky to be a neighbor to the National Historic Landmark distillery.

 

 

Now onto 2018… I have declared this a comeback year for the Masher! Rather than talk about it or write about what’s to come too much, I have vowed to let my actions speak for me. Here’s what I’m thinking and I’m pretty excited. I believe this early optimism is the most enthusiastic I’ve been about cycling in several years and it’s a great feeling. I have already signed up for the KY Century Challenge again. I publicly committed to ten centuries on my Twitter account. I also plan to do some unofficial century rides with friends especially Schmidty! Definitely doing the 12 hour CVP race again. Hopefully  my schedule will line up for me to join Nathan and other friends on a MTB guys weekend in Pisgah National Forest.

 

In closing, I invite any of my friends and/or RAM followers to track my actions by following and my activities on Strava (Kevin Pearl). Or even better, join me on the road or trail! Hopefully you can see me riding in an Ale-8 One Ambassador cycling jersey at one of these events, since I  plan to submit my application to join their team!

 

Let’s Ride!   *** masher***