The Personal Challenges
I love bikes, obviously a big reason why I chose to work at Cane Creek. Just about every type of riding excites me, I’ve even dabbled in a bit of racing and even won a few. I’ve always found the idea of racing to be fairly daunting. I would run through the mental checklist in my mind: “I have to ride this many hours, this many miles, at this speed, at this intensity to be in this good of shape, etc.”
For me, what I have found with just about everything in life, is that personal challenges have always turned out to be much more rewarding than beating someone to the line.
My First Real Ride
My college roommate was at school on a track scholarship, when he burned out on running, he picked up the bike again (he had ridden bikes earlier in his life). One weekend he left town to go home for a visit. I decided that it would be a good idea to take his bike and go on a little adventure of my own. After riding around campus for a while, I decided to venture out further. I went to school in Southwest Virginia, not exactly what you would call a flat part of the state. I knew there was a road that led up to a great lookout and I decided to challenge myself to get to the top. Climbing to that overlook just about killed me, once at the top, the feeling of accomplishment had me hooked.
By the time I graduated, I had a few years under my belt riding bikes. I decided to quit my job and pick up and move to Colorado. I had no job prospects and no friends to crash with in Colorado but I thought, “Hey, I’ll figure it out.” The few years I spent in Colorado boasted some of the most epic and beautiful riding, I’m thankful I took the leap.
After Colorado, I moved back across the country to Asheville. Once again, with no job lined up thankfully, I did have some friends in town. I’ve done a few bikepacking trips over the years: Blue Ridge Parkway twice, Vapor Trail in CO, 6+ day traverse across Eastern TN and Western NC, and a few more. Nothing I would call overly extensive but each one has proven to be its own extremely rewarding experience.
Before I decided to “settle down” and get back to work in Asheville, I took my first bikepacking trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I borrowed a bike with a rack attached with pipe clamps and carried way too much gear in two rear panniers. That trip changed my whole perspective and the way I thought about riding bikes and to a much larger scale… life. That first bikepacking trip had such an impact on me, I did it again 7 years later… with a much better setup.
First Time Homebuyer
After “settling down”, naturally, I got married and became a homeowner. The next great challenge posed was maintaining, fixing and renovating our home. I’ve always enjoyed learning new skills – from building a deck to tiling a shower, plumbing and even building furniture. The journey, like my climb to the top of that first mountain, makes the accomplishment that much more satisfying.
I’ve spent the better part of the past 10+ years being a Graphic Designer. I’ve worked for a handful of bicycle and outdoor brands along the way and I don’t think there will ever be a time when I don’t want to create things visually, but a challenging and new opportunity presented itself this past year… and I jumped on it. I often wish I had gone down the career path to becoming an engineer- I’ve always been a tinkerer. Often, I alter products to meet my exact needs. When the opportunity to join the product development team here at Cane Creek became available, I knew I couldn’t turn it down. It’s been a dream of mine to be a part of something that helps make cycling better for more people and so far, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it.
Becoming a Father
I’m now on to my greatest challenge yet- fatherhood. I knew being a dad would be hard but like most first time parents, I didn’t fully grasp just how hard until my wife and I had our daughter. The first few months were really challenging, the constant screams and cries, the lack of sleep – still I knew it would be worth it to stick it out with her. I challenged myself to refrain from getting angry, giving up and giving her back to her mother to put her to sleep. I knew at the end of the day, we would grow closer and have a better connection if I stuck it out. Knowing that she finds comfort in me is by far the best reward in life.
38th Birthday Ride
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that becoming a parent means less time on the bike. My daughter is my world and I’ll choose to spend time with her over my bike any day. My daughter just celebrated her 2nd birthday and I’ve started to gain a little more time back on the bike. Most recently I set a challenge of doing a pretty significant ride on my 38th birthday. (Thankfully) Cane Creek grants their employees their birthdays off and I took advantage of this opportunity. Almost 80 miles of traversing some choice gravel in Pisgah National Forest and 8200ft of climbing later, I was COOKED. Pure exhaustion and pure bliss from the accomplishment – it was a combo I’d missed.
While my wife, family and friends may consider these personal challenges an addiction, these journeys have been incredibly rewarding. My wife, especially knows that when I get one of these “challenges” in my head, I’m not going to let it go until I cross it off of my list. I’m thankful that she is patient and understanding with my obsessions. To her, Thank You!
Several big challenges on the docket this year… Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway for the 3rd time here in early April, Unbound Gravel in June and riding the Trans Virginia route closer to the fall (A nice little 700 mile jaunt from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. along the Blue Ridge Parkway back to Asheville, NC.)
With every challenge accomplished I feel more satisfaction in my own growth, becoming a better person and chasing after my goals. My plans may not be the best laid out and I may wing it from time to time but that’s part of the challenge and the feeling of personal accomplishment… is one of the best feelings in the world.