My Journey In Preparation For Chefs Cycle
You know the story: two talented, athletic, competitive people get married and people think: “Man, they are going to have some fiercely athletic children someday.” Well, I’m sure that’s what my parents’ friends thought...and, if they did, they were oh so wrong.
…at least when it comes to me. My mom and dad were the sweetheart couple at Colorado State University. My dad: the collegiate swimmer on scholarship...and my mom: the all-american gymnast (literally...she was inducted into the hall of fame at CSU just a few years ago).
Unfortunately for me, none of the athletic genes were passed down. I even gave sports a shot! I tried gymnastics, swimming, track - - - but I was gooooood without all of that mess and truth be told, preferred skipping swim practice to hit the concessions stand for some nachos instead #priorities. It wasn’t until just last year that I began to get the itch and decided it was time I dedicate myself to something other than strictly working, reading, eating, drinking, and playing video games.
For those of you who don’t know, I will be riding in Chefs Cycle in exactly one week. In just seven days, I’ll be pedaling through my first cycling event...that just so happens to be 300 miles long in the hilly wine country that is Santa Rosa, California. NBD. Before I embark on this venture, I’d like to share a little bit about my journey with my BV homies (that would be you all!).
My cycling itch spawned from Julia’s inaugural ride last year. Julia Sullivan, my good friend and colleague, is also one half of the dynamic female duo that is behind Henrietta Red. She is a woman who I would consider accomplished and who I admire a great deal - so it makes sense why I would follow in her footsteps and am lucky enough to be her 2019 Chefs Cycle teammate alongside another friend and colleague -- and fellow BV writer to boot! -- Maddie Adams. Together, the three of us are part of Team Food & Wine, a truly kickass team comprised of Maddie, Julia, and I, plus some incredible folks from Food & Wine Magazine (like editor-in-chief Hunter Lewis, senior food editor Mary-Frances Heck, publisher Giulio Capua, and test kitchen guru Paige Grandjean) alongside some industry greats with names you may recognize (like the barman behind Metzger Bar & Butchery, Kjell Anderson, and 2019 James Beard Award-winning chef Brady Williams). Together, we will trudge through three days of [what I can only assume will be] grueling work - all to fight hunger in the name of No Kid Hungry, which connects kids all across the country with healthy food where they live, learn, and play. Every $1 donated can help connect a child with up to 10 meals - it’s a pretty incredible effort to say the least!
Over the past year, I have gone through the rigorous process of purchasing a bike, training my everloving a$$ off, sustaining an injury, and raising a shit ton of money through a series of fundraising events here in Nashville, which we named Friends with Benefits….and I’ve learned a lot throughout the process. I discovered that acquiring a bike isn’t as easy as you would think - I was actually laughed out of a local bike shop when I told them I wanted to buy a bike in order to train for a 300-mile ride in a year. Discouraged and frustrated, I ended up going against my initial desire to buy local and logged onto PinkBike.com (per recommendation from my Iron Man-winning uncle). I was lucky enough to purchase a bike from a lovely man who runs a mountain bike experience business in Moab, UT called Western Spirit. Essentially, he buys new bikes every season, takes folks on these stellar bike trips through Moab, and sells them once the season has come to an end. About a week later, I found myself with a very slightly used Specialized Roubaix...and I love it something fierce.
I wouldn’t have been as successful in my training efforts if it weren’t for Julia and Maddie. These two ladies, I tell ya, they have determination in their blood. They were built for challenges such as this. And, lucky for me, I’m a stubborn piece of work. We trained, and we trained a lot, though mostly at separate times. Through winter and spring, when it was often cold and wet, we found ourselves at one of the many classes offered at TYLT Cycle. It’s perfect - they have a class called Dirty 30/30 in which you cycle for 30 minutes and strength train for 30 minutes. It’s awesome. And yeah, on the sunny days (weekends for Maddie and myself) we’d hit the roads as often as we could. It wasn’t without some setbacks, though. The three of us went on exactly one group ride together - and about 10 minutes into the ride, I slipped on a bridge and dislocated my shoulder (turns out you don’t want to brake on a wet bridge). With journeys come setbacks, though, and I finally healed enough (both physically and mentally) to get back out on my bike again.
One would think the most difficult part of this experience would be the training. Getting your mind and body and self prepared for those three days on the road. False. (Although, that was a very challenging feat while we were in the midst of opening Strategic Hospitality’s largest and most complex project ever: Downtown Sporting Club) We had a lot of money to raise! In order to make it to Chefs Cycle, each rider must individually raise at least $4,500. The goal, though, is $7,500. Maddie, Julia, and I went to work. We planned a series of events called Friends with Benefits, which included three culinary-focused events and two fitness-focused events. We partnered with some of our friends who were kind enough to give their time (thank you Josh Habiger of Bastion, Kate Williams of Lady of the House, Brady Williams of Canlis, Jackalope Brewing Co, and TYLT Cycle!!) and, in addition to some incredible donations from our friends and family, we collectively raised $20,297. As a team, we’ve raised $45,692...and the donations are still coming in!
PS - If you wanted to make a donation -- for any amount! -- you could do so here. Just saying...
We’ll see how next week goes. Maybe I’ll fail, perhaps I’ll succeed, but either way, I was able to focus my attention and efforts on a singular event incorporating all of the passions I surround my life with. I have the opportunity to ride alongside these incredible people on Team Food & Wine, in the name of Strategic Hospitality, and as an individual. And through all the accomplishment that comes with that, we’re raising so much money for an incredible cause. It’s not often you find a #win #win #win, but I think in this case, I have.