How I got into cycling. cover image

How I got into cycling.

Matt Trask • August 12, 2019

Read Time: 7 mins

cycling life

The picture above is my view when Im riding. Yes I have teal bar tape, I love it. The Garmin has been a godsend. I get my heart rate, heart rate zone, speed, average speed, cadence and distance all right there.

Andi sent me this reply after I posted that I was close to crossing the 1,400 miles (2253.082 kilometers) mark. That is 1,400 miles in one year. I didn't really get started til about April with the weather and the fact Nashville gets hosed by the EST/CST date line. Because we are so close to the EST but in CST, we lose daylight quickly in the winter. Which means its harder to ride til about March after work. Since Im on this blog spree, I loved his questions and felt it was a good topic. I talk about cycling alot as a lot of people know. I love it so much. It has given me a way to explore, meet cool people, challenge myself, and make some extra money!

What keeps me motivated.

The motivation can be tough at times. My legs will be sore, my back from being in an aggressive riding position, my feet from my shoes, but I still get out there as much as I can. What motivates me is that with things like Strava, and the group I ride with, I see tangiable improvement each time. I don't go out every ride ready to crush PR's or drop anyone in my path, but just based on fitness levels I can tell even easy rides get easier. Or as they say in the group: "it doesn't get easier, you just get faster". The group rides give me a sense of belonging. Im not the fittest one, the fastest one, or the cutest one (debatable really), but I give it my all, and when we regroup in the middle or at the end of the ride, we congratulate each other for the effort. They see me get crushed on a hill, and they still recognize I gave it my all. It means a lot someone would care to give me that recognition. We share a beer at the end of the night, and talk about things cycling related, or not. I may get my ass kicked on a ride one week, and the next week be at the front of the paceline helping others draft behind me. Its amazing what time will do.

But besides the group, its a sense of exploration. Nashville is rich in greenways that make you feel like you are 50 miles outside of a city, when really I'm only 5 miles away. It's great to be in nature, watching deer play, seeing a turtle still trying to finish the race. Seeing kids learning how to balance while you ride by and they look at you as a source of "I can do that!" is worth it. And yes, it is fun to drop someone on the greenway. I do it a lot. Its a small sense of pride when I can tuck in, drop a gear and hammer it out.

The other thing that motivates me is that I'm helping others learn how to ride in the roads next to cars. When I do bike tours, we ride on normal roads, and these are people who wouldn't normally ride in a road if they could help it. To give them that sense of accomplishment is worth it.

How I got started.

I got started with cycling in this form about 4 years ago when I worked for the wonderful Jacques Woodcock. I saw a tweet of his about him riding in the Tour de Nash here in Nashville and started to ask questions. I've always been attracted to the idea of biking everywhere. I'd love to live in a city where I can do that. It's hard to do it in Nashville because of the heat and lack of bike infrastructure such as bike rooms and showers in offices. No one wants to hang out with the sweaty dude in the office. Its a fact of life.

After some talking with Jacques, I bought my first bike. It was a hybrid bike, nothing special but it was mine. I felt so cool in the streets of Atlanta where really I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn't in a group, I was just on my own. Jacques convinced me to come up to Nashville with him to do a metric century. A metric century consisted of a 64 mile/100 kilometer ride, this one up in Clarksville TN but most of it in the backwoods of Kentucky. I trained hard for it, trying to ride as much as I could. Being a remote job, Jacques told me to use my lunch time as a time to go ride, so I would set out every day around 12pm and just ride til about 1pm and get back to work. It was magical.

When that job ended, I moved up to Nashville. My first week there Jacques punished me with some brutal riding. A tour of Nashville, a brutal 1800 ft of climbing and exploring this new city of mine. From there, I just fell face first into this new hobby. I started reading up on how to get faster, how to get stronger. I watched maintainence videos to learn the basics. From there I found my first group, the slow ride on Wednesdays. They were a group aimed at getting more people riding, more people comfortable with road riding and group riding. It was a great introduction but as I got better I wanted more. I found a ride at the sister shop of the one that did the slow ride and thats where I am now. This group rides. 20mph average, climbing around 1400 ft on average, and a solid mix of riders. Crit riders, distance riders, sprinters and people who do this for fun. I can't recommend a group ride enough. The friendships are enough to make it amazing.

Has it changed my life?

God, yes. Unfortunately for my girlfriend, I won't stop talking about rides I've done. She is a trooper and puts up with it. However, I don't know what life would be like if I didn't have my bike. I use it to clear my head after a long day, I use it to get outside and exercise, and I use it to explore. I have a challenge now to ride a bike in all 50 states. I've got 6 down, with plenty more to do. I've gotten my dad into cycling. Funny enough it started with him just doing the 8 mile GA 400 Century while I did the 50 mile edition. It ended with him wanting more. He even messaged me the other day asking to move from standard pedals to the clip ones. It may have saved my parent's marriage too, because it got my dad to become active and focus on his mental health.

It's no understatement that cycling is huge to me. I advocate for more people to ride bikes. The Happiness Institute in Denamark has found people are happier on bikes. I can personally attest to that. Im happiest on a bike. Sure Im happy around friends, but have you cycled with friends?! One of my favorite memories is the ride I did in Miami with 9/10 friends Michael Moussa and Kat Zien a day before Sunshine PHP where we took a 40 mile ride through Miami. It hurt, it was rough at times but damn it was so much fun.

So what is stopping you? Grab a bike! You will be happier, and when we meet, we can ride instead of just sitting at a bar!