Great cycling starts here!

Joel Brandt

Favorite rides: LiveStrong Challenge 2013, Levi’s, Folsom Lake loop, Haleakala Summit (cycle to the sun)

Riding with CF since 2003 or so?

My cycling passion started around 1984 in Pittsburgh, PA. I was playing football at Penn state and had a knee injury my freshman year and as a way to improve flexibility and strength my high school coach invited me to join him on some training rides. After purchasing a used Schwinn SuperSport with a leather Brooks saddle I decided to join him with my tube socks, cotton shirt and “coaches shorts”. Needless to say the ride was a bitch but I was hooked! From 1984-89 our group grew from 3-4 riders to over 15…mostly ex or current football players (we had several Steelers ride with us religiously as well as several PSU teammates). We were a force to be reckoned with and due to our lack of a “cycling physique” dubbed ourselves the “Rhinos”.

Back then we were greatly influenced by what we saw on TV and the movies (Breaking Away/American Flyers…Rae Dawn Chong’s back wheel change is a thing of beauty!). Our jerseys consisted of a silk screened Rhino riding a bike with a H2O bottle strapped to the horn and 3 pockets sewn on the back of our cotton jersey…talk about sagging! We trained, raced, drank and had a great time! After my sophomore year I decided to quit football due to a variety of reasons (RB’s aren’t supposed to be slower than lineman lol). I tried rugby but decided to join the PSU cycling team instead. It is here that I was introduced to the team concept of working together for 1 rider to win. I loved it! Pace lines, echelons, attacking, chasing, sucking wheel etc were all new and exciting and concepts I was able to take back to my team in Pittsburgh. We rode road bikes in the good weather and mountain bikes in the snow and rain. The bug was lit and I finally decided to invest in my 1 st real racing bike…a red Colnago (Reynolds Steel, Campy Record and since we were sponsored by the local bike shop…only $500!) God I loved that bike!!!

In 1990 I moved to San Diego where I continued cycling and joined a group called the “Banana Bunch”. We would meet on weekends and hit the countryside. There were Jr. National riders on the team and I don’t think I ever finished a ride with any of them. Talk about getting blown off the back! It is here that I learned to be self-supportive and know the route! In spite of all that, it was an absolute blast. In 2000 I moved to Folsom and after a few years of riding solo I found CycleFolsom. I still remember those rides, especially OZ yelling at me for cutting corners on the bike path down to Discovery Park! Things with CycleFolsom really started to feel like family when I met and started riding with Stan, Kevin, Gary, Phil, Brian, OZ, Tim, Krysta and Kirk. We had some great times and memories. More importantly, I found people who challenged and pushed me to be a better cyclist. In 2011 I had to take some time off due to an illness. To this day I still think one of the contributing factors for me beating my illness was my desire to get back on the bike and ride with my friends. I missed the camaraderie, the challenges and the smack talk that went with dropping someone or getting dropped and then meeting afterwards for a coffee or beer and rehashing the hurt we just had.

I love being a ride leader and the passion CycleFolsom has brought to our community. I love the fact that Folsom is a cycling mecca and offers so many different options to challenge yourself. I also love the fact that some of my best friends today were met on CF rides.

Best advice:

  • HS coach: “Hills are not there to punish us, they are our friends. It is these hills that make you stronger, faster and smarter in your riding”.
  • Rule #5: HTFU
  • Descents are not for recovery…recovery ales are for recovery
  • Hold your line
  • There are only three remedies for pain. These are:
    1. If your quads start to burn, shift forward to use your hamstrings and calves, or
    2. If your calves or hamstrings start to burn, shift back to use your quads, or
    3. If you feel wimpy and weak, meditate on Rule #5 and train more!
  • Finally, we will all get dropped at some time. It’s nothing personal nor something to be ashamed of. Have a sense of humor, ride within yourself and stop and smell the roses. Over the last few years I have noticed things on our routes that I never saw before. This is a beautiful area, enjoy it!