Get To Know A Blogger: Matt Gholson (Barn Door Cycling)

Bloggers everywhere are getting into the online interview business and I see no reason why my award-winning and highly influential blog should be any different.  I am always very impressed with the stories and advice to be found on other blogs and believe the authors would be outstanding interview subjects.  Therefore I am pleased to announce my Get To Know A Blogger interview series, where I will introduce to you, the massive audience of this blog, to some of the interesting personalities amongst the eclectic group of bloggers whom routinely contribute to this blog, have interesting stories, have properly bribed me, or perhaps have some incriminating evidence on me which I hope to remain hidden.

To start things off, I can think of no better subject than Matt Gholson, author of Barn Door Cycling.  Matt has the distinction of being the first person whom I did not already know in the Real World to comment on one of my posts (Post #5, May 22, 2010).  It’s safe to say he was there at the beginning.  Apart from this distinction, he has a great blog of his own, in which he details his cycling adventures in Southern Illinois and places farther afield.

A typical self-portrait of Matt, showing his pre-ride gesture and his affinity for cycling hats.

1.  What bikes do you own and which one is your favorite?

2010 Cannondale CAAD9, Nashbar Touring Bike, Trek Fuel EX, Vassago Bandersnatch.  The CAAD9 is my favorite on the road and the Bandsnatch is the ultimate mountain bike.

CAAD9

Bandersnatch

2.  Your blog is peppered with cycling stories from your youth.  Was there ever a break in your cycling or have you more or less been at this continuously?

I almost completely quit riding while finishing college.  Despite having summers off my first couple of yours teaching, I didn’t really get back into it.  Around 2004, one of my high school friends moved back into town from serving in the Navy and brought a road bike.  I got back to riding and never looked back.

3.  What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment on a bicycle?

Probably last year when I went alone to Chattanooga for the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge.  Since everyone had bailed it would have been very easy to bail.  The hardest accomplishment was riding the million dollar highway from Durango to Ouray at 275 pounds.

4.  What is the least-advised (i.e., crazy) thing you ever did on a bicycle?

Once I grabbed the bucket of a back hoe and let it pull me across town.

5.  I’m impressed with your ability to build new bikes and fabricate parts.  How did you acquire this skill?

Well, I bought a scratch and dent special mountain bike frame and a bunch of junk parts from a bike shop and experimented a lot and nearly destroyed that frame.  It’s difficult at first and the only way to learn is to just do it.  Same way I learned to build wheels, the first one didn’t work but they progressively got better.  I bought tools as I needed them and spent a lot of time on the park tool website.

6.  You clearly enjoy the cycling scene in Southern Illinois.  What do you find most compelling about the area?

Well, we are a small but close community of riders.  My wife jokes when we see a rider while driving that they must have forgot to call and see if I wanted to ride.  Being an economically depressed rural area has its advantages.  We have lots of chip and seal roads that are great for bike riding with very little traffic.  The Shawnee National Forest provides hundreds of miles of excellent mountain bike trails.

7.  Your blog title pokes fun at your weight challenges and you have documented your successes in losing weight on the bicycle.  What advice do you have for others who want to drop some pounds?

I lost around 80 pounds and did it by applying discipline and routine to my life.  Up early to walk, replaced lunch with a protein shake, smart supper and nightly exercise.  Now if I could do that again and lose another 50 pounds I might be able to keep up with Luke.

8.  If you could do only one more ride for the rest of your life, what would that ride be and why?

Oh man, that is a hard question.  Probably just our standard route with Mom, Dad, and my wife.

 

SPECIAL FEATURE!   In an exciting twist to the usual interview process, I have allowed Matt to ask me any cycling related question that he may have.  Clever, eh?  I think it may shed some more insight on where Matt’s head is at and it allows me to talk about myself, which I always enjoy.  So here is Matt’s question:

You’ve done a very diverse amount of riding, brevets to charity crits.  Do you see yourself becoming more focused on a discipline of riding in the future?

Oooh, what an exciting question!  Thanks, Matt.  You have immediately demonstrated the coolness of this feature!

I like variety, so I doubt very much I will ever focus on a specific discipline.  I think sampling different things and taking on new challenges helps to keep me interested and on the bike.  I find myself attracted to touring and distance rides, thus the interest in centuries and brevets.  I hope to push the envelope a little further on those next year and perhaps take on a 300k brevet.  I also enjoy unusual events that are not necessarily tremendous athletic feats such as the Vasaloppet Ride and Bike DC (assuming they can get their course directions straightened out).  Cycling around new (to me) cities is always fun and anything with a history angle will get my attention!  I can see an occasional triathlon in my near future and some overnight touring in my distant future.  The mountain biking bug has yet to bite me.

Thus concludes my first ever Get To Know A Blogger segment.  A special thanks to Matt for being my guinea pig and for reading and commenting on my drivel for over two years.  If you are not already a regular reader of Barn Door Cycling, I encourage you to stop by for a visit.  I have learned a great many things from Matt’s blog and it’s always an entertaining read!

This Is Certainly Awkward

Matt over at Barn Door Cycling has hit upon the great idea of announcing end of year awards for his blog.  I am pleased to report that There And Back Again is the proud recipient of the Barn Door Cycling 2011 Blog of the Year!  Naturally I am honored and humbled by such a distinction.

And this presents a dilemma.

Most loyal readers will know that I spend a fair amount of time in this space mocking myself with self-important drivel, such as, “as you all know, I am an important and influential blogger.”  So this sort of award should play right into this schtick, right?  I should be reveling in this announcement with large, animating gifs and perhaps some trumpet music that plays when you first click onto the site to announce yet another major achievement of this mighty force in the cycling world.

Wrong.  You see, the award was given on the basis that this blog is NOT self-important.  Specifically,

“We live in a world full of self centered prima donas, myself included and the internet is the perfect place to show the world how awesome we all are.  Steve instead allowed the world to show how awesome it is.”

Words like that certainly make it difficult for me to blow my own horn and brag about my award, which would be my normal response.  I have reflected for several days on the best approach to this delicate situation.  It would probably be best to not even mention the award.  That’s what a humble person would do.  But I’m not going to do that.  Despite Matt’s suggestion to the contrary, I have decided to embrace this award to the greatest extent possible and will hereafter describe myself as an extremely important, influential, AND AWARD-WINNING, blogger.  To do anything less would be an injustice to the bloviating style that I have carefully cultivated for 18 months.  I shall add this award to the right side of the screen, where it shall be proudly displayed for all to see.

I’m working on the trumpet music.

Kidding aside, this is a very nice complement from Matt and I can only assume that he gave the award to me because he has exempted his own blog from consideration.  That and the fact that he doesn’t read many blogs.  Of course, the bribe money I’ve been sending him for the past few months may have had an effect as well.  :)