Name: Michael Hayes

Age: 56

Location: Moved to Bend, OR from Los Gatos

Occupation: Executive Director, Industry Development for Homes.com

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac road, IBIS Mojo mountain, TREK Madone road, Raleigh One Way- townie, old Schwinn Duosport tandem and Specialized Diverge gravel – quiver killer. I never listed my bikes before. It feels a little obsessive. 

Q: When and how did you discover cycling?

A: Just like many of us, I started riding bikes at a very young age. I enjoyed the freedom it provided. Then as a teenager, I steered towards driving. Biking became a once in awhile activity. When I graduated from college, my buddy talked me into spending all of my graduation gift money on a Ritchey Ascent mountain bike. Irresponsible maybe, it became one of the best decision in my life. I quickly realized how fun it was much to feel like I was running up trails and skiing down them. That fall I raced at the Mountain Bike Worlds in Mammoth CA. The next summer while traveling through Europe I watched a criterium in old Florence. These racers were flying ‘full gas’ on ancient cobblestone roads with little fear or consideration for their bodies. I saw road biking in a new light. then later that summer, I met three Irish kids who were on their way to Gap in the French Alps to watch the Tour de France and cheer for Sean Kelly. I changed my plans and went with them. That was 1989, the year Greg LeMond made up a 50 seconds deficit in the final stage to beat Laurent Fignon by only 8 seconds. On a side note, Sean Kelly won the most points and the sprinters jersey. When I returned home from Europe, I got a job at bike shop in order to learn more and to buy a road bike to race. This was not part of my girlfriend’s master plan, a corporate job and house hunting, so she moved on. Another great decision influenced by a bicycle. I was never fast so I kept my night-job. I did love training, group rides and learning the mechanics of my bike and of my body. I especially liked how it made me feel both mentally and physically. 

Q: Has your inspiration to ride changed since then, and what is it now?

A: I started off wanting to be fast and now it’s to just keep up. Riding is easier if you ride everyday. It makes a difference even if it is for only 40 minutes. I try to ride everyday. It doesn’t usually happen but this mindset gets me on my bike as often as possible. Riding is a problem solver for me. The pedaling while being conscious and in the moment allows for the flow of thoughts. Creative solutions for life and work problems will float in, as I am thinking and not thinking at the came time. Or, the problems are reevaluated as no big deal and one should just move on. I am inspired to be better and cycling helps we get there.

Q: How would you define your style of gravel riding?

Roll right out of my driveway and up the paved road to the trailhead for single-track. Ideally, climb on the pavement and descend on the dirt. Over the years I discovered that mountain biking improved my road biking by improving my handling skills. Road biking improved my mountain biking by teaching to spin and have a balanced posture. The gravel bike brings the best of both worlds

Q: Describe an ideal day on the bike.

A: Some of my best rides are in the summer evenings. The workday is done and a group of people rolling at 6 PM sharp, ride until dark. Then over pizza and beer the new ride stories are told. The shared love of biking and camaraderie is infectious. I do like to spend a Saturday morning doing a three to four hour ride exploring new roads and trails. 

Q: What are some notable trips you’ve done to enjoy cycling?

A: This question makes me feel very blessed. There are so many great memories and it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. I spent a week in the Sawtooth National Forest mountain biking single track with the guides from two established tour companies. We were there to discover new trails for future tours. One highlight, a 1,000+-foot descent I will never forget. It was perfect single track with banked turns. We were a train of 13 or 14 riders and it felt like a giant toboggan sled. We were all in synch just flying and flowing and hooting. More recently, I went on a trip to the French Alps to ride some of the iconic climbs of the Tour de France with 10 buddies. Climbing L’Alpe d’Huez was a dream come true. A road ride I have done a number of times is an unsupported two-day out and back ride in the California foothills to Harris Ranch Resort and Steak House. We shipped from cloths to the resort and sent the dirty cloths back. Barnstormers Rally on Maple Sally group gravel ride with some amazing riders last year was super fun and a great learning experience. Hoping it will happen again.

Q: You’re a Barnstormer Chapter Leader. What does that entail, and is there anything you hope to help other riders find within the club?

A: Mainly to get riders together, personal experiences are better when they are shared. In any given moment, we all have a different perspective. Sharing an experience with others gives it a type of three-dimensional depth becoming an epic memory. Riding especially climbing, provides a misery we tolerate and in some way enjoy. It has been said; “misery loves company”. Bike riders are always learning from each other. Lessons like the best tires, the new bicycle hack, the ideal saddle height, where to put your body on a crazy drop, keeping your knees close to your top tube and to put your chain on the big ring for down hills to keep it from bouncing. I believe more the merrier when they are the right people.

Q: Everyone who rides has something unique to offer. Do you know what you might offer, in that regard?

A: With my operational experience, I know how to organize a ride. Doing what it takes to make the ride epic. There are rides and there are epic rides. Some variables that make a ride epic are out of ones control but with proper planning and you can find yourself on an epic ride. With matured child-like enthusiasm and experience, I know how to put together a group ride. Important variables that can be controlled; from everyone knowing the route, an ice chest with beer and waters at the finish, to knowing the sweet spot between a long and adventures ride, but not too long.

Q: What role does cycling play in your current lifestyle?

A: Riding a bike helps make my life work. There are long days when I have to drag myself onto my bike and start pedaling. It always turns out for the better. Sure some rides have turned into cold, rain rides and there have been flats but I am always in a better mood when I get home. It is always a good decision to ride my bike.