Name: Ryan McGovern
Occupation: Associate Director, Reporting and Analytics
Bikes: Raleigh Tamland 2, Trek Stache 7, Trek Fuel EX 9.8, Gunnar Roadie, 1989 Trek Antelope
Q: When and how did you discover cycling? I’ve been riding bikes as far back as I can remember. Technically, I started riding the Big Wheel (you know, the tricycle with the huge plastic wheel up front), but around age 12, I got my first real bike: a Dyno Compe. I rode that bike all over town, and it was my main means of transportation for every season except winter. I didn’t know what bike maintenance was back then, but I rode that thing daily regardless.
Q: Has your inspiration to ride changed since then, and what is it now? My inspiration to ride has changed several times over the years. I went from BMX stunts (nothing too difficult), to BMX racing (nothing too competitive), and then graduated to mountain biking in my late teenage years. I did that for the next 4-5 years, and then had children. Once the kids were all out of diapers and could play pretty independently with each other, I decided it was a good time to get back into cycling. About six years ago, I dabbled in some triathlons, and due to the shorter time windows I had to ride, road bikes became my new inspiration. I went through four of those over the years, and loved it. In 2017, I got into gravel riding. Up here in Wisconsin, there are a lot of rail trails, and I’ve been taking the time to explore as many as I can. Last year, I got into mountain biking again, and now it is definitely a balancing act between the three disciplines!
Q: How would you define your style of gravel riding? When I’m gravel grinding it’s not about speed, it’s all about enjoying the scenery around me: if I wanted speed, I’d go for a ride on the road bike. When gravel riding, it is my goal to hit as many new gravel roads as possible, and explore as much of Wisconsin as I can in that way.
Q: Describe an ideal day on the bike. An ideal day on the bike depends on what type of bike I’m riding: an ideal day on the mountain bike would be not crashing. On the gravel bike though, an ideal day would be getting to see small cities that I’ve never visited before, seeing lakes and rivers you wouldn’t typically see sticking to main roads, and going through woods that you didn’t know existed.
Q: What are some notable trips you’ve done to enjoy cycling? I have yet to take a dedicated trip for gravel cycling, but I have traveled for road and mountain biking. A few years back, a few friends and I drove over to Iowa and completed the TOMRV (Tour of the Mississippi River Valley) ride, and it was one of my favorite road rides to date. As the name indicates, there is a lot of climbing to be had over the two day ride. After I finished my ride on day one, I rang the cowbell on the final hill for over an hour, and it was one of the highlights of the trip. I’ve taken weekend trips for mountain biking as well, hitting up as many as four trail systems in a single day. In mid August, I’m taking a road trip with a few friends to go to Bentonville, Arkansas for four days of riding there. I’m hoping to set up a vacation around gravel riding next year!
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? To me, being a Barnstormer Chapter Leader entails helping new riders be more comfortable on the bike, especially in group rides and such. It also means getting other riders more familiar with gravel, and where options to ride exist around them. I’m hoping to help other riders feel a passion about cycling that they may not have felt for a while.
Q: Everyone who rides has something unique to offer. Do you know what you might offer, in that regard? I’d like to think that me riding road, gravel, and MTB makes me a little unique. I know others out there ride multiple disciplines, but it doesn’t seem to be the norm. I own a couple of mountain bikes, so if I meet anyone riding road or gravel and they have interest in mountain biking, I always have an extra bike for them to try out! I also know southern Wisconsin pretty well, so I’d like to think that I could offer route options if someone is planning to do a longer ride. Other than that, I like to listen to people’s cycling stories: any time I ride with someone new, I love to hear the cycling adventures they’ve taken.
Q: What role does cycling play in your current lifestyle? Cycling is my primary means of fitness. I’m at a desk for eight hours a day, so if I can get out and ride, it feels amazing. One of my sons is starting to pick up mountain biking, and I can’t wait to get him on single track more often. In an ideal world, I’ll have the whole family cycling together in a few years, so wish me luck on that!