What is a Barn Door Cyclist?


IMG_0883My long time reader and friend Mike told me that barn door cycling was now featured on the Daily Register webpage.  See, about a year ago I was approached by the Harrisburg IL. newspaper and asked if they could use my blog on their webpage.  I was like, “sure man.”  I signed some paper work and nothing happened.  A long running technical issue prevented my blog from connecting up with their content management software.  Well now it appears I’m there, so if you’re reading this from the Daily Register, welcome!

It appears that the photographs aren’t showing up, which is actually a blessing since there mostly of my face, but if you’d like to see them you can check out my actual blog.  This also means I’m going to have to start actually proofreading this stuff.  Oh geeze.

Now Mike let me know that all the technical bike mumbo jumbo I was talking about was going to confuse alot of people who weren’t into cycling, so I thought I would address that, but first I also need to address my ABOUT ME page.  Its 3 years out of date, and alot has changed so lets begin with that.

About me


My name is Matt Gholson, and this is Barn Door Cycling.  This blog is going to be a chronicle of my cycling life, staying focused on the experiences of an overweight cyclist.  I’ll be writing about my weight loss, my riding and the characters I’ve met along with  reviewing equipment I use.  There could be a little humor mixed in there here and there, and occasional commentary that has little to do with anything.

I’ve been interested in riding bikes my whole life, but have also been overweight my whole life.  People would ask me how it was possible to ride as much as I did and still weigh as much as I did.  in 2007 in January I weighed 298 pounds.  The honest answer as that I really didn’t ride as much as it seemed and I ate far, far more then I needed.   I began this blog in 2009 and I weighed about 275 pounds, this morning I weighed 224.  I’ve still got a lot of weight to loose, but my wife yells at me every time I say that I’m fat.

I enjoy both mountain biking and road biking depending on the time of year, this gives me a unique perspective since the dirt and asphalt division is so deep and I jump back and forth regularly.  Since I’ve lost weight I’ve come to get much more enjoyment out of riding.  Its really nice not to be the guy always lagging behind.  I also enjoy working on my own bikes, I’ve built the last 5 or 6 bikes that I’ve ridden.

The name Barn Door Cycling came about because my riding buddy JC used to say riding behind me was like riding behind a barn door.  He has a real knack for the backhanded complement.  Truth was I always took some pride, and often still do, in being the largest person in a group of riders.  It was a morale boost when I stayed with a group on a climb and a blow softener when I got dropped.

One of my goals when I started this blog was to encourage, and find encouragement from others to continue cycling.  There is no better way for an overweight person to get fit then cycling.  Its fun, its low impact, and if you push yourself you’ll burn just as many calories as if you were jogging.  The bike is a great equalizer, in the draft a less fit person can keep up with fitter people, and even though weight will greatly hamper hill climbing, heavier people have an advantage when the road goes down.

You will often hear me refer to my lovely wife, Shauna, or Shaundoh as I some time call her. She was becoming a good cyclist last year but due to a variety of health problems she stopped riding and exercising, she only rode a few hundred miles in 2012.  In a case of bad luck she signed back up for the gym this fall and went a few times before a knee strain kept her from there for over 2 months.  She has recently began taking walks again and I hope she is able to get back into the swing of it.

Besides cycling I enjoy hiking, walking, inline skating, motor racing simulations, reading, art and photography.  I taught art in local public schools for 10 years but the economics of Illinois have made that difficult.  I’m currently working for the post office and attending science classes at my local community college, Southeastern Illinois College.

So there is my new ABOUT ME page, not much different then my last, but it needed an update.  Now the next thing I need to address is cycling jargon, here’s a few key terms.

Key Terms

  • Mountain biking:  Riding a bike of some kind on varied terrain, but mostly off road trails, the fat tired bikes this is usual done on are called mountain bikes.
  • Road biking: Riding a bike of some kind on mostly paved roads, the skinny tired bikes this is usually done on are called Road bikes.
  • Gravel Grinder: Riding a bike of some kind on mostly gravel roads and paths, can be done on just about any bike.
  • 29er: A mountain bike that uses larger 700c wheels, almost all riders are now riding these unless they are RETRO or FREERIDE.
  • Retro: Someone who hates change and rides the same bike and gear forever.  Still riding 26 inch bikes with cantilever brakes, or lugged steel road bikes.  Watch out, these guys can be good.
  • Freeride: A type of mountain biker who emphasizes jumps and highly technical difficult riding over long haul coverage of distance.  Mostly downhill riding and lots of suspension travel on 26 inch bikes.
  • XC: A type of mountain biker who emphasizes coverage of distance over jumps and tricks.
  • Hardtail: A mountain bike with a front fork and no rear suspension.
  • Softtail: A mountain bike with a minimal amount of rear suspension,
  • Full suspension: A mountain bike with both front and rear suspension.
  • Rigid: A mountain bike with no suspension, popular amount weirdos.
  • Single Speed: Any bike with only one gear, popular among crazy weirdos.
  • Hybrid: A type of bike that is designed for casual riding on bike paths or streets, has many concessions to comfort.
  • Steel: A type of frame material, the oldest frame material, considered the strongest and heaviest, see RETRO.
  • Aluminum: A type of frame material, the most plentiful, considered the harshest and usually cheapest frames, but light.
  • Titanium: A mythical frame material that absorbs the energy of bumps on the road and transmits them to the riders brain making them think positive thoughts, usually at least +1 but can be found in +5 vorpal variety.
  • Carbon: The 6th element, has 4 valence electrons allowing it to make 4 covalent bonds with a huge variety of other elements.  All known life is based on carbon.  You can also make really expensive bike frames with it.
  • Touring: A type of riding where the cyclist travels from place to place by bike and usually carries their own gear.  Usually done on touring bikes, which are designed for both comfort and efficient riding while carrying heavy loads.
  • Randonneuring:  A type of endurance riding that is like competitive touring along with orientation.
  • Chainring: Gears on the front.
  • Cog: Gears on the back.
  • 1×9: A type of drivetrain that uses one chainring and nine cogs.
  • Compact: A road bike drive train that uses smaller front chain rings for a lower range of ratios.
  • Triple: An outdated drivetrain design that uses 3 front chainrings for a very wide range of gearing.
  • Components:  Stuff on your bike that make it work, usually everything but the frame and wheels are considered components.  If you’re ever on a ride and feeling tired you should start talking about one of the major component groups.  This will usually slow everything down, sometimes to a complete halt as various ins and outs of component groups are debated and you catch your breath.

That’s enough component talk for now, got to get back to work.


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in Barn Door Cycling, Bikes and components, lifestyle, Mountain BIking, Stories, training, Weight Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What is a Barn Door Cyclist?

  1. lampenj says:

    I love reading about your explorations. Thanks for keeping up with it. I share your belief, and experience, that cycling is the best way to shed and keep off weight. I’m a former 290 myself, but picked up riding and absolutely love it. Not that there’s not work on the intake side, but biking sure makes that part easier.
    I love your definitions, but am wondering if you have a special description for a fully rigid single speed? No reason, just curious 🙂

  2. Matt Gholson says:

    thanks man, I appreciate it

    Hmm, definition of SS Rigid: A type of mountain bike with no gears and no suspension, much like the BMX bike I learned to ride on. Those who ride SS Rigid are either Masochists or people who hate bike maintenance so much that they took off everything not essential to riding. Don’t mess with them, while your suspension is bobbing and your drive train is skipping they’ll run you over.

  3. Hiwatt Scott says:

    I stumbled upon your blog while researching the Nashbar touring frame, but I have to say I plan to stick around and follow along. Like you, I’m a “barndoor” (6′, 240lbs) that enjoys riding, art, etc. etc.. Keep up the good work!

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