Robert at Thatcher Park
Robert's custom painted Parlee
Where do you live, what do you do for a living, and how old are you?
My wife Jocelyn and I have lived in the same house in Voorheesville for 20 years. We are moving this summer not too far away to a house in Slingerlands. I am the president of Kivort Steel in Waterford, New York. I have worked for our family business for 30 years. I am 51 years old on paper, but still 25 years old in my mind (that is until I walk past a mirror)!
What kind of bike(s) do you ride? What are the features you like about it?
I currently own two road bikes. I bought my Specialized Roubaix about 12 years ago when I first started getting back into cycling and participating in the local Tour De Cure. Blue Sky has been very supportive of the Kivort Steel Cycling Team and our efforts to raise money for the American Diabetes Association. About 1 ½ years ago I was in the store talking bikes with Caleb. He showed me his Parlee and offered for me to take it for a spin up to Skidmore and back. It was love at first ride and he and I started customizing my new bike immediately, starting with the Kivort Steel colors!
Of course, the colors are secondary to the components, but everyone wants their bike to look cool. I went with Shimano’s Di2 Ultegra groupset with the upgrade to electronic shifting. Other than trying Caleb’s bike, I had never used the electronic shifting and was a little skeptical if I would like it or not. Well, if forced to chose my favorite feature of my Parlee, it would be the electronic shifting. It is smooth, precise, never needs adjusting, and lightning fast. I love this feature and would never go back to cables!
How long have you been riding and how did you get into cycling?
I loved riding bikes as a child. Like every kid growing up in the 1970’s, I had a super cool Schwinn with a banana seat. My friends and I used to go to a place called Dead Man’s Hill to see who could jump the highest and farthest without killing ourselves. Presumably the 4-foot high bump, or jump, was where the dead men were buried! After surviving several crashes on my dirt bike, my parents bought me my first road bike, a sweet Motobecane Mirage, hoping this would be safer for me. I went on my first of three American Youth Hostel (AYH) bike trips when I was 13 years old and fell in love with touring. We carried everything, including our tents, sleeping bags, and panniers, attaching our gear to Jim Blackburn aluminum racks. Although I stopped riding for about 15 years after college, I really developed my interest in riding from these two- and three-week bike trips I did as a teenager.
How do you typically put the miles on your bike(s)? Do you keep track of your miles?
Like many of the folks reading this, if I could ride every day I would. However, life sometimes gets in the way. I stay busy running my business, raising my two girls, Olivia and Mirielle, with my wife, and pursuing other activities like golf, fishing, yoga, shooting, and skiing in the winter. I try to ride at least three times a week from April through November. One of those rides is usually more of a training ride doing intervals at the Harriman Campus on a weeknight. I try to get out for longer rides on the weekends. Unlike some of the other riders you have featured, I do not use the Strava App to track my rides. I generally have an idea how many miles I would like to do and at what pace. I track my rides in my head and generally try to do a little better each ride as the season progresses.
Do you have some favorite routes?
I definitely have some favorite routes! Living in Voorheesville it is really easy to get away from traffic quickly. I almost always head over to Altamont on some back roads and take Route 156 out of Altamont heading toward Berne. It is a 30-mile route if, at the top of the 3.2-mile climb, I bang a left on Thompsons Lake Road and loop back to Voorheesville through Thacher Park. It is a 40-mile route if I keep climbing a little more and go all the way to Berne before looping back through Thacher. And, my favorite ride takes me through Berne and Gallupville landing me on Route 30 in Schoharie. That’s about a 60-mile loop from my house.
What are your long-term cycling goals?
My long-term cycling goals are to stay cycling long-term. Seriously, there are so many activities we do that put so much pressure on our bodies. Cycling is probably somewhere in the middle, but certainly less wear and tear than running. I hope to use cycling as a means to stay fit as long as possible.
What are your proudest moments as a cyclist?
My proudest moments do not include long climbs or century rides. Although those are pretty great! I am most proud of what my company has been able to accomplish through cycling with our Kivort Steel Cycling Team (KSCT). To date, we have raised $1.1 million for the American Diabetes Association to help fund their education, advocacy, and research. We have been the top fundraising team in New York State for many years. And, last year we were the number one fundraising team in the United States raising a whopping $170,000 in 2018!
What tips would you offer less experienced riders?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this question as I consider myself a “less experienced rider.” What I have learned, is there are many types of riders in the Capital District. There are true beginners and there are some riders who are unbelievably strong and accomplished. Find a rider who is one or two levels above your ability. Riding with them consistently will definitely make you a better, safer, and more skilled rider.
What’s your favorite cycling product / accessory?
Before purchasing my Parlee, I hadn’t really kept up with all the new cycling products on the market. About two years ago I started to notice how many riders had both front and back lights going during daylight riding. With my new Parlee, I made sure to purchase front and rear lights. In this day and age of distracted drivers, it is amazing how much more visible, and therefore safer, you are with these lights. Now, I never ride without them!
How do you fuel and hydrate when you’re in the saddle?
I ride with two water bottles and always bring some type of power bar with me. Of course, like most riders in this area, I know where every Stewarts shop is within 50 miles of my house. I usually stop at a Stewarts for a Gatorade. If I’m feeling like I really pushed myself I might even treat myself to an ice cream. (I know you didn’t ask, but mint chocolate chip is my favorite!)
Any funny or unusual experiences during your riding / racing career?
A couple of years ago I was riding at Harriman Campus. There was a group of about 10 very fit riders that went by me. I thought that I would see if I could hang with them. Much to my surprise, I was able to keep up with the much younger and more fit riders. After about three laps, this young buck in the front of the pack turned around and asked, “are you guys ready?” Well, evidently, this group was just warming up! They hit the gas and dropped me like a hot potato after about a quarter of a mile. I was gasping for air trying to keep up, LOL. If I had to guess, they were doing 2.2-mile laps at around 27 mph.
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