FIVE THINGS is a feature on the Banjo Brothers Blog. It’s a short interview about life and bicycles with a notable person. This week's notable person is cyclist and dentist of twenty-five years, Raymond Epstein.
Dr. Ray's submission to "Five Things" was sent to Banjo Bros. unsolicited (which by the way is great). This self-professed "rad-tastic" old coot is just the type of cyclist we envisioned profiling when we began the Five Things series in November of 2017. We love that Ray is a proud supporter and a title sponsor of his local NICA, The National Interscholastic Cycling Association team, acting each week as a ride leader, as a sweep or simply for comic relief.
Here's a little more about Ray, in his own words:
I am a native of Norfolk, Virginia (Shiptown) and come from a family of dentists (I am one of seventeen over three generations. I am not one easily annoyed, but find the concept of a "dentist bike" a popular dig on cycling forums rather tired and really not applicable. I currently call Alpharetta (suburb north of Atlanta) Georgia home after moving to the area in '98 following a 2.5-year stint in Minneapolis. It was there that I was turned on to single speeds which seemed so insane, fun and stupid that I had to have one. Going further back, I began mountain biking in '87 riding along with a friend who had a summer job as a messenger in DC. I transitioned away from my daily skateboarding efforts into cycling and have done so ever since. Whenever I could I have endeavored to give back so others might find as much fun and freedom with mountain biking as I have.
We hope you enjoy this week's Banjo Brothers Five Things.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU RIDING?
RE: My saddle time is mostly aboard my mountain bikes. I do have a commuter bike I ride around town and to work, but more on that later. My main whip is a '17 Evil The Wreckoning. My friend here in Georgia purchased an Evil The Following V.1 several years ago and was so blown away that he worked out getting an Evil dealership based through some other mutual friends in Blue Ridge. We all eventually ended getting on them and I continue to assist in fielding questions and setting up demos. The hype is real and The Wreckoning, their big travel 29er is the most capable all around bike I've ever ridden. It has never been a detriment whether I am riding an XC loop, all day big mountain freakouts, or any black diamond bike park silliness. We enjoy spreading Evil throughout the south.
I've always been a bigger guy (hover around 200 lbs) and love nasty technical riding including the aforementioned silliness. I have been aboard full suspension bikes since '98 and the shortest travel of any was 140mm. As such I am well versed in slogging around big burly bikes. My feeling is that I am going to ride the same way (looking for anything to jump, ride/fall off, over, etc.) no matter what bike I am on so I prefer bikes that I cannot "out" ride. Durability supersedes weight. XC-esque bikes never made much sense for me and I certainly broke plenty of them and enough components to stock a shop back in the day.
My other mountain bike, a steel '15 Kona Honzo single speed continues with this overbuilt theme. I wanted a Honzo since they arrived in '12 and found this one used early this year. It was already set up as a single speed so I left it as such. Not unlike the Evil, it has a bigger travel (for a single speed) fork and bigass Maxxis meats. It's definitely a single speed for being a delinquent on versus the high end decked out Ti numbers that I see many aboard these days. I hadn't really done much routine one-speeding in about half a dozen years, but as they say, it's like riding a bike and I get out and bash around on it at least once a week.
Finally, I have a '78 Laguna Cruiser that I let friends borrow to cruise the greenway near my house and a Swobo Accomplice that I ride around town, coffee/grocery runs and/or commute to work on. Both of those are one speed and this past spring I decided for goofs to do the Tour de Cure metric century ride here in Atlanta on the Swobo. It was something kind of stupid, but fun and I will likely do it again. Stupid and fun are an ongoing theme in my cycling efforts. Shameless plug: The Swobo has the uber-functional and sexy Banjo Bros frame bag and I use the cycling phone wallet on every offroad ride.
BANJO BROS: WHERE ARE YOU RIDING?
RE: Most of my riding occurs at local haunts around the topside of Atlanta. We are fortunate to have a number of public parks in the area and a huge mountain biking community around here even though we still have to fight. My office has been a sponsor for a local NICA affiliated team and I go out to their practices as a combo of ride leader, sweep and comic relief when I can. About once a month or so I head to the N. Georgia mountains to ride in Blue Ridge or Ellijay. Pisgah National Forrest is only three hours up the road so I tend to make it up there a few times a year. The riding there is some of the best I have experienced and I have ridden all over the US, BC, Italy, France, and Switzerland. Switzerland has some of the most phenomenal terrain anywhere and I hope to get back there in the not too distant future. Otherwise, over the last four years, I've gone on several trips with the aforementioned Blue Mountain Bikes guys to Colorado/Utah riding assorted local rides, bike parks and epics in Moab.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO, READING OR WATCHING?
RE: I do not watch much, but do enjoy some of the Netflix MCU series especially Daredevil. I also watch my wife's rounds of playing Fallout 4 as she finds killing mutants relaxing. The Haunting of Hill House was fun to watch trying to find all the ghosts in the background. I still read blogs (sooooo 2007) and "Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich" is bananas. Speaking of bananas, I've been a big fan of Last Podcast on the Left and listen to their shows weekly. Finally, I constantly listen to music and the most recent artists in my playlists include Black Tusk, Tongue Party and Dwig.
Being a cyclist, vegan and a dentist is a trifecta of reasons for people not to like me.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU COOKING EATING/DRINKING?
RE: I believe that diet has a tremendous impact on all aspects of one's health and is maybe the most important factor of all. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age sixteen and managing my diet to manage my diabetes has been an ongoing learning effort ever since. Most recently in February of this year, I became a vegan at the suggestion of a trainer that is near my office. I had begrudgingly decided to do a two-month program with him after News Years (the resolution dance) as I had picked up some weight. Since then I lost thirty-five pounds, my lab numbers are like someone without diabetes and I have way more energy. Most importantly, I am riding much better having also learned to better use fuel for all of my rides. I don't miss the meats at all. Plus, it's something I can use to annoy people with. Being a cyclist, vegan and a dentist is a trifecta of reasons for people not to like me. Lastly, I really enjoy Treehorn Ciders as they are quite refreshing in the generally oppressive heat/humidity here in Georgia.
BANJO BROS: WHAT'S STUCK IN YOUR CRAW?
RE: I generally abide by the axiom that if someone "makes" you mad they've won so I let very little upset me. However, with the state of division our country and beyond is in, I find the "us versus them" mentality that has become ubiquitous short-sighted and sad. I have no illusions of a utopia where all are in accord, but I simply want a dialog to remain open. When we stop talking and sharing opinions rather than epithets and diatribes we end up where we are now and we (humans and the whole planet) are losing out. Talk to, have a bite to eat, a drink, listen to some music together and/or go for a ride with others as you will likely find some common ground. You will at least both likely be humans and that's a good place to start.
MORE ABOUT THE FIVE THINGS INTERVIEWS FROM BANJO BROTHERS
A big Banjo Brothers thank you to Ray for participating in this week's edition of Five Things. These short interviews about life and bicycles will appear every Friday on the Banjo Brothers Blog. If you liked this FIVE THINGS from Banjo Brothers you should check our full series of past five things interviews.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE INTERVIEWED FOR FIVE THINGS?
Use the contact form on our website to send us a note. See you next Friday. Also, since you're here, we do need to mention, Banjo Brothers make a whole line of tough, practical and affordable gear for cyclists. Thanks for reading.