Ken Ray Birthplace: Paducah, KY Current home town: Washington, D.C. Profession: Landscape Architect How did you first get into endurance sports? I made a wrong turn at the Garrett County Gran Fondo, and ended up doing over 150 miles and 18,000 feet of climbing. When I finished I was still in the top five for the KOM challenge and really enjoyed the extra time on the bike. Someone at the finish heard what I had done and said that I should look into endurance bike rides and races, so I did. Tell us about some of the epic events you’ve participated in, or plan to: I raced the 2017 TransAm bike race and finished the 4300 mile bike race across the US in 19 days and got 5th that year. I have also done Dirty Kanza, and am registered for the DKXL 350 mile race for 2020. I have done several other one day gravel races like Croatan Buck Fifty, Belgian Waffle Ride, GRUSK Loco, and unPAved. Of course I have done the 12-hour Maryland Endurance Challenge three times, and finally got over 260 miles and on the podium in 2019. What motivates you to ride now? I love being able to tune out and just focus on the road, the scenery, and ticking off the miles. I love a ride that isn’t about going a set distance, or time, or destination, but rather riding until I am ready to turn around, and head back, or keep riding until it is just time to stop. No matter how long that may take. What advice would you have offer to those just getting into endurance sports? Get a good bike fit, test and train your nutrition just as much as you do your equipment and fitness. The main thing is to not stop going forward and when you do have to stop to rest or refuel, be efficient and get back to riding. What have been some of your positive personal experiences from participating in endurance sports? The positive experiences are too numerous to recall, but the unifying feature is that they all have to do with the great people that I have met and raced with. The men and women in endurance events all know the amount of sacrifice and effort that goes into doing the event, so there is a kindred spirit to the race participants. It is a mutual respect and camaraderie that even in the heat of a race, we would have the other’s back if they really needed it. What personal challenges have you had to overcome? It seems like every race has some sort of mechanical or issue. Even though I spend tons of time planning and prepping for the event and what to expect, I miss a small detail or the conditions throw a curve-ball at me that I wasn’t expecting. The main thing is to not dwell on the challenge, but rather to fix it in the moment, keep going and make a mental note of it afterward so it isn’t repeated again. What single piece of encouragement would you offer to a young person experiencing homelessness? Life can be hard and unfair, but there are good people and organizations like SHIP out there to help. Just like an endurance bike ride or anything that is hard in life, you have to keep pressing on and it will get better. It may take a longer time than you want and may take a lot of hard work, but it will pay off and it will get better. Hard work and determination can yield personal success that can beat homelessness and most anything that life throws at you.