From May 30 to June 1, Atlanta’s very own Chef Jamie Adams, of Veni Vidi Vici, embarked on the inaugural Chefs on Bikes ride to raise money for the No Kid Hungry campaign. Chefs on Bikes was a 300 mile, 3-day ride that took a group of chefs from New York City to Washington, D.C. Chef Jamie was joined by Chefs Jason Roberts, of ABC’s “The Chew,” Allan Ng and Ryan Hux, both of Shake Shack and the creators of the ride, and a number of other chefs. Chef Jamie has been an avid cyclist for years and usually competes in up to eight centuries each year. Best Self was able to catch up with him after the ride to learn more about his passion for cycling, how he prepared for the ride and how he gives back to his community.
Q: What initially drew you to the Chefs on Bikes event?
A: Chef Pano (executive chef of Kyma) saw an email about the event and contacted me to see if I was interested and after careful consideration of about 1.5 seconds I said yes.
Q: How long have you been cycling?
A: I started cycling when I was in high school (I graduated in 1977) and my brother and I took a 4 month cycling tour through Europe in 1981. At the end of our trip, we had just arrived in Ireland from Wales and our bikes were stolen! I really did not get back onto a bike until 2002, about a year after having quadruple bypass surgery. I have been pretty fanatical ever since.
Q: How do you train for an event like this?
A: Fortunately, when I found out about the event, I was already in pretty good shape, having completed 2 full centuries (100 mile rides) and plenty of miles. What I had not done, however, was back to back centuries, so in the 2 weeks prior to the event I was able to do a couple of consecutive 50 mile rides which helped considerably. My legs were not my concern, but preventing saddle sores was, so I was able to build up my defenses in that “area.” Overall the best preparation is putting in the miles to build up endurance.
Q: How challenging, mentally and physically, was the ride?
A: Every time you ride 100 miles you face physical challenges. Your back hurts or your legs feel like someone put lead in them, your backside hurts and so on, but cycling is all about facing down the pain and discomfort and that’s where the mental challenge lies. This ride was no different, but with the longer distance, you have to be careful to manage your effort by staying in a zone that is neither too hard nor too slow. If you go out of the gate guns a’blazing, you don’t have any reserves, and if you go too slowly, you start counting miles and you go stir-crazy.
Q: How long have you been involved in the No Kid Hungry campaign?
A: I have participated in 23 consecutive “Taste of the Nation” events, the SOS fundraising gala and over the years cooked in many homes with many different teams of chefs, so for quite a long time. The NKH program of SOS has been around since around 2008, so I have been involved since the beginning.
Q: How much were you and the other chefs able to raise for this year’s event?
A: The event’s goal is $25,000, and at this writing it has reached $23,000. My personal goal was $5,000 and I have now reached $5,555, and it still keeps going up!
Q: Where is your favorite place to cycle in or around Atlanta?
A: By far up in the mountains outside of Dahlonega, “The Gaps.” I love to climb and I also love to descend and it is so beautiful up there at all times of the year. Our group goes up there once a month and in the warmer months a little more to ride all of the variations of the famous six Gaps: Neels, Jacks, Unicoi, Hogpen, Wolfpen and Woody. I live in Johns Creek so I also ride up to Lake Lanier pretty often, by several different routes.
Q: Where do you go in Atlanta to get your cycling gear?
A: CycleWorks of Roswell on Holcomb Bridge Road. It’s a great shop with great people. Jan, Mike and Tiffany are the best!
Q: What is your advice to people who are interested in cycling or who are just beginning?
A: First of all, it has to be fun. Everyone has different goals or expectations, but it should be about enjoying what you are doing. There are many types of cycling, so find the mode that fits you best, be it getting on your bike for a couple of miles every few days, mountain biking, group rides or a daily commute. Find what you enjoy and go out and ride!
Q: Do you plan on participating in Chefs on Bikes in future years?
A: Absolutely. My longtime dream to ride my bike across America may be realized sooner than I thought! Stay tuned…
To donate to the Chefs on Bikes cause for No Kid Hungry, click here. Follow Chef Jamie’s future cycling adventures on Twitter (@VeniVidiViciATL) and Facebook (Veni Vidi Vici Restaurant.
And to learn more about the future of cycling in Atlanta, check out our June feature article, Time to Ride.