Who are you, age, what do you do for a living (occupation), residence (town name), local affiliations (groups involved in).
My name is Max Gersh. I’m a 26-year-old Rockford resident, native of Louisville, Ky., and full-time professional photojournalist working for the Rockford Register Star.
What brought you to Team Fur Bandit? Why do you ride (life experience, hobby, health etc)?
I’ve been riding most of my life. As a child, I rode BMX (poorly) and did some mild mountain biking (poorly). It wasn’t until after college that I realized my passion was for riding the roads.
For me, it’s not exercise. It’s relaxation. After a stressful day, putting down some miles throughout the night has a therapeutic effect. That being said, cycling has helped me lose quite a bit of weight in recent years.
After moving to Rockford (and being a little bit crazy), it didn’t take long for me to hear about the Tour de Frost. The event grabbed my attention as something strange and fun. I rode in the event and chatted with team members after the ride. I was hooked. The group’s ideals matched mine. We meshed well together. From that point on, I knew I had found my local riding group.
Let’s talk accomplishments. How many miles have you logged this year? Why does keeping count matter to you?
I’m a little past 1,400 miles on the year. Keeping track gives me a sense of accomplishment and helps me set more challenging goals each year. It helps me realize how much I’m capable of doing on my bike. At the end of the year, it’s nice to look back and say “look what I’ve done.” There is no quitting at that point. The riding continues through the winter to make the next year a stronger one.
Go back in time. The year is 1989. What are you riding (bike color, describe it and state your age at the time.)
Considering I was only three for most of 1989, I don’t have too many memories of what bike I was on. However my mother says I was riding a blue and red big wheel .
The fur stands out. Why do you subscribe to furring up your ride?
When I furred up my bike, I was going to go all white. With the suggestion from my girlfriend, I ended up adding blue and red tube sock stripes on the front fork. Some people see the tube socks right away. Others think it’s a patriotic bike. Either way, when people see it, they smile. After all, that’s what we’re about. We’re a charitable group. Raising money for the needy is important but so is just helping people smile every day.
The Tube Sock bike at the Winnebago County Forest Preserve headquarters in Oct. 2012.
Going the distance: What’s the longest bike ride you have taken?
My longest ride took me from downtown Rockford out to Harvard
. I rode solo, only going to grab lunch and then ride home. The ride was just over 72 mile and took about five hours. The mid ride burger was fantastic.
You take the roads less traveled or those beaten up on a daily basis locally. What do you think is needed? How can you help make it happen?
I ride all roads. Rural county roads. Busy city streets. I deal with them all. People familiar with Rockford know about our potholes. They aren’t friendly to bikes. We also have some high traffic roads with practically no shoulder. In some cities, this wouldn’t be an issue. Here, many motorists aren’t respectful of cyclists. One slight move on your part means you’re either going off the road or under a passing car.
I think the biggest thing needed in the Rockford region is motorist education on cyclers rights. I was almost run over while riding in a bike lane in Machesney Park, then again in Rockford. Many motorists don’t know how and when to safely pass and turn around cyclists. In this case, ignorance can be fatal.
I applaud the city for working to add more paths and cycling lanes. I’d love to work with the city as well as groups such as the League of Illinois Bicyclists to help mandate education for people getting their drivers license. Also, a public service announcement similar to those done during motorcycle season might help save some lives.
When you’re not on your bike, where can you be found?
Other than at work? Other than on the pavement because I fell off my bike? I enjoy having mini adventures with my beautiful girlfriend. That can be flying a kite or dancing around the grocery store. Wherever she is, I’m there.
Pick a celebrity local or famous. Who would you like to see on a Team Fur Bandit ride?
I have three answers. First, Lance Armstrong
. Even with the current doping scandal surrounding him, he is still is one of the most famous people ever to straddle a bike. The foundation he recently stepped down from as the leader, LIVESTRONG
, helps those affected by cancer, one of the leading killers of people worldwide.
Second would be Oprah Winfrey
. As a northern Illinois local, she might have a better sense of what’s going on in the region than other celebrities. She is also know for her extensive charitable work. Having her face on one of our rides would help skyrocket donations for whatever charity we’re riding for.
Last would be Rockford native Rick Nielsen
. Who wouldn’t want to see him on a checker board print fur-covered bike!?
What’s the best life advice you’ve ever been given? How can you apply it to riding?
My father always told me that I’d have to work extremely hard at whatever I wanted to do in life in order to be successful. I think that carries over to all aspects of life. Jobs. Relationships. Weight loss. Even cycling.
The first time you get on a bike, a ten mile ride seems impossible. But the more ten mile rides you do, the sooner you’ll be ready for the 20. And the more 20s, the sooner you’ll be ready for the 40. It goes on and on. It takes a bit of dedication and hard work but it’s something that continues to grow with you as you ride. You’re willing to push harder and harder to meet greater and greater personal goals. It’s no race and their are no requirements other than those you set for yourself.
Working hard to ride longer distances lets you explore some of the regions beauty under your own power. It’s an incredible feeling.