Family: Sister, Emily; Mother, Linda
Occupation: OR assistant
Primary sports: Cycling and running
Kate Trono didn’t give road cycling a thought until the fall of 2011. The following spring, on her first bike ride with hills, she didn’t know how to switch out of her first chain ring and was afraid to ask. Four months later, she bicycled cross-country to raise money for brain cancer research.
VS: When did you start cycling?
KT: I didn’t bicycle growing up. When first my dad and then our family’s best friend, who was a second father figure to me, died of brain cancer I thought “this can’t just be a coincidence.”
I decided I had to do something, but wasn’t sure what that was until a neighbor mentioned her daughter had biked across the country. That was the fall of 2011 and I decided I would a ride to raise money for brain cancer research.
I didn’t have a bike.
I didn’t know how to change a tire.
I didn’t know what I was doing, but I think that really helped me in the long run because I was naïve and didn’t know what to worry about.
VS: How did you get started?
KT: I joined the Y and I met Steve Gaydos who was a trainer there. At the time, when you joined you got an hour with a personal trainer, and when I learned he was a cyclist I decided to pick his brain. He took me under his wing and I’ll forever be indebted to him.
He didn’t just give me a training plan, but he taught me how to change tires and loaned me his old steel bike. I’d never ridden a road bike until that April and I left for my trip in August. Steve was more than just a trainer; he was the most wonderful mentor and he taught me to love cycling.
My first ride with Steve was a Green Mountain Bicycle Club trip up Pleasant Valley Road in Underhill. Everyone thought I was nuts because I didn’t shift out of my first chain ring, but it’s because I had never shifted into the second one and I was too embarrassed to ask how. Once I figured that out, Steve took me on a double gap ride and then a century and then I went cross-country.
VS: How was the trip?
KT: I wish I were still on the road. It was amazing to me. It was just two of us and our goal was to raise money for brain cancer research, but it was an eye-opening experience. Being so naïve I was helpless in some circumstances, but we were both amazed by the amount of people who wanted to help. You only hear about the bigger cities in America and forget that the country is made up of these tiny towns that are strung together. Some of those towns are falling apart, but they had the nicest people and the most helpful. We raised $27,475, all of which went to the National Brain Tumor Society.
My friend only had a month off so she left in Colorado. The days I was alone it was just meditation on the bike. Looking back I think I was able to do a lot of introspection and processing and healing that I’m very thankful for.
Still, it was some of the hardest riding I’ve ever done. There’s no such thing as a flat road. You work to get to the top and you’re so thankful you did and then you just fly down.
It’s the freedom that you can’t put into words and that’s what I fell in love with. There are days that I want to be on the road again. You live minimally and so happily. You just go from one town to another and see people and their way of life. It was amazing. I’d love to tour again, but I can’t afford it right now.
VS: I understand you’ve done the 100/200 ride (200+ miles on Route 100 from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts border). Please tell us about that.
KT: When I got back from my trip Steve asked me to do that ride with him in 2013. I thought my body hurt on my cross-country trip, but this blew everything I ever felt out of the water. We crashed a mile or two before the Massachusetts border after 17 hours on the road. That was the most painful two miles I’ve ever done. I might be tempted to do it again, but I love to hike and I’m also a runner so I just don’t have time for all the things I want to do.
VS: Let’s talk about running. Is that something you’ve always done?
KT: I’ve always played sports, but I took a hiatus after my dad passed away. Then I got into cycling and started going to the gym and then I started doing races like the Road to the Pogue 10K and a half marathon. My goal is to do a triathlon at some point.
VS: Sprint or Iron Man?
KT: I’d love to do an Iron Man, but that’s on my bucket list. I don’t think I can do it in the next five years. One of things my bike trip taught me is that you can always dig deep and just when you think you’re on your last pedal stroke and you can’t go any further, you can. That’s the mental part. When you go over a mountain you just take it one step at a time and don’t worry about what it’s going to be like.
VS: Is there a marathon in your future?
KT: I was going to run the Vermont City Marathon, but I’d like to go back to school and get a nursing degree, so this year I took a pre-requisite course and didn’t have time to train. I’m hoping to do it next year.
VS: With so many interests it must be hard to decide what to do.
KT: I try to fit in what I can. In the summertime, in addition to running and cycling, I like to hike with my boyfriend. You have to take advantage of Vermont. Steve and I were cycling by Hero’s Welcome and we were talking about how many tourists come there to take pictures and it’s our backyard. That’s the beauty of Vermont. There are so many things to do. I feel very lucky to be able to live here.