Biking for Health: Drew Curtis Rolls Up for an Interview

Success Stories
May 30, 2019

Get to know a media mogul we admired long before learning that he is farking excellent at going the extra mile for his health, and for the health of others.

When I saw that Drew Curtis, CEO and founder of Fark, was doing a long-distance bike ride for a health charity, I leapt like a tiger at an all-you-can-eat antelope buffet. Why? Because good deeds, good content, and living vicariously through someone else’s good cardio workout are my groove. And besides, I’ve been a nerd girl fan of and the community within (TotalFark, the subscription part of Fark) since before people used “content” as a noun.
What caught my eye is that very soon, June 22 and 23 to be exact, Curtis will hit the road in Lawrenceburg, KY, for the Bluegrass Bourbon Ride 2019 to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Routes range from 50-–80 miles per day, and money raised from this ride will fund research into the disease—super important because as yet the root cause and the cure for MS have not been identified—as well as much-needed services for those affected. His inspiration? A friend of his was diagnosed last year. She started training, and he just plum decided to join her.
I asked him a few questions about the ride, life, the universe and everything. OK, not everything. But enough, I hope, to persuade you to check out Fark, donate to his ride, and maybe get inspired to get moving for your favorite healthy cause.

Withings: Will this ride be a major challenge for you or not so much? Are you a life-long fit type? Late to fit type? Not-at-all fit type?

Drew Curtis: I played soccer from when I was 6 years old to about two years ago. I realized that I’d gone from being able to play every day to every other day to twice a week. Other friends of mine have stopped due to various injuries, and I noticed that I’d started walking slower myself. So I figured rather than wait until I got a debilitating injury, I’d stop playing before that happened.

Curtis & friends at RAGBRAI 2018
Curtis & friends at RAGBRAI 2018

The problem was I missed it tremendously. I’ve played my whole life, and my body just doesn’t function well without some kind of heavy exercise. I realized I needed something to replace soccer, and a friend of mine who went from soccer to cycling suggested I join her on rides. The first year I bought a third-hand bike built in 1985 made of, I think, lead components, which I still have. I found cycling was a great replacement for soccer. I could go extremely hard and yet I didn’t hurt all over the following day. Then I did my first organized ride and noticed how many people were cycling into their 70s and 80s. You rarely see anyone much over 40 playing soccer—because your body just can’t do it after four decades of pounding. Then last year one of my friends who is one of those crazy cyclists that has to have the latest and greatest every two years decided to get rid of his current bike, so I bought it. Apparently it’s a great bike, but I have no idea because I’m not much of a gear head. The new one weighs 14lbs and is carbon fiber everything. I rode it across Iowa last year with some friends. This year we’re doing Manhattan to Buffalo in late July.
I’ve noticed this year that unlike soccer, getting bike-fit seems to be a multi-year process. This year I’ve joined a weekly ride in my home town that does nothing but attack local hills. Central Kentucky is not flat at all, so we had to travel to Ohio to train for the Iowa ride because they had the nearest flat ground. The hills ride has been super challenging—it’s not easy but it’s getting easier if that makes any sense.
I look at fitness as basic maintenance, like rotating the tires on your car or getting its oil changed. If you don’t do basic maintenance on your car, it falls apart. The same goes for your body. Nothing in the human body gets better without work as you get older, and if you do nothing, you degrade faster. I tell people my fitness goal is trying to degrade slower as I age. But at the same time I’m also trying to do better than the last ride.

You’re a media king, but you live in Kentucky. To me that’s really interesting. Why did you choose to settle there, and not a usual suspect like a coast? Do you think that your unique-to-media location gives you a unique perspective?

I was born and raised in Kentucky, and I had every intention of leaving when I became an adult. But somehow right around the same time, things in central Kentucky became really awesome, and between that and the low cost of living I decided to stick around. California and I don’t get along, and I feel like New York City asks too much of a person in return for living there. Meanwhile, since Kentucky is sort of in the middle of the country I can get to either place relatively easily. It definitely gives me a unique perspective.

Any foods essential to your training or enjoyment?

Not really. I’m fairly agnostic about what I eat. Mostly healthy stuff mainly, no fast food or deep-fried anything. I try not to go on huge benders the night before a long ride. Whenever I can, I like to turn long rides into extended pub crawls, but those don’t tend to be the most physically rewarding rides. I’m big on craft beer and food trucks, and my favorite non work-related thing to do is cooking.

According to Wikipedia, you have a wife and three kids. Any healthy / wacky / cool stuff you all do together?

Everyone was born in the summer, so they’ve got birthdays coming up. They’re all crazy smart and creative. My 10-year-old daughter is the youngest and has started going on short rides with me. I’d love to find a cheap tandem somewhere so she could go on longer rides and tell me everything I’m doing wrong—just like she does when we’re in the car together.

Many thanks to Drew for his time. If you’d like to support his ride and the Bike for MS cause, go ahead and do that now by donating on his fundraising page
Update right after publish: That biking Manhattan to Buffalo thing he mentioned above? That one is 500+ miles to help end cancer, and you can donate to that ride right here.