Introducing Project Y Subject Athlete #2: Reese Ruland
SECTION No1 Introduction
The world will surprise you. It just will. Accept it. If you haven’t yet at your age, in this age, here and now, then either you’re a bona fide psychic or verifiably mentally deficient. Either way, people are going to know and recognize that you’re not operating with the same expectations as the average human. For the rest of us, the best we can do is accept surprise, roll with it, adapt to it. So when we received nearly one hundred (100) applications for Project Y: DK200—a number that far exceeded even our highest expectations—we knew that in order to make that cut, our five Subject-Athletes needed to be something special, something extraordinary.
The vetting process was rigorous and multi-faceted; the attributes considered included Current Perceived Physical Fitness, Athletic and Non-Athletic Palmarès/Awards/Notable Distinctions, Application Creativity & Information Communication, Style, and On-Camera Presence.
The Natural Getting to Know Reese Ruland
There are somethings that just don’t translate. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re exceptionally skilled at carving toy wooden boats, that the Almighty configured you to be the best wooden boat carver in the world; that talent doesn’t meant you’ll be great, or even remotely competent, at playing table tennis.11We imagine you’d at least be able to hold the paddle. The point is, in general, this is not the way the world works. One’s competence in one field usually says nothing about one’s competence in another, since fields are innumerable, diverse and challenging.
That’s not to say there aren’t any things that the world wants to translate. Let’s say, for instance, your name is Reese Ruland and you’re a successful ultrarunner: your cardiovascular system is fantastic at endurance, your legs are fantastic at endurance, your mind is fantastic at endurance. And what are three things that long-distance gravel racing requires? If you guessed a heart, some legs, and a mind that are fantastic at endurance, you'd be right.22Obviously this was just a setup. If you didn’t guess this, then let us praise your stochastic mind. I am sure there is a deep state operational team out there that is looking for someone like you, whether you like it or not.
Reese comes to us with all the trappings of a gravel racer. It’s just that she has yet to race gravel. As such, she begins this journey from a state of nature.
1) What’s your name? Age? Hometown? Current Residence?
Reese Ruland, but you can call me RP (Reese’s Pieces). Please don’t call me that actually. Well, honestly, I really don’t care. I’m 29. Fuck, that sounds old and it is. It is very old and the reality that I’m turning 30 this year is hitting me. As for hometown, that’s tough. I’ve lived all over. North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, Washington, Colorado, Kentucky and California. Currently I live in Fort Collins, CO. Best place in the States.
2) Do you have a day job? If so what is it?
Drinking tea, answering emails, looking at Instagram. Never not moving.
3) How did you hear about Project Y? What was the central reason you wanted to be a part of this project? You love gravel? Free Stuff? Fame? Etc.?
I wanted to join this project because it provides a bit of validity to something that I do that seems a bit odd. Like, training as much as I want to seems weird and totally over the top if I’m the one setting the rules, but now you guys are my scapegoats. My behavior is your fault.
Definitely not doing this for the free stuff. I have enough stuff. I don’t want more stuff. Less is more. As for fame in the adventure cycling world? I think that only happens if you have a beard and wear cut offs...33More on that in a while. and I don’t have either, unfortunately.
4) You were selected for Project Y in part because you have experience with arduous, endurance-based activities. What has been the single hardest event/activity/pursuit that you’ve engaged in up to this point? Please explain.
Running ultra marathons while also being an avid cyclist. Try running 40 miles in the Colorado mountains and then going on a ride with your friends. Shit gets tiring real quick, but I love it. There aren’t many feelings I like more than being exhausted.
5) Regarding the four pillars of Why: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, which will be your biggest challenge? Please explain?
Obvs they are all linked together, but I think my biggest problem will be when my bike malfunctions. That probably falls under spiritual, right? That’s the result of some higher power screwing with me.
6) Which pillar are you most comfortable with? Please explain?
Physical. Endurance is my jam. It’s what I was made to do, bruh.
7) Do you have non-bike, non-athletic related hobbies/interests? If so, what are they?
Drinking tea, writing, watching shitty reality TV because I need some drama in my otherwise undramatic life, thinking of ways to be independently wealthy because I don’t have a trust fund, eating cashew butter.
8) Do you have a power animal? If not you should, please assign yourself one? What is it?
Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers. Or a horse—they just wanta go fast. I think.
9) What is your biggest fear?
Making the wrong choice. Not on small things—I am mostly capable of ordering food at a restaurant—but like, making the right choice about my career, my relationships, where I’m living. Maybe this is just a fear of settling. Settling for what I have right now. Settling for what is easiest. A boring, normal life scares me.
10) What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done, or thought about doing? Yes, we are going to publish this but that’s not relevant right now. More importantly, this is therapeutic. We’re asking this for your own good. Please take a solid step outside your comfort zone and tell us something you’ve never told anyone before. Trust, reach deep, it’s part of the process. Do it for Science.
The strangest thing I’ve ever done is work in an accounting department. I literally can’t even.
But the craziest thing I want to do is just travel abroad with no plans. I’m fairly Type A and having no plans, nothing lined up, makes me anxious as hell. Even thinking about it right now I’ve already begun to line up the potential mishaps that I need to prepare for. But yes, I simply want to be in a foreign country, trekking or biking about and allowing myself to just take each day as it comes.
11) What happens to you if you don’t do this kind of thing? If you don’t exercise regularly, if you don’t push, if you don’t challenge yourself regularly, what goes wrong?
I go insane. I’m a total bitch. I once took two months off running in high school and I was intolerable to everyone around me. When I started running again, I could hear a collective sigh of relief from my family. I just get real snippy and my tolerance for bullshit, traffic or bad tea is less than normal.
12) If you’re here answering this questionnaire it’s in part because you have exercise disease. Why do you have exercise disease? What happened to you when you were a child?
Some say exercise is cheaper than therapy, but it isn’t. Bikes aren’t cheap. But I compulsively run and ride my bike. A lot of people will tell you this is to clear your mind and that after you finish, all your problems are sorted. Well, that can happen. It has happened to me. But generally, I think the problem you were trying to work out is merely in the background. I’m simply too tired to focus or think about anything other than my most basic needs after a 40-mile run or a six-hour bike ride.
At this point I think running or any other endurance sport is just part of my identity, my DNA. I wish there had been some event in my childhood I could point to and blame for this addiction, but I can’t. I simply had great parents and a childhood based around huge camping and hiking trips to Yellowstone, Glacier and the Tetons. At five, I thought it was normal to hike ten miles in the mountains. So if that’s to blame, it follows that my parents should A) pay for therapy and/or B) pay for bikes. Right?
13) Maybe you have a hero all lined up for this question, maybe you don’t. Either way, who is your hero and why? It does NOT need to be an athlete, but it’s okay if it is an athlete.
Doctor Seuss. If you read his books, you’d know why.
- “Kid, you’ll move mountains! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!”—Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
- “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”—The Lorax
- “It’s opener, out there, in the wide, open air.”—Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
- “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”—Dr. Seuss
14) What does existential you look like? Please tell us about existential you.
The universe is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. But more importantly, how come we only ask ourselves the really big questions when something bad happens?