Cyclist Spotlight: Mark Bryson


Mark Bryson’s love of cycling came from an nontraditional place – a three-year stint in Jamaica while serving in the Peace Corps’ Green Initiative sector.

“I was provided a Fuji Adventure 2.0 bicycle to get around the community,” said Bryson. “I rode almost every single day and learned how to maintain the bike not by choice, but by necessity.”

When he returned to West Michigan, Mark got involved with the local scene through the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance, the local IMBA Chapter and volunteering.

“It’s such a close-knit, welcoming and supportive community that I cannot imagine my time in Grand Rapids without it.”

The 33-year-old outdoorsman is a brewer at New Holland Brewing. Through the brewery’s sponsorship of the MSU Gran Fondo, Bryson will be riding the 80-mile route on June 23.


Mark Bryson, upper left, in his first MSU Gran Fondo in 2015


It won’t be his first MSU Gran Fondo, but it will certainly be one to celebrate. In 2016, Mark suffered a bad ACL injury. Luckily, he made a full recovery after surgery and will ride his second 80-mile Gran Fondo in June.

Mark’s favorite part of the event is the camaraderie and support of fellow riders.

“Even a small donation of one’s time and money has a positive impact,” said Bryson. “If you love cycling then I’m sure you’ll be able to find a distance that fits your skill level to make the day an enjoyable experience all around.”

We wish Mark the best of luck at the MSU Gran Fondo, his first gravel race in April and his first marathon in May!

Cyclist Spotlight: PJ VanDyken


PJ VanDyken will ride his sixth MSU Gran Fondo as part of the Herman Miller Team on June 23. Herman Miller is the presenting sponsor of the MSU Gran Fondo.

PJ VanDyken has participated in the MSU Gran Fondo since the beginning. As a supporter, fundraiser and rider since 2013, he plans on doing the same again on June 23.

He got involved with the ride through Herman Miller, where he has worked as a product support specialist. The West Michigan furniture company is the presenting sponsor for the MSU Gran Fondo.

“Herman Miller has been involved with the MSU Gran Fondo since it started with support and participation touching almost every aspect,” said VanDyken. “There truly is a great cycling culture at Herman Miller and the MSU Gran Fondo is an event our company looks forward to.”

Herman Miller Team - Ross Pennington

Brian C. Walker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Herman Miller (center) rides alongside his employees at the MSU Gran Fondo. Photography by Ross Pennington.

 PJ’s favorite part about the event is the time spent after the ride with friends, coworkers and other participants. “This is a great time for storytelling and celebrating, all while sharing that moment in life with others that have the same passion for riding bikes and giving,” said VanDyken.

Through years of riding the MSU Gran Fondo, he has learned how skin cancer has affected some of his Herman Miller family. The team’s commitment continues to grow.

“The year, we want to have our biggest team and raise the most donations yet!”

 PJ encourages his coworkers and others to get involved with the event.

“While there are so many ways to contribute to our community, I believe the MSU Gran Fondo is a great way to get outside, ride, volunteer and just have a great time, all while contributing to the continued research for the cure to skin cancer,” said VanDyken. “Not to mention all the fantastic food, drinks and entertainment that participants and volunteers get to enjoy!”


MSU Gran Fondo is proud to partner with our presenting sponsor Herman Miller


Four ways to stay motivated during winter training


By Dakota Hewlett
Michigan State University graduate student, MSU Cycling Club President

1. Get your friends involved!

This brings us back to that saying we all know, “the more the merrier.” Training by yourself for long periods of time can get boring, so encourage your friends and coworkers to train for, and ride, the MSU Gran Fondo with you. Not only will you enjoy your training a lot more, but you will build stronger bonds with your training buddies as you all work hard to support the cause.

2. Training doesn’t always have to happen on the bike.

Spending all your free time riding the stationary bike indoors is a sure way to burn out and lose motivation in the cold winter months. Spice up your training by doing things like cross-country skiing, running, going to the pool or gym and hiking. Finding other ways to be physically active off the bike will mean your time spent on the indoor trainer will be focused and diligent. Remember to keep your training fun and use your training buddies to keep each other motivated and excited for the Gran Fondo.

3. Set goals.

Set measurable and achievable training goals for yourself. If you able to make a training plan for yourself and see your goals written down you, you then will be motivated to stick to that plan and check off those goals when you accomplish them.

Some example training goals, set your own goals to meet your individual needs:

  • I will ride at least ___ hours every week
  • I will participate in my local group ride each week
  • I will ride three times a week, and lift weights once

4. Think about the big day.

Its June 23rd, 2018, the big day has arrived: Imagine yourself leaving the start line in Grand Rapids, looking ahead and behind all you can see are cyclists up and down the road. You are one of over 1,000 cyclists that put in countless hours of training for this day. Each and every rider has a reason to be here today, and each rider is proud of their accomplishment up to this point. This enormous crowd of people has come together to support a cause they believe in by raising money and training hard for Fondo 6.

Visualizing what it will be like on the big day is a great way to keep yourself motivated, and remind yourself why you spend so much time sweating in the basement on the trainer, or freezing your toes off on those cold training rides. Everyone has their own reasons for riding, and remembering yours is a great way to keep focused.

Good luck out there!