There’s a certain beauty in the agony of aching muscles, lungs screaming for oxygen — and a cloud of dust behind your path. Getting to the top takes a tireless drive, an undying will, to push the limits of man and machine. It’s something we can appreciate. After all, we were founded on the principle of getting the job done, no matter what it takes. “I’d rather drive nails than eat,” that’s what Ralph Korte, our founder, would say.
Every time they don the jerseys and take on the challenge of race day, the Korte Hammer Down cycling team makes us proud — not just to be the title sponsor, but also of what they stand for. Their grit, determination and spirit are a strong representation of the Korte name. Every Hammer Down team member puts effort and smarts into training and racing, and every team member plays a key role.
Today, we introduce you to Rodney Cochran, one of the newer members of Korte Hammer Down. He puts in the hard work to improve, day in and day out, and he rides with heart. His dedication to the sport and to good health and fitness is an inspiration.
Q: Could you describe your role on the Hammer Down team? Sprinter/climber/all-around? What is a typical race like for you?
A: I’m new to racing, so I’m not sure what I am yet. But I think we can rule out sprinter. We have some good sprinters on the team, and let’s just say that’s not my forte. As for my role, I do whatever is needed to get the team on the podium. My primary role is to learn from more experienced teammates and represent the team and our sponsors the best I can.
Q: How long have you been with the team? What kind of leadership do you try to bring to the team?
A: This is my second year with the team and second year of racing. As a new member of the team and a rookie racer, I really don’t have a specific leadership role. By nature, I’m kind of a behind-the-scenes type of person. Right now, I’m happy to race and help the team in whatever capacity I can.
Q: How long have you been riding? How did you get started? And what does cycling mean to you personally?
A: I started riding in 1999. Interestingly enough, I took up biking while on deployment to Bosnia. Vehicles were hard to come by, so bicycles were frequently used as a mode of transportation around the base. I fell in love with it and bought my first road bike when I returned home. Personally, riding is literally very near and dear to my heart. In 2006, I contracted a viral infection that attacked my heart and placed me in ICU for 11 days. Doctors said had it not been for my physical conditioning, I most likely would not have survived. Although my heart still does not function at full capacity, cardiologists continue to be amazed that I’m able to do what I do. I often tell people that cycling saved my life.
Q: What about cycling draws you in and makes you want to compete? What motivates you to do it?
A: The grace and speed of the peloton is a big draw for me. There is something inherently beautiful about a group racing handlebar to handlebar, moving as a single entity on an open road. There’s just nothing like it.
Q: Could you describe your training routine?
A: I’m still learning the training ins and outs and what works best for me. During the winter months, I typically ride indoors three days a week, focusing on lower intensity aerobic workouts. I also hit the gym once a week to help build lower body strength and attempt to keep the upper body toned. When the weather warms, I typically do one high-intensity and three low-intensity outdoor rides per week. And then races on the weekends, of course. On average, I try to get in a minimum of six hours per week.
Q: What are your goals this season? Personally and for the team?
A: My personal goals for this season are pretty simple. I want to continue to improve as a racer and as a cycling advocate. I’m still learning how to race and what it takes to be competitive, but I think I’m on the right track. Veteran teammates have really helped me out by sharing their training and racing knowledge. Another goal is to move up from category 5 (aka, beginners) to category 4, so I’m able to race with and support teammates. We have a solid group of category 4 racers this year, so I’m excited be a part of that.
Q: Could you talk about your experiences with the team? What stands out when you look back at your many training rides, races and teammates?
A: I can’t say enough good things about the Korte team and our other sponsors. There is willingness among everyone to help one another and push each other to the limit — all to become better. The camaraderie can’t be beat.
Q: What kind of work and/or hobbies do you do outside of cycling?
A: Honestly, I don’t have many hobbies outside of cycling. If I’m not working or studying, I prefer to be on my bike. My wife also rides, so we spend a lot of time together on the bikes. We’ve been very fortunate to see many wonderful places and build lifelong memories together thanks to cycling. Like any hobby, cycling can be expensive, but the return on investment can be pretty awesome as well.
Q: We understand you have a military background. Could you talk a little about your role in the Air Force?
A: Sure. I am active duty, and this summer will be my 22nd year as a member of the best Air Force in the world. I’ve spent those 22 years in various information technology roles of one kind or another. Some have been in support of computer systems aboard aircraft and others have been more traditional computer networking or system administration jobs. Nowadays, I spend most of my time focused on IT project management, which I really like. My military career will be coming to an end within a couple years, and I can honestly say it has been a wonderful journey. I’ve met some amazing people, developed really good friendships and visited a lot of truly cool places.
Q: What kinds of skills or leadership qualities have you brought with you from the Air Force?
A: The Air Force core values are Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do. Those are qualities I hope I’ve brought with me to the team. I am honest about my ability, I help out a teammate with a better chance at the podium than me and I strive to become a stronger racer. Just as in life, success in competitive cycling is rarely accomplished alone. It takes a total team effort — each member and their role are important.
Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to speak to? Anything we didn’t cover?
A: I would like to thank The Korte Company and all of our sponsors for their continued support. As the title sponsor and bearer of our team’s name, I think Korte deserves a shout-out for their continued support of the local, competitive cycling scene. Also, the Bike Surgeon does a great job keeping our equipment in tip-top working order. We regularly count on support from all of our sponsors, which enables us to do our best. It’s really great to have a competitive team on the east side of the river.
A little more about Korte Hammer Down
As you can imagine, The Korte Hammer Down team is near and dear to us at The Korte Company. We’ve proudly been the title sponsor since 2012, and we previously profiled another key member of the team, Maurice “Mo” Hessel. We’ve been building since 1958, and we put our passion into every construction project, much the way Hammer Down puts it into every race.
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