Below is Part 2 of a new blog series where we interview influential truckers about life on the road, the state of the transportation industry, and everything in between.
In this post we feature driver Tom Kyrk, OTR driver and founder of Road Testing Living, a blog about staying healthy on the road and other helpful tips for enjoying an on-the-road lifestyle. He also contributes regularly to the Trucking Solutions Group, Team Run Smart, and Rolling Strong organizations.
How did you get into trucking?
As a kid I always had an interest in big trucks, and it reactivated in college when I caught interest to the shuttle bus service on campus; the lead driver thought I would be a perfect fit in the transportation industry. After school I worked in retail for nearly a decade, but hit a wall when the grind of bad customer experiences was too much to bear.
I moved to Butler, PA and found a driving school (Transport Tech) that offered financial aid and won a grant, which was pivotal in me switching industries. I got my license October 25, 2005, so this year marks my 9th anniversary.
What’s the average day or week look like?
There is no average day. I’m on a dedicated account right now, but I still drive 250 - 550 miles daily so the range is wide. Hauls are moderately predictable, but I still have down time when loads aren’t ready or there are problems with them at pickup.
Inevitably in driving there are a lot of “hurry up and wait” moments. I’m in flux a lot more now than I used to be, but the trade-off is I’m closer to where I grew up and can visit friends / family between loads. It also gives me more opportunities to find a few moments to work on my projects.
Any favorite gadgets?
I’m learning to use social media — a necessary evil in my opinion — for growing my blog and staying in touch with people in the industry. Besides using the computer for stuff like that, I have some kitchen gadgets that help me cook and stay healthy on the road: a skillet, rice cooker, George Foreman grill, crockpot, and lunch box oven.
My current favorite is the lunch box oven. Basically it provides the taste of a home cooked meal from a real oven, versus a crockpot. I was skeptical at first but you can do a lot with it if you’re creative.
How do you stay fit on the road?
There’s always something to do on the road, so it’s hard to find time to exercise. Rather, there’s always an excuse not to exercise. I tend to walk quite a bit each day even if just around the truck stop. I often will walk to a nearby restaurant or store to pick up dinner or supplies. I have a market cart which makes shopping easier. I also have found a series of exercises, that can be done with little or no equipment on the truck. If you really want to get healthy you will figure out a way to do it.
Two cool fitness gadgets I have found for the truck is a mini-stepper which allows me to get a walk in even in bad weather. Also the FIT system from Freightliner. It is an in cab gym system that I got to try out at MATS and will be getting one of my own at GATS. If you do not have the money for equipment that is fine. Equipment can be nice but it does take up space, and you can still get in a good workout with out it.
As far as fitness blogs, the main one I’ve found that is geared to drivers is www.healthytrucker.net They do have some good advice and tips, and cover a wide range of industry issues. My personal favorite is Michael Adams Facebook page Trucking Fitness. He has an interesting health story, and uses this page to chronicle his journey, and what works for him. He is a great resource for ideas on fitness and eating clean. People who are just starting out may find him a bit intimidating, but he is a great guy who is willing to lend an ear and suggestions.
My ultimate goal with my blog is to create simpler, step by step processes for basic exercises and lifestyle changes that beginners won’t be intimidated by, and a trip plan for drivers that allows for experimentation. I know what it feels like to start and fail 5-10x, and it’s important to keep trying until you find what works for you.
Also, contrary to popular belief it is possible to eat healthy on the road. Pilot Flying J has decent salads at many locations, although you might have to pick off bacon avoid high calorie dressings. Additionally, Loves has selections of fresh fruit and raw veggies and TA is constantly improving their selection along with adding walking trails and fitness rooms at some locations. For me, I enjoy the added benefit of making your own food because there’s both a personal investment and it tastes better too.
What are your hobbies?
I used to enjoy jewelry making, gourmet cooking, and walking, which I still do sometimes. But as a driver, I had to find ways to adapt my hobbies to the road.
That said, there are two big things I do for fun while driving: reading and cooking.
I read all kinds of fiction, including Harry Potter fanfiction. Interestingly I’m not a huge fan of the actual series but I do like the spin-off stories. As for cooking, I find it relaxes me. In college I used to make 4-5 course gourmet meals for friends, just for the sheer pleasure.
Sometimes when I’m home, I like to chop firewood. It may sound bizarre, and I get teased for it, but I find it hard to stay mad or stressed after 15 minutes with a chainsaw. It’s true what they say— strenuous physical activity does take your mind off your problems.
This month I’m focusing on GATS 2014 and a few events I’m helping organize and support while there.
If I had to pick one event I’m the most proud of, it’s the bone marrow registry that the Trucking Solutions Group is bringing to the show. I’m working heavily with the founder of MakeItHappenUSA.org to do whatever I can to support the cause, and we hope to sign up a lot of drivers as donors. (Big thanks to Rick Ash Chair of the Trucking Solutions Group for sourcing this worthwhile cause.)
I predict there will be a big focus on health and driver lifestyle at GATS this year, and I think I can use that to my advantage as I grow my readership at Road Tested Living and become a better blogger and networker.
There are a lot of new things I want to roll out, so it’s just matter of time. I’m excited about the future.
We can’t thank Tom enough for his time and helpfulness in connecting us with people and events in the industry. Keychain exists to support drivers like Tom, so if you have ideas on how we can help you too, please let us know.
A few of us are attending GATS this year and we’d love to meet you.
We’ll be giving away prizes, interviewing drivers, and providing a sneak peek of our brand new mobile app that lets drivers book loads instantly, without phone calls or emails.
If you want to learn more, let us know. We’ll also be tweeting from @keychain.
See you there,
Below is Part 1 of a new blog series where we interview influential truckers about life on the road, the state of the transportation industry, and everything in between.
Why did you get into driving?
I moved around a lot as a child and always felt I had an unsettled spirit. It became fun to start over somewhere new, so I continued this lifestyle into my adult years. Then, while attending University of Nevada (Las Vegas) I started freaking out about my future: working in an office.
This grew into a bigger distressed situation where I felt my life was crumbling and I couldn’t find interest in anything. I took time off from school and moved to Florida to live with a friend and find a new path for myself. After realizing truckers are always on the move, my friend covered my CDL school expenses and I started driving shortly thereafter, in 2007.
What’s life like on the road?
I was OTR for awhile, dedicated with Walmart and running routes between Texas and Minnesota. Later I did LTL between the midwest and west coast.
I’m not super social, but I like to people watch between loads and relax at Starbucks. I’m a big history fan, so I like to look up landmarks and visit them. One project that keeps me busy is my dog, who travels with me and even has a twitter account. I take photos of my dog’s experiences and her perception of the country. I also like to visit the same places in different seasons to see how they are affected.
Favorite gadgets in your truck?
I have a Droid Ultra, which I use for Twitter. Not a big brand person, but prefer the dedicated keyboards and still getting used to the autocorrect touch screen. Ha. I don’t watch a lot of television but am constantly working on the computer for my non-profit.
For navigation I have the Professional Driver GPS by Cobra, but rarely use it because it’s important to be aware of where you are and where you’re going. Otherwise I use a mini crockpot in the truck to make hot meals like pork and chicken, and I have a small coffee pot to save money on the road. Most of my free time goes to moderating comments, writing blog posts, and maintaining my website.
How do you stay healthy on the road?
During my first year of trucking I lost 60 lbs. My CDL trainer was really overweight and only 26 years old, which scared me. On the road I became diligent in seeking out healthier foods such as tuna, grilled chicken, salads, and apples. Sometimes in line at the rest stops you just break down and buy a Big Mac, but I’m getting better at resisting and the crockpot in my truck helps reduce those trips inside.
Another thing I do habitually is ask the dock managers if I can walk their property while they load or unload my truck. Sometimes the companies even have walking paths for employees and I can take my dog on them.
Once I started a mini movement in a big truck lot where I got out of my cab, started stretching, and doing a bit of cardio exercise. Other truckers who were likely debating the same thing all started getting out, stretching, and following suit. Exercise is contagious and should be more encouraged in our industry.
I also advocate something called “Walking Women Truckers,” created by Idella Hansen, where women talk to one another while walking on the job, keeping us accountable in case we get hurt, etc. I’d like to get more people involved in that!
Big thanks to Desiree for sharing her time and story with us at Keychain.
If you’d like to be considered for future “Day in the Life” interview or just want to share a story about life on the road, please let us know.
Today we’re releasing a new feature for carriers nationwide.
You may now use your computer to access 125,00 new daily loads, manage your fleet, and more.
Go here to get started. Simply log in with your existing mobile app credentials for instant access.
The Keychain Team
We’re pleased to announce that Keychain is now operating in 30 cities.
With overwhelming user demand our growth is limited only by our ability to provide excellent customer service.
New shippers may now discover the ease of freight management with Keychain in the following places:
For more information about Keychain, go here.
At Keychain we believe there is a fundamental flaw with traditional freight brokerages; they lack the financial interest to provide quick and transparent pricing to freight providers and shippers.
Leading 3PL’s rely heavily on a bevy of resources outside of their control and host boiler rooms full of commission-motivated sales teams. It’s a game of value capture, and they’re extracting all of it.
Currently the 3PL industry mimics a cold-war era travel agency. In order to book a flight you had to engage a travel agent (a broker). Today, however, flights are booked on Hipmunk, Expedia, Priceline, or directly from the airlines themselves. The consumer benefits are clear: purchasing is easy, fast, transparent, and broker-free.
Booking freight should be no different.
Now available in select cities, the future of booking freight starts with Keychain. No more brokers. No more hidden fees. No more long wait times. No more price renegotiation. Keychain passes the savings to you.
Later this month Keychain will release a free lane pricing tool for shippers, drivers, and skeptics alike to leverage however they please. The tool accurately prices 1.6 billion lanes across America in real time, providing transparency with fair freight rates along with what brokers are actually charging.
It’s time for the freight booking industry to move to the 21st century, and Keychain is leading that march.
Sign up now and we’ll notify you when Keychain’s pricing tool is ready for you to use.
You asked, we listened. Keychain Logistics is now on Android.
Use the app to find high-paying hauls straight from your phone, broker-free in select cities.