Cycling was something I had to come back to. I grew up in Collingswood and my bike was my primary form of transportation as I used it to ride to places I never told my parents about. Eventually it was supplanted by in-line skates, then eventually a car, and I left cycling behind when I went to college. When our time at Rutgers was over, my now-wife and I moved to Virginia and then North Carolina for a year each while following my career. We never planned to move back to New Jersey, but that’s where we ended up in 2003 when we moved into an apartment complex in Voorhees.
We bought mountain bikes (twin Specialized Hardrocks) from a shop in Haddonfield to give ourselves something to do together. Things didn’t exactly work out that way, but at least one of those bikes saw a lot of use – in fact, when my tires eventually wore down, I just took hers and put slicks on her bike! I worked my way up to longer and longer rides, but even when we moved to Cherry Hill after we were married in 2004, I stuck to small roads, avoided busy streets and a “long ride” was about 10 miles. I eventually graduated to a hybrid and after a year of that moved onto my first road bike. This was when I started to get serious about cycling and set completing the City to Shore as a goal. I wussed out from completing it the first year I had my road bike, but in 2007 I pulled it off (and to my surprise, raised over $1k). Completing that ride was a personal goal since my asthma had significantly limited my physical activity as a child and it felt GREAT. Eventually I learned that I had friends, family, and neighbors with MS, so now I do that ride every year for them.
It took me a while to work my way up to group riding. I learned of Team Evesham through my former student Alena Rakita and scoped it out through the webpage, where I also saw my fellow RU classmate Melissa Harris. When I replied to Alena’s post on Facebook that I should join the team for a ride one day, Sandy of course friended me instantly. Eventually I made my way over for a team ride with my friend Marissa Cavaretta, with whom I often ride. It was a lot of fun and I picked up some new group riding skills but I quickly learned from my wife that Sunday mornings were a rough time to leave her with our kids (1 and 4 at the time). I made it out a few more times but instead took most of my rides solo during their naptimes. It wasn’t until last summer that I really found my stride with the team when I discovered the Dawn Patrol crew. It wasn’t easy waking up for 5:30am rides but the timing was perfect in every way that doesn’t involve sleep! Now my kids are older and I’m able to join more (and longer) group rides with some frequency.
Cycling has done a lot for me. It is the best stress relief that I know of and clears my mind each time I’m out. I’ve lost 40 pounds through a combination of improved diet and cycling and rewarded myself with a Trek Domane a few years ago for doing so (I’m having a harder time coming up with a reward justification for a new one – suggestions are welcome). I am in better shape than I was in college and I have made wonderful new friendships with Team Evesham members. Most of my other friendships are with colleagues and I am fortunate and grateful to have them, but it is nice to have those that are based on a shared passion instead of a profession. Riding with the team has shown me the joy of group rides and how much more fun it is than riding solo. I’m not just an improved cyclist, I’m a more satisfied one. I enjoy cycling more than ever and spend more time in the saddle than I could ever have imagined when we bought those mountain bikes years ago. Thank you, Team Evesham. It has been my pleasure to get to know you.