When Sandy asked me to write a few paragraphs about “why I ride” the first thing that came to mind was my standard line “I ride to eat” but that would be disingenuous. I actually ride to “to eat and drink”. Of course there’s a lot more to my riding story. I grew up in Philadelphia in a time when parents rarely drove their kids anywhere. If my friends and I decided to go somewhere we got on bikes and we rode. The only rule was that we had to be back home by dinner time. That was also a time when parents “meant business” when they made a rule, so we made sure that we were actually home for dinner. I remember taking many long rides to the “wilds” of Fairmount Park or Cheltenham Park with everything we needed for the day including fishing rods strapped to the “Sissy Bar” on the back of our bikes. I think our bikes started to disappear around the time we all turned 14. Since we lived in the city there were buses and trolleys everywhere and our parents had no problem letting us use them. Then came 16 and cars became our new toys and our banana seat bikes were parked for good or at least until Ebay came along.
I didn’t start riding again until my children were old enough to ride. I bought the whole family new bikes from Sears. Mine was a white hybrid with big knobby tires. It looked good but I think it weighed about as much as a Honda Civic. It was great for riding around our neighborhood in Plymouth Meeting with my son and daughter. One day a good friend that was an avid cyclist asked if I wanted to ride the Schuylkill Trail from Conshocken to the Art Museum. It didn’t dawn on me that I was now 39, that I was carrying more than a few extra pounds and hadn’t ridden a bike more than a few blocks in a very long time, so of course I said yes”. One Sunday morning in the summer of 1997 I met my friend Michael on the trail complete with my overweight Sears bike. I guess Michael was riding at about a B pace and he isn’t the type of guy to slow down and wait for anyone. I was trying, without much success, to keep up. When we finally got there I can remember dropping my bike on the grass, lying down, looking up at the sky and wondering “why the hell” I had agreed to this. That first ride to the Art Museum was actually a revelation for me. Although my children and I enjoyed skiing we only did that for a few weeks during the winter. I realized that it was important for me to make time for some serious cardio exercise on a regular basis. The Schuylkill Trail became a regular Sunday morning riding event with friends and family from that point on until I moved to Cherry Hill in 2007.
Since I was no longer living close to the Schuylkill Trail I started going to spin classes and working out at Cherry Hill Health and Racquet Club where my wife works as a Trainer/Spin Instructor. In 2010 I decided I was getting bored with indoor spinning and wanted to get back outside and on the road. I went to REI and bought a good quality hybrid bike and started riding outdoors with Niles Commisso who also worked out at the Racquet Club. One Friday we were riding on Marlton Parkway and had stopped at an intersection when another cyclist stopped next to us. The cyclist was of course Sandy Student (who would have guessed). Sandy told us about the then fledgling Team Evesham, and like he has done so many times, he invited us to join a Sunday ride starting from The Promenade. We took Sandy up on his offer and the next Sunday we rode 30 miles with Team Evesham. My rides had been limited to about 18 miles. Riding that 30 miles on a hybrid was a challenge but I made it and gained the confidence to keep going. I was first introduced to the MS Ride during those early team rides and decided to register for the ride that year. In order to ride 75 miles I knew would need to would to train regularly. Since I usually take off from work on Fridays I thought it would be a good day to get in some extra riding. Another team member, Rich Bernstein, apparently my long lost brother, wanted to get in some extra riding also. I think there were only 3 or 4 of us for those first Friday rides. In September I completed the 75 mile MS Ride with my new found friends and teammates. In 2011 I purchased a used black and yellow Giant and rode it on the ACS ride to Buena, New Jersey and later that year on another MS Ride. In September of 2011, at a team party, I was awarded the Team Evesham “Most Improved Rider Award”. Since I was riding at a C+ pace when I recieved the award I guess I must have been a “really slow” rider when I started.
Since that chance meeting with Sandy in 2010 I have ridden with Team Evesham on countless Sunday andFriday rides. I have also participated in many charity rides including The New York Five Borough Ride,The Irish Pub Ride, ACS Ride and several MS Rides. I even managed to push myself hard enough, along with friends, to get a few Century rides under my belt. At some point I found myself leading C+/B rides on many Fridays and Sundays along with Rich Bernstein and Dennis Dahms. Leading rides was especially rewarding since it gave me the opportunity help others to ride and improve just as many team members had done for me.
In March of 2015 I had surgery and when I told my surgeon about my riding and that our average ride is about 40 miles he suggested, actually insisted, that I sit out the season. In late November he gave me the “all clear” and now I’m back out riding with the team and it feels great. At this point my “ego” is moving somewhat faster than rest of me but with a few more weeks of riding I’m sure that I will regain my stamina.
Before that chance meeting with Sandy back in 2010 I never thought about riding with a bike team. I’m glad we met that day because it opened up a whole new world of great experiences with all the inspirational people that have made Team Evesham what it is today.