My first year of cycling has been remarkable and fulfilling. It’s possible that I’m a little dense because I have no idea why it took me so long to realize I had this passion in me. All I know is that I am here now, riding, feeling better than ever, and absolutely loving it!
Last summer our family spent a week in Ocean City. The credit goes to my wife who for years was familiar with my complete inability to stick with anything even remotely resembling regular exercise. She suggested we take our bikes to Ocean City where we rode daily. After the vacation, it took a few weeks but last October I saddled back up on the old steel mountain bike wearing a t-shirt and baggy shorts. I was seriously out of shape. I struggled through those initial rides of 5, then 7, then 10 miles and each felt like the equivalent of climbing Everest but with less available oxygen. Maybe I stuck with it because there was less pounding on my feet than running, or because I could go faster (which I love…), or that it was outside rather than in a gym, but I kept pushing. I would see “cyclists” on the road and watched them effortlessly glide away from stoplights. They would be a quarter mile down the road by the time I cleared the intersection. Man, if only.
Just after Thanksgiving came the visit to D&Q and the new Trek. I probably shed close to 40 pounds of metal that day and remembered feeling like the wind was going to blow me over on the first ride. I started rolling farther and faster. I pushed myself, read up on intervals (hint: effective, not fun) and started getting stronger and setting new goals. I suited up and rode through the winter because honestly, I wasn’t sure my will power would hold up if I stopped. My wife’s expression when I would head out in 30-degree weather definitely said she was a little unsure about the monster she had helped create.
When I bought my bike, the guys at D&Q mentioned Team Evesham but I convinced myself a group would be beyond me and it took me a few months to muster the courage. The inaugural ride came this past spring – I think it was the first time the group rode to Riverton. I met Sandy in the parking lot at Rastelli’s and he welcomed me and ran down the basics. I knew immediately what a mistake it was to wait so long. My first group ride was energizing and after riding alone for months, having others to talk with was so great. It’s entirely possible that I had a smile on my face for the entire 35 miles that day and since that ride, I haven’t looked back. Team Evesham really is like a 2nd family that I don’t think I could survive without. I look forward to every ride; I’ve met some great people, I love the energy of the group, and value the emphasis on safety that is part of every outing. It’s a welcome point of pride to be part of such a supportive team that does so much.
From those first hard rides, year one of my cycling odyssey has covered more than 4,000 miles and included the ACS to Atlantic City, Bancroft, 2 metric centuries, and I’m absolutely pining to take on that first full century that Hurricane Joaquin stole from all of us. Now – I AM a cyclist. With over 30 pounds and other unsavory reflections of my past physique fading in the rear view mirror I’m not looking back. I ride weekends, mornings and whenever else I can even if it’s only stealing an hour on a sunny afternoon. Ride strong, ride safe and keep smiling!