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“In a little book titled Painting as a Pastime, Churchill spoke eloquently of a reliance on new activities that use other parts of our minds and bodies to relieve the areas where we are overworked. 'The cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is therefore a policy of first importance to a public man,' he wrote. 'To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.'"
From “Stillness is the Key" by Ryan Holiday [Book]
When Dana and I decided to move out of the city to my hometown, I was excited about the prospect of weekend bike rides with my Dad and some other family friends. Seeing that vision through this past Saturday was a milestone.
My Dad has always enjoyed biking. I have fond memories of going with him on rides, my older brother Nick, and the youngest, Justin, strapped in a seat at the back of my Dad's bike. After learning that our family friends Lee and Brian had both gotten into cycling, getting a group together seemed like a no-brainer.
We all met this past Saturday morning to do a ride along the Delaware Canal towpath. Spending a few hours catching up and kicking off the weekend together was a lot of fun. There's something nice about starting the weekend early and getting outside. I recently overheard a guy talking to his friend weeks ago while riding. He said, "These days, I've come to value my Saturday mornings more than my Friday nights." I couldn't agree more.
Over the past few months, I've enjoyed immersing myself in cycling and learning more about the sport. A few friends have commented that I go all-in on my interests; I suppose they have a point. When I discover a new passion, I enjoy educating myself on all it offers and giving it a go. I find joy in learning new things and pushing myself in new ways. However, biking is not entirely new; it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
As a kid, my brothers, neighbors, and I would spend hours outside on our bikes. Sometimes, we'd explore the surrounding neighborhoods and discover trails through the woods. Other times, I'd be busy constructing a ramp for our version of the X games. In college, my bike became more of a utility, a mode of transportation from point A to B.
Soon after moving to NYC, I upgraded from a hand-me-down Huffy mountain bike to a single-speed commuter bike. It wasn't intentional, though. I locked the mountain bike outside the gym and lost the key. After calling the fire department about removing the lock, I decided a 10-plus-year-old weathered bike wasn't worth the hassle.
My bike upgrade inspired Dana to upgrade from her Mom's road bike. We started doing more leisurely rides, going to Prospect Park, and exploring nearby neighborhoods. Occasionally, I'd ride into the office with Barrel Co-Founder/CEO Peter, a neighbor at the time. Getting over the Manhattan Bridge on a single-speed bike was a feat!
During the pandemic, Dana and I set up shop for six weeks at her parent's house by the Delaware beaches. Without much to do, getting out on our bikes became a go-to pastime. Spending hours on our bikes outside the hustle and bustle of the city took me back to the joy of my childhood adventures. With the world changing, Dana and I set our sights on a life outside the city, and I was eager for biking to be part of that future. One of the first things we did when we moved was buying new bikes that would handle hilly terrain. We picked up mountain bikes at Costco that seemed decent enough.
In June, Lee invited me to join him for a 17-mile ride. When we finished, I felt the same thrill I did riding during the pandemic, but this time it felt like more of a sport than a leisure ride. With each ride, I went deeper into my research, gauging my desire to commit to a new pastime. One thing was for sure, though, putting in 20+ mile rides on road and gravel trails on my mountain bike was not optimal.
After much consideration, I decided to go for it. Cycling combines what I love about motorcycling and strength training. It's a great way to get outside and feel connected to nature while taking on a new challenge and pushing myself physically.
A couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge and invested in a Cannondale Topstone 3. Lee's bike is a slightly different, older model of mine. It's always helpful to have a recommendation from someone you trust. He has been great.
This past weekend was my first time riding the Topstone. It made all of the difference. Next Sunday, Lee and I are participating in a 33-mile covered bridge bike tour through Bucks County, PA, and I can't wait to put it to the test. This trip will be the longest ride I've done to date and my first group ride. It might be one of the last rides this season, but I have a feeling it will be the first of many.
More this week: Evolving Quarterly Team Leads Debrief Session
What pastime have I been interested in exploring but haven't made time to pursue?