Balanced by Challenge

Wind blade on a train seen during the STOMP ride.
Wind blade on a train seen during the STOMP ride.

When I explain my Climate Ride to people, I typically begin by rattling off the stats and facts that I think make it impressive.  “I’m riding 300+ miles over 5 days from Manhattan to D.C with about 200 other people!”

Next, I talk about my beneficiary.  “Cyclists ride for charitable environmental causes, and must raise $2,400 for their cause to participate.  My fundraising will go to Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo), whose mission to build an offshore wind industry is good for Northeast Ohio’s environment, economy and energy portfolio.”

It’s a good rap, but I recently realized that I haven’t been giving any attention to the physical challenge of the ride.  Since training is now in full swing, I think it’s a good time to balance that out.

The combination of a desk job, a slowing metabolism, and constant studying has left me less active than I was a few years ago.  Late last summer, I determined to change that.  But, how exactly?  The treadmill and small home gym in my basement are great for short, cold days, but my routine had become stagnant and I craved the outdoors!  I gave up my fleeting aspirations for running many years ago, and I’ve really never been into competitive sports.

Cycling, of course!

I’ve always enjoyed hopping on my bike and riding around the neighborhood, in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park or other trails.  Why not step it up and take it more seriously?  Off to Century Cycle I went in search of a helmet so I could do STOMP, Akron’s 30-mile ride on the Towpath Trail.  Somewhere between picking out a helmet and testing bells, I talked myself into a sleek and lightweight new Giant hybrid to replace my old and rather heavy mountain bike.

Towpath Trail, Akron, Ohio
Towpath Trail, Akron, Ohio

After experiencing the camaraderie of the cycling community, the pleasure of the ride and satisfaction of finishing, I was an official convert to Century Cycle’s advice to “Define Your Life.  Ride a Bike.”  So I began searching for cycling possibilities in 2013.  Around then, LEEDCo became a non-profit partner of 1% for the Planet, and I stumbled upon Climate Ride.  It all fit together so perfectly, especially after seeing the wind blade during my ride!

My philosophy is that a balanced life is the key to happiness.  And just as offshore wind energy will allow Ohio to have a more balanced energy portfolio offsetting our reliance on fossil fuels, my advanced physical activity will offset all the sedentary activity I do.

Sixty miles for five days doesn’t happen overnight, and my training will get more intense in the coming weeks, which will cause a slight temporary imbalance, but that’s okay.  Pedaling from New York to D.C. in September is not the end, but rather the beginning of a series of personal physical goals that will help work to keep me balanced my whole life.

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