A cross-country runner in college for Division 2 Valdosta State University, John continued his athletic endeavors after graduation when he found triathlon. Still an emerging sport at the time, triathlon captured his passion for competition and the intensity of hard training. The sport also introduced him to serious riding.
John was coming into the sport at a time when it was rapidly advancing. “Tri bars” were still being developed. Once he learned the ropes and found he could be competitive, John started racing the Bud Light Olympic distance Triathlon series. He soon found himself travelling up and down the eastern coast of the United States as a semi-professional triathlete.
After almost four years of competing, the scarce prize money and tribulations of being a professional in a still-emerging sport were enough to persuade John to make the transition to a more sustainable career. “It was time to get a real job,” states John when describing his first steps to a career in advertising and marketing. After taking a position with the National Basketball Association (NBA), he was regularly working 60 – 70 hours each week with little time to train. In the subsequent years, John became a father and a member of an Allman Brothers tribute band called the Peacheaters. Playing dozens of shows a year in clubs and festivals around the Northeastern US pulled him even further from his athletic past. The once lean and tall athlete was now 240lbs and hadn’t touched a bike in over a decade.
“Mary got me eating well again,” says John when describing his life partner. Mary’s interest in fitness and health pushed John to start exercising again. He joined Longfellow Sports Club and started working out. Some of John’s friends had also recently competed in their first triathlon. With John getting back to “fighting weight,” it was impossible for him to resist the call of competition.
“I had a decent bike,” recalls John. Riding was becoming a part of his normal workout routine and he knew he was getting faster. However, it wasn’t until he walked into Landry’s Bicycles in Natick, MA that John really upped his commitment to speed. He saw the S5 Rival up close and was immediately enticed by the form of the frame. At first, John says he “didn’t even want to get on it because I knew I’d want to buy it.” But the folks at Landry’s helped convince him with a test ride and an expert fit to make sure he was dialed in and comfortable.
“I am at a point in my life where I want every ride to be the best ride it could be,” John says of his decision to go with the S5. “It just feels like nothing is wasted. Every ride is a good ride,” he tells me. John describes the S5 as fitting in with his life perfectly. It suits his desire to get the most out of every moment and perfectly complimented his “reignited passion for riding.”
As he became more and more fit, John was caught in a slowing economy. After all of the years of hard work and a demanding schedule, John found himself out of a job. While he had saved enough to avoid immediate hardship, the father, musician and triathlete now had some time on his hands. While he reevaluated his career, John turned to training and exercise to keep him focused.
After one of his routine workouts at Longfellow’s, John noticed a flyer hanging in the sports club lobby. The club was promoting a benefit spin for victims of Sandy. “The flyer said sign up for an hour, so I asked how long the event lasted. They [Longfellows Staff] said 12hrs so I said I’ll do the whole thing,” explains John. He volunteered to bring in his own S5 and trainer so that he could ride the full 12 hours.
I asked John whether he had any hesitation as to whether he would want to ride a trainer for 12 hours. “No, not really. As soon as the idea hit me, I was going to do this,” was his answer. While it is difficult to believe that someone would so eagerly step forward for this level of torture, John is not your typical rider. He explained to me that the circumstances were perfect. “It was a great cause and when else would you get a chance to do something like this?”
In fact, in the days following Super Storm Sandy, John had heard of a clothing drive that was being put on by Habitat for Humanity in Boston, MA. Since John had a large range of clothing from his larger days that no longer fit him, he started going through his closet. John bundled up the large piles of clothes, packed them into a large backpack and made the 40-mile trek to the donation center on his S5.
“It was flat-out cold that day,” John recalls of the ride that took him from quiet back roads, across stormy bike paths and into the outskirts of the city. He even encountered a section of the path that was completely covered in mud and water. And while John was not too excited to get his white S5 covered in mud, he simply “just hammered through it.” John is that special blend of selfless and stubborn.
The benefit ride started around 8am on November 14th. John had planned out a set up that would allow him to survive the 12 hours including movie watching and music. Once clipped in and riding, John had plenty of time to speak with the other riders and people who came to donate, including football great Doug Flutie. John had also reached out to Cervélo so that we could help him to spread the word. Hourly updates direct from John went out via twitter. At the end of the day, the efforts of the Longfellow Sports Club raised over $1500 in person with many more donations coming in through the Habitat for Humanity website.
“I was surprisingly comfortable for most of it,” he claims as a testament to the excellent fit that Landry’s Bicycles included with the S5. However, 12 hours is a very long time to spend pedaling. Throughout the day John consumed 3 bananas, 2 protein drinks, 2 seaweed bars, 2 cups of coffee and approximately 2 bottles of water per hour while on the bike. It wasn’t until the last two hours that John remembers the ride getting really tough. “Those last couple of bio breaks… it was hard to get back on the bike,” he recalls. And while his updates became progressively stranger as the day went on, John stuck to the promise to complete the full ride.
“I would absolutely do it again,” John tells me. And I don’t doubt him at all. It is not often that you speak with someone who is so willing to help others. I asked John what he would like others to take from his experience. He answered, “when you hear about something like hurricane Sandy, don’t just listen to it on the news, think about what you can do to help out. We’re in this thing together; it is an opportunity to share what you have. You can always find a way. “
Donations to help victims of Sandy rebuild their lives are still being accepted. Donate HERE.