Picture yourself, 12 years old, preparing for a 156-mile bike ride across the flats and ridges of New York state. That’s my story of how I got hooked on cycling. My number one reason for making this journey was to raise money for a mission trip to Mexico with my church. I also made this trip because just like Lance Armstrong said “For me, it was always a simple passion.” Preparing for this ride took lots of training and forced me to overcome a few obstacles in my life as well.
I had planned to start in Troy and end in Mexico, N.Y., on June 21, 2008, the longest day of the year. In November I started training on a stationary bike for nearly an hour, three days a week. As February came along, riding became more frequent every day. When the thermometer hit 45 or more, I would take twenty mile rides every day after school and forty- to fifty-mile rides on the weekends. On May 3, I won 1st place at my school’s Bike-a-Thon. Throughout my training, my cardio muscle had been getting much stronger and my asthma was not as much of a nuisance in regular activities. Soon came the week before the big ride. It was finally time to rest and store up energy by feasting on carbohydrates every single day. Crackers, chips, pasta dishes, and desserts were pretty much my diet that week. I was totally ready and now all that was left to do was ride!
After getting off to a late start, I was on my way to my first stop in Amsterdam. My body took a toll in the heat of the day. As I left my last pit-stop, I was battling against 25mph winds in the rain, through the ridges of Mexico. At about 135 miles, the wind, rain, sun and hard work for 12 hours had taken their toll, and I was done. This ride had raised nearly $1,500 which I knew I could be proud of. Knowing I had never biked that far and I could try again next year, I held my head high.
Jonathan Malthouse is an eighth-grader at Schenectady Christian School in Schenectady