Apples to Oranges: Or My Plan to Ride From CT to Florida

By Guest Blogger: John Osowiecki

Early morning departure… Litchfield Hills, CT

I like bikes. In fact I think they are one of the best examples of man and machine that has ever been conceived; power and grace all rolled into one efficient machine of metal and rubber. 

They are sometimes simple, often elegant, and so much fun.  When I was younger I rode a lot, in fact I rode pretty much every other day… all seasons, all the time.  Then life came at me pretty fast.  After a series of miscalculations of what my body was capable of doing, I destroyed both my wrists requiring extensive surgery on both hands.  For now, one is fixed and one is on its way out. So, it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that pain and lack of motivation quickly adds up to a great excuse to get lazy, fat and afraid to ride.

Old axe factory in Collinsville, CT. Best part of riding is the stuff you never really get a chance to enjoy.

I became indifferent to my bicycles.

Fast forward to this past summer.  One day while doing a minimal amount of exercise I felt like death.  I thought to myself, “is this it?”  I felt like garbage. I suffered from loss of breath, pain, aches.  Basically, the whole enchilada.  How did I let myself get to this point?  Easy; I made excuses that made it easier from me to give up what I loved doing.  The worse I felt, the easier it was to come up with new ones.

70 mile round trip for 6 bucks of Falafel at Mamoun’s.

So, the day was July 4th.  My family was having their barbecue – ribs, burgers, hot dogs….you name it.  If it was bad, it was getting eaten that day.  Something inside told me to go ride my bike instead.  Maybe it was my subconscious, possibly my clogging heart, either way I listened.  I went home and looked at my road bike all dusty and lonely.  “Why not, I’ll go for a quick ride….maybe 25 miles”.  So I aired up the tires, lubed the chain, and wiped her off.

I loaded up my gear and decided to ride up the Farmington Greenway to Simsbury and back.  I figured I would start with some nice, easy, flat miles.  I rolled over to the placard with the map at the trail head and suddenly realized I would be lucky if that route was 12 miles round trip.  “Whatever, I’ll do double that”…..wrong!  I came back in pain and disgust.  That was probably the hardest 23 miles I have ever ridden.  I felt like I had climbed the Col du Galibier and came in last.  Needless to say, mike bike sat alone in the back of the garage for another two weeks before I looked at her again.

Stop to smell the flowers in Matunuck, RI.

Fast forward again to the end of July.  I was on a short vacation in Rhode Island near Charlestown Beach.  If you have ever ridden the R.I. shore I can assure you that it is one of my favorite places to roll. I decided I would take to my bike and give it another go.  So I did.  I rode 20 miles, then 27, the 33, then as I was rolling past some beautiful corn fields near Matunuck, I rode close to 50.  My legs were tapped, but in a good way.  My shoulders and back were hurting bad, but in a good way.  More importantly, my mindset had changed….I was having fun again.  As I rode the back country roads toward the cottage for the last time I needed to set a goal; a truly over the top motivator that was by all means attainable.

I walked in the door and said “hey, guess what I am doing next year….I am riding my bike to Florida”

To be continued….. – John

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