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Group turns to cycling to stay in shape during pandemic | News

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Group turns to biking to remain in form throughout pandemic | Information

When the COVID-19 pandemic started to take maintain in mid-March, it hit Chris Clayton like a slap within the face.

The previous East Excessive basketball star, who helped lead the Blades to the 1994 CIF State championship, was at a little bit of a loss. The 44-year-old had remained lively, persevering with to spend a number of hours every week on the fitness center taking part in hoops and understanding.

However with gyms and basketball courts shut down all throughout Kern County, Clayton was struggling to discover a new option to keep in form.

The reply got here within the type of a mountain bike he bought 10 years prior, however was now gathering mud in his storage.

Because it seems, Clayton’s resolution has became a ardour. And he’s not alone.

Now practically six months later, Clayton’s bike rides — now with a borrowed street bike — have attracted a following, that includes a number of like-minded associates and informal acquaintances, who’ve began using collectively on the weekends.

“It’s been quite a lot of enjoyable,” Clayton mentioned. “Being on the market you see the identical folks each week, and it’s like a household as a result of there’s so many individuals that journey bikes. It’s superb.”

However make no mistake about it, these are usually not your common rides within the park. These guys are severe, or a minimum of as a lot as they are often contemplating many simply began using often the previous few months.

Mountain bikes and 10-speeds have been changed by street bikes, usually with costly lock-in pedals and sneakers. T-shirts and basketball shorts have given option to bike shorts, generally hidden, however there to supply further consolation for the greater than 50 miles the group grinds out every weekend alongside a motorcycle path that begins at The Park at River Park to the bottom of the bluffs close to China Grade Loop.

However it’s a sluggish development, with every rider shopping for in at their velocity.

“At first, I informed myself that I’m by no means carrying a helmet,” mentioned Andre Rowell, a 1993 East Excessive graduate who considers Clayton as a lot a brother as a buddy. “I by no means wore a helmet after I was a child. I’m not carrying a helmet. I’m not carrying these biker shorts … so, ya, I’m a man that transformed. I’ve a helmet now, and I do put on it. I put on the shorts, I put on basketball shorts on prime of them, however I do put on the biker shorts with pads.”

After which there’s the added expertise. All have some form of an app on their telephone or bike that calculates their velocity, distance and even what number of energy they’ve burned alongside the route. The group shares their day by day accomplishments with one another with group texts and social media, one thing that has garnered curiosity from out-of-town riders.

“I figured it could be me and Chris and perhaps one or two different guys, if that, and that might most likely be it,” mentioned Damarius Akins, 40, one of many first to affix Clayton on the bike path. “However I by no means noticed it rising into what it has now … Simply form of opening up and seeing the biking group, assembly folks on the path that we’ve by no means seen earlier than, rapidly they’re Instagram associates they usually know who you’re and having images taken with us on the path. It’s been enjoyable.”

Simply as on the basketball court docket, the place most of the using group first met one another, it’s grow to be considerably of a contest, however not essentially with one another.

“We’re all aggressive, don’t get me unsuitable, however the cool factor is, we actually encourage one another,” mentioned Anthony Massey, a 1992 Bakersfield Excessive graduate, who by no means owned a motorcycle till becoming a member of the using group about six weeks in the past. “We inform one another, ‘you may make it or ‘we simply have one other mile to go.’ Or once we submit on Instagram what number of miles we went, everyone’s giving one another a thumbs up and kudos and man, we did it once more. It’s by no means like, ‘oh man, we have now to attend for you,’ or ‘man what took you so lengthy?’ We’re simply on the market having a great time.”

The group began out small, with Clayton and Akins hitting the bike path. Others quickly adopted, with regulars now together with Rowell, Massey, Shawndel “Zig” Ziegler, Kris “SPILLA” Phillips, Albert Diaz-Conti and the most recent member, Brandon Shelton.

Others present up often, as Chante Stuart did on Saturday, however the core group has been set for a number of weeks. All are between 40 and 50 years outdated, becoming a member of forces to not solely get in form, however partake of a chance for social interplay, one thing that has been lacking with the closures of so many companies through the pandemic.

“The social facet is absolutely good as a result of with COVID happening we weren’t capable of get to the fitness center to play basketball and we weren’t capable of go and sit down and watch a basketball recreation,” Shelton mentioned. “After which even after sports activities began again, it wasn’t like we will go to any of the native eating places or bars to observe video games collectively, so we’re like come on, we have now to have some form of camaraderie or one thing happening and it’s been nice.”

Akins, who performed basketball at Cal State Bakersfield from 2000-2003, agrees.

“Being an ex-athlete, you at all times search for that camaraderie, a chance to get along with the blokes, and discuss life issues,” mentioned Akins, a CHP officer who raced in two triathlons earlier than being slowed by a number of knee surgical procedures. “It’s not at all times in regards to the bikes. We’ve got our little breaks in between, simply that male camaraderie and having a second simply to get along with the blokes, and everyone has the identical notion of staying bodily match, as we become older, and simply having fun with that man time.”

Along with the friendships, Albert Diaz-Conti and the others have seen optimistic outcomes bodily.

“Your legs get quite a bit stronger, your stamina is slightly bit higher, your pants match slightly higher, plus you’re exterior,” mentioned Diaz-Conti, 44, who has been a Spanish trainer at Centennial the previous 18 years. “I’m unsure how good the air is, however it’s within the morning, so it’s cooler, and on prime of that, you’re feeling quite a bit higher, your endorphins form of going. Your blood strain is up, your coronary heart fee goes up. It feels good. Particularly if you’re executed, That was nice. That was an excellent exercise.”

It doesn’t matter what the profit, it seems using bikes is right here to remain for this group, even when the gyms and basketball courts finally reopen. Along with the a whole bunch of {dollars} the group has spent individually to get ready, every has invested hours of time studying in regards to the sport by watching YouTube movies, biking races on TV and studying something about biking they will get their fingers on.

“I’ve gone deep into it,” Massey mentioned. “And it’s solely been perhaps slightly over a month. I discover myself watching how the (professional riders) pedal, the way you keep near the individual in entrance of you, utilizing the wind drag … It’s loopy. I had no thought.

“Each Saturday, I don’t even want an alarm. I make up about 6:30 and I’m already prepping. Like I’m getting my water bottle and a vitamin B-12 bottle so I can maintain my vitality and keep hydrated. I actually clear a day or a half a day to journey my bike. I’m pushing every little thing again till midday or one o’clock, simply to go journey my bike. That is one thing that I by no means would have thought in 1,000,000 years that I’d be doing.”

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