“My wife and I were blessed with twin boys two years ago…” So begins my conversation with Higher Gear customer Tim Duet. A former football player, Duet learned a year or two before his boys were born that he would need a knee replacement. Suddenly, pick-up basketball games were out.
But when his boys were born, Duet came to a realization: “I didn’t want to be the dad who was a couch potato.” As luck would have it, Duet happened to run into an old friend, Higher Gear’s own Brendan Sullivan. “I told him about my boys and my dilemma. Brendan told me about Higher Gear’s Gran Fondo Hundo.” To Duet, who hadn’t seriously trained for an event since the 1998 Chicago Marathon, the thought of riding a bicycle 100 kilometers “sounded cool, but a bit overwhelming.”
With that burning desire to not become a couch potato, Duet headed out and bought a commuter bike. Cycling, a low impact exercise, is much easier on the joints than contact sports or running. Many people with injuries from other sports have turned to cycling to keep active. Duet discovered that cycling can also “scratch that competitive itch” for those of us who come from a background of competitive sports.
“I was biking to work every day. I got to a point where I started taking the longer route to work and then added a ride during my lunch break to rack up the miles.” In cycling, Duet also discovered a lifestyle. “I love riding my bike in the morning. I don’t need coffee; I ride my bike instead.”
Cycling made his commute through Chicago much faster. And there were other benefits. “It’s been absolutely great for my health.” Through cycling, Duet was able to drop 30 pounds. “I’ve always worked out and been in shape, but I had never been in shape like that.”
Cycling also provided a rare opportunity to get fit without sacrificing family time. Duet and his wife bought a trailer so they could pull the kids. “Riding is something we can do together.” They pull their boys in the trailer along the lakefront. They ride to Cubs games. “We’ve incorporated cycling into our lifestyle. We ride instead of driving.”
“My wife is a partner for a big law firm. She’s always trying to find was to get in shape, but it’s tough when you have kids and have a time-intensive job.” For Duet and his wife, cycling keeps them fit for themselves and healthy for their boys, all while providing valuable family time.
And cycling isn’t just good for familial relations; it’s good for business. “People just don’t hit the golf course any more. It’s such a time suck.” When Duet’s boys are older, he sees the potential for group rides or weekend rides with clients. “Golf is a seven hour activity. It’s not just the four hours on the course. It’s the two hours on the front end and the back end. It’s the 19th hole.” Instead, Duet sees cycling as providing the opportunity for “better time spent.” “It’s a way to be outside and to be active.”
For Duet, cycling offers many advantages. It’s a means to health. It’s transportation to work. It’s a family activity. It’s a business activity. And it satisfies “that competitive itch.”
Between his commute, lunchtime rides and weekend family rides, Duet was putting in 60 to 70 pain-free miles on his bike per week. With those miles under his belt, he set out from Higher Gear last July to ride our Gran Fondo Hundo. Duet was delighted at the amount of time he spent taking pulls at the front of his ride group. “Even my wife was surprised. She was really surprised.” Duet sounds a little surprised himself when he adds, “I didn’t dog it.”
Duet went into the Hundo with one advantage. “I was going to the ride my Specialized commuter bike in the Grand Fondo Hundo. Brendan said, ‘No.’” Instead, Duet rode a borrowed Specialized Roubaix, a road bike he picked up a week prior to the Hundo.
“I was surprised at how dramatic the difference was between riding that bike versus riding my commuter bike.” Duet noticed how much more comfortable the road bike was and how easy it was to pedal. “The bike I have is fine, but it would have made the event more challenging.”
While he credits Brendan for leading the way – “His passion and level of service is what really got me to this point” – it’s Duet’s own commitment to getting fit that has made all the difference. Duet may be a Higher Gear fan, noting that there are at least three or four bikes shops on his route from Chicago to Wilmette and “literally a shop that’s a half block from my house,” but he still heads up to see us for his service. At the end of the day, however, it’s Duet who is turning his own pedals. Duet keeps pedaling. To work and back. To Cubs games. To Kenosha for the Gran Fondo Hundo.
“I wanted to see if I would stick to it. Would I follow through? Would I do the Hundo?” Duet not only rocked the 60 kilometer ride at our event, he rode to work every day last summer. “I was riding to work as late as late November. I’ve even ridden a few times already this year.” Duet has gone so far as to upgrade his rain gear. “Now I’ll be prepared to ride in inclement weather.” But one thing Duet swears he will never do is ride in lycra. “Nobody wants to see that.”
Duet has plans to upgrade to a road bike of his own. That bike will carry him and his boys up and down Lake Shore Drive this summer for the Bike the Drive. It will also carry him up to Kenosha later this summer for a baseball game with one hundred Gearhead friends.
Who is to say where else two wheels might take Duet? As is often the case with hopping on two wheels: it’s not always the destination that’s important, but the journey. “The thing I’m most excited about is maintaining a certain amount of health.” Through the weight loss and health gains he’s experienced on his journey, Duet looks forward to a bright future with his family. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’re just lacing up our shoes.”
Meet more Higher Gear customers who discovered cycling after injuries from other sports:
- Glenna Lampner learned to love cycling after years of running >>
- Kevin Mulhill also learned to love cycling when he had to give up running due to back problems >>
- Maureen Fagan started cycling while recovering from a running injury >>
- Dean Weinberg turned to cycling after injury interfered with his golf game >>