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On biking: The Ride On Washington

Posted by Christina Jedra  April 22, 2013 05:26 PM

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For most of his life, Sean Griffing of Boston was a runner. But a knee injury a few years ago meant that his days of pounding the pavement were over. Still, he wanted an intense cardio workout. And so he turned to riding a bike.

At first, Griffing thought of biking as a way to stay in shape and get a two-wheeled “runner’s high.” But after a while, biking became more than just a way to work out. For Griffing, riding became his passion.

For most of us who enjoy—no, love—biking, it’s a way to feel good, to get in shape, and to do right by the environment.

All of which is true for Griffing. The difference being that this cycle-phile has been able to integrate his passion into his work-life.

No, Griffing is not a professional racer, nor does he shepherd tourists around town on a pedi-cab. What Griffing does is make sure that his restaurant, Trade, does its share to support biking in our community.

Griffing and his business partner, Jody Adams (she’s the Gregg LeMond of cooking), provide bicycle parking for their customers and staff and subsidize their staff’s membership in Hubway. They also offer any customers who come into their restaurant during national bike month (which happens to be in May) a free espresso and energy bar if they bring in their helmet. As if that was not enough, Griffing and company also support cyclekids, a local non-profit that promotes healthy eating and combats childhood obesity.

Last year, Griffing met Tim Johnson (he’s the Larry Bird of cyclocross), a few months before the Ride On Washington, a 492 mile bike ride, from Boston to Washington D.C.

Johnson began The Ride as a way of advocating for biking and showing that professional racers care about the same things that all cyclists care about: safer roads, a healthy lifestyle, and having fun. Once Griffing heard about The Ride, he decided to join Johnson and his gang of merry wheelers as they pedaled from Boston to New York City.

Riding from Boston to NYC is tough even when the weather cooperates. Last year, the weather did not cooperate.

The first leg of their journey, from Boston to Hartford, was 125 miles of cold and wet riding. And crashes. Two of them, to be precise. One of which happened while Griffing was crossing some wet train tracks.

Falling was bad enough. Falling in front of your friends was worse. But the icing on the cake was the fact that Jeremy Powers, the reigning U.S. cyclocross champion, was riding behind Griffing. And when Griffing went down, so, too, did Powers.

As Griffing described it, “I took him out. But we were both okay, and Jeremy still speaks with me. We may even see him on the ride again this year, where he’ll have the opportunity to pay me back.”

Despite those hard miles, Griffing has decided to join the Ride On Washington again this year, only this time he hopes to make it all the way from Boston to D.C. In order to achieve his goal, he’s been riding between 150-200 miles a week, which he hopes will get him ready for his 500 mile epic adventure (which begins on Wednesday, April 24th) .

Five hundred miles on a bike: that is a Shackleton-like trip (which will hopefully turn out better than Shackleton’s journey). It also begs the question: Why?

For Griffing, the answer is obvious: The Ride On Washington gives him a chance to give back to the sport that has given him so much. It’s also a way to spend time with people who share his passion. For a cyclist, it doesn’t get much better than that.

It’s not too late to support Sean Griffing: here’s a link to his web page.

Jonathan Simmons is the author of “Here For The Ride: A Tale of Obsession on Two Wheels.” You can follow him on twitter @On_Biking

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