Bows And Bicycles 2 of My Favorite Hobbies

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January is National Hobby Month, which encourages people to try a new hobby or revisit one they’ve let fall by the wayside. Hobbies make us happier, more well-rounded people. In that spirit, I’d like to share two of my favorite hobbies: archery and cycling.

In early 2013, my family decided to take an archery class together at Bull Run in Centreville. It was extremely difficult to try to book a lesson because the 2012 Summer Olympics had piqued the interest of so many people (ourselves included). When we finally did take our entry-level class, my wife and daughter had a good time, but my son and I were instantly hooked.

We were fortunate enough to train with Ruth Rowe, a former Olympic archer. Nicholas was 12 at the time, and after about four months of practice, we went to a state competition. Neither of us had competed before, but Nicholas decided he wanted to give it a try, and I figured I’d join him.

For Nicholas, there were two junior/youth divisions you could compete in, and the organizers asked which he wanted to try. I had no idea what the difference was, so I entered him into both. I was erroneously put in the 90 meter division for my first competition and had fun losing arrows, but Nicholas won first place! And, because I’d signed him up for both youth divisions, he won a medal for each one — that’s two state competition gold medals on his first try.

These days, Nicholas has been more involved in baseball and now pole vaulting and only does archery occasionally, but archery is still one of my favorite pastimes. When it’s warm, I practice at a professional facility or in my backyard. In the winter, much to my wife’s chagrin, I shoot in our basement. (I haven’t missed the target yet!) I find it to be a great release, and weirdly, the precision it takes is similar to what I do in my work.

I came to cycling somewhat out of necessity. I ran track, jumped hurdles, and played football when I was younger, and it caused a lot of wear and tear on my knees. I’ve had several knee operations as a result. I now have my orthopedic surgeon on speed dial at this point, and he forbade me from running. That used to be one of my favorite hobbies, so I needed a replacement for running. He suggested cycling as an alternative, as it would be a lot better for my knees.

Back in 2009, I was blessed to go with my two brothers, Grant and Robert, on a once-in-a-lifetime biking trip. A company called Backroads puts together all-inclusive cycling packages, and we picked up our tickets as a windfall from one of my brother’s friends, who was suddenly unable to go. It was a five-day tour through Napa and Sonoma, going from winery to winery.

We rode over 200 miles in five days and had a blast. You’d think that after so much riding, you’d lose some weight. But the meals included in the package were delicious, and we ate so much that I gained 10 pounds! I’ll always cherish that time I spent with my brothers. Grant particularly loves to ride, so it was a wonderful opportunity to engage in a shared passion.

My hobbies help me stay fit, relax, and keep my mind fresh and focused during working hours. All of us deserve to have something in our lives that’s just for pure enjoyment. So next time I see you please let me know what you enjoy as an avocation!  


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