Article by Julie Podczaski | Owl Staff

HCC instructor John Davis, pictured second from the right, has been cycling for 37 years.

Riding through the morning sun in the mountains of Colorado, a cyclist passes wild elk and coyotes. His only concern is, “Did I put out the campfire?”

This was the reality that John Davis, a fitness instructor and cycling coach at HCC, faced while camping in Colorado for 28 days. Davis recalls waking up at sunrise every day during his trip. Davis and his wife hiked, backpacked, cycled, and lived outdoors at a Kampgrounds of America site.

Starting in Castle Rock, the couple moved on to Boulder, Estes Park, Ouray, the Four Corners, Mesa Verde and then Durango. “I bought a pair of cowboy boots in Durango,” laughs Davis.

While the destinations were planned, every day was different. “I’d wake up around 6 or 7 a.m., prepare food, and decide if I was going to go into town, hike, cycle, play in the water, or hang out around the site,” Davis says. Some days were spent at 13,000 ft altitude.

“Being at a higher altitude makes physical activities harder for some people and then they get sick. Cycling for 16 miles up changing grades was okay, but the altitude is what makes it challenging,” Davis explains.

Davis has cycled for 37 years in places such as Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California. “I don’t think there’s a road I haven’t ridden on in Harford County,” he says.

“I don’t think there’s a road I haven’t ridden on in Harford County.”

If you’re looking for an adventure close to home, the Susquehanna State Park is a great place to start. “You can hike, run, mountain bike, fish, cycle, or even bring your dog!” Davis says.

“I wish there were more young people cycling,” says Davis. Most cyclists are between 40-70 years old in the Harford Velo Cycling Club. “There are a couple local bike shops in Bel Air like the Bike Doctor,” adds Davis. “All of the owners are really cool and helpful, if you’re looking to start riding.”

So, what is it about cycling that drives Davis to just about every street in Harford County? It’s the freedom he feels being able to travel on the most self-sufficient invention ever created. “It’s the risk involved when you’re peddling next to 100 cyclists hoping someone doesn’t make a wrong move,” Davis says, “and not everybody has that hook.”

“It’s like when you hear a good song, it drives that emotional component inside of you. Or you eat something good, you know?” he says. “It’s a cool thing. It’s what I do.”

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