Attorney Ben Burnside recently completed his second endurance fitness event — a weeklong bike ride across North Carolina — and he’s already planning for his next challenge.
In October, Ben participated in Cycle North Carolina’s Mountains to Coast ride. The annual bike ride takes place over seven days.
Cyclists ride between 55 and 75 miles per day on North Carolina’s beautiful backroads and stay in a different town each night. The goal is not to get there first or the fastest. Rather, the sightseeing endurance ride is geared to cyclists of all ages and abilities.
For Ben, it was a chance to challenge himself physically, spend time with a friend and also see parts of his home state he’d never visited.
“A good friend of mine heard about this ride, and asked if I wanted to do it with him,” he said. “I was in for the challenge, although at the time I had never ridden on a road bike or gone any significant distance on any type of bike.”
Though he first started planning for the ride in the summer of 2020, Ben’s training plans were interrupted by the pandemic and a serious leg injury.
Ben ordered a road bike in August 2020, but found out he’d probably have to wait about six months to receive it due to the unprecedented demand for them as a result of the pandemic.
While he was waiting for the bike to arrive, Ben broke his lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula, in October 2020. His injury required surgery, with titanium rod and screws used to stabilize his broken bones.
“This was a big setback in terms of my fitness level and general mobility, but I thought that cycling would be a good way to rehabilitate my leg once I was ready for it,” he said. “The healing process was longer and more difficult than I expected, but I got through it.”
When his bike arrived in March 2021, Ben’s leg injury wasn’t fully healed. But he started training slowly, finding cycling to be a good no-impact form of exercise.
He gradually increased his hours and distance on the bike. In March, he rode 65 miles. In April, he rode 188 miles. In May, he rode 228 miles, every month adding more miles so he would be ready for the endurance event in October.
Initially, Ben trained mostly at night after work and after his young children had gone to bed. Later, he rode longer distances on the weekends “with the support of my lovely wife, who was very encouraging and took on extra kid duties without complaint.” (Ben is married to Christine Burnside, another Social Security Disability attorney at Deuterman Law Group.)
How did he feel after completing the challenge and finishing Mountains to the Coast ride?
“Well my body was certainly very sore, but I felt accomplished and happy,” Ben said. “The week was spent hanging with my friend and riding five to seven hours per day over scenic terrain. I think I put in over 35 hours on the bike that week.”
This was not the first endurance challenge Ben has completed. In 2018, he participated in the Make-a Wish Trailblaze Challenge, hiking more than 28 miles to raise money for the charity.
“Although I’m not a great athlete, I like doing endurance challenges,” he said.
In fact, Ben is already planning for his next challenge. He wants to hike Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in the not-too-distant future. He had a trip booked for 2020 to attempt the Kilimanjaro hike, but he was unable to go because of the pandemic.