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The curious case of biking Babirak

Photo courtesy of Kyle Babirak/Kyle Babirak starts his 800-mile journey from Hollis Center, Maine June 16. Babirak kicked off the ride after visiting relatives in nearby Scarborough, Maine. 
Hobbies, like anything in life, is a matter of preference. Some folks enjoy touring wineries, others like sky diving. Whether for relaxation or thrills, people have their ways of fulfilling leisure time, unwinding from the worries and woes of daily life.

Kyle Babirak, of Sterling, likes to bicycle. Correction, Kyle Babirak loves bicycling -- and he recently put in more than 800 miles bicycling.

"I love the sense of adventure cycling provides, because you don't only get to see the outdoors, you also feel it, because you're not in a car, not enclosed in a metal box," Babirak said.

Babirak got bit by the bicycling bug when he was a young child.

"My dad would run on the W&OD trail and I'd follow alongside him on my bike," Babirak said. "When I was in fifth grade, I went on my first 50 mile ride."

From there, the passion grew and in June 2013, he rode his 11 speed Roubaix bicycle from Maine to Sterling, a distance of 830 miles. When training for the trip, Babirak rode 170 miles a couple times a week on the W&OD between Purcellville and D.C.

This wasn't Babirak's first time. His first long haul bike ride occurred in June 2012, along the Pacific Coast Highway, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a six-day trip totaling 522 miles.

"We were on vacation out there, flying between the two towns and I looked out the window and bet my dad I could bike between the two cities," Babirak said. "He didn't believe me, so I did it."

Babirak said the training, while it sounds excessive on paper, was pretty easy.

"You just need to get a good heart rate going, plug in the iPod and listen to some good music," Babirak said.

Babirak started his journey June 16 in Hollis Center, Maine, just south of Portland. From there, he rode across seven states and D.C., sticking to country roads and skirting around the cities of Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore. With his father driving behind and navigating for him, Babirak rode between 60 to 70 miles a day, hitting the road at 9:30 a.m. and quitting around 3:30 p.m.

Babirak said most days went without incident, but he did run into a few problems along the way.

"I was somewhere in Pennsylvania and I saw an Amish person in a horse and buggy. At the time, I didn't know they got a offended about having their picture taken, so I snapped a shot and he chased me down," Babirak said.

Babirak said this was not the most unusual chase he's experienced.

"While I was training out on the W&OD, I rode pass a broken fence where a cow was grazing," Babirak said. "When I rode by, I turned back and saw the cow was chasing me down the trail."

On the 12th and last day of his odyssey, Babirak kicked the pace up a notch and cycled 108 miles in the 90 degree weather.

"I was completely drenched in sweat and after a stop in Reston, I did a sprint to Sterling," Babirak said. "My goal was to make it to the top of my driveway and when I got to the garage door, I was on the verge of passing out. I hugged it for a couple of minutes and laid down."

Babirak said he plans on making long haul bike trips an annual June tradition. He said future trips may include Canada or the Mediterranean coast of Italy.


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