MOUNT VERNON — When leisure activities come to mind, many think of watching movies or reading, but for Mount Vernon junior Amaya Mahoney, long distance biking is about as relaxing as it gets.
Mahoney was inspired by her dad, who has participated in the Pigman Triathlon for 10 years. The race includes a 5K run and 500-meter swim, but what caught Mahoney’s eye was the 25-mile bike ride. Mahoney recalls watching her dad bike in long races, and knowing she was going to eventually be right by his side.
Mahoney started biking at the age of 5 and uses biking as her de-stressing method.
“I just feel free when I bike,” she said. “It’s nice when I have a lot going on and I can just leave for a while on my bike.”
The ride isn’t the only thing Mahoney enjoys about bikes. She also likes to collect different bikes with her dad, and even built her own at the age of 14.
“You can never have too many bikes,” she said. “It’s like having a lot of clothes. It’s fun to get to choose a different one each day.”
Mahoney has one road bike and two mountain bikes (one of which she built,) but shares a large collection with her family.
Mahoney has participated in the Just Tri triathlon in Coralville, along with on and off participation in RAGBRAI, the weeklong bike ride across Iowa. When not involved with an organized race, Mahoney enjoys biking trail to Cedar Rapids and Lake Macbride trail with her family. She advises other long distance bikers to end a long bike ride at a restaurant, because it makes the end of the ride really fun.
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“One time I was in RAGBRAI, and I was with my cousins from California, and we were biking a 60-mile day,” Mahoney said. “My cousin, who’s a year older than me, was biking with me and we got carried away, and ended up biking an hour ahead of everyone else. We got into Cedar Falls, which was the ending location for the day, and we didn’t have any money, or any food, so we had to wait for about an hour-and-a-half for everyone else to catch up to us before we could get any food. I’ve never felt hungrier.”
In addition to ending a long ride with a treat, Mahoney offered other advice for fellow bikers.
“Before starting a long ride I make sure to stretch out my legs to prevent cramps,” she said. “Also sometimes it’s helpful to have a granola bar or something with you in case your energy mid ride is depleted.”
Mahoney plans to keep biking throughout her life, and pass down the tradition of participating in RAGBRAI to her kids someday.
From biking for fun down rocky nature trails, to 60-mile rides, you could say Mahoney’s biking experience has been a long trail.