60 years, 60 miles

Joyce Murphy and her husband Mike finished the 2009 Soldiers Reunion Bike Ride in last place.

“We were last – dead last,” Mike said.

One year and thousands of miles of bike riding later, Joyce completed a 60-mile bike ride across Catawba County to celebrate her 60th birthday.
“I just thought it was something I could feasibly do,” Joyce said. “I’m really just doing it for myself. I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Joyce and Mike, who live in Newton, started riding bikes together two weeks before the 2009 reunion ride, and after their first ride, they were hooked.

“We had a very good friend who rides (bikes), and he talked us into riding some with him,” Joyce said. “When the (Soldiers Reunion) ride came up, Mike said, ‘Why don’t we try this?’”

Joyce, a breast cancer survivor, turned to bike riding to help her heal from cancer treatment and regain mobility lost from surgery.
“I had not done a lot of exercise the past few years,” Joyce said. “Getting out and riding the bicycle and really sweating and moving really did well for me. I didn’t have the mobility. It’s really made a difference.”

When Joyce first told people she wanted to participate in the 2009 Soldiers Reunion 30-mile ride, they were surprised.

“Most people were shocked because I said I was going to do 30 (miles), let alone ride at all,” she said. “I thought, ‘If I can make it to the end, I’ll be happy.’”

Joyce made it to the end of the race and hasn’t stopped riding since.
The Murphys rode in 28-degree weather to ring in the New Year, and Joyce logged more than 1,000 miles on her road bike since May.

“I still have a long way to go,” Joyce said.

Joyce has no intentions of slowing her pace since the completion of her 60-mile ride.

“I’m not in it to race, really,” Joyce said. “It’s just a lot of fun, and it’s great exercise.”

The Murphys started their birthday bike ride in Newton and made a 60-mile loop around Catawba County.

They completed the ride Tuesday in about 5 hours and 30 minutes, which is about 30 minutes faster than their target time of 6 hours.

One day after the 60-mile ride, Joyce celebrated her 60th birthday.

“It gives us time to get away, and it’s a great stress release,” Joyce said.

Now that the Murphys ride together on a regular basis, the activity is something they look forward to every day.

“If you don’t ride, you really miss it,” Joyce said. “It’s great to go out for even a little ride. It becomes something you want to do all the time.”

Joyce encourages anyone to start riding bikes, regardless of age, skill or experience.

“Get out there and ride,” she said. “It’s just a lot of fun, and you get out and meet a lot of people.”

And although bike riding has proven beneficial to Mike and Joyce’s overall physical, emotional and mental well-being, Mike has another reason for his love of cycling.

“We both look great in Spandex,” he said with a laugh.