Stuck in quarantine with no place to train, I turned to mountain biking as one way to get my exercise in. While nothing can truly replace the enjoyment of training on the mats, biking still offered a relief from the stresses of every day life and was a way to stay active that I've found more fun than running or walking around the same blocks a hundred times over.
Let's face it. The last few months have been been crazy. Covid and the changing political and social landscape has changed life as we know it. The pandemic alone has changed the way we interact with one another and has interrupted our daily routines. Back in early April when the country was first going on lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, I went online (all the bike shops were closed in NJ) and ordered myself a mountain bike. Keep in mind, I had not sat on a bike in at least 15 years, but I figured why not. The academy was closed, all the gyms were closed, and I was getting tired of seeing the same faces of my neighbors every time I took a walk. Besides, I was fortunate enough to have a healthy dose of bike friendly trails near my home.
After reading a few reviews online, I decided to pull the trigger and pick myself up a Surly Karate Monkey. Yes, that's the actual model name of the bike - "Karate Monkey". But more on that later. I clicked submit on my order and waited a little over a week before UPS dropped the bike on my doorstep. When I unpacked the bike, I was a surprised to realize the bike didn't come with pedals. So another order and another week goes by and I get some pedals. Once installed, I was finally able to put the Karate Monkey to work.
First day on the trails with the Karate Monkey.
Turns out, mountain biking is really fun. Frankly, a lot more fun than I thought it would be. In the past couple of months, I've found myself regularly waking up before sunrise so I can get on the trails early and get a ride in before my day starts. Because of biking, I've spent more time in nature in the past couple of months than I probably have in the rest of my adult life. Not to mention, I'm getting in some decent cardio.
Now, nothing can truly replace the enjoyment or the workout I get from training on the mats, but for me, mountain biking has at least partially filled that void and if nothing else it has helped me keep my sanity over the past few months.
Still, there was one thing about my new bike purchase that bothered me. The "Karate Monkey" name just didn't sit right with me. I realized I had no choice but to rebrand it and make it my own. So that's what I did. I tracked down the matching font, put together the artwork, and ordered myself some custom decals. New decals in hand, I swapped them out for the old ones. With the new branding on the top tube, I instantly felt much better. My Surly "Jiu Jitsu Monkey" felt just right and I smile a little every time I see the name.
The new Surly never looked better
Listen, I'm still counting down the days until I can get back on the mats and training BJJ again like I'm sure many of you are. But until that happens, and probably even after that happens, I'll be putting the Jiu Jitsu Monkey to good use.
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