“I’ve cycled for the last 10 years in a variety of ways,” Linden said. “This has just become a lifestyle love of mine. I don’t know how hockey-specific it is, but from a general fitness standpoint it’s certainly good and it was a lot of fun as well.”
His love for cycling took him and his 49 year-old cycling partner, Dr. John Ramsden over 600 kilometers last summer. The race started in Mittenwald, Germany and took the pair through Switzerland and Austria before ending in Riva De Garda, Italy. When all was said and done, Linden and his fellow riders had climbed over 65,000 feet—more than twice the vertical gain of Mt. Everest.
The competitors raced through eight stages in as many days under a blistering sun from July 14-21. The eight-day excursion covered a distance matching a trip from Vancouver to Trail, BC.
“I think most of the guys look at me like I’m crazy for most of the stuff that I do,” Linden said. “But I enjoy doing things that get you outside and that are outside the box a little bit.”
In his 19th season in the NHL, Linden jumped at the opportunity to work at his off-season training outside the box and more importantly for him, outside the gym.
“As you get older in this game, you look for different ways to stay fit, that aren’t your typical two hours in the gym, grinding away,” Linden said. “It’s about changing things up a little bit and changing the medium of the way you train.”
The medium this time was a bicycle race in Europe with a spot on team “Dark Horse Racing”. The duo competed in the Masters Division and topped all Canadians, finishing 48th out of the division’s 122 competing teams. Linden and Ramsden finished in the top 25 percent of the race’s 1100 competitors.
The race gave Linden more than a tan and a work-out. Linden also gained a different perspective. Racing with men more than ten-years his senior showed him age is what one makes of it.
“I really look at those guys as mentors. They’re 50 years old and doing these incredibly tough stage-races, for them age is just a number,” Linden said.
At 37-years old, having played more than 1300 NHL games, last summer’s accomplishment shows he’s far from losing any physical edge. And now he has a prestigious cycling race to add to his wealth of experience.
“The cycling was fun, the views were incredible, and the camaraderie was great,” Linden said. “We just had a blast, it was so much fun.”