BOSTON -- In a Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins that has been flush with indelible moments, there might not be a more surreal sight than that of 6-foot-9 Bruins captain Zdeno Chara riding his bicycle to and from practice.
It's a regular routine for one of the League's premier defenseman, who first fell in love with bicycling as a child when his father helped train cycling teams in their native Slovakia. Among the League's best-conditioned athletes, Chara is dedicated to his cycling regimen.
"He's been riding more than me lately. I think it's pretty fun," said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, himself a big cycling enthusiast. "During the offseason, it definitely has helped us with our training and whatnot. Both him and I like to take it to an extreme, as far as what kind of hills we're climbing."
Zdeno Chara rides his bike to TD Garden prior to Game 3. (Matt Cubeta/NHL.com)
Ference and his bicycle have become a fixture in Boston. When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, he took the trophy on a bicycle ride around town. He also has been very active through the years in bike-related charitable activities, including the city's annual Bike Week festival.
"If you look at some of those extended shifts or penalty kills, the muscle burn on the ice is nothing compared to some of the climbs that we've done," Ference said. "It definitely helps in training."
Though cycling does make up such a huge part of the defensemen's training and daily routines, they haven't begun to mentor their fellow blueliners just yet in the ways of two wheels.
"They're both avid bike riders. They enjoy it. This time of the year, the weather is a little nicer," said Adam McQuaid, who admitted that Chara's rides to the rink were likely not as intense as his offseason conditioning regimen. "I don't know if they're working too hard getting here. I think it's more of a leisure bike."