CORTLAND, N.Y. – Eight years ago, a motorcycle accident outside a suburb of Cleveland left Kellen Winslow with a torn ACL and a subsequent staph infection, causing him to miss the 2005 NFL season. You'd think he'd stay far away from anything with two wheels after that, but that's not the case.
He has given up his leather jacket for biker shorts, and some horsepower in his Suzuki GSX-R750 motorcycle for a Venge bicycle that he rides every day to and from New York Jets training camp.
After nearly losing his life due to that horrible motorcycle crash, he is channeling his love for the road in a different direction.
Winslow tells Yahoo! Sports that fellow wide receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes have asked about the benefits of bicycling after seeing his passion for it. Not only does he pedal to and from practice, he has brought a “trainer” with him to camp so that he can ride stationary during warmups and on days he is not in pads. He hopes it helps him regain full health following recent struggles with knee injuries that limited him to just one game last season.
“It helps my knee out, keeps me in top shape. I feel great when I do it, I feel lousy when I don’t,” Winslow said. “For training camp, I put it in the back of my car, took the front tire off and just put it in there with the rest of my stuff. That’s all I do in the offseason is ride. I climb those hills in San Diego. Climbing is brutal enough; you don’t have to lift weights if you climb those hills. I do push-ups and upper body stuff but that’s it. That’s my offseason workout – pretty much riding.”
He has looked like a new man in Jets training camp and seems to be a perfect replacement for tight end Dustin Keller, who left via free agency to AFC East rival Miami this past offseason. After being cut by the Seattle Seahawks last preseason and then playing just one game last season with the New England Patriots, he is out to prove his career isn’t over yet.
And cycling, he says, gives him the leg up that he needs to stay healthy. He has become preoccupied with cycling and said that he plans on riding and perhaps competing when his NFL career is over.
He cycles five times a week. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday he rides for roughly 90 minutes and tries to pace at least for 25 miles. On Saturday he ramps it up and logs roughly 50 miles. As grueling as it sounds, he said,“Nothing can beat it.” At 6-4 and 240 pounds he isn’t a prototypical cyclist, but he takes it seriously.
He tracks his mileage and speed, and is obsessed with his physical condition and how his body responds to a ride. On average, his heart rate is 152-157 beats per minutes with a maximum heart rate of 185-187 beats per minute on intense rides. One time, he registered 196 beats per minute on an intense climb.
His wife won’t let him on a motorcycle anymore so he has replaced that thrill with this new love affair. When he’s not bicycling he said he thinks about it and reads up on how to cycle better. He hopes it will translate on the field with stronger legs able to withstand the grueling NFL season. So far in training camp with the Jets he has looked like a player finally healthy and ready to make an impact.
And he thanks the bicycle resting on its training stand just a few yards away, waiting for him to ride it back to the team’s dormitory.
“It takes pressure off your legs, you feel better off of it,” Winslow said. “I’m riding every day. I have to. If I don’t, I just don’t feel right. I’m even thinking about it right now.”
- - -
Kristian R. Dyer contributes to Yahoo! Sports and covers the Jets for Metro New York and is on Twitter @KristianRDyer
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• There is no safest football helmet
• Bills head coach backs C.J. Spiller's ambitious goal
• Redskins fan goes yard to show devotion for team