State parole officer Dino DeVirgilio had approximately 30 miles to go until the next rest stop during the Police Unity Tour earlier this month.
He was somewhere in the Chesapeake Bay area, 163 miles into the ride. And no matter which direction he turned, the Washington Township dad seemed to be battling a headwind.
Although this marked DeVirgilio's 13th consecutive Police Unity Tour -- an annual 300-mile bike ride from New Jersey to Washington D.C.,honoring law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty -- he hadn't been on a bike since last year's ride.
Instead, he did CrossFit.
DeVirgilio was familiar with this particular stretch in Maryland. He remembers it as one of the most challenging portions of there ride when the training kicks in.
But this year was different.
"As uncomfortable as that leg is," DeVirgilio said, "it wasn’t as bad as it should’ve been this year for someone who didn’t train on the bike at all this year."
And for that, he thanks his coaches at CrossFit The Rack in Paramus.
The 45-year-old has been active since he was young. He began cycling when he developed double knee injuries and enjoyed it. He'd go to spin classes weekly and trained outside often. Being on the bike was the only way DeVirgilio knew how to prepare for the Unity Tour.
That changed this year.
DeVirgilio only tried CrossFit four years at the suggestion of his chiropractor.
After nine months, some of his lingering injuries had healed. After a year, they disappeared.
Leading up to this year's tour, DeVirgilio would work closely with coach Dan Sullivan making and employing customized workouts that emphasized cardio and calisthenics.
"He geared the workouts specifically to cycle training," DeVirgilio said. "It helped tremendously."
So, instead of doing heavy olympic lifts each day, the officer would spend time on accessory exercises like lunges, weighted step-ups onto a box, extended periods of time on the rower, sumo squats to lengthen his joints.
"One of my weaknesses inherently are my hips," DeVirgilio said. "Police officers spend a lot of time int he car, getting in and out, and because of the sheer weight we carry on our waist.
"I get out of the car and I feel off kilter, I'm limping."
Working with coaches at CrossFit The Rack has helped that as well, DeVirgilio said.
"Out-lift a runner, outrun a weight-lifter," the officer said, citing a motto that resonated with him about CrossFit.
"You can be good at everything."
DeVirgilio is proof.
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