When McCabe and Mack LLP Partner Richard R. DuVall (“Rick”) was a child, he lived in a rural area just outside Great Barrington, MA. Rain, shine, sleet or snow, he used his bicycle to get around to activities while his parents worked. From summer jobs to Little League games, football practices, school and school-related functions, his bicycle was key to life in the Berkshires.
And as he grew older, cycling became more than a mode of transportation. It grew into a passion which he shared with his friends. “In the 1970s, we went on cycling and camping adventures for vacation, carrying pots and pans and sleeping gear along with us for the trek. Some great memories!”
Today, Rick often rides his bicycle to commute to our Poughkeepsie office from his Rhinebeck home, logging over 35 miles on those days while meeting the demands of his role as a busy attorney and Partner at our firm.
“There were some years when I let go of cycling, but it’s like anything in life: when you have a foundation that was built during your youth, it stays with you and at some point you find yourself drawn back to that experience. As I got older, it became an important means to stay in shape. Cycling is very low-impact – as long as you don’t hit the ground of course! And the cardiovascular workout is hard to beat. It improves circulation, and as long as your bike is the correct fit, helps get rid of aches and pains – and it’s healthy for your system to get that heart rate up as you gasp from time to time. It keeps my immune system and my entire body strong and healthy.”
In addition to the obvious benefits to physical well-being, Rick noted that bicycling is great for his mental health as well. “Riding to work in the fresh air, staying alert to the road and traffic and taking in the scenery – I am well relaxed by the time I get to the office. It puts me in a good mood, energizing me so that I am ready for whatever comes my way. Then, at the end of the day as I cycle up Route 9 and the back roads, I get to clear my head as I take in some spectacular views and occasional wildlife.”
We all know that attorneys are known for meticulous attention to detail – and it’s no different for Rick when it comes to his bicycling passion. Rick has pocket calendar “cycling diaries” going back decades. While Rick does this primarily to give him helpful notes that he can reference if he wants to revisit a particular route, his cycling diary also reflects his life’s story in some ways. In 2020, the first year of the global pandemic, Rick rode 3,626 miles. And when he calculated his cycling mileage at the end of 2021, he had covered 3,622 miles of terrain – a mere 4-mile difference! He laughed, saying, “had I realized it was that close, I would have gotten out for a quick 4 miles to even things out!” Rick continued: “But truthfully, seeing this information was really interesting. We all thought in 2020 that the ‘pause’ and ‘work from home’ experience would last for less than a year. When I look at my mileage in 2021, you can see that it was essentially a repeat as the pandemic went on. During “work from home” periods, I would get on my bike at lunchtime and ride because I could readily make the time for midday exercise, and cycling was considered a safe activity in light of physical distancing guidelines. It was a unique era in our lives, and I’m grateful for all those miles I logged – it made a big difference in my overall well-being during a tough time for all of us.”
As life has returned to some semblance of normalcy, Rick DuVall continues to make time for cycling; he shared that if the weather does not cooperate, he might do less in winter, and then ‘ramp up’ as the season goes on. “Depending on your fitness level during various seasons of the year, 45 miles may seem like a lot and then as the weather becomes consistently warm and I’m out there more frequently, I can ride 65 or 70 miles or more on a given day. I try to do a ‘century’ ride every year. At a certain point, it’s all about nutrition – making sure that I’m eating for exercise and nourishing myself in a way that keeps the wheels turning.”
Also nourishing, Rick pointed out, is the community of people who share his love for riding. “It becomes a social activity. As long as you find people with whom you are compatible you can ride together and build friendships. My buddy Brad and I once cycled 202 miles in one day, traveling from Pleasant Valley to Pittsfield Massachusetts, and back through Central Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut before heading home. The roads around the Hudson Valley are beautiful, and it’s nice to head out there with a friend.”
This summer, Rick, his wife (whose late father was a distance cyclist), and his wife’s sister and husband will be embarking on a guide-supported Inn-to-Inn cycling trip in France. “We’ll head up to Mount Ventoux, which is one of the places the Tour de France rides; we’re really looking forward to it.”