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Jimmie Johnson got Dale Earnhardt Jr. to join Twitter after Junior won the 2014 Daytona 500, and the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is one of the most engaging athletes on the social media platform.
Now, Johnson has helped Junior get into cycling -- one of Johnson's passions. Johnson and Matt Kenseth are known for taking rides in groups over race weekends as a form of fitness. As a company, Junior said Hendrick Motorsports is keeping the drivers accountable for accomplishing a minimum workout schedule with a certain amount of cardio and strength training.
On this week's edition of "The Dale Jr. Download" on Dirty Mo Radio, Junior detailed how the cycling excursion came about.
"Jimmie, he does a lot of different things, but cycling is one of the things he enjoys. That has really picked up in the garage. If you were in Daytona in the bus lot, every morning, my neighbor Matt Kenseth would wake up at 7 o'clock. He would meet outside his bus with Jamie McMurray. They would make a lot of noise and wake up Amy (Dale's wife) and that would wake me up. They were getting ready to go on their bike ride every morning. This happened quite a bit.
"I noticed that a lot of guys in the garage are starting to do this -- Trevor Bayne -- they are going in big groups, riding around town. Kasey Kahne, a number of drivers are picking up on this cycling deal. So I'm thinking, you know what, I am going to give it a try. Jimmie gave me a bike about a year ago. It's sitting in my garage. Tires went flat, dry rotted. Had to get new tubes, tires. Finally, loaded the bike onto the plane to Atlanta. ...
"I told Jimmie I said look, I'm going to meet you outside the track. Ain't no way in hell I'm going to let anybody see me ride through the infield wearing this bike gear, spandex stuff."
Junior's initial bike ride took place with Johnson, Kahne and Chase Elliott's crew chief Alan Gustafson. The group rode 16.7 miles together. The ride was fun for Earnhardt, although he did get flipped off in the first five minutes by a passing car.
"They are like six inches from the shoulder," Earnhardt said. "I can't ride that close to the shoulder. I'm all over the place and I'm wobbling all over the damn road and this guy goes by and flips me off. I guess I kind of ticked him off. Anyways, I was surprised at how rude drivers are on the road."
But for the overall cycling deal, Earnhardt is in, despite being self-conscious about wearing spandex.
"I'm in. Talking to Jimmie about getting some more bikes. I'm buying more gear, getting geared up and ready to go. That's going to be part of my workout regimen."