June 27, 2018
Neuharth scores points killing dragons
By George Ledbetter
CHADRON – There probably aren’t many people pushing 80 years of age who deserve a title of dragon slayer, but long-time Chadron State College adjunct faculty member Marv Neuharth could well be one.
That’s because regular workouts on the stationary bicycles at CSC’s Nelson Physical Activity Center (NPAC) have netted Neuharth more than one billion points in a game that requires hard pedaling and controlled steering to run down brightly colored dragons that pop up randomly in various places on the cycling machine’s video screen.
Neuharth, an avid cyclist for years, said he started riding the NPAC’s Expresso Bikes shortly after they were installed in 2013 because weather conditions often restricted his outdoor riding time and it was easy to fit the indoor rides into his teaching schedule.
Like many of the machines at the NPAC, the Expresso Bikes have electronic controls with a variety of workout options. The bikes allow cyclists to choose from a variety of riding scenarios of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty shown on a monitor complete with scenery as the user pedals.
Network connections on the Expressos allow riders to compete on a course with a user in the adjacent machine, or compare results with people who are pedaling in gyms around the world, said Neuharth.
“The machine is really neat,” he said. “You can compete on a global basis. There are all age groups.”
The bikes, made by Interactive Fitness, allow users to create personal online accounts and use them to track workouts.
“It tells you the number of calories you have burned. It tells you the amount of power you are utilizing. It’s a challenge in itself,” Neuharth said.
Rather than riding one of the more than 40 race courses in the Expresso program for his workouts, Neuharth chose the machine’s Animal Adventures game. The game involves steering toward and hitting colored tokens on the monitor and then racking up points by hitting the like-colored dragons that appear and flit about the screen. Neuharth said his initial aim in the game was to earn three or four million points on each of the three or four rides he takes per week.
“That was the goal, but you couldn’t do it every day,” he said. “My legs couldn’t take it.”
The machines also keep a cumulative total of each individual’s points and Neuharth said it was only after watching his score climb that he decided to try hitting the one billion mark.
“I had no intention of trying to ride this many points, but I got to the point where I said ‘Hey, I can do this,’” he said.
Neuharth isn’t specific about when the billion point threshold was crossed and said the milestone didn’t trigger any particular notice from the machine itself.
“I was kind of in a daze when I reached that,” he said. “It was just a good feeling.”
Riding stationary bikes isn’t the only way Neuharth takes advantage of the many exercise opportunities available at the NPAC, which has 23 pieces of cardio-workout equipment and several other exercise options. Playing racquetball was a passion for years, Neuharth said, and he sometimes uses the weight machines, stair steppers and rowing machine.
While acknowledging the health and psychological benefits of an exercise regiment, Neuharth said those aren’t his motivation for the regular workouts.
“I don’t mind the benefit of health. I don’t do it because I think I’m going to live longer,” he said. “I do it because I enjoy it.”
And that enjoyment is readily available to CSC students, faculty and staff, as well as Chadron residents, said Neuharth.
“We are so fortunate to have that cardio room, and the arena and track where individuals can walk,” he said.
Crossing the billion point mark in the cycling game won’t bring an end to riding on the Expresso Bikes, said Neuharth, who laughed about all the dragons he’s killed in earning the huge score.
“It must be working,” he said. “I haven’t talked to anybody who has seen any dragons about.”