Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mountain Bike Leads Man on Adventure of a Lifetime

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mountain Bike Leads Man on Adventure of a Lifetime

Article excerpt

Can a mountain bike make someone's life better? I believe so, because as strange as it may seem, I owe whatever success I have to bicycling.

Though the drive to constantly change and redefine my life has always been there, I know that before I started bicycling, I spent a lot of free time and energy on useless, misguided pursuits. Mountain biking was a catalyst providing the skills to traverse life's challenges.

My introduction came from receiving a bike as a Christmas gift in 1995. I remember thinking, "What am I going to do with a mountain bike?" I was almost 40 years old and hadn't been on a bicycle since I was a kid. No one had ever given me such a gift.

For the rest of the winter, the shiny, black bike stared impatiently at me while propped against a wall. By the time spring arrived, the bicycle's subtle, devious plan to win me over had worked. I started out by riding cautiously, doing a few rails to trails.

Eventually, a friend invited me to join him in some mountain biking. A phys ed teacher, he was patient, understanding and thorough in his instruction. I realized I loved mountain biking, an unlikely occurrence if I had tried it on my own.

In spite of my busy schedule running a restaurant, I managed to get out on the trails at least a couple of times a week. Every free moment I had was spent pursuing new and exciting single-track adventures. The goals of steep downhill descents, catching big air and jumping over boulders and fallen trees drove me.

My mountain bike awakened me to a previously unknown world. Along with hiking and biking, I started rock climbing and whitewater kayaking. I was now an adventurer and explorer, backpacking through Yosemite and hiking and biking anywhere from the deserts of Arizona to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

In Kauai, I hiked to the Na Pali coast in ceaseless rain for three hours just to watch the ocean waves batter the tall, breathtaking cliffs. In guided hikes through Costa Rica, I studied the rain forest's fragile but incredible biodiversity.

My journey took me across the ocean to my ancestral home of Calabria, Italy. And in walking along lands that have been in my family for generations, I found a sense of place. …

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