Roads Scholars

Six Westchesterites who have found that two wheels are way more fun than four.

What made you decide to start biking to work? It’s the healthy and right thing to do, as I’m in front of a computer much of the day. There’s no excuse to not work out after work either.
How many miles do you bike a day and how fast do you go? It’s nine-point-two miles one-way going about fifteen miles per hour. It takes me forty minutes to get to work by biking. If I drove, it would be fifteen minutes, but of course time is not the most important issue in life. If it’s raining or snowing, I carpool with my wife, who works in Queens.
Does your wife worry about your safety? Yes. She calls forty minutes or so after I leave to make sure I arrived.
Aren’t you a sweaty mess when you arrive at work? I take a shower when I arrive.
How many miles do you put on your car a year? Less than eight thousand.
What part of your commute is the least bike-friendly? Shore Road is narrow and there’s no bike lane.
Is there a common response people have when they find out you bike to work? It’s a mixed bag. Some like it and say, ‘I wish I could do it.’ Others are skeptics and say things like, ‘I don’t know how long you’ll be able to do it,’ and ‘We’ll see if you keep it up.’ But I do!
Where do you ache the most? The legs, of course!
What do you wear when riding? Under Armour brand cycling pants or shorts, depending on the season, a windbreaker, and gloves. Never wear cotton clothing when riding—if it gets wet, you’re in trouble.
Bicycle of Choice: Road Bike Trek 1200.

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Photo by Michael Polito

Pablo Castillo, 50, a professor of neuroscience at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, commutes by bike from his home in Larchmont to his office in the Bronx.

Photo by Michael Polito

 

Otto Eisele, a retired computer consultant from Scarsdale, rides his bike 200-plus miles every week—at age 76. The Scarsdale resident began riding with his father, who in 1964 managed the U.S. Olympic Cycling Team, and has been “riding ever since.”

Tell us a bit about your racing/cycling achievements. I was a Unione Sportiva Italiana (USI) champion three times. I won or placed in many races on the East Coast. I won the North Carolina State Championship while serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, and I have represented the U.S. Army in national championships. I then went from rider to USI coach and had success producing many record holders, national champions, and Olympic team members—two of whom recently have been inducted into the Bicycle Hall of Fame: Nancy Burghart [nine national championships] and Oliver Martin [member of two Olympic teams].
What kind of bike do you ride? A few years ago, the riders from the USI and other Gimbels Ride participants presented me with a beautiful, fully equipped Trek racing bike; that’s what I’m currently riding.
How often and how long do you go riding? Weather permitting, I ride four days a week, doing about fifty miles most days.
How long does it take you to ride your daily fifty miles? A little over three hours—with a coffee break near the end. I average a bit under fifteen miles per hour.
How’s your weight and cholesterol? I’m five feet eleven inches, and I weigh around a hundred fifty-five pounds. My cholesterol is very low.
What’s more thrilling: speed or distance? Speed, but much harder to do at my age. Distance is enjoyable, especially in good weather and with good friends.
Do you always wear a helmet? Always.
Any accidents? Sad to say, I have had a few run-ins with automobiles. About twenty years ago, I was hit by a car near Iona college—broke my leg pretty badly. It took many months to recover and almost a year before I was able to ride as before. My knees are okay. I had to have a hip replaced last year, but I doubt it had to do with my riding. The doctor attributed it to arthritis.
What are your favorite routes? I enjoy riding roads north of White Plains: Routes 22, 120, 117, etc.
Do you ride all winter long? I do ride most of the winter. The new winter clothing is amazing.  
Have you passed your love of cycling onto loved ones? My sons rode with me when they were young, but they went on to other athletic endeavors. My eldest son is forty-six; he has been playing basketball since high school. My younger son is forty-three; his interest, which started when he was in Scarsdale High School, is in weightlifting. Both sons are in very good physical condition. I have one grandson, but he is still too young to get out on the road.
Ever think there are too many cyclists on the road? Never too many. Too many cars!
—Robert Schork

 

 

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Photo by Michael Polito

Roseanne Macari, 57, a graphic artist who lives in Tarrytown, has been cycling—much of it on County trails—for more than 25 years.

How often do you ride? I ride at least five days a week; in the warmer months I usually ride the South County Trailway before work. On weekends I ride the North County Trailway, the Bronx River Parkway on Sundays when it’s closed to vehicles, or the Old Croton Aqueduct. In the winter months it’s usually indoors on my trainer.
Do you have a favorite County bike trail? The North County Trailway, especially over the New Croton Reservoir Bridge. It’s so beautiful. The Old Croton Aqueduct, north of Tarrytown, is pretty fun too.
Do you prefer paved or dirt trails? I prefer dirt trails. On dirt you have to be conscious of what you’re riding on—rocks, ruts, etc. You have to be engaged with the terrain. It makes the ride more exciting.
What do you wear when you ride? I have an extensive bike shirt wardrobe from all my rides with the MS Bike Ride over the Tappan Zee Bridge. I never wear cotton. I have several pairs of bike shorts too. And a helmet and gloves always.
Do you ride alone or with a group? I usually ride with my partner, Nancy. I call her ‘Nance Armstrong’ because she’s usually in front of me.
Would you ever consider biking to work? If we had a shower at work, I’d ride. Since I live only a few miles away, I’d probably still have to add some mileage to keep in shape. And, of course, I’d still ride on weekends.
Bicycle of Choice: Trek 6000 Mountain Bike.

Photo by Michael Polito

Police Officer Anthony LeDonne, 33, who lives in Mamaroneck, has been on the force for 11 years and on the bike patrol for five.

Approximately how many miles do you bike in a day of patrolling? Five to six miles on routine patrol, but it could be different depending on the amount of emergency calls received.
What’s the biggest danger to a bike officer? One is riding the double yellow lines along Mamaroneck Avenue. You have to pay attention to oncoming traffic, cars reversing, car doors opening, as well as being visible to operators of the vehicles. 
Does an officer have to go through special training to become a bike officer? An officer must obtain a Law Enforcement Bicycle Association class-A certification by completing a minimum of thirty-two hours of bicycle training. Officers must pass a written exam and practical exams with a score of at least eighty percent and complete at least four training rides. Additionally, officers must complete a tactical firearms course.
Is the equipment/uniform different for a bike officer than for an officer in a patrol car? Mandatory equipment for the Village of Mamaroneck bike officer is a helmet that is ASTM- or ANSI-approved. Other optional equipment officers use are padded gloves and glasses. In the summer, it’s bicycle shorts, a collared shirt with all police markings and patches, and sneakers. In colder months, it’s lined bicycle pants, a turtleneck, a jacket, and boots.
Do you miss the squad car? Only when its ninety degrees or ten degrees.
Bicycle of Choice: Trek 6000.

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Photo by Michael Polito

Pedro Sanchez, 35, manager of the Pelham Bike Shop, lives in New Rochelle and uses his bicycle to get around.

When do you ride? I ride to work every day and, after work, I go for a ride around town.
How many miles did you put on your car last year? Only two thousand miles. I put ten thousand miles on my bike!
How much money do you estimate you save a year by biking instead of driving? Around twelve hundred dollars.
What’s the farthest you’ve gone on your bike? From New Rochelle to Bear Mountain and back—one hundred and twenty-four miles in one day.
What’s the most dangerous thing about biking? Sharing the road with drivers and rush hours.
How bike-friendly are the towns you live and work in? Pelham is a lot friendlier because it’s a small town. New Rochelle during rush hour—forget it! I take the long way to work instead.
Is there one town in Westchester that has the worst reputation among cyclists? Bedford. These people don’t like to share a road with anyone and are always in a rush. It’s only five minutes to cross this town on a Sunday group ride, but the Bedford Police stop and ticket us. They say people complain about how we slow down traffic.

Photo by Michael Polito

David Kliger, 62, a retired dentist, lives in Yonkers and is an avid racer, participating in 10- to 15-mile circuits in various Northeast locales.

Do you have a racing hero? All my heroes—Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis—have been drugged out of the sport. They get caught for EPO, a blood-boosting drug.
Lance Armstrong, cool or not cool? He’s a most phenomenal athlete but arrogant and self-centered.
How fast is your top speed? For a forty-five-mile, group-training ride in Westchester or Fairfield, the average top speed is twenty-three miles per hour.
What is the greatest hazard on the road to racing cyclists? Cars are number one. Other riders, number two.
What do you dislike that fellow racers do? Ride in an unsafe manner—swerving. When racing, you’re in a tight group so any swerve can knock ten riders down.
What do you eat for a long day of racing? Low-fat food, especially carbs and proteins. I eat a meal of easily digestible food like oatmeal and peanut butter three hours before I race.
What do you eat afterwards? I don’t believe in recovery drinks. I like to eat real food such as pasta and chicken around two or three hours after the race is over.
Any serious accidents? A broken hip, a torn rotator cuff, and many others. In racing, it’s not if you will crash but when. Everybody does.
Bicycle of Choice: Aluminum Giant TCR, which runs for around $2,000.

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