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Rico Mundy: One Epic Ride

by Larry Peña

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When Rico Mundy began endurance cycling five years ago, he figured that ascending 10,000 feet of elevation of over the course of 100 miles was a pretty big deal. I’d venture to say he’s right about that. But after years of riding ten hours a week, he decided he wanted a new challenge.

That’s why last Sunday, Rico set out on a ride he calls the “Angwin Quad.” It’s four circuits up and down Howell Mountain, 42 miles each—totaling almost 200 miles and 24,000 feet of ascent. “I wanted to see if my body could go beyond 20,000 feet in one ride.”

Part of the impetus for Rico’s epic feat came from his involvement on Strava.com. The website is a social tool for cyclists and runners, allowing them to share achievements, tell each other about new courses, and encourage each other on. “I’ve never seen anyone ride over 20,000,” Rico says. “I thought to myself, ‘I’d like to be the person who did the most climbing in one ride in one day.’”

His course was a circuit that goes up and down Deer Park, White Cottage and Sanitarium, culminating at Summit Lakes, down Ink Grade to Pope Valley, and back up to the crater. Setting out at 4 a.m., Rico rode until 8 p.m., making only a few 10- and 15-minute stops.

The ride was particularly challenging because of the weather—it was the first day over 70 degrees, after several weeks in the 50s and 60s.

As he approached his goal over the course of the day, encouragement began flowing in—from all over the world. “I got kudos from people all over the world on this ride—New Zealand, Great Britain, Greece, Turkey, Australia, and all over the United States and Canada,” he says. “People saw this ride and were giving me little cheers for it.”

Rico also credits a few people here in Angwin for making his high level of performance possible. Roy Benton rode along with him for part of the day, providing invaluable company and encouragement. Monte Butler, another accomplished endurance cyclist on campus, introduced them to the idea that a 200-mile ride in one day was even possible. And most of all, Rico is grateful to his wife Cherith. “I know it can be hard on her, especially in the mornings when I’m out riding and she’s home taking care of the kids,” he says. “I’m really thankful that she allows me to try these goals.”

He says consistency has been the key to his incredible cycling endurance—he goes out and rides for a few hours, three times a week. “I’m not out there climbing 20,000 feet or riding 200 miles every week, or even every month,” says Rico. “But you just get your body to a point that it can endure longer rides.”

Holly Jeske, PUC’s employee health and wellness coordinator, praises a few key points of Rico’s cycling regimen—especially the ideas of social exercising and keeping a consistent schedule. “Doing something with other people is huge for keeping yourself fit,” she says. “[Regular exercise] affects every single aspect of your life, and it doesn’t have to be hours every day…just moderate exercise every day improves your whole outlook on life. Your oxygen intake improves so that you’re thinking processes work better, your muscles will hurt less over time, and you just feel better overall.”

It’s four circuits up and down Howell Mountain, 42 miles each—totaling almost 200 miles and 24,000 feet of ascent.

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