Cyclists to Know: John Pescatore
The first time I met John Pescatore we were congregating for a group ride on the front stoop of the Coffee Pedaler. I could tell from the sling on his arm that he wouldn’t be joining us that morning, but equally obvious, was how badly he wanted to suit up. “Just a few more weeks,” he said when asked when we’d see him back in the saddle. We took off without him, but it seemed clear we’d be seeing more of him in the future.
A few weeks later, I was invited to a DaLegna pizza party to celebrate the kick off of the New Haven Bicycling Club (NHBC). The party was as good as the pizza, and I got to mingle with a bunch of great people, including John, who I ended up sitting next to. I could tell from our chat that John was most certainly a “Cyclist to Know” for a host of reasons, like his involvement in the NHBC, the fact that he started a bike touring company, and that he introduced me to to the Air Line State Park bike trail. John is a wealth of knowledge, especially in the bike world, so I interviewed him for the second installment of “Cyclists to Know.”
Me: What is NHBC, why was it created, and what is your role?
John: It is a brand new bicycle club, created by a group of New Haven riders simply because it seemed like a good idea. I am the club treasurer.
Me: Thanks to the fun, and generous, pizza party NHBC hosted at Da Legna, I’m wood-fired up about the 2016 season and riding with the incredibly nice group of NHBC members I met. What does NHBC have schemed up for 2016?
John: Well, next week we have a fit kit and pizza night for members, and anyone who wants to become a member. We will likely have at least one, and maybe two more fit kit/pizza nights in 2016. In addition, sometime in May we are planning for a kick off picnic event. One other event we are planning is a big volunteer effort of club members at the second installment of the New Haven Grand Prix.
Me: Who is invited? Do you have to be a member to participate in rides?
John: Everyone! For specifically NHBC hosted rides one does not need to be a member, but a rider will need to complete a new haven bicycling club waiver to participate in an NHBC hosted ride.
Me: Should we be actively recruiting members?
Me: You also started a bike touring company called Kingfisher Cycling specializing in small group trips to the French Pyrenees. Not that I need any coaxing, but describe what a usual day on one of your trips looks like.
John: Each day begins with a typical French style continental breakfast with excellent coffee and an amazing croissant, and also includes fun conversation with our host Jean-François.
We are usually on the bikes by 9:00 or 9:30 heading for one of the amazing climbs very close to the heart of Luchon. Stops in small villages for coffee, sandwiches, and often a beer, are regular attractions, in addition to the occasional picnic.
Me: I pulled this from a description of the Superbagneres climb on the Kingfisher website: “Why Superbagnères? This is one you need to see for yourself from the seat of a road bike. It’s a classic of Pyrenean climbing that starts barely a half mile from our hotel and rises to the Superbagnères Ski Resort. The first half is steady work of medium intensity with several river crossings in a very lush gorge, and the second half is all about switchbacks and views of amazing, distant mountain peaks. The top of Superbagnères can be seen from the valley below, it has hosted the finish line of six Tour de France stages since 1961, and the views from the mountaintop ski area are spectacular!”
Me: What is your connection to the Pyrenees, and what makes them unique for cycling?
John: I’m attracted to the Pyrenees mainly because I fell in love with the town of Bagnères-de-Luchon years ago. It’s small enough to give you a true French countryside experience and big enough such that one can easily remain for a week without needing to travel anywhere else. What’s unique about the Pyrenees is that they start closer to sea level than, for example, the Alps. You can climb just as many vertical feet, but without arriving at elevations where the oxygen levels decrease. This also leaves the mountaintops greener than higher mountains and beautiful in their own way.
Me: If you were tasked with using your tour guiding skills to plot a weekend route in Connecticut, where would it be, and what would it include?
John: This is easy, there are two incredibly beautiful classic rides here, both starting from downtown New Haven. One is the Friday morning loop, not known to that many local cyclists, and the other is historically known as the Lulu ride, but with Little City added on. That said, East of the Connecticut River is some of the best and least known riding in the state.
Me: I read that you were a medal winning Olympic rower and later an Olympic coach. Does the power required to row translate to power on the pedals? When did you make the transition from boat to bike?
John: Sure, but I was never known to be a power guy, more of a rhythm guy, so it probably hasn’t helped me much. Winter of 2001 some college rowing friends had started riding and invited me to join them for a weekend in Laguna Beach. I had an old aluminum bike that my brother-in-law won in a raffle, but then gave to my wife and I as a wedding present because it was too small for him, so that’s what I used, a Cannondale 6-speed with shifters on the down tubes.
Me: Are you equally competitive on the bike, or only when needed?
John: I suppose that depends on who I am riding with. I get my ass kicked more often than not, but I enjoy getting licks in when I can!
Me: Thanks again for taking the time John!