Dan Pascuzzi and Ryan Uber are wrestling with a new sport.
But that's mostly just a play on words. The former high school wrestling standouts are quickly moving up the cycling ranks.
Pascuzzi and Uber, who also participated briefly in cross country and soccer while in high school, have made cycling their new priority.
Photo submitted to the Times Observer
Warren’s Dan Pascuzzi, left, and Ryan Uber, right, take a moment to catch up with Lincoln Munch prior to the start of the annual Kinzua Classic Bike Race held this past August in Warren. After standout careers as Warren wrestlers in high school, Pascuzzi and Uber have shifted gears to a new sport — cycling.
"We were both still spending a lot of time working out, and that's kind of when we started talking about it," said Pascuzzi, a former District 10 champion who unofficially held the Warren Area High School record for career wins with 122 for a time. "We were spending all this time working out for no reason. This way, we'd be working for something."
For Uber, also a District 10 wrestling champion while at Warren Area High School, teaching spinning classes in college helped influence his decision to race.
"For me, getting into cycling came a little slower," Uber said. "When I was in college I got a spinning certification, so I was teaching spinning classes. Then we got bikes and we started riding for fun every now and then. We didn't start actually racing until this year."
"We started riding maybe a year ago," Pascuzzi added. "I have an old steel bike that I rode a lot and we just kind of changed gears and started racing. It was honestly a decision to switch gears in the last year."
Unlike a lot of racers, Pascuzzi and Uber don't race as part of a team or with sponsors.
"We definitely see a lot of people show up as teams," Uber said. "It happened a lot at the beginning of the season. You'll see a lot of Hollyloft guys or bike shop guys show up in teams."
It hasn't taken long for the two former Warren wrestlers to latch on to their new sport. Despite racing competitively for less than a year, they've recorded some outstanding results, including in the Kwik Fill Kinzua Classic bike race held in Warren County on August 12. Racing in the Citizen A Class, which spans 30 miles, Uber took first place with a time of 1:25:32, while Pascuzzi came in third with a time of 1:26:23.
A member of an area team sponsored by Hollyloft in Jamestown, N.Y., quickly took notice when Pascuzzi and Uber came out of nowhere at a race in Erie to top several members of the racing team.
"We definitely get frustrated a little bit," Pascuzzi said. "One race we'll ride away from everyone and take first and second, and in another race with the same people we'll finish right with the pack. We've had ups and downs. It's fun. I know that much. We'd obviously like to get better, and I think we'll do better next year."
Uber echoed Pascuzzi's sentiment, saying "it's frustrating when you beat people and then the same people beat you in a different race. It all depends on the course and how the race plays out."
Uber and Pascuzzi have now traveled to racing events all around Pennsylvania and New York all year long, hoping to improve their results. It's becoming more than a hobby.
"We've done about 24 races this year," Pascuzzi said, adding that they've gone as far as West Virginia. "We did a ton in Buffalo (N.Y.) and we've done a lot in the Pittsburgh area."
"We also did a lot in Erie at the beginning of the season," Uber added.
Like in all sports, cycling requires serious training to be competitive with the best.
"We did one or two races last year, but we didn't really train for them. We just did them. We rode casually and went to races for something to do," Pascuzzi said. "This is our first year actually training, so we're kind of experimenting. We've ridden longer hours, but not as hard, in late winter and early spring."
Uber added that their training "varies depending on the time of the season."
With the amount of fun and success that they've had in their first year of competitive cycling, Pascuzzi and Uber look forward to continuing to get better in the future. They plan on racing at least through next year, but Uber says "it'll go week to week."
"If we just finished a good race, we say we're going to ride into next year," Pascuzzi said. "As soon as we have a bad race, we talk about how we want to quit," Pascuzzi said with a grin. "I had a good race (two weekends ago), so I'll keep going for now. Besides, I just bought a new bike, so we have to ride again next year."