By Lisa Montanaro
February 20, 2022
Brian Cartoscelli is living proof that the adage, one step at a time, works. But in his case, it was one ride at a time.
About a decade ago, Brian found himself
with multiple health issues, including gout, high blood pressure, fatigue, pain, and obesity. His weight had reached 386 pounds. He decided to make some changes. At the time, he was working as a caregiver and was buying and selling bikes on the side as a hobby. He would see what he called the “spandex cyclists” out riding in groups and noticed what great shape they were in, so he decided to give it a whirl.
He started with a slow and steady ride from Davis to Stevenson Bridge and back, about ten miles round trip. He felt good so did it again, and again, and again. Within a year, he was bike riding daily and upping his mileage. Slowly but consistently, the weight started coming off and his health issues improved. He found himself hooked on biking and started reaching for bigger goals.
Buoyed by his progress, he registered for the 2014 Foxy’s Fall Century, a group ride of 100 miles, and completed it. “It was grueling, but I made it,” Brian shared. That motivated him to buy better cycling apparel and start doing longer rides more regularly. “I started wearing lycra,” he chuckled, referring to the spandex-wearing cyclists he used to admire. Brian had lost considerable weight by then but wanted to trim up even more after completing his first century. “My body looked different, but also felt different. I had a feeling of accomplishment.”
Brian spent the next few years leveling up his cycling game. Motivated by how great he felt and looked, he decided to join Strava in 2015, an app used by many cyclists to track routes and mileage. It inspired him to go faster and push harder. In 2016, he became more serious about the nutrition side, cutting out excessive fat, and eating a vegetarian diet, which he has adhered to ever since.
In 2017, he started riding with local cyclists, Jim Sharp and Joe MastroGiovanni. From that point on, they were like the Three Musketeers. Looking back, Brian admits, “I didn’t know how strong of a rider I had become until I rode with them. They provided a measurement that was lacking in the past. But most importantly, they became my best friends!”
Brian decided to up his cycling game one more notch and started racing in 2018. He worked with his mentor, Kevin McSpadden, and joined in the weekly race rides for Davis cyclists. His last outdoor race was in 2019, pre-Covid. During the pandemic, he participated in virtual races from the safety of his indoor bike and did race simulations outdoors.
It’s now been almost a decade since Brian changed his mind set about his health and took his first serious bike ride. He’s maintained a weight loss of 186 pounds, changed his diet, improved his health, and made life-long friends through cycling. Brian shared that this is his unique journey with cycling because he is competitive and wanted to push himself. But his advice for anyone contemplating riding for pleasure or sport is “Just get on a bike! In any way.” Brian has been amazed by the comradery of the cycling community. He enjoys mentoring others to help them start to ride and keep riding. “Riders reached out their hand to me, and now I get to reach out my hand to others. I’m so grateful to have found the cycling community.”
Brian not only loves cycling; he loves motivating others. When asked what Brian would say to someone he passed on their bike while out riding? “Keep going. You got this.”
This article was written by Lisa Montanaro, commissioned by The Bike Campaign. For more information about how to “Drive Less. Ride More.”, contact Maria Contreras Tebbutt at email@example.com or www.TheBikeCampaign.com.
Lisa Montanaro is the author of the book The Ultimate Life Organizer and is a freelance writer for print and online publications. She is currently revising her first novel. When not writing, Lisa helps organizations and people be more productive. And when not working or writing, Lisa can be found on two wheels cycling!