Teacher recounts biking adventures

October 19, 2015 — by Harshini Ramaswamy
Photo by Rector

“Does anyone know Dario Pegoretti?” yelled English teacher Erick Rector to locals hanging out in a bar in Marter, a small town in the Brenta River Valley, Northern Italy. Rector had traveled three hours from Venice, where he was staying in the summer of 2010, in an attempt to meet Mario Pegoretti, the world’s greatest  bike frame builder. Arriving there, he had no idea how to find him.

“They literally had a living legend in their village, and they had no idea who he was,” Rector said. “One guy gave me a phonebook, and there Pegoretti was in the phone book, in just totally normal print. I spent like two hours with Pegoretti when I found him, and probably took about a million pictures of us just talking about bikes.”

Rector started biking during his college years, partly because his participation in UC Irvine’s rowing team made it mandatory, but also because he found it fun. While he progressed in his recreational biking career, Rector wanted the best gear for his daily outings, which led him to Pegoretti’s frames. Although Pegoretti bikes are notoriously expensive, Rector began saving up to buy his own. He currently owns a custom Marcello, thanks to his friend and penpal Pegoretti.

Meeting Pegoretti had always been a dream of Rector’s, but Rector did not go to Italy only to meet his idol. In fact, stopping by Pegoretti’s workshop was just a side trip during Rector’s travels to Paris in 2010.

“Paris is really flat,” Rector said. “The best way to see everything in Paris is to travel by bike. A lot of tourists bike in Paris. Plus, it’s faster than walking, [so] you can cover a lot more sightseeing and [don’t have to find?] parking.”

Rector has not only traveled by bike in places such as Paris, but has also met some people he would not have met if not for his interest in the sport. One such person is seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his wins after a doping investigation.

“Lance is arrogant, I know that, but I liked Lance because he won,” Rector said. “I still admire him, even though he was a cheater.”

Rector said Armstrong signed his racing bib when he stopped by Sausalito during a stage of the Tour of California. Rector waited in the rain for three hours, and was one of the few whose bib got signed by him that day.

For Rector, meeting people such as Armstrong and Pegoretti and being able to bike to new, fascinating places is part of the appeal of biking.

“One thing that I think sets biking apart from all other sports is its ability to send you places,” Rector said. “Traveling is something you can’t do in football or basketball; you just stay in one designated area and play.”

Rector hopes to be part of a biking club for students at the school in the future, allowing them to have the kind of experiences he has been fortunate enough to have. He plans to lead the club alongside his biking buddy, math teacher PJ Yim, and take students on rides after school, either mountain biking or road biking, and enroll them in competitions or marathons such as the Monterey-based Sea Otter classic.

“A biking club would be really good for Saratoga students,” Rector said. “Students need to go out and see all of Saratoga, Los Gatos, just anywhere outside their bubble. Biking is fun, a great way to exercise and relieve the stress put on during school.”