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Bicycle messenger wins 40-mile Tour de StrongLand

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 13, 2004

By Rick Starr

PARKS -- Peter Culley looked like a bicycle messenger as he weaved through traffic on his way to victory Sunday in the 16th annual Tour de StrongLand bicycle race. He could have been delivering express envelopes as he blew past competitors and raced down the winding roads along the Kiskiminetas River.

That's understandable. That's what the 26-year-old Pittsburgh resident does for a living.

"I put in about 40 to 50 miles a day as a bicycle messenger," said Culley, who works for Jet Messages and races for Kraynick's Bicycle Shop in Pittsburgh.

How does Culley keep his energy level up while riding through traffic and risking his life daily across Pittsburgh's city limits?

"I'm snacking all day," he said. "We find a way to get free bagels, and I'm always snacking on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

Culley won the 40-mile Road Race I for experienced riders despite limited experience. He is a Category IV rider, which means he has two levels to move up before he reaches semi-pro status and three levels to be a professional.

"I hope to be in Category III by next year," he said.

Culley said he took up bicycle racing this year. However, he wasn't inspired by Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

"I started this spring and I owe it all to a great team and my teammates at Kraynick's," Culley said.

Culley finished the course in 1:39:36 to win by more than a minute over Charlie Chulack (1:41:08) who races for Dirty Harry's bicycle shop, Verona.

The victory marked Culley's second consecutive first-place finish. He won the 53-mile Mountain Road Classic last weekend in Kasson, W.Va.

Culley's teammate, Stephen Cummings, who finished ninth (1:42:50), challenged the winner to break out of a three-rider pack and take the lead early in the race.

Culley's other teammate, Greg Angell, suffered an arm fracture when he fell near the finish line following a tire blowout and a collision with another rider.

Jonathan Myers, 15, of Freeport, won the first triathlon, a new event at the Tour de StrongLand this year that combines a 9-mile bicycle race in two stages, a 2-lap swim at Vandergrift Pool and a mile run from Hyde Park.

"This was the most challenging event I've ever won," Myers said.

Myers, who is home-schooled, said he trained by riding his off-road bicycle.

"The hardest part of the triathlon is pacing yourself," Myers said. "I'm not much of a swimmer, but the pool water was a lot more refreshing than the creek water I'm used to."


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