Two years ago, Mark Bianchi walked into Bicycle Haus, a boutique bike shop in Scottsdale, Arizona, and started buying bikes and cycling paraphernalia. Lots of it.
It was a big turning point in his life, because prior to that day, Mark looked more like a competitive eater than a competitive cyclist. His driver’s license photograph from this period in his life pretty much tells the whole story, but he refuses to share it with us.
The uphill struggle to fitness didn’t bother Bianchi. His father was an NBA player and coach for many years and in his younger days, Mark played college basketball, coached college ball and scouted for the NBA. Bianchi’s time working in basketball was short-lived, as he went on to own and operate numerous successful hotels and restaurants. Although, he can still occasionally be caught laying down some good old-fashioned trash-talk.
But now he has been bit by the bicycle bug and bit hard. That day in Scottsdale, he walked out of the Haus with a brand new Pinarello, and with a little encouragement and a few tips from his brother, Luc, his lifelong competitive streak got him racking up the miles in no time.
Just 11 days into his new found addiction, and he was back in the shop looking for something more to buy, as with all good cyclist we need a new pair of socks or new brake pads or a new jersey. And while he perused the shelves, out of the corner of his eye, he saw an inGamba video playing on the computer, behind the counter at the shop.
“Hey, what is that,” said Bianchi.
“That’s inGamba,” said pleasant shop guy.
To which the only obvious response could be: “And why haven’t you told me about that before?”
Fast forward a little over a month, and Mark Bianchi found himself pedaling in the Dolomites with Eros Poli. This is where Mark’s two-wheeled education really begins. He now finds himself in way over his head, but with the giant king of Ventoux as his mentor, friend and guide.
“Don’t be fearful,” said Bianchi. “The reason I like going up hill is it reminds me of how hard and painful life is, but at the top … rewarding.”
The story goes that on one particularly less-than-pleasant day, as the rain finally abated and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, Mark was trying to stuff his jacket into his jersey pocket and wandering all over the road. The big man rolled up beside Mark, grabbed hold of the jacket and bellowed: “No. no. no. I teach you like child.” Then Eros goes on to teach Mark the professional cyclist approved way of folding and stuffing one’s jacket without killing yourself.
Since his very first inGamba trip, Mark has gone on to lose all of his middle-aged paunch, 34 pounds to be exact, become not only a strong rider, both up and down hill, but he has also gone on to share his knowledge of jacket stuffing with numerous other inGamba guests.
The transformation is nothing short of remarkable, and we salute him for it! Forza Marco!
Name: Mark Bianchi
Age: Young enough to beat lots of 30-year-olds on the climbs
Where do you live: Tucson, AZ
How long have you been riding: I got my first bike when I was 5. I got my first Pinarello June of 2015
Favorite Bicycle: The one I am on. I’m now riding the inGamba F10.
Favorite place to ride: Italy, for sure.
Favorite climb: Sella Ronda
Least favorite climb: All of them, until I reach the top.
Favorite on bike snack: Raul’s pasta and rice treats.
Favorite off bike snack: What ever Eros orders for me.
How many inGamba trips have you done: Who’s counting.
What are you looking forward to in 2018: I am looking forward to spending more time on my bike and more time in Italy. I am also speeding more time on my mountain bike, so I’m looking forward to time in the dirt.