June 30, 2004
Scottsdale resident Mark Tait will fulfill a lifelong dream in July when he heads to France to get a hands-on experience at the Tour de France.
Tait, 45, was selected to participate in an exclusive tour sponsored by Trek Bicycles where he will ride behind the likes of Lance Armstrong and other cycling greats.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Tait said. "We actually ride the same course on the same day as the tour riders."
Starting July 12, he will ride in six stages of the race as it heads into the Pyrenees Mountains. "To say the least, it will be tough, climbing the narrow mountain roads in this southern France area," he said.
Tait, a Realtor and host of "Real Estate Talk Radio" on KFNN (1510 AM), is no stranger to cycling, having competed in mountain and road biking events the past 10 years.
"At a very young age I learned my body could transport me all over the place. Whether it was riding a horse, my Sting-Ray bike or hiking, I got there under my own power," he said.
"To this day, I love to challenge myself physically and by doing that, I encounter an almost spiritual experience."
The cycling enthusiast said he expects to ride between 40 and 80 miles per day along with six other riders.
To get ready, Tait has been heading to Flagstaff for highaltitude training and alternating 60-minute rides through Scottsdale with trips to his gym for light weight training.
He was selected from dozens of applicants after filling out a threepage questionnaire and having a background check completed by Trek.
"Although this is sort of a leisure trip, it is still grueling," said Kevin Stankiewicz, a Trek tour consultant. "We need to know ahead of time if the riders can keep up with their group and finish the tour stages." Despite his age, Tait said proper nutrition and exercise have kept him feeling as athletic as he was during his teens. "It is weird. I don’t feel like I have slowed down," he said. "I’m 45, but I don’t look like a typical 45-year-old. I like to test myself." Though he’ll be participating in a road tour in France, Tait’s first love is mountain biking.
"Mountain biking definitely has a lot more rush to it," he said. "It is a lot like downhill skiing."
Getting out into nature also lures Tait to ride his favorite local mountain biking trails.
"There is not much to look at when you are street biking," said Tait, who tries to stay off major roads when cycling on pavement.