When I tried to get in touch with Mark to get some information for his profile, he texted back that he was in Sydney, Australia, but would be back in Colorado in a few days.  Flying out of his base of Los Angeles, Mark is a pilot for Delta Airlines and flies the wide body Airbus 350 internationally.  As a result, he has begun to research some destinations first hand for good bike routes to explore on his layovers.

Mark grew up in a small town outside of Albuquerque, NM. His father worked for the National Park Service, first at El Moro, then at El Mapais, NM outside Grants, NM where Mark finished high school.  Eventually he enrolled at Emory Riddle’s west campus in Prescott, AZ.  He even worked for them right after graduation before signing on with Great Lakes Aviation.  His next employer, Northwest Airlines, merged with Delta and he has piloted many different versions of aircraft for them for the last sixteen years.  

Interestingly enough, Mark says that when he is not flying for Delta, he enjoys being a homebody with his wife and twelve year old son.  Though his son likes hiking and trail running, it wouldn’t be surprising if he followed in his father’s cycling tracks some day. Mark made the opposite transition to more of a trail runner as he grew older….and a very accomplished trail runner at that.  Mark has finished the High Lonesome 100 mile trail run from Buena Vista twice….and the ‘I’m Tough 100’ in Idaho… the 2022 and 2024 Bighorn 100….and the 2023 Wasatch 100.  He has his interests set on the Hardrock 100 out of Silverton, CO, but, much like the Boston Marathon and the Ironman Triathlon, the Hardrock has become a real athletic event destination. Dedicated veteran 100 mile runners now face qualification standards and a lottery process to gain a single year’s entry.  Even though his name has been in the lottery for the last three years, the average wait time to become one of the official 100 starters is up to 6-7 years.  Mark has been a volunteer on race weekend for the last three years. 

But let’s back up a bit.  Mark started off his athletic career by taking his mother up on her suggestion for him to join a 5K run.  He was not initially enamored with the thought of running, but managed to finish. In 1990, as a 13 year old dressed in sweatpants and tennis shoes, he commandeered his father’s 25 year old ten speed bicycle and entered a 25 mile bicycle race that sported a field of about 40 riders.  He was dropped on the first climb, but from there Mark began to eat, sleep and dream about cycling.  His cycling idols became Greg LeMonde, Lance Armstrong and Bobby Julich.  Seven years later he joined a small amateur cycling team in Bolzano, Italy as its only American rider.  He could not speak Italian, but the team also had a couple riders from Austria who could speak some English and they helped him become semi proficient in Italian. After about six months Mark realized that this lifestyle was not what he had envisioned and he returned to New Mexico to work in a bike shop and personally take up mountain biking.  

When he started at Prescott in 1999, he virtually took a ten year hiatus from cycling and running to immerse himself in his aviation education, his marriage and fatherhood.  Mark and his wife got back into their athletic interests by hiking and climbing 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado.  Mark’s son is now getting the adventure bug as a boy scout.  When the family does travel around the US, they like exploring around smaller towns.

He does plan to ride through the Dolomites some day, preferably with his son on an exploratory adventure.  

As if Mark’s life is not exciting enough already…..  He knows that it is a big world out there because he often cruises above it at 35,000 feet.