Meeting Stefano means remembering Stefano. He’s soft-spoken but warm, genuinely curious and eager to help. His thick Italian accent, notable from the first encounter, adds to his charm. He considers the summer of 2022 his inaugural season of mountain biking. Despite being relatively new to both the sport and the BETA community, his commitment is unwavering. In just the past year, Stefano has become one of our most dedicated volunteers, missing only two volunteer days and frequently devoting his free time to maintaining the trails independently.
From novice, to daily user, he now proudly rides 1,300 miles in a single season.
We're excited to share Stefano's experiences and insights - a vivid testament to the transformative power of trails and the profound impact your support can have.
STEFANO'S UNLIKELY BEGINNING
Stefano stumbled into mountain biking, by his own admission, accidentally. Retiring to Lake Placid with his wife from the Eastern Alps by way of New Jersey, he sought the simple pleasures of exercise and fresh air. "I was just riding an old hybrid bicycle. I found the roads quite scenic but not very bike-friendly," he explained. So the trails piqued his interest, offering an escape from traffic.
“I started riding the Jackrabbit and some of the Lussi and Scott’s Cobble trails, and I found them very challenging and almost dangerous on my old bike. When I mentioned this to a friend, he suggested that I borrow his mountain bike, which he thought was more appropriate for these trails. This was an epiphany.”
AN EVOLVING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TRAILS: GIVING BACK
On the trails, Stefano found more than just a safer, quieter reprieve from the roads; he discovered a sanctuary.
"I am not exaggerating to say that for me, mountain biking has been a life-changing experience.” From downhills, to technical sections, to jumps and drops, each ride, he faced new challenges. "It's like meditating and exercising combined," he shared, "I come home feeling happier, more balanced, and optimistic, and my body feels stronger and healthier. And to all these benefits I can now add the feeling of belonging to a very welcoming mountain biking community."
As Stefano's skills improved, so did his relationship with the trails. "The very same trails that I might have strongly disliked on my first ride have now become some of my favorites.” Moved by his experiences, he found a way to give back to the trails and the community that had given him so much.
"I started volunteering because I felt I had to do something to show my appreciation for the tremendous work that BETA does." His involvement in volunteer days became a conduit for deeper connections within the local community. "I love being outdoors, I love getting some exercise, and I love talking to people, so volunteer days are perfect!"
Stefano’s enthusiasm and commitment reflect the spirit of our community and the importance of every individual's contribution.
Our trails are not just pathways among the trees but lifelines to a like-minded, supportive community.
MATCHING CHALLENGE: DOUBLE YOUR DONATION
Exciting news: for the first time ever, a group of BETA board, staff, and committee members are collectively pledging to match every dollar of community donations, up to $11,600, made before the year's end.
Give now to become a part of these transformative stories and help connect more people to the trails where beginners find their footing and seasoned riders push their limits.
All gifts received by December 31st are eligible to be matched up to a total of $11,600, worth $23,200 if fully matched!
Together, we can ensure that our trails continue to be a source of joy and connection for riders like Stefano and for future generations of adventurers.
Join us in making a difference.