Biking: New heart provides new hope

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Richard Gates is all heart.

The former marathoner's legs and lungs aren't bad, either.

Gates, 62, who received a heart transplant in 2004 in his hometown of Boston, visited heart transplant patients at Allegheny General Hospital last month as part of his Tour de Second Chance.

He began the tour in 2008 to celebrate his renewed life, to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and to share his experiences before, during and after his transplant. He rode 800 miles from Cleveland to Boston in 11 days in 2008, a trip that took only eight days in 2010.

Gates, a freelance bass player, started his ride this year in Pittsburgh after spending time at AGH with two heart transplant patients and a patient who was being evaluated for a heart transplant.

"They all were happy to see him and to see how much he is physically able to do," said AGH spokeswoman Jennifer Davis. A woman who received her new heart in late June told Gates she "was already thinking of ways to 'give back' for the gift she received," Davis said.

Davis said Gates assured the patients that they can regain an active lifestyle "on the other side." He said those who received heart transplants before he did are an inspiration to him. Before he left, Gates asked the patients to autograph his "Donate Life" bike jersey and then posed for a photo with them.

Gates was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2000 after the condition began to affect his running regimen. He was 52 when he received his new heart, the same age cardiomyopathy claimed the life of his mother.

He returned to Boston Aug. 22 after stopping to visit heart transplant recipients and candidates in Cleveland and Rochester, N.Y., and an organ procurement organization in Albany, N.Y. He was accompanied by his wife, Barbara, who drove the family car and occasionally biked with him.


Bamboo bicycle

Nic Brungo, who builds bamboo bicycle frames and other custom items, will display a partially-built bamboo bike from noon to 2 p.m. today at Carnegie Science Center's Bikes Plaza on the North Shore. Brungo, who owns and operates Love Bikes, a full-service bike shop on 44th Street in Lawrenceville, will discuss the process of building bamboo bike frames and explain why bamboo is used for the building material.

The event, sponsored by Peoples Natural Gas, is being held in conjunction with the center's current exhibit, BIKES: Science on Two Wheels. The plaza is behind the center and borders the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Outdoor programming is free with general admission


New website

The Armstrong Rails to Trails Association has a new website: and Facebook page (Armstrong Rails to Trails).

The association, which is preparing for its annual Eat, Play, Ride! ride Sept. 28, will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the commissioner's room in the Armstrong County Courthouse in Kittanning.

Where's her lasagna?

Thinking about owning and operating a bed and breakfast when you retire? Be prepared for the following:

A woman who didn't finish her lasagna dinner took the remaining portion back to the B&B where she and her bicycling companions were spending the night.

It was missing when she went to retrieve it the next morning. She confronted the owner. What scoundrel had absconded with the tasty entree? She then cast suspicion -- loudly -- on the housekeeper.

Where was the elusive lasagna? Why, it was in her companion's sag wagon cooler. She offered no apology for her behavior and left.


Larry Walsh writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette.


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