Rolling Through the Great Outdoors

Education professor Mark Threeton has experienced the best of America’s natural beauty from his bicycle.

Mark Threeton at Mount Evans summit

Inspired by the cycling prowess of his two older sisters, Mark Threeton took his first long trip on a road bike—a four-day journey across the width of Wisconsin—in 1993. He has been hooked on cycling ever since, and there’s nary a day when he’s not riding his Cannondale SuperSix Evo, or his Bianchi, or another one of the three road bikes he owns, through Happy Valley’s many scenic roads and trails. “Cycling is more of a lifetime fitness thing for me, it’s as much exercise as it is meditation,” says Threeton ’08 PhD Edu, an associate professor of education in the workforce education and development program. “My mind is tired after work, but I need to recharge physically, so I get on my bike and go out for a 20-mile ride.”

Each June, he and a few friends get together in Colorado to bike through the high passes of the Rocky Mountains. “We bike anywhere from 70 to 100 miles a day—some days we’ll ride over two high mountain passes,” he says. “We’ve climbed up most of the famous passes out there, including Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.”

Threeton has also biked the Mount Evans Scenic Byway in Colorado, the highest paved road in North America. He’s climbed Independence Pass and Loveland Pass in the Rockies, Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, and Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park, and he’s cycled most of Yellowstone National Park with one of his sisters.

In State College, Threeton averages six hours, and between 100 and 120 miles, of bike time a week. He’s also become passionate about gravel biking: “It’s a nice change of pace as compared to road biking,” he says. Last fall, he rode on gravel trails from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md., and would like to do more. And when time permits, Threeton would really love to take on some of the classic routes of the Tour de France, including Mont Ventoux, one of the race’s most grueling climbs.

Mark Threeton