They don’t make ‘em like they use to.
At least not in the case of Trail cyclist, Rino DeBiasio, who was honoured last month at the 2013 Huntsman World Senior Games with the David Richardson Memorial Award, just a day after literally breaking his back competing in the 37-kilometre road race.
“Everybody votes on it, who should get it, so this year it was me, and maybe because three years ago I hit a dog, and last year I hit a pylon, and this year I hit a pylon, so I guess I deserved an award,” joked DeBiasio.
But it was much more than that. The award is decided by a popular vote and bestowed upon the person who most displays sportsmanship and embodies the spirit of the Senior Games.
The 78-year-old cyclist is a well-known and eminently likable figure on the senior cycling circuit, kindling friendships and contacts at competitions and Grand Fondos across the continent for close to 30 years.
“It’s quite an honour to get that, because you have close to 225 people down there and everybody puts a name in,” said DeBiasio. “There’s quite a few guys that return and gals, and the same people that kind of organized it, so you get to know quite a few bodies over the years.”
During the road race, DeBiasio crashed and landed hard on his tailbone, but he got up, completed the race, and was back in the saddle the next day in the cycling portion of the triathlon. He then went to the evening social where he accepted his award. However, with the pain getting worse, he skipped the final mountain bike race, only to return home and find that he had a compression fracture of the L-1 vertebrate.
“I thought I just pulled a few muscles in my back,” said DeBiasio. “I finished off (the triathlon), but I couldn’t bend my back and I was pretty slow, but anyhow we got third.”
DeBiasio cycles up and down and around the Kootenays and Okanagan highways and byways, tirelessly and relentlessly throughout the spring, summer, and fall, to stay in top shape.
While dedicated and competitive, he is also content with the simple joys of racing, in helping and encouraging others, rather than winning the yellow jersey.
“You always stop when someone has a flat tire, you help them out,” he added. “You know it’s no big deal if you don’t win the race. At our age, when you’re out there competing, it’s all about sportsmanship so it’s good, and you always give everybody a litte bit of a yell when you pass them, ‘Keep going, you’re doing good,’ and so forth, so I guess it all helps.”
DeBiasio has been a fixture at the World Senior Games in St. Georges, Utah 12 of the last 13 years. He won a silver and two bronze at the B.C. Senior Games in Kamloops in August, and attended a competition in Las Vegas the week before the World Seniors, Oct. 11-18.
He also convinced longtime friend and former Fruitvale resident and cyclist Jacob Koomen, now of Campbell River, to compete for the first time at the event; and Koomen, much to his surprise, came away with a silver medal in the 50-K road race.
“The last day, I said to my wife, it’s our anniversary I am going to have to get on the podium, and I did,” said Koomen. “That made my whole trip.”
That, and seeing his good friend honoured with the David Richardson Memorial.
“I know Trail is well known for its hockey history, but to have a cyclist in town by the name off Rino DeBiasio, I think that this 79 year old has made his name well-known in the senior cycling world, and Trail should be proud of him,” added Koomen.
While DeBiasio may be momentarily slowed, he’s looking forward to hitting the slopes at Red and getting back on the bike and competing next year.
“I’ll keep going as long as the body holds up,” DeBiasio said. “Next year I move up to the 80 group and there’s about seven guys, and I tell you they are hot guys, they are good riders . . . You just got to keep going.”