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Reading and riding the world over | Community sports feature
Like most, Adrian Hegyvary remembers when he learned to ride a two-wheel bike.
Hegyvary's sister, older by three years, shed the training wheels when Adrian was around four years old and insisted little brother do the same, whether he was ready or not.
"She took the training wheels off my bike and told me to ride," Hegyvary said. "We lived on a hill and I went down at full speed and crashed at the bottom."
Despite his unfortunate introduction, that was far from the last time Hegyvary would climb aboard a bike.
A longtime Bellevue resident and graduate of Seattle Academy and then the University of Washington, Hegyvary rode bicycles throughout his youth but never considered riding for sport until he joined the University of Washington team in 2004 as an undergraduate.
He continued racing throughout college and joined his current professional team, United Health Pro Cycling, in 2010, all the while moving closer to finishing law school.
The balance of the professional cycling circuit and an advanced degree has no doubt been challenging, but despite spending up to 30 hours per week on the bike racing, he has made it work by attending school during the fall quarter, which is also the offseason in cycling.
During the season, Hegyvary and the UHPC team travel throughout the U.S. and around the world for races, competing against both other professionals and amateurs hoping to make a mark. Aside from maintaining peak fitness and fighting the heat in some of the more extreme locales after growing up in the cooler Pacific Northwest, Hegyvary said the travel was one of the toughest adjustments he was forced to make as a professional.
"There's a lot of airport time," Hegyvary said, adding that the total trip time for the team's recent race in Malaysia was around 45 hours and left only 24 hours of recovery time before racing. "You get used to the unknown being normal and if you haven't, it's probably too late."
In the United States, where the field is relatively familiar and the protocol well-defined, Hegyvary and his team are more likely to lead the pack than on the international stage, where communication issues and differing sets of mores make the race more of a battle of attrition.
"It's different in every race," Hegyvary said. "The mood is, we look out for each other. Those races are kind of like survival."
In an average year, Hegyvary said he spends around 70 days per year racing either domestically or internationally for UHPC. The climate of professional cycling rarely allows for multi-year contracts, but ideally he could race for another 10 years.
"It's always part luck if you have a multi-decade career," Hegyvary said. "You have to be in the right place at the right time."
While a degree in environmental law certainly provides a secure safety net, the allure of riding across the countryside, completely immersed and at the same time removed from his surroundings will likely keep Hegyvary on a bike at least in the near future. Without a wife of children, the 28 year old is at a perfect place to endure the rigors of life on the road, which of course comes with its benefits.
"We spend a lot of time abroad and there's a lot of time on the bike looking at the countryside," Hegyvary said. "It gives you a different perspective on the world. You get to see a place more intimately."