Abu Dhabi: Age is often a big reason why many people slow down. But for 59-year-old Dr Mauro D’arcangelo, it wasn’t even a consideration as he set out to cycle up one of the world’s highest paved mountain passes.
The consultant plastic surgeon at Al Ain Hospital successfully cycled across the 25-kilometre Stelvio Pass in northern Italy – located at an elevation of 2,757 metres above sea level – this summer, and he now wants others to take inspiration from his achievement.
“It wasn’t an easy task, but I was able to accomplish this when I set my mind to it. I honestly believe that age is really not a barrier to achieving even the most impossible goals,” he said. “With discipline and power of mind, you can climb even the highest mountain.
“In the UAE, a lot of people now set aside time for physical activity. But there are also many suffering from diabetes, and others who don’t undertake any exercise. I hope my message of achievement and health will be conveyed to them,” he added.
Cycling up the steep pass took Dr D’arcangelo about three-and-a-half hours.
“The sense of achievement afterwards was beyond anything I’ve felt so far. This pass is something every passionate cyclist wants to tackle once in their lifetime,” he said.
The surgeon, who hails from Italy, only took up cycling about three years ago as a means to stay fit. Since then, he has always wanted to cycle the pass, which includes 48 hairpin bends before the mountain peak.
To prepare, Dr D’arcangelo trained 30 to 50-km three times a week at the Al Ain Cycling Track, and also completed a 100-km ride every Friday morning. He also regularly trains on an elliptical machine at home, and swims whenever he can.
“Physical fitness is especially important. We may be slower than those younger than us, but it doesn’t mean that age should be an excuse,” he said.
The doctor now plans to complete a coast-to-coast 200-kilometre ride from Sharjah to Fujairah, and says he might even attempt the Stelvio Pass again. “I’ve seen people in their 70’s complete the ride. Now that I’ve completed it once, I know that I am simply competing against myself,” he added.
He himself has a cardiac concern, but stressed that it’s important to undertake the kind of physical activity that one can safely manage, and under the advice of a physician.
“I know I cannot race and win, and that trying to complete a physical task in a short period of time will strain my heart. So instead, I am now training to build endurance,” he said.