Cyclist of the Month: Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Bolante
"Bicycling gives me the freedom to get out, breathe fresh air, see beautiful sights and leave the stresses of multiple careers back in the garage at home."
Cyclist of the month: Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Bolante
Profession: Civilian job: Seattle-based photojournalist for Reuters and the Puget Sound Business Journal. Military job: Helicopter pilot and officer in the Washington Army National Guard.
Wheels: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL and numerous Specialized Allez. While deployed overseas, he rides a free loaner Diamondback Sorrento mountain bike from the U.S. Army Morale Welfare Recreation office.
From the rainy city of Seattle to the endless sandy deserts of the Middle East, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Bolante brings a whole new side to the term "adventure cyclist".
Splitting his high-paced life between a civilian career as photojournalist and serving his country as a helicopter pilot in the National Guard, bicycling may be one of the few constants in his life. Whether he is Seattle, in his hometown in Honolulu or in Kuwait, Anthony finds time to ride.
"Juggling a professional photojournalism career and being a National Guard officer/pilot has me on the go-go all of the time. It's basically managing two fulltime jobs," said Anthony. "Bicycling gives me the freedom to get out, breathe fresh air, see beautiful sights and leave the stresses of multiple careers back in the garage at home. I love bicycling because it can be both a solitude sport or a social one, and I do both whenever I can."
Currently deployed in Kuwait, Anthony chose a life of service early on.
"Service to country, community, family and friends was instilled in me by my family in Honolulu since I was a child," said Anthony. "While in high school, I was conflicted...I wanted to be both a photographer and a helicopter pilot."
He decided on attending a military university, where he was introduced to photojournalism.
"I was hooked from that point forward, having the desire to document and record history from behind a lens," said Anthony. "I was so enthralled with the opportunity to `be there' to record historic things and see historic people, I actually switched from focusing on an engineering degree to journalism."
His life has been high-paced and filled with adventure ever since, capturing history as a photojournalist and being part of history as a National Guard officer.
As a helicopter pilot has fought forest fires, executed high altitude mountain rescues, coordinated rescue missions after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and completed two tours in Afghanistan.
"I juggle almost three individual identities that I always intertwine -- photojournalist, Army helicopter pilot and biker. The one common thing with all three of those things is adventure. I am grateful to be able to manage all of these life-dimensions," said Anthony.
Growing up in a "skateboard/surfer town," 'biker' didn't become part of his identity until later in life.
"Moving to the biker-town Seattle in 1996 really cemented my life as a passionate roadie," said Anthony.
In Kuwait however, he has to make do with a loaner Diamondback Sorrento mountain bike from U.S. Army Morale Welfare Recreation office.
"There is a small fleet of loaner mountain bikes here on the Army base at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, and of course, real bikers `fight' to get those bikes. I did!" said Anthony, who uses the bike for both commuting and recreation. "My 8x16-foot container connex pod I live in is about 1.5 miles from my "Office Tent," so the bike makes the commute 4 minutes long versus a 15-minute walk in 128F temperatures.".
Camp Arifjan also holds the occasional `desert triathlon relay' races around its seven-mile sandy perimeter loop.
"Riding on knobbies here is only going to make me a stronger roadie when I get home since these bikes are as heavy as tanks," said Anthony, who longs for his road bikes.
"I dream of riding on skinny tires around Seattle. I savor the thought of riding my Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL when work gets tough here. It's good for the mind to wander when surrounded by endless kilometers of sand here," he said. "While not perfect, the Pacific Northwest is still one of the greatest places on the planet to be a bike rider. Puget Sounders live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet."
Anthony will return from his deployment in the summer of 2014 and intends to ride STP and RSVP with his friends. In the meantime, you can follow Anthony's adventures on his website at http://theimagearsenal.com.