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Elizabeth Township man stays on the move

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Rick Kundman of Elizabeth Township competes at the 2013 Senior Games on June 19 at the Charleroi Area School District campus.

When Rick Kundman was growing up in Elizabeth Township, his father often worked various hours.

Because the family had just one car, Kundman found that often the best way for him to get anywhere was to ride his bicycle.

“I bought my first 10-speed bike at 21 and I've been riding ever since,” Kundman said.

Although he put cycling on hold while raising a family, today the 63-year-old Elizabeth Township man typically rides as many as 200 miles a week.

Kundman graduated from Elizabeth Forward High School in 1968. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Penn State University in 1973.

He then went to work for Union Railroad, which serviced U.S. Steel plants in the Mon Valley. He worked there for nine years before the demise of the steel industry.

After “kicking around” a couple of construction jobs, Kundman earned a secondary teaching certificate from California University of Pennsylvania. After teaching briefly at Community College of Allegheny County, he taught secondary mathematics in the Jefferson Morgan School District in Greene County.

He was a teacher for 16 years before the railroad company called Kundman. He worked part-time for the railroad while teaching full-time.

But even though he eventually earned a master's degree, Kundman said he made more money with the railroad than teaching. So he went back to the railroad job full-time.

Kundman met his wife, Ava, at a club called The Staircase, in Pittsburgh. They were married July 29, 1974. She is an early childhood teacher at Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

The couple has a son, Benjamin, who lives in the South Side and works as a mechanical engineer for Wabtec. Their daughter, Jessica Tierney, now resides in Australia where she works for an environmental firm.

Today, Kundman enjoys riding recreationally, in occasional competitions and for charity. He even takes his son along for the ride.

Last month, Kundman won a 10K bike race at the Westmoreland County Senior Games.

“The guy I beat was upset because he won the last seven years,” Kundman said. “I beat him by a wheel's length – in the last 200 yards.”

For 14 years, Kundman has completed a 166-mile bike ride from Harmony to Lake Erie to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis. Kundman said he feels a sense of accomplishment finishing the charity ride each year. His son has joined him the past six years.

“I know a couple of people who have MS,” Kundman said. “It's very devastating. It hits you like a sledgehammer.”

He usually completes two to three long cycling trips each year. Kundman recently completed a five-day, fully supported bike ride last week in Virginia.

The past two years, he has completed the century ride. This year, he won a diamond-back bicycle during the 100-mile ride.

Kundman said his wife enjoys trail riding.

“Road riding is exciting; it's a sense of adventure, but trail riding is relaxing.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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