Mountain Biking as an Olympic Sport

Mountain Biking pic
Mountain Biking

The recipient of multiple graduate degrees, including a master of business administration from the University of Chicago, John Heintz is a senior legal consultant for Lydian, Inc., a firm he co-founded in 2013. He also recently served at Niles Township High School District 19, where he was the chief legal officer. When he isn’t working, John Heintz enjoys mountain biking in Chicago and surrounding areas.

Mountain biking began as a fringe sport in California during the 1970s following the development of bicycles that could better handle the bumpy off-road terrain. The creation of the Repack Downhill race in 1976 helped establish mountain biking as a competitive sport and, seven years later, a national mountain bike championship was established. The sport’s first ever world championships were held in 1990, and six years later it was granted status as an Olympic discipline at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Bart Brentjens of the Netherlands became the first man to win gold in the cross country event after finishing first in the two-hour-plus race, while Italy’s Paola Pezzo was the first woman to win gold. The sport has since been contested at six Summer Olympics and five individuals have won multiple medals, including both Brentjens and Pezzo. Other multiple medal winners include Julien Absalon and Miguel Martinez of France, as well as Sabine Spitz of Germany.


Three Tips to Avoid Getting Lost on Hikes

Hiking pic

John Heintz of Chicago, Illinois, worked as an English teacher and debate coach at Niles West High School District 219 between 1990 and 1995. When he is not working, John Heintz enjoys hiking.

A fun hike can quickly turn disastrous if you get lost. Keep these three tips in mind to avoid getting lost:

1. Carry a map. Always travel with a map of the area where you are hiking. A physical map is ideal since the map app on your phone may not work out in the wilderness, where reception is spotty. In a pinch, see if the trailhead has a map of the area either as a brochure or as a sign. If it is a sign, take a picture of it so you can carry it with you.

2. Use nature as a guide. If you keep track of the signs nature provides, you will be less likely to get lost. For example, knowing the sun rises in the East and sets in the West provides you with a constant compass, provided you can see the sun. Similarly, the wind in the United States typically blows in from the West. Be wary of using moss to discern direction, as it often grows on both sides of trees in densely forested areas.

3. Limit side trips. Hiking is all about getting out and exploring nature, and sometimes your exploration leads you off the main path. Doing so can offer spectacular views of wildlife, nature, and vistas, but it also greatly increases your chances of getting lost. Pay very close attention to where you are in relation to the main trail. Periodically stop and turn around to examine your path from the opposite direction, as trails can look vastly different coming down them the other way.

Beginner Hand Signals for Cyclists

Hand Signals pic
Hand Signals

John Heintz is the former assistant superintendent of operations and chief legal officer with Niles Township High School District 219 in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois. Now a cofounder and senior legal consultant with Lydian, Inc., in Chicago, John Heintz spends his free time staying in shape through cycling.

The three primary signals for cyclists are the left turn signal, the right turn signal, and the deceleration or stop signal. To signal a left turn, riders must fully extend their left arm and point in the direction of the turn. A right turn, meanwhile, is indicated by raising the left arm and bending the elbow to make a 90-degree angle with the fingers pointing up. Cyclists can also signal a right turn by extending their right arm.

As riders prepare to slow their bike or come to a complete stop, they should signal this move to other cyclists and car drivers by extending their left arm and bending the elbow to form a 90-degree angle with their fingers pointing down. Individuals can further signal their intentions to fellow riders by pointing to the spot on the road where they plan to come to a full rest. Over time, riders should expand their knowledge of road signals by learning how to notify other riders of a road hazard, a hazard on the shoulder, loose gravel, or debris on the road and how to signal for another cyclist to move over.