Many members of the Battelle Health and Analytics team have interesting hobbies, but Paul Pirkle’s is over the top—quite literally. Paul recently completed his 9th trip over the Rocky Mountains in the 2015 Ride the Rockies bicycle tour.
Here at Battelle, Paul heads up the Occupational and Environmental Health Solutions team. His team helps government and commercial organizations integrate workplace and environmental health risk management into operational decision making. Their focus is creating, testing and verifying improved policies, procedures, facilities and training.
Outside of work, cycling is his passion. He’s been an avid cyclist for his entire adult life, competing in a variety of races and tours. “I just love the feel of cycling,” he says. “I enjoy the breeze and momentum from spinning the pedals to drive the wheels.”
The 2015 Ride the Rockies tour was a 7-day, 474-mile Colorado mountain ride from Grand Junction to Westcliffe. The grueling route had an approximate elevation gain of 33,000 feet and passed through landmarks such as the Grand Mesa, Gunnison National Park, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Hardscrabble Pass. With the longest days typically topping 100 miles and climbing 7,500 feet, the trip—which has a different route every year—is not for beginners. But Paul reports that the magnificent scenery and sense of achievement are well worth it.
A 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, Paul completed his first Ride the Rockies Tour in 1998 while stationed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He completed six more rides with the Air Force team between 1999 and 2009, when he completed his service and joined Battelle. In 2014 and 2015, he rejoined the Air Force cycling team. “The ride is a catharsis for me,” he says. “Spending a week on a bike is a way for me to reconnect with nature and with God. This won’t be my last.”