Mountain-biker Corey Heitz has undertaken lots of outdoor pursuits, including rowing, running and backpacking. But for the go-to these days, it’s the bicycle out on the trails.
- NAME: Corey Heitz
- NEW(ISH) OUTDOOR PURSUIT:
- Mountain biking
- GOAL: Enjoyment
- SIDE BENEFIT: The full focus required to stay on a mountain bike on a trail
- LOCAL FAVORITE SPOTS: The trails of Carvins Cove and Mill Mountain
There are rookies, and then there are rookies.
Corey Heitz, 39 and an ER physician with Carilion, rowed crew during his college days at UNC-Wilmington, and also did some bicycling in Charlottesville back around the turn of the century. But it’s only over the past year and a half or so that he has focused his outdoor and exercise passion on mountain biking.
“I’d had an old Mongoose that I rode on the [Roanoke River] greenway, to commute to work,” he says. “And so when I upgraded, I decided I needed a road bike.”
It didn’t take long, however, before he found himself heading up Mill Mountain or up to Roanoke Mountain.
“So I got a mountain bike, and it’s been all downhill—quote/unquote—from there.”
The morning we talked—a cold February day—Heitz was headed to Carvins Cove to hit the Trough and Gauntlet trails.
His passion for his pursuit has a bit of tempered maturity to it; Heitz is not interested in competition particularly (“Once I sign up I start to feel pressure to train”), but instead likes the riding for the sake of riding.
“One thing about mountain biking is that you can’t take your mind off it,” he says. “Road biking your mind can wander off, but you’ve got to stay focused on the mountain bike.”
The father of two, Heitz says he gets in about three rides a week, ranging from 10 to 30 miles, with the primary goal being enjoyment.
“The thing about rowing in college was that you got up early, you were out on the water to see the sunrise, and you were getting physical activity, but sort of not for its own sake,” he says. “It was exercise, it was fun, but not really being done for the sake of exercise.
“And that’s the focus I have with riding— the enjoyment.”
Heitz also does some running—he took third in his age group in last year’s Blue Ridge Marathon 10K—and hiking, including the Appalachian Trail and other local trails, as well as a recent three-day backpacking trip in Peru.
But it is the mountain bike that pulls him outside most often, and in that context of “just getting out and enjoying myself.”