“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience” —Paulo Coelho
A bright red sports wagon pulled up and outstepped an imposing figure of impressive proportions. With a wry smile, he extended his hand. A fellow longtime mate of the Zwift DIRT cycling team as a member of the strong Eat DIRT crew.
Tiago Barreira is a tenured professor and scientist at Syracuse University. He lives in the city with his wife and two young daughters. She puts her engineering doctorate to work in support of scientists and supercomputers and is a former Division 1 soccer athlete and active IRONMAN triathlete.
Also a native of Brazil, Tiago enrolled at UNC-Wilmington when the lack of collegiate athletic competition in his home country left no other options to explore his talent. He held the school’s 200-meter freestyle record for over a decade.
Tiago added running and riding to his repertoire while studying for his Ph.D. in Tennessee and during post-doc training in Louisiana. He’s enjoyed a successful triathlon career but now does most of his training and racing while riding his bike virtually, online on Zwift. That’s how we first met.
His Zwift avatar and penchant for the art of understatement are familiar from our epic battles on the course and “Mornings with Miller” Discord training conversations. There was always something I admired and respected about Tiago. Now I know why.
It occurred to me as I rode, shielded by his broad shoulders and reaping the benefits of his powerful frame and piston-like pedal stroke, but not until we stopped to chat. After meeting several world-class athletes, I’ve always left with the same feeling. They all have it, but it’s not definable, and I’m not sure they know.
It’s in how they carry themselves and answer questions regarding their athletic abilities. I think it’s quiet confidence or humble certainty that where their bodies are concerned, there is no urgency or insecurity. Tiago has that, and now I know why.
The miles flew by, and today was about much more than the ride. It was about cultural exchange, local history, and learning what I knew I admired and respected about my new forever friend. This will be another day along the journey I’ll never forget!
About the DIRT Dad Fundo Pledge for Day Fifty-Three—Tiago Barreira
Here is what Tiago had to say—”Great ride with Christopher Schwenker on his way across the country. Just a few more miles to go.”
Amount Raised to Date—$9,679
Thank you for sharing the experience, Tiago!
Now off to Richfield Springs, NY!
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit, and through its work and the pages of this site, Chris is committed to helping others with his bike. His gain cave is located on the North Fork of Long Island where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two college student children.