Berkely Heights Educator Cycles from California to New Jersey

Berkely Heights Educator Cycles from California to New Jersey

By Evan Wechman

 

Mickey Cassu of Berkeley Heights has always had a passion for staying active.  He can remember playing baseball as a child and feeling disappointed there wasn’t more action.   Since that time, Cassu has been jogging, cycling, or swimming instead.

This past summer, he increased his training and cycled along with two friends from California to New Jersey.  There were plenty of obstacles along the way, but Cassu was motivated to fight through any challenges.  It took him and his two friends David Wall and Brendan Quinn six weeks to achieve this milestone.

The motivation for Cassu was clear.  “A lot of people talk about bucket lists.  I don’t know if it necessarily was a bucket list item.  I’ve always wanted to see the country and I’ve always been a cyclist. I figured couple the two together and get a really good feel for the country was my goal,” Cassu says.

Another reason for the journey was to raise funds to fight against Mesothelioma.  Cassu recently lost his father whom he was very close with to the disease, and a fellow rider saw his wife die from it as well.

The pleasant memories of his father were a key motivating factor for Cassu during the difficult times of his journey.  Though he had increased his training substantially in the last few months before the trip, the desire to raise money for this very personal cause kept him going.

“Mind over matter was a big thing for me,” Cassu says. “You know it’s easy to want to throw the towel in on certain things, but I never did.  That was a big takeaway for me.”

Also, Cassu, who recently retired as a teacher after serving both the districts of Westfield and Parsippany, wanted to educate himself on the differences between his friends and family in New Jersey and residents in middle America.

He found certain people were different from the sound bites he heard on various news stations in the area. “I was lucky enough to meet quite a few people across the country and the common theme was no matter what people’s outside appearances were, deep down they were really nice people,” he says.

He also fondly recalls going through some difficult terrain in Kansas and persisting through the roads while new friends cheered him on.  Though he realizes some people from th

“I find the vastness and beauty of our country absolutely amazing.”

Now, Cassu is back to getting up at 5am daily to cycle and jog. He finds such exercise keeps him sharp and burns off energy in a positive way. He is also training and coaching student-athletes both physically and mentally to perform at their best.

Though he is just a few years past the 50-year-old mark, he shows no signs of slowing down.  His passion towards exercise and coaching kids is phenomenal. Cassu founded and operates his own business in the area, Start-Tri which is aimed toward training the next generation of triathletes.

However, he has not ruled out another similar adventure to the one he just completed.

He has always had a yearning for hiking the Appalachian trail and just absorbing the beauty of it all. Whether that happens is up in the air.

However, after completing a trip that most people will never embark on, Cassu offers some genuine advice.

“One of my biggest takeaways is to just put the phone down, take it all in and absorb it.”

 

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