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Instructor pilot reaches great heights as triathlon coach, cycling icon

Maj. Brian Grasky, an F-16 Fighting Falcon instructor pilot, highlights his role as an Arizona Air National Guardsman as well as his off-duty role as a triathlon coach on the 162nd Fighter Wing flightline at Tucson International Airport. Grasky is among several avid cyclists featured in a new book, Tucson Spokes, about the city’s cycling scene. (Courtesy photo by Chris Mooney)

Maj. Brian Grasky, an F-16 Fighting Falcon instructor pilot, highlights his role as an Arizona Air National Guardsman as well as his off-duty role as a triathlon coach on the 162nd Fighter Wing flightline at Tucson International Airport. Grasky is among several avid cyclists featured in a new book, Tucson Spokes, about the city’s cycling scene. (Courtesy photo by Chris Mooney)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Whether donning a flight suit or workout gear, speed is what sets Maj. Brian Grasky apart from the rest of the competition.

As an F-16 instructor pilot with the 162nd Fighter Wing here, Grasky can easily pull nine Gs in a jet. On the ground, he's more apt to be seen flying down the pavement on a road bike, training the next world-class or collegiate-level athlete.

Grasky is not just an avid cyclist. Although a severely broken leg followed by numerous complications ended his professional triathlon and mountain bike racing careers in 2007, he is still very active in coaching and is widely known among Tucson's cycling population.

As a member of the Arizona Air National Guard, Grasky has the luxury of working for the Air Force without the unpredictability of relocating to a new base every few years. He is - literally - a Citizen Airman who lives, works and is active in his community.

Grasky is set to be highlighted in an upcoming photo collection book that "captures the essence of Tucson cycling and introduces the novice to some of the most notorious riders in the area," said co-author and professional photographer, Chris Mooney.

"The military is a huge part of Tucson," said Mooney. "Brian is a representation of the ties that bind so many aspects of our community together. It would have been a disservice to our project to not include him in the book," he said.

As an Air Guardsman, Grasky competed as a member of the Air Force's Ironman and triathlon teams, and is the only person to have simultaneously held a position on both teams. He has competed in six Ironman competitions - a race for elite athletes that consists of a 2.4-mile open-water swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

"My racing days are over, but the injury was a catalyst that allowed Grasky Endurance Coaching to be born," Grasky said.

"I'm now a USAT [U. S. A. Triathlon] Level II and power certified coach and a certified RETUL bicycle fit specialist, and I coach athletes privately through written training plans and one-on-one work with technique and form."

"My athletes have gone on to world, national and state championships in duathlon, triathlon, Ironman, XTERRA and mountain biking. I'm also the head coach of the University of Arizona TriCats, dedicated to furthering the sport at the collegiate level, and the coach of the Trisports Triathlon Club here in town, and I train other coaches," he said.

Grasky also opened and operates The Tucson Endurance Performance Center, specializing in hands-on cycling and triathlon training and performance.

The book that will feature Grasky, entitled Tucson Spokes, is a photo collection that highlights local cyclists, legends and numerous other facets of the Tucson cycling scene.

"Brian is a leader both on and off the bike," said Mooney. "I have so much respect for military members, and I'm a cycling enthusiast myself. I couldn't have asked for a better role model and representative of our community to include in the book," he said.

For more information on the book project, visit www.tucsonspokes.com.