"He'll never say it, but after he taught down there, they started making planes that were a lot safer," James Datsko said.

Joe Datsko's transition to cycling in Maryland, where he moved last year to live closer to his daughters, has not been easy. Last fall, Datsko was diagnosed with "foot drop," a condition caused by a damaged nerve in his hip.

As a result, he didn't ride at all between September and April and now uses a brace that helps him walk and ride.

"I used to love going up hills, but now with my foot problem, I can't ride standing up," he said.

Though Datsko's mother lived until she was 96, he credits cycling with keeping him alive.

"There's no doubt, my cardiovascular workouts contributed to my leading a more active, longer life," he said. "I weighed about 210 pounds when I started to ride, and I'm down to about 180."

Once riding over 100 miles per week, Datsko is down to around 60, most of them at nearby Patapsco Valley State Park.

"There's not very many people who I meet riding around here who know me," he said. "They know nothing about me, and I know nothing about them. I prefer riding on the roads than on the bike paths because I grew up that way."

But then again, Datsko has never been one to ride because of its social value.

"The thing that keeps one riding once you get over this threshold, you get the pleasure out of the riding," he said. "There's just something about working out and getting your heart rate going to about three-quarters of maximum for a long period of time. I've slowed down, but I haven't quit."

James Datsko has inherited his father's passion for cycling. And as much as the younger Datsko loves to bike, what his father still does amazes him.

"I know I won't be doing it when I'm his age, but I'll try," he said.

don.markus@baltsun.com