By Andrea Camarena

At 8 a.m. on Sunday, April 4 Pete Masiel celebrated his 48th birthday by breaking the Guinness World Record for longest Stationary Bike Ride - 96 hours, four minutes and eight seconds.

The 1976 Lindsay High School graduate was told after major back surgery in 1996 that we would not be able to do physical activity again. The former Marine and seasoned Forest Service Firefighter ballooned to 265 pounds and by 1999 was ready to make a change for the better.

&#8220I was watching OLN and saw some guy who lost 20 pounds in a month by riding a bike,” Masiel said. &#8220I got a bike and did five miles in five hours on my birthday. I vomited three or four times from heat exhaustion.”

At 178 pounds, Masiel broke the cycling record eight years after taking that first painful ride. His back is still holding up and Masiel is ready to take on another record.

Masiel spent five days cycling at Zumwalts' Bicycle Center in San Diego with his significant other Wendy Gardiner who broke the record simultaneously with him.

The couple surpassed the previous record of 85 hours that had recently been set in January of 2007 as a fundraising vehicle for the San Diego Burn Institute.

&#8220I did crash and fire rescue in the Marine Corp and have been in firefighting since February of 1977,” Masiel said. &#8220We decided we would support the burn institute.”

As they cycled on stationary bikes on the sidewalk in front of Zumwalt's for five days, the couple accepted donations on behalf of both the San Diego Burn Institute and another burn center in Georgia, where Gardiner resides.

&#8220The awareness side of it was fabulous,” Masiel said.

As a seasoned distance cyclist, Masiel was ready to ride for longer.

&#8220As endurance cyclists, we sometimes train for more than 24 hours,” Masiel said. &#8220We knew we were going to go 96 hours but we weren't sure if we would meet the Guinness guidelines.”

Accumulating five minutes of rest for every hour, Masiel and Gardiner each slept a total of four hours and two minutes.

&#8220You have to stop sometime and we did at 96 hours, four minutes and eight seconds. Not because we were tired. We've now set the pace for someone to go for 100 hours and we can come back and break the 100 hours record,” Masiel said.

Throughout the five-day event, the couple was featured on multiple radio stations including one in Montreal.

&#8220People were calling us heroes but I was trying to get out to them that those burn victims are the true heroes and we're just the vehicle to get the awareness out,” Masiel said.

As part of the couple's fundraising effort, Zumwalts' is raffling a custom built Bike and expect to bring in $2,000 on the $6,000 rode bike.

The couple officially finished at 8 a.m. in the early morning sun.

&#8220Sunrise really brings out the endorphins in someone,” Masiel said, &#8220Everyone else has done this in a controlled environment. We did it outside.”

Masiel is now considering furthering the fundraiser by chasing another world record - Most virtual miles on a stationary bike in 24 hours. The record is currently 856 miles.

Masiel currently can do 600 miles in 24 hours and hasn't accepted the challenge yet. He is busy training for his first Race Across America.

&#8220I did an RAA qualifier, a 500-mile race in Birmingham Alabama,” Masiel said. &#8220The Race Across America starts on June 10 for solo riders and it's over 3,157 miles. You have to understand that I was told I could never do anything physical again. Doing 10 miles in one day was a major accomplishment. After my first three months of cycling, I did my first race and I fell in love with racing.”

In 2002, Masiel was a state champion in the clysdale (for riders 200 pounds or heavier). By 2004, Masiel was ranked No. 2 nationally in Marathon Cross Country cycling and decided to move up to Semi-Professional status.

His list of accomplishments is long and growing each year as the cyclist refuses to slow down again.

&#8220I was just down in Lindsay not too long ago. I rode the Elephant's Back over by Tonyville. I remember those hills and they seemed large. Now they're nothing,” Masiel said.

Masiel, now a captain at CalFire's Monte Vista Emergency Communication Center, continues to visit his siblings and their families in Lindsay.

For more information on how to donate to the San Diego Burn Institute or to track Masiel and Gardiner's training, visit them online at www.peteandwendycycling.com.

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