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MossColumn: Mike rocks Jump Off

Mike Miculinic Jr. summits Jump Off Rock for the 705th time on Oct. 14.

In the morning the man makes a power breakfast. He mixes five kinds of cereal, adds banana, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, peaches in season. The next course is oatmeal. For dessert a pancake.

The man is named Milan “Mike” Miculinic Jr. The power breakfast is fuel for the ride. The ride is to Jump Off Rock. And Mike keeps a record. Recently he pedaled off from his home in Hyman Heights to the Laurel Park peak for the 700th time. When a friend told me about the achievement, I called Mike up and invited myself to join him on a ride. By then it was Jump Off ride No. 705 for Mike, maybe Jump Off ride No. 25 or so for me since 2013.
Mike retired to Hendersonville in 2000 after selling his sporting goods store, Cycle & Surf, in Ocean City, Maryland.
When did he first summit Jump Off?
“In 2002, with a girl named Beatrice who was a massage therapist in Hendersonville,” he said. “She introduced me to it and I liked it and I kept on going.”
JumpOffMike2Mike leads our ride, taking a circuitous route. He avoids the main highway by using the many loop roads that tourists never see.
“I’ve gotten a little chicken (of Laurel Park Highway) because of the narrow shoulder and it drops off a little bit and some of those guys act like they’re at the Indianapolis speedway,” he says of the motorists. “It can be scary. And when you’re old, everything is scary.”
Mike is turning 80 on his next birthday, by the way, but you’d never know it to see him pedaling away. He’s buff now and always has been. He’s traveled the world, taught scuba and exercise and bicycled in Latin America.
“When I was in the Marines, that awakened my thirst for travel, and seeing all the neat things in the world — that’s what got me started,” he says. “I knew that I could go to those places, after reading National Geographic and seeing that it wasn’t all wilderness and headhunters and things to be concerned about.”
In his 30s, he bicycled across Mexico with four other riders. “And then I rode through what was British Honduras then, but today it’s Belize, and then across Guatemala, so mountains there, and also across Costa Rica,” he says.

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Divorced for more than 20 years, Mike has a daughter, Maia, and grandson, age 20, back at Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“I had a personal fitness training business at Champion Hills when I first came here,” he tells me. “I met someone who lived in Champion Hills. She hired me and next thing I know I had 15 clients. This one guy — he and his wife both became exercise clients — was an intimate of our man Donald Trump.” The client, who was from Chicago and had retired young, later started a miniature donkey farm in Big Willow. “Nothing else to do I guess.”
On our ride, Mike talks about the architecture of old homes, the Laurel Park history that he’s picked up, a story he enjoyed in Frank Fitzsimons’ “From the Banks of the Oklawaha.” He points out a lot that used more than two dozen boulders to stabilize a steep ridge, a white squirrel we encounter, the new houses popping up on the remaining buildable lots, homes with million-dollar views. He’s ridden the route so many times he’s able to warn me of potholes, hairpin curves, abrupt climbs, steep descents, sudden stop signs and where motorists are most likely to cheat on the corners.
He mostly rides solo.
“I prefer it,” he says. “My experience with groups is they will get you in trouble. You have varying degrees of experience with the riders. I prefer the silence. I prefer, what’s going on in my mind, and communing with nature.”
He comes back to scenery and serendipity when I ask him what he likes about a ride he’s made 700 times.
“The natural beauty is probably No. 1,” he says. “It’s a great workout. I don’t care if you’re an elite cyclist or a novice — anytime of the year, you’re gonna find something beautiful. One day I’m coming up — no other people on the road, no cars, no other cyclists, just that little tick, tick, tick, tick — and I hear ‘gobble gobble gobble gobble’ and here they come, down off the bank. A whole flock of them. So they get out in the road, and they’re in front of me, behind me, on both sides of me. I’m right in the center of this flock of turkeys — that was fun — and they won’t get out of the way!”

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I’m curious how he happened to know how many times he’s ascended the mountain. I show him my iPhone app, Strava, that records mileage, moving time, average speed and climbing feet of a bike ride. He doesn’t use an app. When I ask him whether he records his mileage at all, he pantomimes writing longhand.
“I have six logbooks,” he says. “I’m a technology dwarf. I like pencil and paper.”
In fact, he doesn’t own a cell phone. When his daughter bought him one, he became annoyed that most of his calls were spam sales pitches. He quit using it. He has a land line.
Mike also has a business card.
Milan Miculinic Jr., it says. Underneath is his title: “Earthling.”
If you’re driving up to Jump Off, watch for Mike. He’d be on ride No. 710 or so by now. Be like Mike. Take it easy. Unplug. Enjoy the view. Share the road.

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Contact Lightning editor Bill Moss at or 828-674-0942.