Joe Tavani, automotive instructor, rides through the Swiss Alps with the peak of the Matterhorn rising above the clouds in the background. Photo courtesy of Nick Muzik/Swiss Epic

Epic Adventure

by Jennifer A. Cline, writer/magazine editor. Photo courtesy of Nick Muzik/Swiss Epic

Published Monday, July 29, 2019

When Joe Tavani travels, he likes to go off the beaten path.

He did just that when he spent five days traveling over 200 miles through the Swiss Alps – on a mountain bike.

“I got to see the Matterhorn in a very unique way,” he says. “I got to ride up a glacier instead of going in a gondola like all the tourists do.”

Tavani and a Susquehanna Valley Velo Club teammate took part in the Swiss Epic, a bike race that had them climbing 6,000-9,000 feet each day as they rode through quaint mountain villages and lush forests.


Tavani likes adventure. But he is far more excited about the adventures to be had by his automotive technology students at Penn College and by the teens he teaches to mountain bike.

With civil engineering technology alumnus Jeremy Rusczyk, ‘09, Tavani coaches the 4-year-old Lycoming County Composite Mountain Biking team for sixth- to 12th-grade students from across the county. Rusczyk and Tavani teach students the mechanics of mountain biking: the “ready” position, how to traverse skinny trails, how to cross over a log.

And while the team competes in meets across the state as part of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League, races are an optional part of the program.

“Only one person gets to win, so you can’t base it on that,” he says. Rather, it’s about having fun, learning bike skills and being outdoors.


Recently asked in a coaches’ seminar why he leads a team, the automotive instructor, whose career focuses on how things work, naturally answered “How.”

“I like to teach others how to do what I love to do,” he says.

That goes for his Penn College classroom, too, where, in the Honda Professional Automotive Career Training program, he helps students to master the skills they’ll need to pursue a career that he has loved.

And he hopes that by following his own passions – in the classroom and beyond – his students may find the confidence to follow theirs.

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