By Starrla Cray
DASSEL, MN It’s never too late to start something new, and Ken Bolster, 68, of Dassel is proof of this.
He started riding bike last summer after retiring from Hutchinson Technology Inc., and has already logged 3,000 miles going as far as 80 miles in one day.
“I have been fairly active all my life, but never started biking [other than riding as a kid] until last year,” said Ken, who completed the 18-mile Red Rooster Days ride Sept. 3.
Ken’s wife, Colette, was the one who initially proposed the idea of biking as a hobby.
“I bike, too, but not like he does,” Colette said, noting that she sticks to shorter rides.
Colette, who owns KCB Equine Center, said while her first choice of transportation is a horse, biking has many benefits.
“It’s just nice to have something to do together,” she said, explaining that biking is a neat way to get around on vacation, and it allows a person to see things they’d miss in a car.
Never too old . . . or too young
Biking is also an activity Colette and Ken can do with their grandchildren.
One of their favorite paths is the one at Spring Lake Park in Dassel, because it’s away from traffic and short enough for children with differing abilities to enjoy.
“We wanted to be sure that all three of the local grandkids [Brooke, Lilly, and Cash] had the opportunity to do bike rides with us and hopefully develop a love for the activity,” Colette noted.
While most grandparents hope to keep up with their grandchildren, the opposite is true in Ken’s family.
“[Ken] has inspired our 6-year-old grandson to start ‘really riding,’ and has been able to do multiple 25-plus mile rides with him,” Colette noted.
Six-year-old Cash Hawkinson, son of Heather and Sam Hawkinson of Dassel, uses a 7-speed Raleigh bike so his speed can match his grandfather’s.
“He’s a real trooper and wants to do a 30-mile trip soon,” Ken noted.
Ken also has a Raleigh road bike, which he purchased from Bikes By Bob in Litchfield.
At first, store owner Bob Tanner tried to dissuade Ken from the bike he selected, because most people his age usually opt for an upright style, but Ken has been pleased with his purchase.
As for the seat, Ken said he’s tried several to find one that’s most comfortable. He also uses bike shorts with gel padding to provide extra cushion.
His first rides were 7 or 8 miles long, and now, his goal is to make it to 100 miles in one day.
“I usually just go to Litchfield, Cokato, or Hutchinson,” he said.
On long rides, Ken takes a few breaks and usually stops for lunch at one of the towns he passes through.
An 80-mile trip means about 5 hours of pedaling, and Ken credits Colette, as well as Bob Tanner, for supporting him in these efforts. Colette provides healthy meals and fills in on the farm when Ken is on the road, while Tanner has supplied bikes, parts, and advice along the journey.
“I couldn’t do it without them,” Ken said.
Despite his accomplishments, Ken insists that he’s not doing anything “remarkable.”
“There are plenty other people riding more miles than me,” he noted. “I’m just an old guy who likes to ride a bike.”
For Ken, bicycling is a way to unwind, relieve stress, and enjoy nature.
“It’s very good exercise,” he said. “It helps keep you in shape, and keep your mind sharp.”