HEALTH SENTINEL: Whether riding to work or for fun and fitness, bicycling has its benefits

Bicycling enthusiast Jade Kelsey, 39, of Fort Wayne, lives close to the Rivergreenway and rides her bike to work at Lincoln Financial Group as often as possible. Kelsey is also an active member of Bicycle Friendly Fort Wayne, which promotes the local annual Bike to Work Day, which is May 18. (Photo by Jennifer L. Boen)
Bob and Kathy Bruce of Fort Wayne enjoyed walking long distances together until Bob’s knees began to bother him. The couple replaced long walks with bicycling in their neighborhood and on the Fort Wayne Trails system. While Kathy says the activity is great fun, she adds, “Exercise is a great by-product, unless it ends at an ice cream shop.” This photo was taken at the conclusion of their 19-mile ride in the 2017 Fort4Fitness bicycle race. (Courtesy photo)

Jade Kelsey remembers riding bikes as a child with her family through Foster Park, near where she grew up. When she was in middle school, her family moved out of the city. Though living in a more rural area might seem like the ideal place to ride bikes, the area offered few safe places for kids to ride.

“I kind of forgot about bikes then. It wasn’t a part of my everyday life,” Kelsey, 39, said. But that has changed.

Now living in the city again, she enjoys the scenic beauty of riding on the Rivergreenway and some of the 107.5 miles of the Fort Wayne Trails system. Weather permitting, she rides her bike Monday through Friday to her job at Lincoln Financial Group, where she is a business analyst.

It’s not only the view from a bike she enjoys. Timewise, because of downtown traffic, “My commute on the bike is almost the same as if I would drive,” she said of the distance between her near-northside home and Lincoln, which promotes a bike-friendly culture.

May 18 is Fort Wayne’s annual Bike to Work Day. Barring a torrential downpour or 50-mile-an-hour winds, Kelsey will be one of an anticipated 50 to 60 cyclists who will ride to Lincoln offices downtown and enjoy a free breakfast organized by LFG’s Green Committee.

The volunteer employee committee looks for ways to encourage environmental sustainability, which is a major push for LFG here and across the nation, said Nancy Jordan, who heads up the local company’s Key Cities Committee, the umbrella group for subcommittees such as the green and the wellness committees.

“Lincoln is very attuned to and cares a lot about the health and wellness of employees,” said Jordan, senior vice president, individual annuity operations.

Biking to work fits into both the wellness and green programs within LFG, she said. When appropriate, jeans can be worn daily, but even if an employee has a meeting requiring more dressy attire, employees who bike to work can shower and change clothes in the fitness center adjacent to the secure facilities building, where cyclists park their bikes.

CYCLING OFFERS TOGETHER TIME WITH A SIDE OF FITNESS

Finding an activity to do as a couple with side benefits of health is what spurred Fort Wayne couple Bob and Kathy Bruce to take up bicycling a few years ago. For some time, they had enjoyed long walks in the evenings and on weekends as a way of being together, burning some calories and reducing stress.

Bob, 65, is pastor of caring ministries at Emmanuel Community Church on U.S. 24 on the city’s far southwest side; Kathy, 60, is assistant vice president of agency marketing for Fort Wayne-based Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.

“A few years back, we found that Bob’s knees were not appreciative of the amount of walking that I wanted us to do each week, so I asked Bob to find an activity that we could do together that would burn some calories and give us something fun to share,” Kathy recalled. Bob bought a new bike and found one for Kathy at a yard sale, “and away we went,” Kathy said.

At the outset, Kathy wasn’t 100 percent convinced, as Bob was, that a helmet was always necessary but noted, “After watching a bike accident ahead of us, I was convinced, and I wear my helmet routinely now.”

These days, the Bruces ride after work and on weekends as schedules and weather permits, typically riding 10 to 15 miles each time.

“We mostly ride the trails in and around Fort Wayne,” Bob said. “One of our favorite things to do is the Fort4Fitness Spring Cycle,” which is May 19. In addition to the hybrid bikes they normally ride, for fun the couple rides a tandem bike. It allows Kathy to “be a backseat driver,” Bob teased.

Kathy said a favorite trail to ride is in New Haven, but added, “We find ourselves biking from Aboite to Foster Park a lot, but that is because the trail leads to grandkids.” Outside of Fort Wayne, their favorite trail is the Pumpkinvine near Shipshewana.

Like the Bruces, Kelsey said bicycling offers a view of Fort Wayne and surrounding areas that you would never see in a car. Yes, you can walk the trails, Kelsey said, “but there’s nothing like that breeze in your face.”

START CYCLING

Grab your helmet and hop on your bike:

• For a list of Bike to Work and other bicycling events throughout May that are part of Fort Wayne’s month-long Kickstart Festival, visit www.kickstartfortwayne.com.

• For maps and other information on Fort Wayne Trails, including a list of bicycle-friendly, trail-friendly businesses open to the public, visit fwtrails.org.

COMMENTS