When Peggy Prowe was 71 years old, she found that she and her friends were sitting, drinking coffee, sitting, lunching and doing more sitting.
Now, on Monday mornings, the Northfield Pedalers, senior recreational bicyclists, venture into the wilds of Northfield on park paths and on the trail to Dundas. Another group loads its bikes up on car racks and drives to nearby trails in Faribault, Cannon Falls, Pine Island and Twin Cities regional parks. The in-town crew rides about 10 miles, then stops to watch herons on the holding ponds, look for jack-in-the-pulpits and share snacks. Starting at 8:30 a.m., they are through with their leisurely ride by 10:30 a.m. or so. The out-of-town gang rides 20 to 25 miles on bike trails, has lunch at a local café or picnic area, and is home by early afternoon.
The Northfield Pedalers began in 2008. Women and men came out of their garages, pumped their tires, and were off and riding. They’ve registered their bikes with the Police Department and they have regular clinics with a local bike shop owner on basic maintenance and repair. By 2009, they decided to stay together for the winter, meeting for coffee and hiking. Starting with 14 participants, they now average 28 riders each season. Riders range in age from 48 to 82. Many friendships have been formed in this group of active seniors.
Irene Montenegro, a newcomer to Northfield, joined the Northfield Pedalers last summer, not having biked since she was 12 years old. “I was concerned about my cycling skills, but on my first ride with the in-town group, I gained confidence,” she said. “Then I became ambitious and decided to join the out-of-town riders and that was another boost in my confidence. Since I joined the Pedalers, my life changed so much. Cycling is such a healthy activity and I have found the happiest, most relaxed and friendliest people I could have ever imagined. I am grateful to Peggy and Mary. Their constant encouragement, high spirits and youthful minds are an example for everybody.”
Every year, the Pedalers spend three days in May biking the Root River Trail in southeastern Minnesota. In July, both groups ride to the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra concert on Nicollet Island in Minneapolis. Throughout the year, members host coffee hours or snack breaks in their homes. They have an annual Christmas party where the riders meet one another’s significant others.
The Pedalers have become strong advocates for trails and they promote safe pedestrian access in Northfield. Several members have lobbied at the Parks and Trails Council “Day on the Hill” each legislative session.
Resources: The Northfield Pedalers are sponsored by the Northfield Senior Center. For more information call Peggy Prowe, 507-301-2987, or Mary Auge, 507-663-0790.