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WesleyLife resident, 91, looks forward to "a ride down memory lane" on RAGBRAI

posted on Monday, July 23, 2018

Gordon and Monica

RAGBRAI team members Gordon Bivens and Monica Vail train for Wednesday's ride.

Gordon Bivens always wanted to be part of the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI).

This year, he's making his wish a reality.

Gordon is 91.

"When this year's route was announced, I knew that if it were possible for me to do it, I would," Gordon, a resident at The Village in Indianola, said. "The route was a sign to me that maybe it was time to stop putting it off and just sign up."

RAGBRAI organizers change the route every year, and this year's has special meaning for Gordon; the event's thousands of cyclists will ride past the farm that was Gordon's family home in the 1930s, and past the school he attended from first through 10th grade.

"This will literally be a ride down memory lane for me," he said.

When Gordon made up his mind that he wanted to be part of the event, he sought counsel from two Village team members, wellness director Monica Vail and wellness coordinator Lindsey Loftsgard. 

"I wanted to know if they thought I was crazy -- if it was just too much to take on," he said with a chuckle.

Not only did Monica and Lindsey not think the idea was crazy; they vowed to help Gordon make it happen by organizing a team of cyclists to ride with him. They put the word out and ended up with a 10-member team, the largest RAGBRAI squad in the WesleyLife family. Team members have been training together for months and feel ready to take to the open road.

They'll ride Wednesday's route, from Ames to Newton -- 59.1 miles. Team members can choose to ride the whole thing, or ride a while, then rest in the "sag wagon." Gordon plans to ride at least the first leg, from Ames to Nevada. 

"That leg of the trip will take us down Old Lincoln Way, where all the memories are," Gordon said with a smile. 

Monica said she and Lindsey were thrilled when Gordon approached them with his idea. 

"As WesleyLife team members, we're encouraged to practice key behaviors, and the one that resonates most with me is that we have such a wonderful opportunity to create possibilities," Monica said. "We thought, what better way to create a possibility for Gordon? We'll make it possible for him to go, and to take his Village 'family' with him."

No one on the Village team has ridden RAGBRAI before, so they're looking forward to enjoying the experience together, Monica said. They're especially eager to share the ride with Gordon. 

"Taking a photo of Gordon in front of his childhood farm -- that will be the highlight for me," she said.

Gordon said he's grateful his Village friends helped make his "bucket list" wish a reality.

"I'm thankful for my health, and thankful for people who understand that age doesn't always have to be a deterrent," Gordon said. "I think those of us who are lucky enough to live to my age should cherish and honor the good of the past, but live in the present and anticipate the future. And I'm hopeful indeed for a memorable time on Wednesday!"

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