CEDAR RAPIDS — George Ross had a heart attack two years ago, lost his wife, Jean, last fall, struggles to walk, yet pedals 10 miles a day, every day racking up more than 940 miles so far this year.
Oh, and he is 95 years old.
“I feel energized. It helps with my health. It helps with my breathing. I sleep eight hours a night,” said Ross, who has spent most of his life in Cedar Rapids, was director of research at the Cedar Rapids Community School District, and was a longtime substitute teacher.
“I am very pleased and I give biking a lot of credit.”
Ross rides a Miami Sun e-trike, which he got through Northtowne Cycling and Fitness, 1150 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE. The bike shop connected Ross with a previous owner who had fallen into bad health, and delivered the trike to his home.
Ross no longer drives, so he stores the trike in the old vehicle spot in his garage. He is proud of his independence and accomplishments with the activity, especially at his age, he said. Another Cedar Rapids resident, Clarence Boesenberg, has also gained attention for cycling well into his 90s.
His goal is to top 1,000 miles for the year, which he equates to the distance a grown child in Charlotte, N.C., and another in Austin, Texas.
“Maybe I can just ride to see them,” he said.
Ross’ trike has front and rear lights, a mirror, and an orange reflective flag and a basket in the back, which Ross uses at times to pick up items at the store, such as a furnace filters or prescriptions. The electric boost gives an assist going up hills, he said.
“I wasn’t very steady on my feet. I had a walker. So I thought, maybe it would be easier to have a trike to help with balance,” he said.
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He rides 10 miles every single day from home near 42nd Street NE, down the Cedar Valley Nature Trail to Cedar Lake, takes two loops around the lake and returns. He often stops at the park at Cedar Lake to rehydrate and greets most everyone he passes with a wave and a “hello,” such as kids running boys’ and girls cross-country practice, joggers, and other cyclists on a recent afternoon.
Staff at Clark’s Pharmacy, 1946 42nd St. NE, where Ross also is a customer, have come to recognize him.
“He is very self-sufficient,” said Craig Clark, owner of the pharmacy. “Some times we get a little upset with him when he comes in the rain; we have a delivery services to bring things to him. But, we always admire him doing that at that age.”
When it is warm, Ross rides in the morning. On a cooler day last week, he shoved off in the afternoon wearing a bike helmet, tan slacks, a button-down shirt, a red sweater vest, and a big smile.
“I feel stronger every day,” he said. “I am not tired and I don’t feel stressed at all.”
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