Going the Distance
Attica man, 75, meets the 100 mile challengeon two wheels
August 13, 2008ATTICA — Ken Immink's not exactly coasting through his retirement; nor is he riding it out.
He's too busy riding a bicycle to coast through anything. An enjoyable hobby, at age 75 Ken likes to tool around the township park at the village offices on Peppermill Road. The smooth, one mile circuit is good exercise in a beautiful setting, he says.
Still, he wouldn't like to ride the circuit 100 times, he quips. Anyways, he's already been there, done that.
Ever modest, even Ken's a little proud that he recently completed a 100 mile challenge in the 'Clean Air Ride' in Florida, where he and his wife Alma spend the long Michigan winters.
|Attica Township resident Ken Immink keeps in shape during the Michigan summer by riding around the township park. He recently completed a 100 mile run in one day on a charity ride in Florida. photo by Catherine Minolli.|
Held on the Witichlacocche Trail, the ride is a fundraiser for the Key Training Center for Handicapped Youth.
With 46 smooth miles one way, the renovated old rail bed makes for a nice ride, Ken says, even if you're pedaling 100 miles.
"This year I signed up for 100 and made 100," he grins. "This old guy made 100 miles on the trail."
Ken began his challenge around 6:50 a.m. and by 4:30 p.m. had reached his goal of 100 miles.
It was particularly sweet, he adds, because last year he signed up in the 100 mile category but had to quit at the 85 mile mark.
"It just got to where my legs tired out, I wasn't quite strong enough," he says.
So Ken decided to do something about that in anticipation of this year's ride. As soon as they got down to Florida, Ken started riding a little extra to build up his endurance.
At Zephyr Hills, where the Imminks live in Florida, there's a group of about 14 bicyclists that ride every Wednesday, which made the workouts more enjoyable. In fact, 14 of the Zephyr Hills riders took part in the Clean Air Ride, with six of them making the 100 mile mark.
For their efforts, Ken and his friends received a gold colored medallion that says '100 Mile Century Challenge Finisher.'
"I can hang that around the office," Ken quips.
Maybe the medallion will hang around the office, but as long as the weather is nice Ken won't. You may catch a glimpse of him on his routine trek to Tim Horton's in Lapeer (10 miles from his Attica home) or the seven-and-a-half-mile run to the Imlay City Big Boy.
"Some people go to the fitness center to work out, I get fresh air along with my workout," Ken grins.
Others may also have spotted Ken riding a unicycle around the Attica Township park in recent years—a skill he keeps up with every now and then.
"It's hard to do any distance on the unicycle," he says. "I do a lot more riding on the bicycle."
The bicycle is a Trek brand—the same brand name ridden by famed cyclist Lance Armstrong, though Ken is quick to point out that the brand name is the only commonality.
"It's not nearly as lightweight or of the same quality as Lance Armstrong's bike," he notes.
It is, however, easy to port around. He and Alma always have their bicycles handy when traveling in their motorhome.
"It gives us a chance to tour the area on bicycle," he says of landing in a new destination.
Still, he prefers the Florida bicycle trails because they're so well maintained.
"They're nice and smooth and they're kept up real well," he says. "I don't know where they get the budget, but the trails are really nice."
He'd like to see the area's Polly Ann Trail receive the same type of support, though he understands it's a financial issue.
"The Polly Ann would be great if more of it were paved," Ken says.
As for the 100 mile run, Ken says he's glad that he was able to reach his goal. Organizers helped, too, with stations set up every 15 or 20 miles where participants could take a rest or take in some energy.
"They had them all set up with energy drinks, sweet stuff and sandwiches," he says. "You could take a break for a time and then move on."
Moving on is something Ken likes to do, especially if he can do it on two wheels.
"I just enjoy bicycling, it's good exercise," he says. "It's hard to believe this old guy made 100 miles on the trail."