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90 for 90

By Vance Carlson, Park Rapids (MN) Enterprise

Fred Nordstrom developed a love of biking at an early age. 

Eight decades later, Nordstrom is still an avid bicyclist. 

“I started biking in the 1930s. We lived on a farm in Iowa and I would bike to school every day,” said Nordstrom. “I still bike twice a week with the Hubbard Bicycle Club (in Park Rapids, Minnesota). I’ve been very fortunate I’ve had good health to do this.” 

To demonstrate his good health, Nordstrom completed a 90-mile bike ride to commemorate his 90th birthday. Nordstrom broke the ride into six 15-mile trips, completing the final leg on August 24 on the Heartland Trail. 

The challenge to bike his age began 15 years ago when Nordstrom’s friend Bill Skelton challenged him to bike 75 miles in one day to commemorate his 75th birthday. Skelton golfed 75 holes on his 75th birthday, so Nordstrom accepted the challenge to bike 75 miles during the Headwaters 100 to celebrate his 75th birthday.

The two duplicated those feats on their 80th birthdays with Skelton golfing 80 holes and Nordstrom biking 80 miles in a single day. Nordstrom continued the challenge every five years since, although it took Nordstrom 2 ½ days to bike the 85 miles five years ago. The 90 miles took a little longer.

“I go a little slower now,” said Nordstrom. “It takes a little more time now.”

Nordstrom and his wife Marge were original members when Curt and Ruth Bakken formed the Hubbard Bicycle Club in 1996. The Bakkens were avid bikers in Europe and several members of the club decided to join them on the first of several international biking adventures. The first trip was to Portugal in 1996, and the Nordstroms attended yearly biking trips to Germany, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Hungary, France and New Zealand before making their final biking trip overseas to Norway in 2008. Those trips consisted of 40-mile bike rides each day.

In addition to those yearly trips overseas, the Nordstroms biked every Monday afternoon and Friday morning with their fellow Hubbard cyclists. Marge retired from biking last year at the age of 90, but Fred is still going strong.

“I try to go 10 to 15 miles,” said Fred. “The younger 70-year-olds go 20 to 25 miles.”

With another challenge complete, Nordstrom is looking ahead to continuing the trend and biking 95 miles for his 95th birthday in 2023.

“Every year is another challenge,” said Nordstrom, who still rides the same bike he used on his 75th birthday. “So far, I have no balance problems. As long as I have my balance, I’ll continue to bicycle.”

(Note: Fred and Marj Nordstrom are longtime Sanibel Island residents and active members of the Sanibel Bicycle Club.)

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