Pedal power: Bicycle enthusiast piles up the miles
Jeff Peplau turns 64 on Sunday and you'd never guess it.
Peplau loves playing tennis and recently joined the New Richmond Area Centre to keep fit.
But what really sets the rural New Richmond resident apart is his preferred mode of daily transportation. He can usually be found biking along County Road C and throughout town most days.
"It's fun to pedal past the gas station when the gas prices are rising," he said with a smile. "Especially when it's not my month to fill up."
Think he's joking that he only fills his gas tank once a month? He's not.
"Since I retired 12 years ago, I've ridden my bike about 48,000 miles," he said. "I average about 4,000 miles a year. I probably ride my bike more than I drive in a year."
In fact, since moving to New Richmond in 1980, the former Friday Canning employee has logged in nearly 100,000 miles on his two-wheeler. He expects to hit that major milestone sometime this fall.
"I just love it," he said of biking. "It's no effort. I just do it."
Peplau said he's worn out 12 bicycles since moving to the community 30+ years ago, and he expects to wear out even more in the future.
Peplau credits his father for his ongoing commitment to good health and fitness.
"My dad, at the age of 50, was a two-pack a day smoker," Peplau said. "He put down the cigarettes and started exercising and he lived to 93."
Peplau said his father's effort to better his health was a major inspiration for him.
It helps that New Richmond is known for its quality trail system, Peplau said. He's often riding on one of the local trails or pathways, enjoying the scenery and getting some exercise.
"It's a great asset for the community," he said. "When I'm out on the trails, there are always people out walking their dogs or riding their bikes. It's heartwarming to see."
Peplau said he's excited that the city is working to provide a complete north-south trail for pedestrians and bicycle enthusiasts. The proposed trail would link the current Rail Bridge Trail on the south of town with Hatfield Park to the north. The trail would follow a new paved path through the Domain Inc. property on the Willow River. The community has applied for a grant to help make the project possible.
"We have a great trail system in New Richmond," he said. "But when I have to bike along Knowles Avenue, I dread it. It's dangerous."
A trail link that provides a safe route for walkers and bikers will be a huge addition to the community's system, he said.
When he's not biking, Peplau can often be seen walking with his wife, Marilyn, and his dog Bo Ryan. They try to walk seven miles each day. They don't bike much together, however.
"I get her out," he said. "But she's kind of a fair-weather biker."
Did you know:
* About 19 million bicycles per year are sold in the U.S.
* Cycling is sited as the seventh most popular recreational activity in the U.S., behind walking, swimming, camping, fishing, exercising with equipment and bowling.
* A 10-mile round trip bike commute burns 400 calories for a 180-pound man, or 300 calories for a 130-pound woman.
* About 10 percent of bicyclists use their bikes for commuting. About 53 percent bike for fitness, while 73 percent say they bike for fun.
* 39.3 million Americans ages 7 and up ride their bicycles six or more times a year.