Cura personalis on two wheels
Story by Tim Cigelske, Comm '04
Kurt Gering, who calls himself the Bike Warrior, has biked for more than 150 days straight. His daily ride is a chance to combine spiritual and physical exercise.
"True, I am in love with suffering." — Saint Ignatius
For Kurt Gering, Ignatian exercise has a literal meaning.
In the Jesuit tradition, he reflects on his actions and daily events every day. On his bike.
"I took a class at Marquette that talked about the Jesuit daily examen," says Gering, Prof St '08 and Grad '12, who works for Marquette's Information Technology Services as a project manager and also teaches in the College of Professional Studies. "This intersects nicely with the physical exercise I do every day, which is one of the few times we get to be alone with our thoughts."
So Gering vowed to start a bike streak while fulfilling the Ignatian idea of reflection. So far, he has biked at least five miles more than 150 consecutive days for a total of 1,800 miles and counting. His goal is to cover at least a year and 5,000 miles.
"I always try and find things to do that are a little out of the ordinary, like polar plunging or playing 54 holes of golf in a day or climbing an active volcano," Gering says. "Most of the time the anticipation is a lot more difficult than the actual events."
Though his streak may be uncommon, Gering has plenty of cycling company at Marquette, especially as Milwaukee celebrates Bike To Work Week this week, June 6-10, 2011. Last year, Marquette had the most participants (52) and the most miles biked (1,384) during Bike to Work Week, according to the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. Fellow IT Services project manager Sean Samis has regularly biked to work since 2006, pedaling the 17-mile round-trip ride 214 of 234 work days in 2010.
Gering's streak has not come without roadblocks. While on a trip to Portland, Gering raced through the airport to grab a cab so he could get to his hotel and bike before midnight. He was also hit with the flu for a week and rode with a 103-degree fever for several days. Currently he's still pedaling with a broken foot suffered on Easter Sunday.
But he won't quit. Gering keeps a bike trainer in his house and put up cycling posters for positive reinforcement. He also started a daily record of his rides on Facebook and DailyMile.com to keep himself accountable in a public way, and he says the feedback he gets helps keep him going. Through it all, he has observed noticeable improvements, including faster cycling and feeling stronger.
Gering encourages others to try cycling. The hardest part, he said, is just getting started. "You just have to make the commitment," Gering says.
Or as St. Ignatius put it, go forth and set the world on fire.