By Jessie Bazan, communication senior
Ditch the planes, trains and automobiles. At 72 years young, Ken Schaefer, Eng '63, and his wife, Meg, are opting to burn calories — not fuel — by biking to Alumni Reunion Weekend this July. Impressed? Just wait. The Schaefers aren't coming from down the block or across the city.
Ken and Meg live 400 miles from campus.
The St. Paul, Minn., residents will begin their trek to Marquette about a week before Ken's 50th class reunion. The duo has made the ride to Milwaukee seven times before. How else would two biking fanatics get to weddings, retirement parties and reunions? Their route (illustrated above) includes motel stops in small Wisconsin towns, rides on the La Crosse and Elroy-Sparta bike trails, and even a trip across the Wisconsin River on the Merrimac Ferry outside Baraboo.
"That's the beauty of Wisconsin riding — there are so many farm roads and very lightly motorized traffic. It's really good cycling," Ken says.
The 800-mile round-trip adventure may seem daunting, but it's just part of the Schaefers' lifestyle. "We don't play golf or go on cruises," Ken explains. "We ride our bikes a lot."
The couple bikes 6,000–7,000 miles a year, with Ken riding a steel custom touring bike and Meg on a carbon Trek. When Minnesota's infamous snow blankets the roadway, the two book it to Fredericksburg, Texas, for four months of prime cycling in the sun. The thrill of a long ride, Ken says, never gets old.
"It's almost a feeling of euphoria. You feel so good, so you can have a little more to eat," says Ken. And in typical Milwaukeean style, he adds, "I can treat myself to a nice bottle of beer after the ride."
During reunion weekend, they are also treating themselves to a stay at the historic Pfister Hotel to celebrate 50 years of Ken's alumnus status and 50 years of marriage. The ritzy Pfister doesn't get many requests for bike racks, but Ken has already arranged to lock their two-wheeled transportation in the hotel's garage.
"They don't want those bikes on the fancy rugs!" Ken jokes.