Cycling for ChangeTim Bergsten
The money that Christensen raises – he is soliciting sponsorships - will go to the Marian House Soup Kitchen in Colorado Springs. A year ago, the Marian house served 9,000 meals to kids, more than twice as many than in previous years.
Christensen’s motivations are simple. “There is no reason that a child should go hungry,” he said. “Every child should have something to eat.”
Christensen, 40, grew up in Pekin, Ill. He learned to love cycling while pedaling a “50-pound Schwinn” around the countryside with his schoolmates. He later graduated from Western Illinois University with degrees in Political Science and French.
These days he is happiest when he’s skating with his recreation-league hockey team. But he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend the summer riding across the country. It’s going to be a challenge. He is recovering from knee surgery. His recent bike rides have mostly been inside at Carmichael Training Systems. But he has done simulated rides of up to 100 miles.
He did receive a bit of a shock a year ago when he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. He is not insulin-dependent, but he does have to eat a healthful diet and exercise. It gave him to opportunity to look closely at his lifestyle.
“The thing about diabetes, you really need daily exercise,” Christensen said. “Playing hockey wasn’t going to be enough.”
In August he started a hard regimen of exercise. The results of his tough work came quickly.
“I lost 20 pounds,” Christensen said. “I didn’t feel so sluggish after eating. And my speed really picked up in hockey. It was a marked difference.”
And now he has 5,000 miles before him. The old Schwinn won’t make the trip. Christensen will ride a Roubaix Elite Specialized road bike.
“I guess you could say this is my way of acting out my mid-life crisis,” he said with a laugh.
As CEO of Catholic Charities, he oversees operation of the Marian House, but says the best thing about the job is sharing a meal with the guests, folks who have nowhere else to go for food.
“These people are struggling, but they are beautiful on the inside,” Christensen said. “For them, the prospect of living day to day, or hour to hour is real.”
And that thought will keep him moving when the miles grow long this summer.
“Those mountain passes in Idaho and the heat and the wind in Kansas will be tough,” Christensen said. “But it’ll be nothing compared to what these people living in poverty face every day.”
There will be a local ride connected to Cycling for Change. On July 8 area riders can participate in the Freedom from Poverty Bike Ride. All the riders will return to Colorado Springs where they’ll be welcomed at the Freedom from Poverty Community Celebration, 1 to 8 p.m. in America the Beautiful Park. There will be food and drink (beer and root beer from Bristol Brewing), and live music by Jake Loggins, a local favorite, and Grammy nominated, platinum selling artist Shawn Mullins as the headline act. For more information and to register for the local ride, go to http://ccharitiescs.org/cycling-for-change/