At the tender young age of 90, Nelson’s Mathilde Klassen is about to do something many people half her age only wish they could achieve.
Klassen turns 90 years young Sept. 3. She has registered to ride in the 2nd annual Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo bicycle ride Sunday, Sept. 7 where she will cruise a cool 57 km along the Piccolo Fondo portion of the event.
“The hardest thing about about any exercise is getting out and doing it,” Klassen said Wednesday afternoon. “I could have 25 excuses every time not to go in this moment.
“Make the effort to go. Whatever it is. If you’re going swimming or you’re going running or whatever…Keep moving and do it. There’s a lot of pleasure to it.”
Born in Sainte Rose du Lac, Man., now a town of 1,023 people located approximately 280 km northwest of Winnipeg, Klassen grew up on a farm and said she first took to cycling strictly as a means for transportation. Whether it was to ride around the property or get into town to run errands, her bicycle served an important purpose in her formative years.
It wasn’t until the age of 50 that Klassen began chasing longer endurance rides similar to the Gran Fondo. More than 20 years ago, at the age of 69, she jumped on her bike and completed a ride that took her right across Canada.
Klassen won’t be alone in her quest to become the oldest person to participate in a Gran Fondo organized cycling event. Joining her on the trails will be six of her seven children as well as five grandchildren.
“The big message is just to keep moving and start when you’re young, strong and healthy, and you’ll stay that way,” Klassen said. “Start anytime, it doesn’t matter.”
The Gran Fondo features three rides — the Piccolo Fondo, Medio Fondo and Gran Fondo — all of which begin and end at St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino outside of Cranbrook.
The Piccolo Fondo spans 57 km from the golf course to the North Star Rails to Trails pathway system. The Medio Fondo, a 102-km ride, takes cyclists from St. Eugene along Rails to Trails before cruising past Fort Steele. The Gran Fondo is a gruelling 152-km ride. All three rides also travel through Kimberley.
If you want to join Klassen on her ride, registration for the Gran Fondo is open until Aug. 31 at 11:59 p.m. (MST) and can be done online by visiting www.krgf.ca.
Last year, 260 riders registered for the event. Registration for the 2014 edition of the Gran Fondo has already surpassed that mark.
Riders can commit to the Piccolo ride for $119, the Medio ride for $159 or the Gran Fondo for $179.
The Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo is presented by Taylor Adams Chartered Accountants and organized by the Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club.