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Pedal pushers

Oldham County cyclists to pedal from
Maine to California for charity

The four men hope to educate others along the way

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(February 2007) – Although they may be a bit older than well-known cyclist Lance Armstrong, four Oldham County senior citizens will be making headlines as they bicycle across the United States to aid different charities and organizations. But their hearts will be in the right place as they pedal 60 to 80 miles per day cross-country.

Oldham County Cyclists

Photo provided

From left to right: Jim Powell,
Larry Wooldridge, John Luken and
Ed Kalmey will cycle 80 miles a day on
their ride from San Diego to Caribou, Maine.

For approximately two months, Jim Powell, 67, of La Grange will join four other locals – Ed Kalmey, 67, Larry Wooldridge, 64, and John Luken, 62.
The men will drive to San Diego, from where they will ride their bicycles to Caribou, Maine. They will leave Kentucky on March 25 and “hope to be back in Louisville in two months,” said Powell.
“We estimate about 3,500 miles for the actual bike ride,” Powell said. “It will probably be 7,000 to 8,000 miles by the time we drive to San Diego, bike to the most northern point in Maine and then drive back to Louisville. We are going to have a website, and you will be able to keep up with us as we will update it almost daily.”
Originally, Powell was the only one scheduled for the trek. But the other men said they would like to join him, and they have been meeting every other week to plan their trip.
Powell said this is something he would “just like to do, to gain a different perspective on seeing what a great country we have.” Most people don’t enjoy scenic views while flying down an interstate, he said, and this will afford him the opportunity to slow down and relish the United States’ beautiful landscape.
Born in Powell County, Ky., Powell is a retired United Methodist pastor. He served in the Kentucky Annual Conference for 41 years – as a law enforcement chaplain for 26 years and has been the Kentucky State Representative for the International Conference of Police Chaplains since 1994. Powell is now chaplain for the Oldham County Police Department.
Powell said he hopes to raise more than $35,000 to benefit the police chaplains’ organization on this trek. This is not the first time he has set out to accomplish such a feat. In 2003 he walked from Seattle to Miami with Oldham Countian David Stoess.
“I touched the Space Needle and started walking” until reaching the Orange Bowl in Miami, said Powell. Stoess ended his walk in Key West, Fla. Powell raised $35,000 for the police chaplains on the 2003 walk.
Powell and Stoess had to sleep in tents, but for this bicycle ride, sleeping at night will be a bit more comfortable. The ride is sponsored by Sam Swope BMW and Tom Stinnett R.V., the later of which has given the four men the use of a 38-foot motor home and gas for four months.
Powell has not trained in any special way for this ride, but he does stay in shape by running three to five miles several times a week.
Luken used to be a runner as well. Luken said he has stepped up his fitness regime to include spinning, a workout in which he exercises twice a week on a stationary bike. By using various exercises, he hopes to build up different muscles that will increase his endurance.
“I’ve always been interested in exercise,” said Luken, who has lived in Oldham County for 30 years. Any money raised by Luken will benefit Special Olympics programs.
“The Special Olympics have been a major part of my daughter, Jenny’s, life,” said Luken. He has been active with Special Olympic Programs for 20 years, having served on the Kentucky Board in 2002. His wife, Sandy, is also active as a swim coach.
Luken said he hopes to raise $5,000 for Special Olympics. He is thankful to have been blessed with a healthy body to be able to face the challenges of this ride. His concern is not with his physical capabilities, but rather with the mental aspect of the ride.
He will be apart from his family for at least two months, although they may meet him along the way at different places. “Through achievement, you can strengthen yourself mentally,” said Luken.
This is a perspective he tries to implement to his clients in his job as a psychologist. Luken has his own private practice and took up exercising regularly in 1985 as a way to combat the day-to-day stress of his job.
Although he’s never tackled anything like this bicycle ride before, his love for small towns spurs him on.
“I find people very interesting. I have an interest and a passion for small towns,” said Luken.
Of the 12 goals he has set forward for his life, writing a book titled, “Cooks, Characters and Courthouses in Kentucky,” is one of them. He had intended to visit every Kentucky county seeking out those people who were the best cooks according to the locals and publish their stories in book form. While he realizes that he may not reach this goal, this trip is one way to come close to his original goal.
Kalmey has spent 35 years in sales with Kraft Foods. Kalmey is involved in the Rotary Club and is riding to benefit Safe Drinking Water Worldwide.
Wooldridge is a retired Louisville YMCA executive. He created “YMCA Shelter House for Runaways” in 1974 and the nationally recognized YMCA “Project Safe Place” in 1984. He is riding to support YMCA Project Safe Place.
Powell said he hopes the men will be able to speak to different social and civic groups to spread word of their trek, in addition to mailing out brochures to Oldham County residents.

• For more information, contact Jim Powell at (502) 939-3616 or via email at: jgpsbp4@aol.com.

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