What do you do if you’ve ridden your bike 30 miles every day back and forth to work once you retire?
Jerry Francis, retired actuary from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, is contemplating that this month. After 12 and a half years, there is no daily trek from Plattsmouth to Omaha on rainy spring mornings, or in the heat of July or against the Nebraska wind – lots of Nebraska wind.
“I’m going to take a month or so and see what it’s like to be retired,” Francis said.
That doesn’t mean he’ll stop riding! After all, he’s been doing it since he was in grade school. Francis estimates he has ridden 7,000 to 8,000 miles a year since then.
With a laugh, Francis credits the daily riding with keeping him from “deteriorating.” He won the Omaha Bicycle Commuter Challenge in 2009, pedaling a total of 3,039 miles over three months. Francis has also ridden in the two-day MS Ride from Omaha to Lincoln and most recently, the State Games.
“I ride at my own pace,” Francis said. “I’m not out to break records or go long distances.”
After flying missions during the Vietnam War, Francis retired from the U.S. Air Force and went into the field of computer programming. His ability to navigate the world of numbers brought him into the actuarial insurance field.
“Just sitting all day really got to me,” Francis said. “Whatever you do, stay active. Just 30 minutes a day really makes a difference for me still.”
Getting started can be the hardest part, and Francis has those days just like most people.
“I can come up with all kinds of excuses, but I always give myself an extra push and do it anyway, and once I’m going, I don’t think about it again,” Francis said.
Will he have more of those moments now that he’s retired?
Well, Francis knows someone in Papillion who organizes every-other-morning rides. You’ll probably see him out there along the highway. With 50,000 to 60,000 thousand miles of pedaling behind him, there’s more to come.