Deb Hegland rides 500 miles in six days


(5/22/2019)

May is Bike Month

by PAMELA EYDEN

Deb Hegland is as enthusiastic as a kid about riding her bike. She loves it! Whether alone, with her husband Bryan, or with friends, she gets out as often as she can. She and her husband ride their road bikes at home and away. This winter they went to Australia, where they did city tours on e-bikes.

Biking in the Habitat for Humanity Minnesota 500 Ride every summer is one of the high points of Deb’s year. This will be her eighth year of riding for the charity. Her goal is to do 20 consecutive years.

“I wish I’d started earlier,” she laughed.

Eight years ago, a friend talked her into signing up for what was then a seven-day fundraising ride in support of Habitat for Humanity and its aim of providing safe, affordable housing for all who need it. Riding 500 miles in seven days sounds daunting for the average recreational bike rider. Her husband was skeptical because she’d never done anything similar before.

“He said, ‘fine, sign up. Just don’t sign me up!’” Deb recalled. “He fully expected that I would call and want to be rescued partway through the ride.” Her daughter expected the same thing.

It didn’t happen. Early on, Deb was overwhelmed and considered dropping out. Then, she was befriended by a woman who knew the ropes, whom Deb said taught her everything.

“Everything” meant riding 90 miles a day, pacing yourself — it’s a ride, not a race — washing shirts in a sink at night and sleeping in school gyms, alongside dozens of “new best friends,” as Deb called them.

Deb owns her own business and works out of her home, a perfect situation for someone who likes to create her own schedule and be free to ride and train when she wants.

 

“I will never retire because I love my business,” she said, “but I really love to have fun.”

The Habitat Minnesota 500 ride will be held on July 14-19 (it’s now just a six-day ride) in Northern Minnesota. Despite recuperating from ankle surgery, Deb said she and her husband, who joined the ride after that first year, will be there. They don’t want to miss the fun, and she suggests that you don’t want to miss it, either.

 

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