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Riding across Minnesota at 84

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

While Wayne Tellekson didn’t really enjoy biking 40 miles a day this last year, he did enjoy the people, the scenery, and the experience. And when you ride through the big orange arch at the end it feels like quite an accomplishment, he said. (Photo by Terry Faust)

By Iric Nathanson
Wayne Tellekson had convinced himself that last year would his final ride with Bike MS.
Most years since 2009, Tellekson had joined a group of avid bikers who rode 250 miles over five days raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He was 83 in 2018. It was time for him to hang up his bike for those long distance treks, he told himself.
But Tellekson’s resolve to stop riding crumbled when one of his biking buddies asked him if he was going to do the Bike MS in 2019.
“Right then, I realized that I needed to do it again, even at the age of 84. I changed my mind in an instant,” Tellekson recalled.

Doing more than writing a check
The Longfellow resident first becomes involved with the Multiple Sclerosis Society when his son was diagnosed with MS in 1996.
The next year, Tellekson’s daughter Karin participated in a roller blade event, skating from Duluth to Hinkley to raise funds for the national health organization. Karin moved on from roller blades to bikes when the Multiple Sclerosis Society switched to long distance biking as a fund raiser. The group started TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota), now called Bike MS, the five-day, 250-mile ride held each summer in July.
Tellekson had always written checks in support of his daughter’s participation, but one day he decided that he could do more than just write checks. If he rode in the TRAM himself, he could raise even more money to combat MS.
When he floated the idea by his wife, Sindy, and his three children, they objected, saying that the old, heavy bike he had ridden around town was not fit for a 250-mile trek.
But they knew his heart was in the right place, so they got together and bought him a new bicycle fit for long distance riding Still, Sindy was uneasy about the prospect of Wayne going off that first year and riding for five straight days.
“Sindy knew I was stubborn and she worried that I would keep riding until I fell over, so Karin agreed to ride behind me to make sure that I stayed vertical.”

Doubts about his decision
During this year’s ride, Tellekson, himself, had some doubts about the wisdom of his quick decision to do the Bike MS. again. He had second thought after another biker, who was also 84, had to drop out after two days because of some heart problems.
“I ended up being the oldest person, out of 450, on the trip,” Tellekson said. “And I was probably the slowest. People were passing me all the time because my legs just wouldn’t move very fast. I knew I wasn’t in good shape for long-distance biking. I only decided to do ride about three weeks before it started so I hadn’t trained for the ride as I had in the past.”
Each day during the five-day event Tellekson was able to take advantage of the sag wagon, a van that picked up riders and drove them along the route for a while, giving them a break from peddling. He used the sag wagon for about 10 miles each day, but that still left about 40 miles that he needed to bike.
“Those last few minutes just before rest stops were the hardest,” he remembers. ”That’s when I said to myself: ‘This is really foolish. Should I really be doing this?’
“But I never thought about stopping. I was never ready to give up as rough as it was to keep going.“
Tellekson said he envied the younger riders who kept passing him by. “Those guys whizzed by me and their legs were just like pistons. They were going 25 miles an hour. I looked at their legs and I said to myself ‘How do they go that fast?’ At the most, I could do 19 miles an hour and that was going downhill.”
“My knees are probably the weakest part of my body when it comes to biking. I just don’t have the strength to push as hard as those younger bikers do. I don’t wear clips that help with the upswing. If I did, I am afraid I would forget that I have the clips on. Then, when I start getting off the bike, I would fall and land in a heap. “

‘A real feeling of accomplishment’
Tellekson confessed that he really didn’t enjoy biking 40 miles a day.
“I enjoyed the people, the scenery and the experience, but biking that far is really not fun, at least not for me.
“That long ride each day is a real strain, but when you ride through the big orange arch at the end of the five days, and people are there cheering you on, there is a real feeling of accomplishment. More important than the cheers is knowing that the money I raised — $4300 – will be put to good use combatting Multiple Sclerosis.
“I realize there are not many people my age who are doing something as foolish as riding 250 miles in five days. But my body can handle it, at least for now. I don’t feel 84 even though I am 84. I really can’t take credit for my condition, maybe it’s genes. I eat healthy but I don’t obsess about what I eat. I walk and bike, but I don’t spend a lot of time exercising just to stay in shape.
“This year, I told everyone it would be my last ride But I made it this year, so if I train maybe I can do it again next year. Maybe I will break my pledge again not to ride. Who knows what next year will bring? I’ll just have to wait and see.”

Saga of the Ride
In 2019, as he has done other years, Wayne Tellekson composed a poem—a saga, he calls it— celebrating the five days he spent on his bike, raising funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Here is the final stanza from this year’s saga:

The Orange Arch of Triumph, we rode through with pride.
Tired, proud and happy, it had been a very good ride.
We’d raised $400,000, we’d peddled 250 miles.
We’d raised funds for MS research, that explains our smiles.
A quick lunch and we hurried off. A hurried goodbye to friends.
Next year will be another ride. Will you? That depends.

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‘Green’ cemetery opens in Twin Cities

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Executive director Joan Gizek stood on top of the plot she has already purchased in the natural burial section of Resurrection Cemetery. She said, “I love the idea of coming into the world, and leaving the world, simply. I look forward to going back to the earth, to being part of creation. More than 100,000 tons of steel and 1,600,000 tons of concrete are used in the U.S. for traditional burials each year. Natural burial is the original recycling.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Catholic Cemeteries begins offering natural burials in three-acre restored prairie
In the Catholic tradition, the body upon death is re-committed to the earth, “for we are dust, and to dust we shall return.”
Some people are taking this belief to heart again, with a desire to have a more organic, less industrial approach to death and burial.
The Catholic Cemeteries consists of five locations that have served the Twin Cities Catholic community since 1856. Their Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights has recently become what is known as a hybrid cemetery. It contains a traditional cemetery, and a newly created natural burial allotment on a nearly three-acre restored prairie.
As the gravesites in the allotment become occupied, native perennial flowers and grasses will cover them. Eventually, the natural burial area will become a peaceful, uninterrupted prairie maintained in perpetuity along with rest of the grounds.

What is a natural burial?
Catholic Cemeteries Executive Director Joan Gezik said, “We’ve been studying the natural burial concept for the last eight years. Our allotment was just blessed and dedicated by St. Paul Arch Bishop Hebda on Memorial Day 2019. Our mission is to bury the dead – not just Catholics. The first of several sections that we’ve opened can hold 40 graves, and we have sold over half of them.”
A natural burial cemetery can use machinery to dig graves, but no chemicals are used to prepare the bodies of the deceased or to maintain the cemetery grounds. In the natural burial process, the bodies of the deceased, and the earth to which they return, are treated with reverence.
In a natural burial, the deceased is placed directly into the ground where it decomposes naturally — without embalming fluid, and without a burial vault. The remains of the deceased are placed directly in the earth, allowing the body to decompose naturally.
If the body of the deceased is clothed, the clothing must be made of natural fibers such as cotton, linen, wool, or silk that will decompose over time. The garments must be free of all plastic and metal such as buttons, zippers, and hooks. Jewelry, belt buckles, and other materials that are not biodegradable cannot be buried along with the deceased.
The body of the deceased may be washed, wrapped in a cloth shroud made of natural fiber, and placed in a grave – which at Resurrection Cemetery is dug to four feet deep. The wrapped body can also be placed in an open or closed container made of biodegradable material like pine, wicker, or bamboo.
Rather than placing individual headstones or markers on grave sites, the names of the deceased, along with their birth and death years, are listed on a permanent community monument in the natural burial area. The cemetery office will also maintain burial records, and a grid map with the approximate location of each burial site.
Costs associated with a natural burial are less than those of a conventional burial. The purchase of a gravesite includes a contribution to the permanent burial site care fund, and the cost of memorializing a name on the common memorial. The internment (grave opening and closing) fee is paid at the time of burial; with natural burial, no outer burial container is required by law.
The natural burial area at Resurrection Cemetery is located at the southwest corner of the Chapel Mausoleum. Access it from the front of the mausoleum by following the sidewalk along the west side of the building. Resurrection Cemetery is located at 2105 Lexington Ave. S. in Mendota Heights.

From then to now
When the body of Jesus was removed from the cross, it was washed, wrapped in a cloth shroud, and placed in a tomb. For many years, most burials took place in a similar manner. These practices changed in the U.S. around the time of the Civil War, when bodies were transported long distances for burial. By treating the body with embalming fluids to prevent decomposition, the body became suitable for transportation and for viewing.

Renewed interest in natural burial is influenced, in part, by people’s desire to honor their loved ones in a manner that is sensitive to the environment. The first “green” cemetery in North America was opened in South Carolina in 1998.

Inspired by Pope Francis
Pope Francis – whose reverence for nature led him to choose his papal name inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, is committed to the sanctity of nature and the need to protect it. The Pope asks Catholics to be mindful of the natural world, and to dedicate themselves to having a gentler impact on the planet.

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