While the word “retirement” conjures images of leisurely backyard BBQs on weekends, retirement for Steve Rose is anything but leisurely. That’s because the 66-year-old Indianola, Iowa resident—who retired as a professor of teacher preparation at Simpson College 2 years ago—is usually found logging miles on his bike in preparation for RAGBRAI, an annual cycling race across that state of Iowa that spans 468 miles in 7 days. RAGBRAI is considered a biker’s rite of passage and one of the most difficult athletic endeavors a cyclist could undertake. Steve’s love of cycling coupled with his incredible grit and determination are now fueling this new chapter as an endurance athlete.
Steve’s journey to health conscious living began as a young kid growing up in rural Western Nebraska. As a child, Steve struggled to maintain a healthy weight, and when he reached adolescence, Steve took up football and wrestling—which helped him lose weight and get fit. In college, Steve started partying and overeating, which caused his weight to creep up once again. That’s when he picked up tennis to increase his cardio. He loved the sport so much—and wanted to set an example of health conscious living for the younger generation—that he coached high school tennis and football.
His students weren’t the only ones inspired by his commitment to fitness; his passion has rubbed off on his family, too. In his 30s, Steve started racing in triathlons and half marathons. Steve chuckles as he recalls one of his daughters beating him in both a 10K and a half-marathon when she was 18. “I was irritated, but also very pleased,” he says, noting how proud he was that his children’s appetite for fitness mirrored his own. Also when Steve was courting his wife—to whom he has been married for 17 years—at least half of their dates were spent meandering the streets on walks lasting for hours.
Once Steve reached his 40s, he made the move to Indianola—a suburb south of Des Moines—as a professor at Simpson College. Steve’s love of fitness moved with him across state lines as he continued to play tennis and run. But over time the impact on his joints from running as well as the repetitive injury caused from swinging a tennis racket took its toll. That’s when Steve shifted his focus to cycling as his primary form of exercise.
Steve’s new home in Iowa proved to be the perfect location for his new fitness passion, thanks to RAGBRAI. According to the website, RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) was founded in 1973 and is the “oldest, largest, and longest multi-day recreational bicycle touring event in the world.” Bikers can participate in 1 or all 7 days if desired. On any given day, RAGBRAI can attract up to 12,000 cyclists riding across Iowa.
Steve participated in last year’s RAGBRAI and has achieved what’s known in the race as a “century”—which is riding 100 miles in one day—both as part of RAGBRAI and in solo events. Steve also enjoys the wildlife in Iowa—bobcats, bald eagles, foxes, beavers, and many more creatures—which is another motivating factor for riding outdoors. “Iowa is not a boring state when you get up close and personal with it,” he notes.
In addition to cycling, Steve lifts weights twice a week and jogs with his dog daily. He boasts a weight comparable to when he was a Varsity football player in high school. What’s his secret to success? Eating moderately and avoiding diet fads, having lunch be his largest meal of the day, and making exercise a “good for you” addiction. “I just don’t feel right if I don’t do cardio everyday,” he says. He also credits podcasts with providing hours of entertainment when on the bike.
Steve also stays on top of the latest health and fitness news with the help of Health IQ’s daily quizzes. “Your quizzes are one of the only things I don’t delete when I get behind on my email,” he shares. “I learn a lot from them! And they’re fun.”
His advice for anyone looking to go the extra mile in health conscious living? “Keep on truckin’. It’s not an issue of speed. Just keep things moving. I want to continue biking for as long as I draw breath.”
We at Health IQ celebrate your tenacious spirit, Steve, and fully expect to see you biking across the Iowa landscape for years to come.