BLACKFOOT – Denise Mickelsen along with her two daughters have decided to get back on the bikes and hit the open road. Mickelsen is the activities coordinator at Gem Village and uses her time riding to and from work to reflect on her day, ponder the big picture, and take in the natural beauty of things.
In an interview, Mickelsen explained that her father passed away from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and that she too has been tested for the genetic markers and is a carrier for the gene, wants to do everything in her power to maintain sound body and mind. To achieve this goal, she has set the car keys to the side, purchased some new bikes for her daughters and herself, and began making the two-and-a-half mile trek to work every morning. “People post their pictures of beautiful sunrises…but I, I get to feel it,” Mickelsen stated. She continued by explaining that it makes her feel closer to nature and God when she is riding instead of driving.
Mickelsen often finds herself riding through the cemetery. With her career working at Gem Village and losing her father to ALS, she spends the time in the cemetery to visit past love ones and does her part to keep their headstones beautified.
Her two daughters love it as well. They are constantly ready to hop on the bikes, and ride to wherever they need to go. Mickelsen did explain that her youngest, who is on her first two-wheeler, is worn out after about three miles, but is always ready to ride. Her oldest, who has managed to rein in over 10 miles in a day, does a better job with keeping up with mom.
Mickelsen has used the time to teach her daughters some of the more important rules of the road when biking, such as how to signal to vehicles that a turn is coming up, or that they will be slowing down, or even coming to a stop. Her oldest has already mastered the hand signals, while her youngest is focusing more on the fundamentals of riding without training wheels.
Mickelsen recently made a post on Facebook expressing the excitement that has come from their journey, and that she continues to work with her daughters on the rules of the road, but admitted that at the moment, they are without helmets. It didn’t take long for members of the community to reach out to Mickelsen offering to get her daughters helmets, with Peggy Retford and Jerry Gallegos asking her when would be a good time to meet at Walmart to get the girls helmets. Carol Law Sorensen stated, “Blackfoot people, you are so generous and kind. Makes me proud to be from this community. I can help with helmets also.” Others provided words of encouragement, telling her that she is a mentor of a mother, and how they all want to help. The responses provide uplifting words to push Mickelsen to continue her adventure.
Mickelsen has already started planning for the upcoming months; she intends to dress like a witch all of October, broom and all, to bring some humor to her rides.
Mickelsen will drive again, but not for the forseeable future. She and her daughters are enjoying “life on the open road.”
Please pay attention when driving, and watch for cyclists and motorcycles, “look both ways.”