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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

IPF employee uses his commute to work to better his health

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May 11, 2016

As spring approaches, mechanical engineer Gus Gosselin is gearing up to begin riding his bike to work again. The Perry resident rides from his home to MSU’s Infrastructure Planning and Facilities building, racking up 126 miles a week for the last 16 years.

“The doctor told me my life signs were in the toilet,” Gosselin said. “He said that if I didn’t do anything about it, I wasn’t going to live to be an old man.”

Gosselin is a type two diabetic, which in his words is probably 80 percent hereditary since both parents and all of his siblings had it. But self admittedly the other 20 percent fell on his shoulders due to an unhealthy lifestyle during early adulthood. It was the day of his grim visit to the doctor in 1999 that he was offered a key to a longer life.

“That same doctor told me that if somebody made a pill capable of bringing my life signs back to normal, he was sure I’d buy at any cost,” Gosselin said. “But he informed me there is such a pill, but it doesn’t cost money. The payment is made in time, and the pill is called exercise.”

On his way home Gosselin brooded over the thought of his mortality staring him in the face. He had tried to exercise consistently before but never stuck with any particular regiment for more than a week. Suddenly, it returned to him that he used to enjoy biking; so much so that he used to ride every day to his old job at Meijer. He even owned an exercise bike for the winter months.

“I went downstairs in the basement, and I rode the exercise bike for 1.1 mile, and I thought I was going to die,” he said.

Out of options and breath, Gosselin made a decision to do the best he could on the bike every day, even if that meant just a mile at a time. He spent the succeeding months riding the old machine every day after work. After a few days he began to notice a change.

“Two weeks went by and suddenly I was comfortable doing a mile. So I started doing two miles for a few weeks, then five, then ten. By the end of the winter I was at 20 miles a day. When it became warm again I started riding to work every morning, just like I used to do.”

Now, as chair of the MSU Bikes Advisory Committee, Gosselin leads an initiative to inform people how easy working an exercise routine into the day can be. In honor of national bike to work month in May, MSU Bikes, IPF and the MSU Bike Advisory Committee is hosting the Bicycle Friendly America Conference May 19. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center and will feature a number of expert presenters speaking on how to create a bike friendly community. For more information visit: lmb.org/msuBFAconference.

While Gosselin’s story is unique, the MSU community is full of employees who ride their bike to work.

Tim Potter, sustainable transportation manager and member of the MSU Bike Advisory Committee, rides six miles every day during the warmest eight months of the year.

“During the winter months I do a combination. I keep a winter bike in my vehicle, drive and park on the south end of campus where it’s free, and then I ride my bike that short mile to work,” Potter said. ”I’ll pretty much ride through anything since it’s only ten minutes.”

Beam staff physicist Thomas Baumann has been using his bike as a primary source of transportation since he was in third grade.

“I grew up in Germany, and in order to legally ride your bike to school, each student would have to take a road test,” Baumann said. “It was very similar to the ones that people take to get their driver’s license in America. There would be volunteer parents or police officers at every intersection and they would check off if you did the right thing.”

Now, Baumann rides two miles to work year around.

“I used to walk but that took 25 minutes. Riding is much faster,” he said.