Peter Hendrickson, an associate professor of music at Augsburg College, started biking when he realized it was the quickest, easiest way to get to his Finnish language class at the University of Minnesota.

Richard Tsong-taatarii, Star Tribune

How I Got This Body: His bike really sings

  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • January 25, 2013 - 2:45 PM

How I Got This Body: Peter Hendrickson, 58, St. Paul, music professor and director of choral activities at Augsburg College, cyclist


Flag flying finn “I grew up with the idea that I was 100 percent Swedish. But then my aunts gave me a little piece of paper with the names of some towns in Finland where my father’s family was from. When I took my choir to Finland in 2002 and asked around, people told me, ‘Well, they’re Finns, of course!’ I started flying a Finnish flag at our cabin … but some of my siblings were not pleased. Then I met my wife, Mindy. She’s half Finnish and had lived in Finland for two years and speaks Finnish very well. I took a sabbatical to go to Finland for the summer of 2011. I visited Finnish composer and friend Kari Tikka, visited my father’s family’s hometowns, went to a folk music festival and danced in the midnight sun.”


ENTER CYCLING “A former classmate said I should look into taking a course in Finnish, but it’s right in the middle of my work day. I realized I could jog/walk it in 21 minutes, but it only takes nine minutes to bike. I get back at 3:30 p.m., and I have 10 minutes to get ready for rehearsal. When I walk into rehearsal, I feel great from the ride.”


GEARED UP “I ride an old racing bike I’ve had for 35 years with a big basket, nubby tires and flashing lights. I’ve become one with my bike. I know exactly how it will operate and maneuver and what the brakes are going to be like, etc. It’s a very calming influence. What’s so nice is I used to get to work some days thinking, ‘I don’t want to be here.’ [But when you bike] the endorphins start running at you and you can’t help but feel better. I see myself being more patient. It has a very calming influence. It’s a godsend.”


BIKE THERAPY “I broke my ankle in the summer of 2011. It was a really bad break — the doctor said 9.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. He said I was going to have arthritis feelings in that ankle forever. But biking has minimized that. It keeps it flexed. I think it’s the best thing for my ankle.”

GOOD GENES ... “I used to be a jock in high school. I played football, baseball, basketball and ran track. I swim a lot at the cabin. I also used to work in Washington as a cook at a retreat center and we used to ski out our front door from October to May. I skied 745 miles in a winter. I was a mountain climber [in Washington] too, so temperature doesn’t bother me at all. I can bike down to about 3 degrees. Just one more layer makes the ride just fine. I didn’t drive a car to work all fall until Nov. 29. I’ve bought so little gas. I think I spent $40 in all of November and December. I do have to get the car out once in a while. I tried to open the doors after not driving it for a while and they were frozen shut.”


... AND JEANS “I’ve lost 20 pounds. My waist is down to a size I haven’t had since [I was] 25. I bought some really nice Gap jeans that look great — not baggy. I didn’t even think about the weight loss. It was totally unintentional.”

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