A Man and His Bike
Rick Barder made his living in the banking business as a commercial lender. But after retiring more than a decade ago, the Beloit resident now spends his time exploring southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois on his bike.
Barder was a “jock” in school but turned to biking later in life. “My knees and back were talking to me and I listened,” he says. “Biking is healthy. It helps clear my mind, and you can do it forever.”
Fifteen years ago, Barder decided to share his passion with other biking enthusiasts. Barder, along with friends, started the Stateline Spinners, a volunteer group of bicycling enthusiasts who gather on Tuesday evenings to ride in the state-line area.
“We had four or five riders in the beginning and now we have anywhere between 15-30 riders every week,” Barder says.
The group rides all over. They have 33 map routes to choose from, ranging from 5 to 100 miles. The group selects the weekly route together. “The typical ride ranges between 20-40 miles,” says Barder, whose favorite routes include a 52-mile trip to New Glarus, Wis.
In addition to riding, the Stateline Spinners get together for potlucks and other social gatherings. “It’s a bonding experience,” he says. “I’ve met so many wonderful people. We’re like family.”
While Barder enjoys riding with his group, he realized a bigger goal on his bike. In 2006, Barder fulfilled part of his bucket list when he rode 4,000 miles from Bellingham, Wash., to Yorktown, Va., in 69 days.
“It was a life-changing experience,” says Barder, who took a sabbatical from work. “I was chased by a buffalo that looked like retired Chicago Bear Dick Butkus, and I met many people I’m still in touch with today. It made me a better person.”
But biking isn’t Barder’s only passion. For 15 years, Barder has volunteered with other local business professionals at Beloit Memorial High School, teaching interview skills to students. The sessions show students how to build a resume, participate in an interview, and even write thank you notes.
“I was fortunate to have parents who helped me,” he says. “I want to give back to students who haven’t had that type of relationship in their life. Everyone needs a mentor.”