Alice Telford – An Inspiration to All Women
By Tara R. McKee
Catch Her if You Can
She’s petite, quick to smile, and full of energy. In spite of a knee replacement, some arthritis issues and a recent 86th birthday, Alice keeps up a schedule that would make Jack LaLanne proud. She begins her mornings by carefully working on her knee, putting it through a little physical therapy to aid its recovery from the surgery, then she climbs stairs—a full sixteen flights before breakfast. Retirement wasn’t a state that suited Alice, so she is working full time, and saves her big workouts for the weekends. What does an octogenarian Weekend Warrior do? During the winter, she takes her mountain bike and rides it as she does laps in her apartment building’s two-story parking garage; she’s calculated it is a full ½ mile one way.
As the weather warms, she’ll join her cycling group for long rides on her Bike Friday, a folding bike with low clearance that she feels is “much easier” on her body than a road bike. The group calls themselves the Smell the Roses cycling group because whether the pace is fast or slower, they never fail to appreciate the sights along the way and are always eager to try a new route or ride the newest extensions of the bike paths. Her one concession to her knee replacement is keeping the daily mileage to no more than 70 miles.
Why Alice Started To Ride A Bike
Alice initially got a bicycle just to give her a quick and easy way to get around the housing development where she was working as a broker. She was then a member of Zonta, an international advocacy organization of business and professional women. It was through Zonta that she met several women who told her how much fun they had with their cycling club. Soon after she joined the Bonneville Bicycle Touring Club (now called Bonneville Cycling Club) and wholeheartedly embraced cycling. She was then 61. She brought her mountain bike with her on road trips and cycled every place she visited. She got out her passport and cycled through France, down to Mexico, two week cycling/camping trip across Siberia, and several trips through China and Canada. She cycled around the Gulf Islands, the San Juan Islands and around Vancouver Island. At age 67, she and a friend also rode the epic mountain trails from Telluride, Colorado to Moab, Utah—a 217 mile trip that crosses up and over mountains.
Little Red Riding Hood Ride Begins
It was in those early years of cycling when she and some friends visited California and rode the Cinderella Classic women’s ride. It was not only a lot of fun, but she thought it was a great way to promote women’s cycling. Always the advocate for women, she began thinking of how she could put together something similar in her home state of Utah. It was while she was on a ride with her friend Sue Shawle through pastoral Cache Valley with its small homey towns surrounded by lush farmlands that she knew she found the perfect spot for this new women’s ride. It took a year to plan the ride and she didn’t neglect the details. She and Sue planned a 100K route with rest stops, got all the proper approvals and permits and even lined up a support crew made up of her good friend Jon Smith and several other men who would be the sag vehicle and help with the occasional flats. Then she ordered a lunch for the two dozen women who would take part in that first ride and thus, the Little Red Riding Hood Ride was born.
As an advocate for the sport of cycling, Alice is one of the best. She has the charm, the energy and the infectious enthusiasm for it all. Cycling for her is a way to see new places, enjoy old and new friends, and to feel young while adding on the miles. She doesn’t let things like arthritis or a knee replacement stop her from having an active and fit life. There are many heroes in cycling such as Lance Armstrong or Greg LeMond, but it is like Alice that I most want to be.