Jon Heydenreich

Jon Heydenreich

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BRATTLEBORO — Jon Heydenreich, pastor of Brattleboro’s Trinity Lutheran Church, will be cycling in the Mt. Washington Autoroad Race on Saturday.

The race, 7.4 miles at an average grade of 12 percent, is considered one of the most difficult hill climbs in the United States. In the cycling world, Mt. Washington is usually considered a “bucket list” ride for serious cyclists.

A total of 480 people are entered in the event and Heydenreich will be among the small handful of people over the age of 65. Fourteen people from Vermont are registered.

Heydenreich has been the pastor at Trinity Lutheran for over a year. He describes the church as an exciting place — creating a new spiritual experience for a new time. The church is approaching its 130th anniversary. He is also a columnist for the Brattleboro Reformer, authoring the daily “Mindful Moment.”

“I was in this race in my younger days and then ‘lost it,’” he said in a statement. “I stopped training. I ate too much. I got old and fat. Last summer I had something of an awakening.”

That awakening prompted him to lose 35 pounds, start running the Harris Ski Jump steps in Brattleboro and spend hours training indoors and out.

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“We are blessed with enormous potential,” he said. “We just need believe it is there, because it is. I have no outstanding athletic heritage. I am really an ordinary fellow and I am old!”

Heydenreich does not know if he can finish but he goes on: “When I get to the starting line I will have already made it. I’ve dropped a lot of weight. I have never felt better and maybe if folks know about an old guy like me who is in this event they will get inspired to tap into what is in them.”

Three former professional cyclists will be racing — Ian Boswell, Phil Gaimon and Jeremy Powers. One of them is likely to be the winner at around 52 minutes. Heydenreich anticipates that with good fortune he will be one of the last finishers at 150 minutes.

“My wife is 71 and she just went off and bought a rowing machine,” Heydenreich said. “Each of us has something within us. You just have to believe you are blessed — could be walking, or jogging or playing an instrument — but we have that potential.”

Asked whether he will be leading worship at Trinity Lutheran the next day, he said, “You bet. It’s going to be a great morning. And maybe I’ll have a piece of cheesecake!”