MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Ken Carroll loves cycling. In fact, the Mahopac native loves it so much he owns five bicycles.
So when the Army veteran learned that the American Legion Post 1080 in Mahopac needed a fiscal shot in the arm, it was only natural that he used his cycling skills as a way to raise money.
Carroll set out to bike 1,080 miles (Mahopac Legion is Post 1080) throughout the summer and fall and have area businesses sponsor his efforts through monetary contributions. He did it before, nine years ago, when he raised more than $3,000 for the Legion. But when he discovered earlier this year that the Legion needed money to continue its programs, such as the work it does with the Boy and Girl Scouts, he decided to do it again, even though he’s now 70 years old.
“I am a big cyclist; I’ve been doing it for 15 years,” said Carroll, who is a retired firefighter with the New York City Fire Department. He also teaches a spinning class at the NY Sports Club in Somers.
Carroll said that biking to raise money is not new to him. He’s ridden in the annual New York City Fire Department fundraiser with FDNY bike enthusiasts in honor of firefighters killed on 9/11. They ride 343 miles—one mile for each firefighter killed—and all the money raised goes to veterans organizations and charities.
“This is the fifth year I have taken part in that event,” Carroll said.
For the American Legion project, his goal was to tally the 1,080 miles before Veterans Day—which he did. However, he wasn’t sure how much he had raised at the time this interview was conducted, but he planned on presenting the check to Post 1080 members on Veterans Day.
“I will ride my bike into the parking lot and hand them the check,” he said.
Carroll began the fundraiser back in April and said there was no real inspiration for the idea other than it combined his love of cycling and helping out veterans.
“I looked at it as a challenge and as a way to raise funds,” he said.
Carroll has a small computer he installs on the handlebars of his bike every time he sets out to gather miles for the fundraiser. It keeps track of the distance he rides, among other data.
“Most of the time I just hop on the bike and ride,” he said. “But I ride in other fundraisers too, like the Tour de Cure for diabetes up in the Adirondacks, and the miles I rode for that are included [in the Legion fundraisers goal].”
Carroll served in the Army from 1965 to 1967 and was stationed in Germany. He is also a member of the VFW Post 5491 in Mahopac and owns his own business.
Since taking up cycling, he’s become a familiar face to both motorists and pedestrians along the thoroughfares throughout Mahopac and the surrounding communities.
“Everyone sees me riding up and down the roads, even in Carmel, Kent and Brewster,” he said.
Sometimes he rides with Team Bikeway from the local Bikeway bicycle shop, and other times he goes it alone.
“Sometimes I just go solo; I put on the music and off I go,” he said, noting that his music of choice is classic rock. “AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, that sort of thing. It’s what gets me going.”
Of the five bikes he owns, his favorite is a Cervello S5 road bike, a model, he says, that is well-known to avid cyclists.
“It’s built for speed and for power and it’s pretty lightweight,” he said. “It’s like the BMW of bicycles.”