Breathtaking Views from the Bike • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine


New president of the University of Saint Francis says biking is a selling point for having fun and connecting with others

In 2003, Rev. Dr. Eric Zimmer traveled 4,000 miles across the country for Project Rachel, a program designed to heal after an abortion. (Photo provided by the University of Saint Francis)

In Mark 11: 1-11 in the New Testament, Jesus sent two of his disciples to get him a donkey. On their return, Jesus led the donkey to Jerusalem where he was greeted by cheering crowds.

“He was riding a donkey, so I imagine he might have considered riding a bike if they had these things at the time,” said Reverend Eric Zimmer, president of Saint Francis University, with campus in Fort Wayne. and the tip of the crown.

Zimmer took over as president of the university on July 1. He was recently a professor at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. There he led the school’s exchange with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Care Education.

He previously worked in higher education at Creighton University, Georgetown University and Washington University. He is also pastor of Saint Patrick’s Church in Walkerton.

When not studying, teaching or caring for his herd, Zimmer is passionate about cycling.

“I love to ride a bike because I love the wind in my face,” Zimmer said. “I like exercise, (and) I like being able to see things at a slower pace than in a car.”

Zimmer has been cycling for years. In 2003, he traveled 4,000 miles across the country for Project Rachel, a program designed to heal after an abortion.

When he worked at St. Xavier High School in Kathmandu, Nepal, he ran the bike club.

“We used to take bike trips all over the Kathmandu Valley and, on a couple of occasions, longer bike trips all over the country,” Zimmer said.

Reverend Dr Eric Albert Zimmer

Reverend Dr Eric Albert Zimmer

Zimmer says the bicycle allows him to see things he couldn’t see while walking or driving.

“I am able to stop and walk around if I need to when cycling in an interesting area,” he said. “I like the mobility of that (she) doesn’t depend on having enough gasoline in your gas tank, (and it) allows me to see things that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”

Zimmer said he enjoys cycling with other people.

“I love to ride a bike with other people, (and) I love the camaraderie,” Zimmer said. “I find that when you approach people on a bicycle, they are more open and welcoming than you would be by car.”

Zimmer said, for example, if you are in North Dakota and you are riding a bike and you see a farmer pulling over along the road, you are likely to stop and chat with him.

“If you were in a car, it probably wouldn’t give you much at a glance,” Zimmer said. “But seeing a cyclist pass in a rural area, people say, ‘hey what’s going on, what are you doing, where are you from? “”

True to his extensive education and background, Zimmer has also completed professional bicycle repair courses at the Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“It’s (a) fairly well-known institute,” he said. “It is their manual on how to repair bicycles that (is) used in many bicycle shops across the country.”

There, he learned how to repair his bike and how to maintain it.

“I wanted to take longer trips (and) go through rural areas, I would be able to fix my bike,” Zimmer said. “But I would also be less likely to need to repair it because I know how to keep my bike in good condition.”

During the pandemic, Zimmer said he took more bike rides but locally, not long rides. This is in line with many Americans where the bicycle has increased as an alternative to public transportation.

With inventory of bikes in short supply in many retail stores, keeping, repairing, and repairing any bike you own seems like the way to go.

Zimmer said that while he can fix a friend’s bike, it’s difficult due to changes in technology and bike design.

“I sometimes repair other bikes,” he said. “What I find is that the bikes have changed to some extent over the years, (and) the specifications in the construction of the bikes have changed.”

Zimmer said fixing something from the 1970s might present more of a challenge than something built in the early 2000s or even today with high-end bikes.

“They now have electronic shifting,” he said. “My bikes are all between 20 and 30 years old, (and) I don’t know how to do electronic gearshifts, and I probably won’t learn.”

Click here for more information on the October-November 2020 issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.

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