On a breezy, blue sky day, 80-year-old Helene Gobeil is enjoying a bike ride through downtown Beaumont.
And she’s doing it without any of the hard pedalling work, thanks to a specialized, three-wheeled bicycle called a trishaw. Seated comfortably on a bench in the front, Helene is enjoying her ride, powered by volunteer and cycling enthusiast Mike Foster.
“My goodness, we went here and we went there. We went all over the place,” says Helene after a 45-minute ride. “It was incredible!”
Mike introduced Cycling Without Age to the Alberta town in August. The international program began in 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has since expanded to 37 countries. More than 50,000 people have experienced a ride. There are currently four chapters in Alberta, with five more awaiting funding. Each trishaw costs more than $10,000. The Beaumont District Lions Club funded the town’s first bike.
Mike says the purpose is to get people who are less-abled out on a bike.
“The residents are very excited about the opportunity of being outside, looking around and interacting with people.”
Recreation Therapist Evie Varelas at Chateau Vitaline says residents love the service offered by Mike, who tries to come out at least twice a week, depending on his schedule.
“I think this is a great way for our residents to get out and into the community,” says Evie.
With each ride lasting 30 to 60 minutes, Mike has added an additional 10 volunteers to help with pedalling. This has given elderly residents like Helene more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, including interacting with people they pass.
“I love it. I absolutely love it,” says Helene. “I keep yelling, I want to go! I want to go!”
Find out more about the Cycling Without Age program in Beaumont.