Most all of us can recall the freedom and sheer exhilaration of pedalling our bike down the street as a child.
It was a liberating experience, and our first rapid transportation method.
But years have passed and, for many older adults (55+) the thought of commuting through city streets, even in a relatively quiet municipality like Sidney, can be daunting.
That’s why the Bike to Work Society is offering a course they call Bike Freedom; a course designed to get 55+ adults back onto the bike seat and pedalling down the street.
It’s a three-part course (each session is about 2 hours) being offered in Sidney at the Shoal Centre (10030 Resthaven Drive) and participants are invited to start at the level appropriate for their ability and experience.
Level 1 of the course (July 8 and 16) is a classroom session designed to instruct riders on the rules of the road and the basics of riding in traffic on a theoretical level.
Level 2 (July 15 and 23) takes riders into a safe practice venue where they will be taught some basic maintenance skills and bike handling exercises, including how to change gears, brake safely and maneuver around obstacles.
Level 3 (July 22 and 30) gives participants to go for a ride with an instructor, navigating city streets and learning the fundamentals of riding safely in traffic.
“The courses are designed to help people who may not have been on a bike for a while and who don’t have the skills or confidence to get out and ride, even though they want to do it,” explained Amelia Potvin, the executive director of the Bike to Work Society.
“We realize that for older riders there can be issues related to physical changes that take place, like slightly slower reflexes or a reduction in strength or hearing, but none of that should stop people from getting out there on their bikes,” she said.
Cindy Marven and Sussana Grimes, two of the certified cycling instructors are living examples of that contention.
Both in their fifties, the duo helped the Bike to Work Society develop the course materials and are both ardent cyclists.
“I was thrilled to be a part of this program, having been a cyclist for most of my life. But I know that it can be a little scary, particularly in traffic on narrow roadways where cars and trucks can sometimes be very close to the rider. It’s why we designed this course the way we did,” said Marven.
“Fear shouldn’t keep people from enjoying the freedom and the fitness improvements they can get through cycling. With proper training, it can be done safely and provide older adults with a chance to relive the joy of pedalling around their community.”
To register for the course, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-920-5775. More information is also available at biketowork.ca/victoria/bike-skills-courses-workshops.