From Santa Barbara to Scotland, strangers become friends while riding bikes together. They are twinned by Cycling Without Age, an organization that helps seniors go on bike rides, even if they can’t pedal themselves.
Hugh Lyon and David Lawrence have been riding together for years. They have both lived in Falkirk, Scotland all their lives, but did not meet until they became involved with Cycling Without Age. “Despite the fact that we are roughly 20 years apart, we both went to the same high school,” Lyon, 74, said.
Lawrence, 56, serves as the “pilot”, driving the pedicab – a bicycle with a passenger seat in the front that Cycling Without Age uses for its rides. They go for walks about once a week, often discussing the history of their town.
“It gives me a connection to people of an older generation,” Lawrence said. “Unfortunately, I lost both my parents, they are no longer with us. And for me, that gives this connection with the elderly and I like to spend time with them and listen to their stories.”
The couple struck up a friendship outside of cycling. Lawrence said he often called Lyon and went to the gym with him to help him with exercises he couldn’t do on his own.
Ole Kassow, who founded Cycling Without Age, said that was the power of the program. “The really powerful thing about these bike rides is that they connect people and stories to create new relationships,” he told CBS News. “In my experience, friendships – and the ability to form new relationships at any age – are what define a good life, and often a long and happy life as well.”
Kassow launched Cycling Without Age in Copenhagen in 2012, but there are now 2,700 chapters in 52 countries.
John Seigel Boettner started the Santa Barbara chapter. He has a rule for passengers. “They say, ‘What’s it cost, if I’m going for a ride, what’s it going to cost?’ I say: “Here’s what it costs: it costs, you have to wave. If you don’t wave, I’ll fire you,’” he joked.
He said he liked when they hit red lights because it gave him and his passengers a chance to connect with each other and with people on the road. He said driving the pedicab is the best advertisement for Ageless Cycling because when people see it, they want to stop and learn more about the program.
For seniors like Lyon, who used to cycle with his friends all over the world, this is an opportunity to feel the wind in his face again. And cycling together can be just as meaningful for riders.
Boettner said, “When you take a 101-year-old woman for a bike ride and she holds your hand tight and says thank you and gives you a kiss on the cheek, it doesn’t get any better than that.”