Cycling Without Age — It's Just Like Riding a Bike

By: Sharon Smith, Volunteer Pilot and Senior

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If like most Americans, you learned to ride a bike as a kid, chances are you’d be able to ride a bike today with no re-training and not much practice… no matter how long it’s been since your last ride. You would simply get on the bike and begin pedaling. It would be, well, “just like riding a bike.”

That familiar figure of speech has become synonymous with activities we remember effortlessly because we originally learned them more by doing and less by thinking. They are unconscious, implicit memories that are stored in our brains differently than explicit memories. That makes them easier to recall — even when an individual has dementia, a brain injury, or depression.

The belief that he could prompt fond memories of their childhood bike rides for elderly residents of Copenhagen’s nursing homes led Ole Kassow to launch the Cycling Without Age (CWA) Program in 2012. An avid cyclist, Ole wanted seniors to remember the same freedom and joy he felt on his daily rides, even if they were no longer able to bike themselves. In just 10 years, CWA has expanded from a single 88-year-old riding in a rented rickshaw with Ole pedaling to 575,000 people receiving 2.5 million rides from 35,000 volunteers in 42 countries across the world.

There are many physical and mental health, as well as social benefits for both riders and pilots. Every McHenry County citizen over age 16 is welcome to be become a trained pilot and every McHenry County senior is welcome to register for regular rides. For more information, to volunteer, or to sign up, please contact CWA-MC Steering Committee member, Suzanne (Sam) Martinez at [email protected].