99-year-old Beryl Hunter hadn’t been on a bike since the 1950s, until yesterday when she met some delightful young Danes riding trishaws.
The six young men decided to do something different in their gap year: pedal Danish cargo bikes from Newcastle to Tasmania, visiting Australian nursing homes.
They are spreading the word about Cycling Without Age, a movement that started in Denmark and helps older people get out in the fresh air and feel the wind in their hair again.
“We wanted to try doing a gap year and travel, but in a different way to just going to a beach for two months,” said Kenneth, one of the Danish students who visited Canberra this week.
The team – Frederik Pedersen, Christian Hvid, Mathias Hansen, Marcus Frellsen, Rasmus Bosack and Kenneth McDonald Kelly – started their epic ride in Newcastle on September 8.
Stops along the way include Scone, Gulgong, Canberra, Bendigo, Geelong and Melbourne, finishing in Hobart in mid-October. They’ll be delivering one of their trishaws to a new Cycling Without Age chapter when they visit Melbourne.
“It’s a very normal part of Danish culture, to bike ever since you could walk,” said Kenneth, when asked if they did any training to prepare for the big ride.
Residents from Canberra nursing homes were given a very Danish experience in Yarralumla when the Danish Ambassador to Australia Tom Nørring welcomed them into his home with a morning tea after a bike ride with the young Danes.
Araluen Village’s oldest resident, 99-year-old Mrs Beryl Hunter embraced the opportunity to take a 45-minute ride from Fisher to meet the Danish Ambassador.
“It’s our first bike ride in quite some time,” said Adrienne Capp, a fellow resident who accompanied Beryl to the morning tea. “It was lovely.”
Cycling Without Age started in Copenhagen in 2012 to help elderly Danes with limited mobility get back on their bicycles. The movement’s founder Ole Kassow started offering free rides on trishaws – basically a bicycle with a double seat in front – to local nursing home residents.
“If you go to a nursing home it doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to fresh air and good experiences,” said the Danish Ambassador Tom Nørring.
“We’re very impressed with the effort these guys are going to in order to promote Cycling Without Age here in Australia,” said the Ambassador as he thanked the six Danish students for their involvement.
“The movement started with just 5 trishaws, and has now spread to 30 countries,” he said. Cycling Without Age now has over 1000 trishaws and more than 6000 volunteer pilots.
Cycling Without Age was introduced in Australia in 2016, with the first chapter in Australia right here in Canberra at Kangara Waters in Belconnen. Interest continues to grow from communities across Australia.
In Canberra Pedal Power ACT coordinates the program, which was introduced in collaboration with the Danish Embassy, the IRT Foundation and the University of Canberra.
Find out more about Cycling Without Age and volunteer to help here.