Cycling Without Age is a wonderful worldwide initiative that began in Denmark and has been taking root in Aotearoa. It offers older folk a chance to enjoy the wind in their hair, thanks to electrified trishaws powered by volunteer pilots.

CWOA began blossoming in Auckland in 2017, at retirement villages on the North Shore, and in early 2018 we wrote about the young people bringing the programme to Selwyn Village in Pt Chevalier.

We’re happy to report the Pt Chev programme is going great guns. If you live locally you may have spotted the bike – officially named Daisy Bell! – out and about, ferrying happy passengers to and from beaches, parks, and shops.

Taking a turn around the village, chatting all the way: Cycling Without Age Pt Chevalier.

One regular Pt Chev pilot is Owen Sharpe, a longtime commuter cyclist (with three cycling sons) who was looking to add a bit more momentum to his days after retirement. Below, he shares some of his Cycling Without Age experiences. It’s truly as rewarding for the pilot as the passenger.

When I retired, I stopped my daily commute to the city on my bike and my fitness began to drop off. I found I couldn’t keep up with my Saturday cycling group. But my retirement means I’ve got time midweek now, and a friend referred me to Cycling Without Age, operating at Selwyn Village just down the road. So I checked out the website (they’re also on Facebook).

Now, twice a week I’m a ‘trishaw pilot’ at the village, from 10 am to noon, and it has been a fabulous experience.

A couple approached on my first day, arm in arm and chatted about what we were doing. Next day, I was there at the appointed hour and they came up arm in arm again. I took them up for coffee on Pt Chev Rd, and then down to the beautiful Dignan Street Community Garden where I also hang out. (I found out later that they’re not a couple, they’re neighbours. They’d been arm in arm because he’s a bit unsteady on his feet.

Just up from the village there’s a big park, Walker Park, and my most regular route is simple to take passengers on a circuit around it. But last week my companion was Frieda, a blind lady, visibly frail as she walked to the trishaw.

I began to go around the park, and she asked me if I could take her to smell the sea. So I turned down Walker Rd, down the steep hill to the beach. We parked and took it all in for a moment, and then continued onto the path through Eric Armishaw Reserve, along the boardwalk above the mangroves and up alongside the motorway to the top of the path and back. Frieda was ecstatic the whole time. I was also ecstatic; I couldn’t help feeling her joy. That has been my consistent experience.

And then there is Jill, who grew up in Pt Chev but lived her life elsewhere, until she came back to live in the village. I’ve taken her on several rides, including to the Eric Armishaw boardwalk. She remembered all her little-girl experiences there, and how the area above the path had been “a clay bank”. At least ten sentences on that ride began with the words “We used to ….”

I love the generosity inherent in Cycling Without Age; the original conception, the bike funders, and the opportunity for pilots to give of their time. I love each new journey. My own heart pumps stronger each ride I get.

Regular pilot Owen Sharpe and a happy passenger, heading back from a trip to Coyle Park and the beach.

If you’d like to enjoy similar experiences by volunteering as a pilot, get in touch with the team via email or on Facebook.

They’d also love to hear from anyone who has fundraising or administrative skills to share – including sewing skills or fabric donations for a big patchwork blanket to keep passengers toasty warm on winter rides!

You can also sign up for occasional updates about the Pt Chev programme. And donations are always welcome, at Cycling Without Age Central Auckland Trust, Kiwibank 38-9020-0498791-00.

Now enjoy this lovely clip, featuring Timothée, one of the co-founders, and Mary Rose, a happy passenger!

Faith Cleverly, who made the video clip above, and Mary Rose Cleverly, enjoying the sea air. (Image: Cycling Without Age Pt Chevalier)
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