Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Winter Wonderland and Cycling Without Age

I've been neglecting my stained glass art for the past 5 weeks as I find myself enjoying our Minnesota winter like maybe never before. It began when I studded the tires on my fat-bike and took to the trails; something I've not been able to do the past few winters because of ice and a promise to my doctor that I wouldn't get too crazy on my bike knowing that head injuries and coumadin don't play well together. It also helps that we've had some very reasonable temps for being outdoors—just a few degrees below freezing for the most part.

I woke up this morning to see that we were living in a snow globe. It was beautiful! This winter finds me looking forward to snow in the forecast, whereas recent winters not so much—even the 8" (20 cm) variety of snowfalls we received overnight and today is perfectly fine with me. I waited for the snow to stop before clearing our drive and walkways then I suited up to snowshoe the river trails.

I arrived to see that several fat-bikes had already begun to reestablish the trail so I did my best to work the outer edges of the track with my snowshoes to add some width to what was already there. I considered bringing some tunes along but music would only disrupt the solitude of the river bottoms on this beautiful late afternoon. My thoughts and my surroundings were the only entertainment I'd need. I may try and make it back tomorrow with my bike.

Some photos from my hike.

I saw a featured segment on a local newscast last spring or summer about a program called Cycling Without Age (CWA) where volunteers (aka pilots) take elderly and disabled people on bicycle rides using a rickshaw, or in this case, a trishaw. There was a new chapter of the program in St. Paul and the news segment featured the man who'd organized it. The program has its roots in Denmark where Ole Kassow began it there in 2012. I'll let Ole explain CWA in detail in the video below.

I tried to contact the man I saw in the video on the local newscast but I never received a reply (I'm guessing my email ended up in his spam folder). CWA is something I think I would love to be a part of and fortunately for me, I have some friends in Northfield that I ride with who are beginning a chapter of the program in their city, about a half-hour drive away for me. And not only that but there's also a chapter being formed in Lakeville (where I live) that I've committed to helping out. From all I can see, it's an excellent volunteering opportunity for me

I attended a CWA presentation in Northfield two nights ago featuring none other than Ole and his partner Pernille from Denmark. They literally travel the globe putting on presentations for cities where people have expressed an interest in opening a chapter, and luckily for my friends in Northfield, they were able to have Ole and Pernille schedule a stop in their city after having done a presentation in Rochester earlier in the day.

They told stories of people living in care facilities who were somewhat reluctant to climb aboard the trishaw but once they were out on the road feeling the wind in their face, they came alive and absolutely loved the experience. But more importantly, Ole and Pernille talked about how the trishaw is actually just a tool, a tool used to create an environment where those, oftentimes living out the twilight of their lives, can feel validated as they chat with the pilot who is providing the ride and recall for them memories from their youth. Their lives have a newfound meaning they might not otherwise have for the time spent with their pilot. Relationships are formed and future rides give them something to look forward to. How awesome is that?!

Ole and Pernille spent most of last week in Minnesota with a trip into Wisconsin yesterday before returning to Copenhagen this afternoon. It's truly an amazing thing they're doing!

After their presentation two nights ago, we went out for beers and a bite to eat while getting to know them better and learning even more about their organization. I'm impressed by all I've seen and heard.

If this is something that interests you, please know that there's no requirement to be a strong cyclist to volunteer as a pilot. The trishaws are actually e-bikes with a motor and powerful battery to aid in propelling the bike. I'm excited about it and am looking forward to being a part of Cycling Without Age!

The video below is from a ride I did a week ago with the guys from Michael's Cycles in Chaska. Check out the pup in the video. She had a blast out there!

That's all I've got.

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