PEDAL PUSHERS: Cycling senior proves the power of the bicycle

Our 78-year old friend, Peter Scholefield, is living proof that seniors can and do cycle for transportation.

Peter grew up in Ambleside and, following a career as a meteorologist, returned to the “shire” after working for the United Nations in Geneva. Peter has always had a bike and used one as a kid to deliver The Province to subscribers near his family home. During his working life, he commuted on a bike as often as possible. Now in retirement, he uses his bike as his primary mode of transportation, riding to meetings, to go shopping, visit with family and play tennis.

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“I use a bicycle to get around for a few reasons,” says Scholefield. “Primarily I like the health benefits. Cycling everywhere keeps me fit and relieves stress – after all, it’s good fun. But there are other reasons, too. As a meteorologist, I understand the impacts of climate change on our environment. Cycling is a good way to reduce my greenhouse gas emissions.”

Six hip replacements, five on one side, have not slowed Peter down. For recreation, he plays tennis year around as a member of the Seniors Tennis Association of the North Shore. He rides his bike from Ambleside to the North Vancouver Tennis Centre during the fall and winter months and to Murdo Frazer courts during the spring and summer. In 2010, he completed the 120 kilometre GranFondo ride from downtown Vancouver to Whistler on his hybrid bicycle and came 10th in the over-70 age category.

In the summer of 2015, Peter was diagnosed with prostate cancer. During September and October of that year, he cycled every weekday for 36 days, 14 kilometres each way, to and from the BC Cancer Agency to receive radiation treatments.

“I was in great shape from cycling one and a half hours every day. I tried to get to the Cancer Agency as fast as I could and, on the way home, explored many different routes at a more relaxed pace. Definitely, cycling was the best part of my day.”

The treatments required him to arrive with a full bladder, so he would stop twice along the way to drink half of his water bottle each time.

“The routes I rode to and from the BC Cancer Agency were 90 per cent protected from traffic or had very light traffic. The bike network in Vancouver is excellent and allows people to choose cycling as a realistic transportation mode. We are moving toward this on the North Shore as well.”

These days, Peter notes that “with increased gridlock on the North Shore, cycling is sometimes faster than driving and certainly more predictable. There are no unexpected delays and there’s usually no searching for a parking spot on arriving at your destination.”

For new riders of any age, he has this to say: “If you want to start cycling for transportation, choose routes with no traffic like the Spirit Trail from Ambleside to Park and Tilford. And take low traffic, neighbourhood bike routes like 23rd Street in Pemberton Heights or 15th Street instead of Marine Drive. These routes may be less direct, but you will feel safe, enjoy the experience and gain confidence.”

Happily, we can report that Peter received a clean bill of health, with no sign of prostate cancer at his annual medical checkup at the end of March.

Ride on Peter, ride on.

The North Shore Pedal Pushers are Heather Drugge and Antje Wahl. The guy who makes the column readable, Dan Campbell, prefers driving. See – we can all work together.

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