Scotland launches free bike tours for seniors

The sight of older people enjoying the outdoors on a free bike tour may soon become commonplace in Scotland, after ministers decided to fund the nationwide roll-out of a pilot program.

The Cycling Without Age project was a big hit after being introduced to Falkirk, with a video clip of the idea in action generating huge interest online.

“The only time they went out was with their family or during activities at home”

Fraser Johnston, volunteer

The program sees volunteer cyclists pick up elderly people from their homes or nursing homes and take them for a ride on a trishaw, a three-wheeled vehicle used in some countries as a taxi.

The Falkirk project has been operational since March with a team of around 30 people, but gained worldwide fame last month after being featured on BBC3 Amazing Humans series.

A clip from the project, showing 20-year-old volunteer Fraser Johnston taking Mary Duncan, a resident of a local nursing home, for a bike ride, has been viewed more than 20 million times in five days.

The pilot program initially received £ 36,000 from the Scottish government and the EU’s European Social Fund, but ministers have now decided to increase funding to allow the project to be rolled out nationwide.

This is the first time that the Cycling Without Age concept, which started in Denmark in 2012, has been extended to an entire country.


“It’s easy to see why the video featuring Fraser and his enthusiastic passengers has become such a global social media hit – it’s a great project,” Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said.

“I am delighted to announce that the Scottish Government will now work with Cycling Without Age to ensure that older people across Scotland can experience nature and feel the wind in their hair.

“We are already providing financial support for the program here in Falkirk and we want to see this great initiative spread across the country. “

She added that if there was “a lot of work to be done” on the details of the program, the Scottish government would provide financial support to enable older people across the country to benefit from similar projects.

Mr Johnston said the program had grown from “strength to strength” since its launch in Falkirk, adding that he was “delighted” to see it become a national project.

Read more: How Edinburgh became a cycling city

In the BBC video, the medical student said getting on a trishaw is a perfect way for older people who would otherwise be stuck at home to get out and get around. One of the beneficiaries of the project is 93.

“The only time they’ve gone out is with their family or for activities at home, but it’s normally from the house to a car to a bus to the next place,” he said. -he declares.

“For some of them it’s such a weird thing when you say ‘Get out on the bike’, because they think they’re going to pedal.

“But when they find out that it’s a young or an old volunteer who brings them out, they jump at the chance.

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Yukon Fat Bike Tours Open Up New Winter Market

The Yukon enjoys a growing reputation as a world-class mecca for mountain bikers who come to sample the incredible single-track trails around Whitehorse and Carcross.

In the past, the biking season usually ended when the first snow of winter fell, but not anymore – now cyclists simply switch to “big bikes” to ride the snowy trails. And a travel agency in the Yukon is hoping to capitalize on it.

Big bikes are similar to mountain bikes, but with oversized tires to make it easier to move on soft surfaces such as snow and sand.

Fat bikes, named for their extra-wide tires, are designed to travel on soft surfaces such as snow and sand. (Derek Crowe)

This winter, for the first time ever, Skookum Backcountry Adventures uses fat bikes to take adventurous tourists on a multi-day excursion, through pristine and remote parts of the land.

“It’s a huge thing now, the fat bike,” said James Minifie, owner / operator of the company. “I have yet to find a fat bike guided by a multi-day expedition. There is stuff in Norway and a little bit in Iceland, but nothing like it.”

Minifie’s past goal has been to guide skiers through the backcountry of the Yukon. He turns to fat bikes with the help of guide Derek Crowe, who competed in the Arctic Ultra race on a fat bike.

Minifie says he and Crowe hiked part of the trail a few years ago.

“I was so blown away by the scenery and the experience that I decided it could be a great trip,” said Minifie.

Derek Crowe (left) and James Minifie in Carmacks, about to begin a descent on the Yukon Quest Trail. (Derek Crowe)

A hot tent and a hot meal

In March, the two will drive five people along part of the Yukon Quest dog sled course. They will start on March 9 just outside Carmacks and end three days and about 200 kilometers later in Takhini Hot Springs (about 20 kilometers outside of Whitehorse) – a great place to thaw out and rest tired muscles.

The tour will take cyclists through some of the Yukon’s most remote hinterlands. (Derek Crowe)

“The speed at which you can go depends in a way on the quality of the track. We leave about three weeks after the [Yukon] Quest, so we’ll probably have some handling issues, but I have a groomer and we have snowmobile support. So the plan is to make the trail completely passable again, ”said Minifie.

Temperatures in early March in the Yukon can fluctuate wildly, with the mercury easily dropping to -30 ° C at night. Mais Minifie will provide riders with a hot tent and a hot meal at the end of each day’s ride.

“I have these pretty, chic tents – ‘Arctic Oven’ tents, we call them – and they’re wood-fired or diesel-fired and they’re hot enough. So we set them up. And we have a team going forward. on snowmobiles and set up camp, and all food is taken care of.

The tour operator will provide riders with a hot tent and a hot meal at the end of each day of riding. (Derek Crowe)

“The idea is that you don’t have to carry a bunch of stuff if you’re a customer. You can have a light bike, and all of your stuff is carried for you, and you really just have to carry your survival gear for the day. “

Minify says guests can relax, too, knowing they’ll be safe in the backcountry, although he adds that this year is geared “toward more experienced customers, who knows what they’re getting into” .

Spread the word

Minifie says that so far most of his marketing has been done via social media, but he also attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival this year with Kelly Milner, who made an award-winning film about the bike trails of Yukon mountain.

Big bikes are more and more common, but are still new to many Yukoners. (Derek Crowe)

“They have a trade fair that goes with the festival, so I packed all my stuff and went there,” Minifie said. “I had a big bike on display there, and the entire nine meters.

“It really paid off because the group coming this year is made up of Calgarians and Edmontonians who signed up.”

He also advertised on a European website for fat bike enthusiasts and says he now has two tours already booked for 2018.

“There really isn’t much like it, even in the world,” he said.

“I was so blown away by the scenery and the experience that I decided it could be a great trip,” said James Minifie. (Derek Crowe)

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The new bachelor party: skydiving, bike tours replace strip clubs, casinos

For Jarrett Ehler, the perfect bachelor party wasn’t a night of drunken debauchery. There were no strip clubs, casinos or limousines.

Instead, he and 11 close friends played golf, ate steaks, sipped beers, and chatted around a campfire on a getaway to the Sherwood Golf and Country Club in Chester, Nova Scotia, early June.

“I wanted it to be having my friends together and having a good time with them,” said Ehler, 27, originally from Prince Edward Island but living in Toronto.

“I didn’t want this to be a typical city event where everyone is going in different directions and you get hammered so hard that you don’t even have meaningful conversations.”

A complete experience

Industry experts say Ehler’s experience is becoming the new normal. Bachelor parties in Canada are moving away from the traditional night of vice, with many newlyweds opting for experience-based celebrations instead that range from beer tasting to bike tours.

Dan Brennan, CEO of Ottawa-based Breakaway Experiences Inc., said he often addresses the thrill-seeking groom. He said singles these days are looking for a day or weekend experience, with some choosing to tick boxes on their bucket list.

“It’s often not just about partying in bars and drinking anymore. It becomes an experience in its own right,” said Brennan, adding that her business offers a range of singles experiences, including skydiving and driving stunt cars.

“More and more bachelor parties are becoming an event. They want to do something they will remember – something unique and fun.”

Get married later in life

Oren Bornstein, owner of bachelor party planning company Connected Montreal, said many contemporary couples marry at an older age than their parents.

He said these newlyweds are more likely to crave a weekend away from the daily grind rather than a night out.

“People get married later in life and it’s less and less likely for guys and their boyfriends to go on vacation together,” Bornstein said. “So ironically it’s less and less about the single person and more and more about everyone getting together.”

But Bornstein admitted that he still plans many parties riddled with immoral self-indulgence: “I think at the end of the day the boys will be boys,” he said with a laugh.

“Celebrate the life you have created”

Groom Matt McGrath was not interested in having naked women in his stag camping on the Blandford coast in Nova Scotia

“At the end of the day, I don’t live my life like a rap video,” the 31-year-old said with a deep laugh, adding that his friends had his party planned. “[Strippers] doesn’t have any kind of appeal to me. I don’t see it as entertainment and I don’t think it’s tasteful. “

McGrath said he believes 21st century grooms are increasingly frugal as well.

“Throwing your money on visuals – this might not be the best way to spend your money or your friends’ money when you can grab a few beers … and share stories with the intention of celebrating the life you created and sculpted for yourself, ”he said.

Not about one last night of freedom

Ehler agreed, saying he didn’t want his bachelor party to be about spending one last night of freedom, but rather celebrating his upcoming wedding with his closest friends.

“This is not a ‘last call’,” said Ehler, who is getting married in Digby, Nova Scotia on July 31. “It really is just an opportunity to bring everyone together and celebrate the phase of life you find yourself in.”

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Door County bike tours are a summer treat

Through Brian E. Clark, Special to Journal Sentinel

When Dwight Bussman moved to Wisconsin about five years ago, he knew he wanted to visit Door County. But Bussman, a cyclist, didn’t just want to circle the scenic peninsula that stretches across the western shore of Lake Michigan like a bony silhouette.

So he and his wife joined a Door County Bike Tours group in the summer of 2012 and cycled for three days from town to town to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the county at a leisurely pace.

“We went to boil fish, saw art galleries, we stayed at the Eagle port hostel at Ephraim and I also had a good exercise, ”said Bussman, who has moved from Portland, Oregon, and now works for an educational software company affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“My wife is not as sporty as I am, but we were able to ride at our own pace,” said Bussman, 33. we stopped.

“It was a good mix of activities and riding so it worked out well for us,” said Bussman, who rides twice a week around Madison, Middleton and Verona. “I especially enjoyed learning about local traditions like the Door County fish boiling.”

These premium bike tours are the brainchild of Chet Gerlach, 67, a former state lawmaker who once represented the Assembly District which included South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, and Cudahy. He now lives in Madison and works as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Tourist Attractions Association.

Gerlach grew up riding a bicycle, but practically stopped when he and his wife were raising their three children. However, one of his sons caught the cycling bug and is now a professional triathlete based in Tucson, Arizona, and Madison.

“He’s 34 and on the drop of the hat he’s going to go 100 miles,” said Gerlach. “I’m not that kind of guy, but he had some influence on me. Now that the kids are grown up, my wife and I have a little more time and have developed a new interest in cycling.”

Gerlach first cycled in Door County in the summer of 2011 after he and his wife drove to Sturgeon Bay. They then cycled around the peninsula for five days. He said his wife had arthritis, so they rented an electric bike for him from the Ni Door Sports and Cyclery shopping at Fish Creek to help her climb hills and when she was tired.

“It was such an enjoyable experience for us that I started to wonder if there was a possible cycle touring business here,” said Gerlach, who contacted in-laws who rode bikes all over the place. ‘Europe with Vermont Bike Tours.

On their recommendation, he toured from Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA, with VBT in 2011. He enjoyed it, but came away feeling it could be done even better in Door County. . So he launched his business in 2012.

Most tours are based at the Eagle Harbor Inn, although he did one that started to Glidden Lodge in Sturgeon Bay. For weekend tours, he chooses a home port, and cyclists then spend their days riding and visiting parks, restaurants or cultural attractions.

“We meet up and after an orientation session we start driving around 1:00 pm Friday, finally returning to our home base for the evening,” he said.

From Ephraim they usually roll up Peninsula State Park, stop at the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse for a tour, then return to the Inn by bike for a group dinner. They could also attend a play in the evening. And when they stop at a gallery, they can meet the owner who can talk about the artwork.

A highlight of some of the tours was a stop at Tasty spoon cooking school in Ellison Bay for a class, after which cyclists can eat what they’ve created, he said.

“The whole idea of ​​these tours, frankly, is that the bikes are our means of transportation to see things,” he said. “That’s why we only drive between 15 and 25 miles a day. I’ve spent most of my career exploring the state’s attractions, so I like to do some in Door County which are doable by bike. We can go north, south or east over the next two days. We canoeed on Lake Europe, hiked in the sanctuary of the ridges and cycled to Sister Bay to sail on the schooner Edith M. Becker. There are so many great things to see and do here. “

Gerlach said most of the land in Door County is hilly, although there are several large hills on the west side of the peninsula that lead to Fish Creek, Egg Harbor, Ephraim and Sister Bay.

“We usually do these climbs at the start of the day when everyone is the coolest,” he said. “But then we take easier roads.”

Gerlach guides the tours and his wife drives the “slump cart” in case people need help or run out of steam. If riders are feeling more energetic, they can start earlier and cover more miles and take a route that will get them to their first destination around the same time as the rest of the group.

In addition to several three-day weekends that he will offer in August and September, Gerlach will also be hosting a five-day hike in July similar to the one he and his wife did in 2011. It will start in Sturgeon Bay and include overnight stays. in Egg Harbor, Ephraim, Whitefish Bay and Sturgeon Bay.

More information: Rates start at $ 825 for a single person and $ 1,250 for a couple for a three-day visit. The five-day ride starts at $ 1,650 and $ 2,450, respectively. For more details see

Pedal Across Wisconsin is another outfitter offering tours in Door County (with daily mileage between 50 and 75 miles). Upcoming events include the Century Peninsula Spring Classic June 20, Door County Century Ride September 13 and Peninsula Century Fall Classic September 19.

For more information on Door County, including shops that rent bikes, see Peninsula State Park and Potawatomi State Park offer bicycle rentals. Washington Island also has rentals near the ferry dock.

For the first time, the Door County Visitors Bureau will have a self-service bicycle helper station at the Door County Visitor Center at 1015 Green Bay Road, Sturgeon Bay. The free outdoor station will have basic tools, an air pump and space to perform maintenance such as seat adjustments or tire inflation.

Getting There : Door County is approximately 150 miles north of Milwaukee via I-43 and Highway 57.

Brian E. Clark is a Madison writer and photographer.

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Manzanita Bike Tours makes driving easy | Business

Besides the company’s website, he also uses social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to let people know about his new business.

“The great thing about Instagram is that you can have access to everyone. I can take pictures, add a hashtag to a topic that I think our target demographic will look into, and then try to generate interest there, ”Kerson said.

Kerson, who also works as a software product manager at ComNet Technology in Napa, also uses rack cards as a form of local advertising.

“I expected to have a lot of challenges with people who think, ‘Oh my God, here’s another service I have to face.’ But everyone has been extremely supportive, ”Kerson said. “This being a very touristy area, any kind of exhibition that I could bring back to my partners is a victory for both of us. “

His experiences with a start-up and a well-established company like Specialized Bicycles have given Kerson a wide range of what to expect when running a business. “With Specialized, I learned the right way to do things, and with the start-up, I learned a lot about what not to do.”

Equally important was the support of those close to him.

“My girlfriend has been extremely supportive,” Kerson said. “It’s a great thing to ask your significant other, ‘Hey, I think I do that deal. It could be awesome or it could fail miserably. Are you okay with that?”‘

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Brooklyn Bike Tours from McCarren Park – Williamsburg – New York

Felipe Lavalle (right) starts the Get Up and Ride bike tours in June.
See the full legend

Felipe Lavalle

WILLIAMSBURG – A fleet of seven San Francisco-made diamond-framed gears are en route to a parking lot near McCarren Park – and Felipe Lavalle is sure the trendy two-wheelers will attract tourists and locals alike to his new ride. bicycle business.

Lavalle will lead people on the Greenpoint, Williamsburg and DUMBO waterfront and across the Brooklyn Bridge on his first tour, and then hopes to expand routes all around Brooklyn with a few other staff.

“I’m going to guide people where they want to go, but also let them explore on their own. So people can see what’s historic but also stop in local cafes and around shops,” Lavalle said. , 27, about the visits he will be making. start the second week of June, with his company Get Up and Ride, which will be launched soon.

“My idea was guided tours from a local perspective,” Lavalle said of the three to five hour routes he planned.

And during this time, he wanted his clients to maintain their image, with “simple classic” public bikes.

“[Some rental] the bikes are really cheesy and campy, you can’t help but look like a tourist when you’re at it, ”said Lavalle, who quit his job in April in sales for a digital printing company to try a new one. livelihood.

He said he hopes the city’s new bike sharing program and more focused attention to bike lanes will also help promote his business.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of anything that moves on two wheels,” said Lavalle, who mountain biked in Virginia as a child and cycled to Midtown from his Williamsburg apartment. .

He plans to charge between $ 50 and $ 100 for his tours, which he hopes to expand to attract people who live in Manhattan and even in his own borough.

“Even just bringing my friends over from Manhattan can be the biggest problem,” he said. “So having something associated with it becomes this great little afternoon in Brooklyn that I don’t know if you would otherwise.”

Lavalle launches its website,, On June 1, he will present more details about his business, including the chances for customers to book tours.

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