Breaking away in style

Breaking away in style
Breaking away in style

About once a week, Chris Kramer goes for a bike ride along the Fox River in Oshkosh, WI. It's a scenic ride, but the best thing of all is Kramer never breaks a sweat.

Kramer is a resident in Gabriel's Villa, an assisted living facility that's part of the Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh. In late August, Lutheran Homes became the first location in the United States to offer the Cycling Without Age program, which recruits volunteer cyclists to pilot bicycle rickshaws for nursing home residents. The program started in Denmark in 2013.

Up until Cycling Without Age came to Lutheran Homes, Kramer estimates he hadn't been on a bike in 20 years.

The rickshaws are equipped with seatbelts and the pilots are well-trained, so Kramer says seniors who might be nervous to take a ride have little to worry about.

“Just sit down, relax and enjoy,” he says.

Several local groups  have volunteered to serve as pilots for residents from Lutheran's nursing home and assisted living populations. For the pilots, who range in age from 15 years to their 70s, Cycling Without Age is a chance to foster an intergenerational relationship with the residents.

“It's just been phenomenal, the interest we've seen getting elders outside and getting the wind in their hair,” said Bonnie Behnke, Lutheran's director of development.