Ronnie's back on his bike at 72

There were a few wobbles when Ronnie Kelly's feet first hit the bike pedals, but they quickly passed.

As a youngster, Kelly was an assured rider, but it has been 10 or 15 years since the grandfather of three was on a bike - so he is still regaining his confidence.

"The reason I wear gloves isn’t because of the cold - it’s to protect my hands from gravel rash if I fall off," the 72-year-old said.

He enjoys a ride along the Coastal Pathway cycleway.

"I’m a bit wobbly when I first get going, but I get better.

"I bought a bike that is just a little bit too big for me.

"I’m okay once I’m on it and travelling along at a reasonable speed, but going really slowly or getting the bike started is still a little bit of a problem."

Kelly, who originally hails from Scotland, is a diabetic and it is largely for health reasons that he has bought a bike and started going for short bike rides.

He is determined to lose some weight and improve his fitness.

Cycleways like the Coastal Pathway are encouraging more people to get on their bikes. Photo:...
Cycleways like the Coastal Pathway are encouraging more people to get on their bikes. Photo: Geoff Sloan
He is starting off small, going for short, gentle rides that allow him to build-up his cycling skills. But he plans to do more as the weather improves and his confidence grows.

"I’ve always enjoyed biking, but I got out of the habit of it," Kelly says.

"I like the pace of it and being able to look around. It’s quite a leisurely thing. I’m not out to go really quickly or anything like that. I just like the feeling of it.

"I did have a motorbike for a while so I guess I have a liking for things with two wheels on them."

Kelly has taken a few rides along the Coastal Pathway and has also been on some of the city’s other off-road cycleways.

He says he feels safe on them as he doesn’t have to contend with other traffic and can take his time.

"Before there were cycle paths everywhere, I would have thought twice about buying another bike. But there are just so many opportunities for cycling now," Kelly said.

While he has only been biking for about a month, Kelly believes it is already starting to make a difference to how he feels. He has lost some weight and his blood sugar levels have been improving.

Biking also helps relieve some of the guilt Kelly feels when he takes his treasured Mustang GT out for a drive.

"It doesn’t balance it out, but I do feel little bit less guilty about taking the Mustang out for a drive now that I’m doing some cycling."

Christchurch City Council is spending $242.8 million over the next 10 years on making the transport network safer for cyclists.

"We want to make going places by bike a safe, convenient option for people of all ages," said council’s acting head of transport Lynette Ellis.

Results from the Council’s Life in Christchurch 2020 survey show that 27 per cent of respondents aged between 65 and 79 are now travelling by bike at least once a month – up from 5 per cent in 2019.

Fifty-one per cent of the survey respondents aged over 65 say they find it easy or very easy to travel by bike in Christchurch.

"The network of major cycleways that we are building is changing how people move around the city.

"Many older people will recall biking everywhere as children and young adults. It was the way people got around. That has changed though as cars have become cheaper to own and run.

"We want to see the pendulum start to swing back the other way so that biking again becomes a popular way for people to get around," Ellis said.

 

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