Just like riding a bike...for 100kms…at 88 years of age

Posted on Friday, October 1, 2021

The expression, “Just like Riding a Bike,” is often used to describe something that comes as second nature and should be easy to do. It implies that we know everything about an activity and can pick up where we left off.

But riding a bike for a 100 kilometre charity ride when you’re 88 years old? That certainly isn’t easy, especially when you get your first professional bike at 85 years old. Reg Goodings, who is now 89 and a resident at Brightwater Oxford Gardens, defied logic by doing just so.

Reg’s passion for cycling did not start until he was in his 70’s, whilst living in Pakenham, Victoria.

“I started riding in my later years, when I was 75 I bought a mountain bike, I just tore around and around and that sent all my neighbours dizzy, biking around the neighbourhood,” said Reg.

“Then one day I went to the library, and outside there was a cycling group, I thought - I know they're gonna laugh at this - but I went up to the group anyway and said ‘can an 85 year old join?’ and they said ‘yeah why not!’

“One of the blokes, Matt, who was the proprietor of a bike shop at the time said he’d get me set up with a good bike, which he did. He said to me, ‘How far can you ride?’ and I said ‘I don't know, but I’d like to find out!’

“So I got the bike and I had a couple of little rides by myself  five ks, then ten ks, and I thought ‘if I can ride five and ten, I can just multiply that a bit further’, and that's how it was, I had no trouble.

“It's been a terrific bike; I’ve ridden 5,000 kilometres on that bike.

The cycling group would meet every Saturday morning for a 20 kilometre bike ride, and Reg rode with this group with no troubles.

“We had some great rides and the people are all terrific.”

Three years into Reg’s newfound hobby, he signed up to take part in the Around the Bay 100 kilometre Charity Ride in Victoria.  It’s fair to say that at 88 years of age, the challenge for Reg was far greater than it was for his teammates, but he also had a worn out knee that meant he couldn’t walk his bike during the competition, which added another level of difficulty that meant Reg had to find strength from deep within.

Reg takes us back to the competition, when he reaches Black Rock, a hill that spans seven kilometres…

“I thought if I have to get off and walk I'll never get up that hill dragging my bike. I've got to try and stay on,”

“My pace was right down to about four kilometres an hour and two of our best riders said they were staying with me the whole ride, I said to them ‘you won't be able to ride at this pace, just ride up to the top of the hill and if I don't appear soon come and look for me’.

“Anyway, I came over the hill, and we got to within four kilometres of the finish outside Luna Park, there were some nice seats beside the road and I said to the others, ‘if you don't mind, I've got to stop and get off the bike’ and I just froze, I was all seized up!

“I sat there for five minutes and then said righto let’s keep going. We went on and I could see we were almost finished, and the rest of the group rode out to meet me coming in.

“As we rode in, I heard a mighty roar! I heard over the loud speaker ‘here comes Reg Goodings at 88 years of age!’ and there was another mighty roar.”

As Reg retells his story of determination, and the amazing support from the team, he is clearly moved by the magnitude of the event.

Reg moved to Perth earlier this year, where both of his daughters live, so they could help him find a more permanent care solution.

Reg now resides at Brightwater Oxford Gardens, a residential aged care home located in Joondalup. His daughters have bought him his own exercise bike which sits just outside his room, and Reg uses the bike almost every day.

“I usually cycle every day, for a few minutes, or half an hour, or more!”

“I get all sorts of treatment here, I get plenty of looking after and there’s good food, I like all the food and I eat every bit of it up.”

Brightwater Oxford Gardens Senior Physiotherapist, Holly Coopes says Reg is a very inspirational and determined man, and has been working with Reg so that he can keep cycling.

“Reg trialled and purchased a stationary bike with great support from his family,” said Holly.

“With just a little assistance from his therapy team to ensure the bike was set up correctly and to put a cycling program in place, Reg can continue his love of cycling for pleasure and health, and work towards his goal of getting back on his bike,

“It is inspiring to watch Reg’s determination and it brings me a lot of joy to know that I can support him in his cycling journey, and enable him to be as independent as possible.”

Find out about residential aged care options through Brightwater here.