Former Rosewood executive director Ellen Renner first laid eyes on Cyber Cycles during the annual Leading Age conference in the spring of 2014. Cyber Cycles are recumbent bicycles for older adults with interactive internet-connected computer screens that can connect with other Cyber Cycles across the country. After returning to Rosewood and raving to the team about the multitude of benefits of the bikes, the community was able to purchase two of them with the help of a donation.
About a year and a half after installing them, AJ Castillo, the current fitness coordinator at The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, decided it could be fun to take Cyber Cycling to the next level by creating the Cyber Cycle Challenge. For this challenge, Rosewood would compete against its sister community, The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens (who also purchased their own Cyber Cycle), to see who could bike the most miles during the month of November.
Cyclers can sit on the bikes, choose a destination, incline level, etc., and once they begin moving their legs, the avatar on the screen moves as though the bike really is in motion and they are riding through nature or city landscapes. They can keep track of how many miles they ride along the way.
Twenty-five total people from the Rosewood community competed (team members were allowed to participate, but residents always got the “right of way” when it comes to the bikes). If you walked into the gym at the Rosewood community almost any given day during the month of November, you would see at least one of the Cyber Cycles being ridden. And you’d see a dry erase board in the background that listed each participants’ total miles. By keeping this up on the board for everyone in the community to see, residents could encourage each other and keep each other motivated.
“The residents here at Rosewood thrive on competition and they have a ton of enthusiasm when it comes to riding these Cyber Cycles,” explains Lifestyle Enrichment Coordinator Wendy Burnett. “This serves as both physical exercise and cognitive activity, as well, since residents need to coordinate their arm movements with the handle bars according to what they view on the screen. It’s a great way to stay active while aging.”
When November 30 finally arrived, it was announced that Rosewood won the competition with a grand total of 1,612 miles biked, beating The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, who ended with 1,397 miles — a very honorable number, as well! The community celebrated the victory with a congratulatory lunch, and additional prizes were given out to the top three riders with the most total miles.
Rosewood resident Bill May biked the most miles out of anyone at the community, with a grand total of 321 miles over the 30-day period. “When you first get started, don’t overdo it,” says May. “The trick is to just get on and start out slow, keeping your pace. Don’t burn yourself out right away; I learned that the hard way. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself going for a lot longer and lot further.”
May has continued riding the Cyber Cycles even after the competition concluded. He still aims to ride 5-6 miles every day—an inspiration to his fellow residents.