SEQUIM — Be it with the traditional front-and-back tandem or now a side-by-side bike, these bicycle-riding volunteers have their guests ready to roll.
After a year of uncertainty — and no rides — the Sequim Wheelers are back on Sequim paths and the Olympic Discovery Trail, offering rides to people on the North Olympic Peninsula with mobility issues.
Rides are on the Olympic Discovery Trail beginning at Railroad Bridge Park. They are offered to any who want to come to the park, said Lanie Cates, vice president of the Sequim Wheelers, as well as a “pilot” and trainer.
“Anyone can come,” she said. If they have a way to get to Railroad Bridge Park, “we can schedule them a ride.”
New this year is the offering of a side-by-side tandem bike that the club purchased last year but was unable to use after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all rides, Sequim Wheelers founder and president Nicole Lepping said.
“The elderly person or whomever can engage in pedaling, so it’s physical, not just mental health,” she said this week, not long after finishing a ride with residents of Sherwood Assisted Living in Sequim.
“Also, it’s a bit nice to sit next to each other,” she said. “You can engage in pedaling, but you don’t have to; there are footrests.”
The nonprofit that formed in 2018 is the only such organization on the Peninsula. Others are in Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts and Texas.
It now has four adaptive bikes that are used by the “pilots” and their guests.
“The people love it,” Cates said. “A friend of mine — she’s 87 — said she thought she’d never be able to ride a bike because of her balance.
“She said, ‘I never thought I could do this again.’ ”
When they were riding the trail, “people would stop and say, ‘do you know how big of a smile is on her face?’ ” Cates said.
“Yes, I do,” Cates told them.
Like many other groups in the area, 2020 was a tough year for the Sequim Wheelers, Lepping said, particularly for local elderly residents who were unable to enjoy the outdoors.
“We were bummed out for them and everyone,” Lepping said. “That was the group of people that got hit the hardest … (so) we’re really happy we can offer this.”
The group has about 30 active volunteer pilots, but the organization is always seeking more, Lepping said. For more about the group or to volunteer, email to [email protected] or see sequimwheelers.com or facebook.com/sequimwheelers.
To schedule a ride, contact Cates at 831-428-2626 or at [email protected]. All must be vaccinated against COVID-19; volunteers all are vaccinated, Cates said.
To contact the group by mail or to donate, send a letter to Sequim Wheelers, PO Box 276, Carlsborg WA 98324.
Home Instead Charities of Clallam and Jefferson counties joined forces with the Sequim Wheelers for a special fundraising event that began Tuesday and ends at 11 p.m. today.
GIVE65 donations will support Sequim Wheelers and has the chance to be matched up to $5,000, said Pam Scott, home care consultant with PNW Kupuna Care in Sequim.
Home Instead Charities is providing $150,000 matching grants, and each organization is eligible for up to $5,000.
“Matching grants always go quickly, so we’re encouraging donors to give right when the event kicks off,” Scott said.
“To qualify, they had to go through a ton of paperwork and vetting process and demonstrate that they provide services and benefits to seniors in our community,” Scott said.
“Many of the residents in our local long-term care communities have been able to participate in this wonderful program.”
To donate, go to give65.org/Sequim_Wheelers.