Jim Dodson: Hey, are you worried about slowing down, or you maybe have a friend who's worried about slowing down? You need to listen to these stories. I'm Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy.
Wanna tell you about a couple of people that I've read about, and I've written about recently that really inspired me. The first one is a 92-year-old woman from Australia named Heather Lee. And Heather had an interesting story. She holds the record in Australia, and world records, quite frankly, for the 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 speed walking. So she is a world champion speed walker at the ripe old age of 92, you know. And she's interesting because she had her life, she was from the UK. She went to England after her marriage failed, she married a guy down there, had a full life, and she kept herself in shape over the course of time with exercise and casual bike riding and what have you. But it wasn't until her husband passed away that he sort off challenged her to sort of get her medal, you know, get out there and get something done, and she started walking kind of to get over the grief of losing her husband. And she found that the faster she walked, the better she felt, and she just walked faster and faster and faster, and she continued, and she actually did not begin competing until she was 85 years old, so amazing. And what I love about her is she says, age is no barrier to anything, really. It's interesting to me because she's not focused on all the ills she has or getting older, the house also getting older. She has focused on training every day, she walks 10,000 steps a day, she walks over 3 millions steps last year, and she has very little competition, of course, at age 92 in speed walking. So she's always concentrating on beating her own records from year to year, which is exactly what wants to do in 2019. So I love this story of Heather Lee, Australia's oldest speed walker and fastest speed walker at her age.
And then, the other day, we had the Gasparilla Classic here in Tampa in February, and there's a remarkable story about a lady who is 97 years old, and her name is Betty Ashley, and she's of Saint Petersburg. Now, the fastest winner of the Gasparilla did it in practically 20 minutes, I think 18 minutes or something. Betty walked the 5K in about an hour and 1/2. But Betty's 97 years old, and she's been doing this every year. She's another inspiring story of someone who didn't really begin to take seriously walking or being athletic until she was in her high 80s. She's walked Gasparilla for the last number of years, and she's just an inspiration to everyone who's there. She's got her man-ager, she calls it, it's her boyfriend, I guess for some 10 years, is in his 70s, she says she's robbing the cradle. And she says, with a twinkle in her eye, that he can't quite keep up with her. I love these stories. She made an interesting quote, which I think is very inspiring for all of us, and she said that you have to have something interesting to do, something to look forward to, and someone to love. It's like how amazing 'cause that is the difference in sort of staying engaged in the game of life. I think one of the things I loved about this story, also of Heather Lee, is that she thought like she was an inspiration to middle-aged women particularly who sort of started slowing down, maybe starting putting on a little weight, to get back in the game of life, get involved and get active.
I think both of these stories are fantastic. But I think maybe, in the cycling world, we have an opportunity to stay engaged in our sport for as long as we're physically able to get on a bike, and I think that we can be an encouragement to others to do the same thing. And I think these stories can be an encouragement, not necessarily to us individually, but to family members or friends or someone you know who thinks they get to a certain age, they need to slow down, not quite be so active. I really hate that kind of mentality. I'm all in favor of doing as much as we can for as long as we can.
The other day, I was down in Bradenton, and I went to the Ringling Bicycle Shop with Dave Holt, and Dave and I were looking at some of the e-bikes he had on the floor. And one of the things I really admired was he had this amazing story of a guy who came in, he was about 89 years old. He was barely able to get out of an automobile. But Dave said that he was interested in an e-bike, and he bought this e-bike, and he said it transformed the guy's life. He said, he went from someone who was really dependent upon anybody to take him somewhere in a car, very difficult to get in and out of the car, to getting this e-bike and beginning to move, you know, pedaling. Even with assistance, he's pedaling, and he continued to get stronger and stronger. His range of motion increased, his distance increased, he got a rack on the back of the e-bike, he can take himself to the store, he can go down and get the things that he needs. He's not dependent upon people anymore, he's getting out for recreation. He's 89 years old, and Dave said, with the biggest twinkle in his eye, that this guy's life changed because he was willing to get on a bike and get started and keep going. Now, I just love those stories for all of us not to stop, not to give in, not to assume that when you reach a certain age, you need to stop doing the things that you love or enjoy because, quite frankly, other people expect you ought to, and I like to defy what other people think we ought to do.
You know, in my practice, we celebrate cyclists and cycling. I'm an advocate for cycling, for cycling, for cycling's safety. I want to improve cyclists' lives in any way that I can through advocacy and all the things that we talk about. But also, when the unexpected happens, I want to put our expertise to work, helping whoever that is that might have been injured because of the poor decision of another driver or maybe someone else. I wanna give people hope and help, based on the experience that we have, that things will get better. So if I can ever help you, falling on a cycling crash or any type of an injury, automobile accident or what have you, just call us, we're a phone call away.
I hope you find my stories interesting. I hope you will spread the word to somebody who maybe is thinking about slowing down that there's hope out there. Read these two and get inspired, and I'll see you on the road. That's it from Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. Have a great day, bye.