A new social group at Tryon Estates, in Columbus, N.C., offers much more than companionship. Don’t be confused by its name, "The CyclePaths." These residents are just crazy about cycling.
John Mifflin began the group about six months ago.
"I noticed at least 15 bikes parked here," he said. “I thought, why not start a club?”
The CyclePaths now has about seven members. The youngest, Hunter Coleman, is 74 years old. John Mifflin, the oldest at age 93, is often out in front of the pack.
“You can take a nap afterwards,” John Greene said with a laugh.
Mifflin added that cycling has also improved his balance. Tommy Lynch, 83, said the health benefits, getting out in the fresh air and enjoying the exercise are why he continues to ride.
Hunter Coleman noticed since joining the group every Monday morning, he’s gotten stronger.
“When I first started with the group, my biggest challenge was riding from the community gate to the top of the mountain at Peniel Road. It’s a steep grade,” Coleman said. “I could barely do it the first time. Now, I have more stamina, can go back up and down again.”
John Mifflin said, “We don’t push anybody too hard with the steep hills in this area. We don’t race, it’s not competitive. It’s just a fun ride.”
One of the most seasoned cyclists in the group, Bruce Greenawalt, 81, has logged hundreds of miles in his years, biking across the state of North Carolina and New York, and a 400 mile trek from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. But it’s riding around the Tryon Estates community that he loves: from the scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the pleasantries of simple Southern charm.
“The drivers around here are considerate," Greenawalt said. "No busy, four-lane highways, but nice, quiet country roads."
The group wears neon yellow t-shirts, with the team name CyclePaths in bold. Caroline Eller, the fitness trainer at Tryon Estates, suggested the group’s name and the brightly colored gear to keep residents safe and visible to oncoming drivers.
And in a community of around 400 people, they truly stand out.
“In a big community, it’s great to be a part of this group, and get to know your neighbors,” Coleman said.