Retirement offers a lot of spare time for people to dive into their hobbies and for Sarah Gravelle-MacKenzie, she let her passion for cycling steer her in the direction of community engagement.
Sarah Gravelle-MacKenzie is a 69-year-old woman who retired six years ago. Back when she was a kid she enjoyed cycling but somewhere along the way she stopped cycling which she says is the case for a lot of people. They learn how to ride a bike when they're a kid and when they get into adulthood, the passion fades.
"It's so much fun to be out there," says Gravelle-MacKenzie. "It does make you feel like a kid again, even though maybe your achy bones tell you you're not a kid. It does make you feel young and free."
Around the time she retired, she said to herself that she was going to ride her bike more often since she would have the time to do so. Gravelle-MacKenzie made her way to Bikes and Beyond and found herself a new bike that did not last long as she stayed true to her word and cycled almost every day.
She has also enjoyed cycling with her grandkids, and one of them has started cycling with her as early as 6 a.m. for 30-kilometre rides.
But after wearing down her bike she had to go get a new one, and she opted to go for one that could handle her intense cycling passion.
This January, during one of her frequent visits to Bikes and Beyond she was approached by the general manager Katherine White, and a Live Canada ambassador Emily Payne. They asked her if she would be interested in becoming an ambassador for Liv Cycling Canada, which is a bicycle company that focuses on supporting women and creating more opportunities in the cycling world.
Its products are designed for women, ranging from the frame to the gear they offer.
"I thought, why not see what happens? So I sort of put something together for them and said that my focus would be to encourage and support senior women. Liv Canada is the only cycling brand that's totally dedicated to women, so it really tied in with what I wanted to try and do."
Gravelle-MacKenzie accepted the offer and became a Liv ambassador and has created a community event for women who are 55+, she calls it "Cycling with Sarah."
"We're going to have a launch event on May 10 at Bikes and Beyond, and what's going to happen is I'm going to talk about the rides that are going to be offered."
The cycling enthusiast says that she and another woman, Rose McDonald, will lead a test run and three different groups over the course of the summer. The test rides will be for women who are unsure if they want to commit to a group (consisting of six women) that will complete eight rides together.
Groups one and two will ride on Thursdays, alternating each week, with group one beginning on June 1 and group two on June 8. Group three will commence on Tuesdays in July and August for eight sessions.
"We're going to drive it by women's comfort level and what they want to do. Part of the rides too, Rose and I were talking about it, it's always lovely to have a treat. So, at the halfway point of each ride or at the end depending on the trails, we're going to have a little stop somewhere and have something to drink and maybe have a lovely croissant or whatever and just socialize because that's a big piece of this for women."
Gravelle-MacKenzie says that since the pandemic, it's become difficult to socialize and it's important to have ways for them to connect and bond with others.
For those interested in joining one of the Cycling with Sarah groups, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her Instagram for updates and notices.