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Chula Vista Senior Pumps Pedals To National Stationary Bike Record

Chula Vista Senior Pumps Pedals To National Stationary

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A team of retired seniors at Fredericka Manor in Chula Vista is competing in a Tour de France of sorts. The competitors are riding stationary bikes for their health and to beat out other teams nationally in their age group.

Photo by Claire Trageser

Joanne Papadakis rides a CyberCycle stationary bike at the Fredericka Manor retirement community in Chula Vista, June 29, 2015.

Retired seniors at Fredericka Manor in Chula Vista are competing in their own version of the Tour de France. They’re riding CyberCycle stationary bikes for their health and to beat out other teams across the country.

Fredericka resident Joanne Papadakis is a national record holder. The 81-year-old biked 259 miles in the month of May, topping every other woman in her age group.

"I like the feeling when I get off my bike. The endorphins are running through my body," Papadakis said. "The days that you don’t ride, it’s not like the days you do ride. It’s just a great feeling."

Fredericka Manor has a team of about 25 residents who compete in the CyberCycle Challenge. The challenge allows cyclists to hop on special stationary bikes that let them ride against others across the country. Their avatars follow virtual courses with hills, valleys and scenery.

Papadakis has logged 2,500 miles since May 2014. Another Fredericka Manor resident, Elsie Marini, likes to count her biking accomplishments according to time, not distance.

"I have spent 15 days of my life on that damn bike," the 82-year-old said.

Marini has biked 360 hours total so far, or the equivalent of 15 days. She also took the second place slot for most miles logged nationally in May.

"I’m sort of addicted to bike riding," she said. "If I don’t do it, then I miss it."

In June, both women slipped behind another rider from a retirement community in Anaheim. But they will be pumping their legs to edge back into first place this month.

Stacey Buffington, Fredericka Manor's exercise physiologist, started the team and said competition helps motivate them.

"That’s what it really took to get our group in and motivated, and it really brought our team together as a community," Buffington said.

When she bought the bikes in the fall of 2013, she had no idea she’d be coaching national champions.

"What we were telling people is come in, every mile counts," Buffington said. "If people came in and did a quarter of a mile, I was happy, and it just built up from there."

Disclosure: Fredericka Manor is a KPBS underwriter.

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