FARMINGTON HILLS — Just before Gari Chaffin, 67, rode his bike around the city on a mildly cool morning Aug. 2, he described why having throat cancer made him get on his bicycle in the first place.
“It has just been my cancer recovery tool: bicycle riding,” Chaffin said.
After doctors removed his vocal chords about nine years ago, he had a feeding tube placed in his stomach and was released from the hospital. That’s when he discovered an urge to ride.
“It was the slowest bike ride I ever took in my life — the best bike ride I ever took in my life,” Chaffin said. “It really put my mind on recovery. Because of what’s happened to me, if I wasn’t active, I would be in a lot worse shape because of my throat.”
Chaffin rides in the bicycling club in the Adults 50 and Better division of the Center for Active Adults.
He rides for recovery; others ride for health and fitness.
His wife, Renee, 58, said she rides because of him.
“He pushed himself all the time, and he pushes me,” she said. “I can’t keep up with him. He has an attitude about life I have never even come close to. He’s an inspiration.”
On Aug. 2, in front of the Costick Center, 28600 W. 11 Mile Road, when the grass was still wet with dew, the couple and others gathered in the parking lot with their helmets on, water bottles filled and minds set to ride throughout the city.
Facilitator Anna Durham, programmer for the Adults 50 and Better division of the Center for Active Adults, said everyone is welcome in the group for adults 50 and older.
“Some of them show up in their bike shorts and their spandex, and they are ready to go. Other ones are just real casual in their workout clothes or their T-shirts, and they don’t take it quite as serious,” Durham said. “So we have a whole mix of people and ride-level types.”
She said the goal of the club is to just encourage people to get outside, have some camaraderie, take in the fresh air and “get their heart rate going.”
The group meets from the spring to the fall, with speakers meeting with the group to discuss bike safety tips.
“In the future, I do see trying to do some family events, because a lot of people that ride have grandchildren and families,” Durham said.
“One of the ride leaders, Liza Luzod, said she emails Durham whenever she and others want to ride throughout the week, typically eight to 10 miles, sometimes farther.
“If people are having a good time and want to keep going, we sort of play it by ear,” Luzod said before the group rode out Aug. 2.
She described the environment as very relaxed — all that’s required is to have a helmet and fun when you ride.
Some bike trails include the I-275 Metro Trail, and courses through West Bloomfield parks and local neighborhoods.
“We have a ‘no riders left behind’ policy,” she said. “So you don’t have to worry about not being able to keep up. We just slow down. It is very casual.”
For more information, call (248) 473-1822 or email Durham at Adurham@fhgov.com.
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