As spring swings into full gear in the Flathead Valley, Terrace resident Lorraine Ondov can often be found riding her adult-size tricycle around the neighborhood. Lorraine has been interested in bike riding since she was a young teen. She would borrow a friend’s bike and ride around her childhood neighborhood, and she enjoyed it so much that she asked for a bike of her one. She was promised one for her fourteenth birthday, but in the end her parents couldn’t afford it.
Lorraine grew up, married, and started a family of her own. While she’s always been focused on health and exercise, she didn’t get a bicycle until she turned fifty. That year, her family decided it was time, and they bought her the bicycle for her birthday. She enjoyed it so much that she kept it—and rode it regularly—for the next 41 years.
These days, Lorraine rides an adult-sized tricycle. She got it for herself as a treat because she missed her bicycle, and her kids thought the trike would be safer. It has added stability, and she still gets all the benefits of riding her bike. And what are those benefits? First of all, Lorraine gets regular exercise in an outdoor environment. The health benefits have been obvious; Lorraine was able to go off her diabetes medication because of her diet and exercise routine, of which riding her bike is a major part. She especially enjoys getting her exercise outside. “You can stop and look at the scenery or the birds,” she said as she explained why she enjoys bike-riding in particular. There are also psychological benefits in having the freedom to go farther afield than she probably could on foot. “It’s very good mentally, too, to be able to spread your wings,” Lorraine explained during her Passions Project interview.
Lorraine has found that community living helps her spread her wings. For one thing, Buffalo Hill Terrace is located in a safe neighborhood with minimal traffic and roads that form a convenient loop that takes Lorraine about 30-40 minutes to ride. The community also helps her keep in shape during the long Montana winters. In addition to a stationary bike in the fitness center, the recreation department has bike pedals so residents can “ride” through various locations while watching videos during regular “cycling adventures” sessions. Lorraine exercises in other ways, as well. Through connections she made at Buffalo Hill Terrace, she was able to participate in a 5K walk/run last summer—and she was the oldest one there!
Lorraine bikes, walks, and goes to exercise class because staying fit is important to her and because she enjoys these activities. “I’m going to keep doing it as long as I can,” Lorraine says. “You’ve got to enjoy what you have now, because one day you know you won’t be able to.”
Lorraine signed up for the Passions Project because she loves to bike, and it turns out that her photo session made just a little difference in how she does it. During her interview before the photo shoot, Heidi Wagner, the photographer, asked her if her trike had a name. At the time, it didn’t. A few weeks later, though, she called me. “I’ve thought of a name,” she said. “My bike is now named Trixie.”
Lorraine met Trixie the trike rather late in her life, and Trixie is only her second cycle. But her passion for cycling began before she even had a bike of her own, something she recalled during her photo session. As she reflected on her history with the activity, she said, “When I think of the gal who was 14 years old and then finally got her dream—and to follow it all the way through, that’s pretty special.” It is indeed special, and we look forward to seeing Lorraine and Trixie for a long time to come.