Community service cycling

Nine members of the Bendigo PROBUS cycling group at Lake Weeroona

Camaraderie: members of the PROBUS cycling group in Bendigo enjoy companionship and keep fit.

PROBUS is a community service program of Rotary clubs, an association of active retirees who join together to provide regular opportunities for them to keep their minds active, expand their interests and to enjoy the fellowship of new friends. Membership is open to anyone of good character who has had some measure of responsibility or achievement in any field of worthy endeavour.

PROBUS originated in the United Kingdom in 1965. Yes, it was a lady who added the notion that the needs of all people who were in retired families and not just male Rotarians could be met by a new community based club. So it was in England in 1965 and 1966 that PROBUS was conceived independently by two Rotary clubs. The first PROBUS Clubs formed in the South Pacific area were New Zealand in 1974, Australia in 1976 and the Philippines in 2007.

In August 2007 PROBUS Members Bob Harvey and Bob Watson both keen cyclists sought an expression of interest for the formation of a cycling group, to be on similar lines to the successful walking group, which has been in operation for many years. Out of the 120 members in the club almost all have experience cycling in some part of their life cycle. Most had not ridden since their school days so there was needed leap of faith to get this started. The meeting was attended by 16 interested members, who showed enthusiasm in the formation of a cycling group.

Some members didn’t own a bike, for example, one member borrowed his grandson’s bike for a few weeks till he purchased one. The inaugural ride took place on the 12th of September 2007 and 11 riders took part and enjoyed the ride.  Ginger sponge and tea or coffee followed the ride, provided by one of the attending lady riders topping off a very successful launch.

The weekly rides have been most successful, with ages of participants in the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, although there is one keen rider past the mid-seventies. Some riders are able to partake of a casual ride four days a week can see the greater benefit in their fitness and stamina.  Interestingly one day a week is not enough to build a fitness regime as the consistency is hampered by the involvement of these retired dynamos being involved in many other community and family interests.

Rides are designed to suit all capabilities, meeting places are on an alternate basis, Lake Weeroona, and the Park opposite the Foundry Hotel Golden Square, each Wednesday with distance covered 22 – 24 km, but generally around an average of 20 km per week.  Currently they meet at 9.30 am. As the warmer weather comes this will be adjusted to a starting time of 8.30 am.

Two of the PROBUS members ride with the seniors group and have become the corner stones of the group.  Members find bike riding a great exercise and being non weight bearing is gentle on elderly legs and muscles. Also the camaraderie amongst the members is most enjoyable as is the traditional morning tea afterwards. Over the past 2 years the bonds of friendship have increased along with the health and well being.

Interested in combining cycling and past business experience? PROBUS try to keep their business meeting short and then cup of tea before their guest speaker attends and then follow up with lunch at a hotel. Short trips are a normal part of PROBUS life and once a year a week away is taken.

Members are now being encouraged to share a short talk on their life experience as there is such a depth of wisdom and experience that can always encourage others along the way.

PROBUS could be summarised as  more of a club life without having the commitment of fund raising activities. Some members are 90 plus years of age and enjoy the company and the more relaxing involvement.

PROBUS has filled a need for today’s active retirees, so much so that the growth has been phenomenal. It is now a world-wide movement in twenty three countries. The PROBUS Centre -South Pacific Inc., is the administration and service centre for the South Pacific area and is dedicated to promoting the development of friendship and acquaintance and the advancement of intellectual interests of its membership.

PROBUS remains in Australia and New Zealand as the largest and most active community service project of Rotary. The solid links between PROBUS and Rotary remain invaluable. Contact Bob Harvey organiser 54441396, or Mobile 0410 006951.

See you on the road soon God willing

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