CyberCycling their way to the Winter Olympics

Local Shores residents participate in virtual national challenge.

It’s go time.

Like the Olympic athletes preparing to take center stage at the upcoming winter games, a host of local residents are brimming with confidence as they let their competitive juices flow while keeping their bodies fit.

Over at the Mercer Island Covenant Living at the Shores campus, seniors ages 79 to 91 and staff members are participating in the Bike to Beijing nationwide challenge with residents at 11 other Shores campuses across the country.

In the virtual event, 169 riders — including 26 from Mercer Island — will pedal away on CyberCycle interactive stationary bikes throughout a 6,922-mile journey from Washington, DC, to China in time for the opening ceremonies on Feb. 4. The challenge began on Jan. 3 and locals have been riding for about 30-45 minutes per day to chip in to the ultimate total. As of Jan. 19, Islanders had amassed 242 miles as they took turns on the campus’ sole bike.

“It is a great idea to kick off the new year and continue staying active. The idea was to keep them active physically and cognitively,” said Mihaela Dimitriu, the local Shores’ wellness/fitness coordinator. “They are so excited. The nice part is that they are coming together and they do encourage each other. There is a fan club here coming when somebody is on the bike.”

Dimitriu added that it’s inspiring to see the determined and disciplined riders rack up the miles, and they’re motivated to up their game when they see others’ results from the day. Dimitriu said that as the 12 communities’ teamwork continues, they are on course to complete the trek on time.

Resident Donna Palmberg, 85, said she was motivated to join the Olympic challenge to strengthen her legs following hip surgery.

“I love playing a game daily for 10-15 minutes. It makes the time pass quickly and I usually find that I’ve ridden about two miles, which I could never do while walking,” said Palmberg, who praised Dimitriu for her enthusiasm during the event.

Another resident, John Willson, 79, echoed Palmberg’s sentiments about Dimitrui and noted that with her encouragement and his fellow residents’ support, he’s continuously making progress on the cycle after nearly a year rehabilitating a severely broken ankle.

“The competition has incentivized my everyday exercise routine because I can see and feel what I’ve accomplished. I feel much better and I have better balance,” he said.

Dimitriu said that when the challenge comes to a close, the top three riders will be honored for all the mileage they accumulated.

Whether residents are tackling the Olympic challenge or regular fitness classes, she noted: “All of our residents are very competitive. They are very fit. They are very active and they made fitness their lifestyle.”