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74-year-old widow travels the world on her bicycle

I vividly recall my journey to Mendoza, Argentina. As I approached my destination, the early morning light revealed a snowy wonderland. It was 5:30 am, and dawn began to break. The sun shyly peeked behind the mountains, casting a magical glow. The reflection of the snow on the hills painted everything in shades of red.

  • 9 months ago
  • June 5, 2023
After being widowed, Susana Seifert began traveling the world on her bicycle. After being widowed, Susana began traveling the world on her bicycle. | Photo courtesy of Susana Seifert
Susan Seifert
Interview Subject
Susana Seifert is a cosmetologist and amateur athlete. She and her husband often rode bicycles together on short trips. After being widowed she took on her dream of long-distance cycling. Today, at 74 years old, she has traveled across cities and countries, for a cumulative distance of more than 25,00 kilometers or 15,500 miles.
Background Information
Physical activity is essential for promoting active aging and improving the quality of life in older adults. Regular exercise and keeping the body in motion helps prevent disabilities that commonly arise with advanced age. By engaging in physical activities that require energy expenditure and involve skeletal muscles, older individuals can reap numerous benefits such as cardiopulmonary endurance, musculoskeletal strength, mobility, coordination, response speed, and adaptation to external stimuli. Regular exercise helps maintain homeostasis and enables older adults to perform their daily activities more effectively. It is important to combat sedentary lifestyles, and the National Institute for Older Adults (INAPAM) encourages physical reactivation through various exercises like gymnastics, dance, tai chi, and yoga. INAPAM encourages comprehensive care for the elderly including regular check-ups, a balanced diet, socialization, and a support network.

RIO NEGRO, Argentina- I affectionately call my bicycle “Rusita,” and once I set off, there was no looking back. I set a goal to connect towns and paths, as I pedaled through life. At 74 years old, I have a vibrant spirit, fearlessly embracing the unknown in pursuit of my dream.

Initially, I aimed to test my mental strength. I had confidence in my physical abilities, having been active throughout my life. Despite my age, I reminded myself, my body retains a memory, and I became determined to put it to the test.

Read more cycling stories from around the globe at Orato World Media.

I started with modest outings, covering 300 kilometers [186 miles] in two days. To my surprise, I realized I could do it, and I fell in love with cycling. I began exploring different routes, some more well-traveled than others. From that point forward, there was no stopping me. To date, I have pedaled more than 25,000 kilometers [15,500 miles], creating a tapestry of unforgettable experiences along the way.

Life is best experienced on two wheels

For many years, my husband and I enjoyed cycling together, though he preferred short trips. As a result, I postponed my dream of going the distance. When he died, I felt the wake of a great loss. I needed to reinvent myself; to use my fearless mindset to embark on a long-awaited adventure. I started my journey of exploration on two wheels.

My bicycle’s full name is “Rusita la viajera,” or Rusita the traveler. I see it as my humble companion with 26-inch wheels. Adorned with amulets, my bicycle carries precious memories of encounters with people, and the objects they gifted me along the way.

To me, traveling by bicycle signifies freedom. I become one with nature, relishing in the scents and landscapes, and savoring the beauty of a sunrise. I start early, while it’s still dark. Equipped with reliable lights, I relish the challenge of arriving at my destination during daylight. My journeys typically span seven consecutive hours, as I strive to secure lodging along the way.

Embarking on a trip, however, begins long before actually setting off. The preparations remain diverse. As soon as an idea takes hold, I set about planning by piecing together maps, arranging logistics, and identifying destinations where I will pause and explore. Though my bicycle may not be grand, it is meticulously equipped.

Before each journey, I entrust it to the staff at the bicycle shop, who have become like family to me. I immerse myself in the experience before I even climb up on the seat. I visualize the path and examine alternate routes. I meticulously plan each day, determining the distance I need to cover and identifying suitable stopping points and optimal routes. As a traveling cyclist nothing deters me from pursuing my passion, not even accidents.

Encountering dangers and wonderlands

A narrow road weaves through the Andes Mountains with little shoulder space. Along that path, I experienced my first and only accident. I faced the unfamiliar Pino Hachado pass and turned back toward General Roca. I pulled my bicycle over on the shoulder, as the road continued to narrow. I need to assess potentially dangerous conditions.

Suddenly, without seeing it coming, a car hit me and threw me off my bicycle. I don’t recall the exact sequence of events. Though I never lost consciousness, I heard the impact. It frightened me so much, I instinctively grabbed my head and checked my helmet. If not for that piece of equipment, I may not have survived. Help arrived, and they transported me for assistance. Thankfully, I recovered well, and continued to my next destination. I will keep pedaling until my body tells me otherwise. I trust in its resilience. This journey is not a competition. Rather, it is an opportunity to enjoy and forge a connection between my mind and body.

I vividly recall my journey to Mendoza, Argentina. As I approached my destination, the early morning light revealed a snowy wonderland. It was 5:30 am, and dawn began to break. The sun shyly peeked behind the mountains, casting a magical glow. The reflection of the snow on the hills painted everything in shades of red.

Mentally, the bicycle has had a profoundly positive impact on me. It makes me more patient and communicative. The bicycle serves as an introduction, bringing people close. They stop on the road to greet me, often bearing gifts. Each item hanging from my bicycle contains precious memories.

It’s not about the destination, but the joy in the journey

Every aspect of my traveling journey brings joy, even the passing butterflies which flutter about as I lean on my handlebars. I fall in love every time I hear the melodious chirping of birds mingle with the rhythmic sound of my bicycle’s wheels. As I travel through small towns, I encounter friendly faces and countless people from diverse cultures. When I finally arrive at my destination, tears fill my eyes because it signifies the end of a remarkable journey. Along the way, I share updates on Facebook as a security measure, so if I fail to arrive, my family sees my journey unfold.

Susana’s travels on her bicycle have taken her through Chile, Uruguay, Neuquén, and Buenos Aires. | Photo courtesy of Susana Seifert

Read more inspiring stories: At 89 professional tennis player Ana Obarrio racks up senior tournament wins

Engaging in physical activity has transformed my life. Paramount to my success is setting goals and striving to achieve them. I advise anyone starting out on a path of physical activity to do so gradually, taking small steps. It is not about the destination, but the joy found in the journey itself. For me, cycling gives me the chance to revel in the great outdoors, embrace a sense of freedom, and savor every moment as I manage my time.

Slowly and without haste, I patiently absorb the wonders of each passing moment. I don’t feel my age in my body. Rather, I feel a zest for life. With bags secured to the back of my bicycle, I have ventured to Chile several times, as well as Uruguay, Neuquén, and Buenos Aires. I eagerly await spring to embark on my next adventure – a 1,200 kilometer ride along the coast to Mar del Plata.

Life is best experienced on two wheels

If you see me riding my bicycle, you will find my face illuminated with joy. It simply brings me happiness. In addition to my positive energy – invested in each adventure – I believe my late husband accompanies me every day. I consider him my guardian angel.

I truly believe life is best experienced on two wheels. It brings forth the essence of life – a continuous exploration of different routes, always seeking to avoid repetition. I demand no luxury. My priority lies with the bicycle itself. If I reach a place which cannot accommodate me and my trusty bicycle, I simply keep pedaling and find another place to stay. Through all of this, I relish the road.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

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