A couple of Red Deer grandmothers have opted for a bicycle instead of a rocking chair.
Jo Maetche, 67, and Elsie McKinnon, 61, have joined forces with Calgary grandmothers Shirley Polsen, 80, and Evelyn Ko, 56, to ride in Hot Pursuit, a relay cycling race raising funds for various organizations.
The women, who have 26 grandchildren between them, are riding to raise money for the Mully Children’s Family, an orphanage in Kenya, Africa.
“Sure I love riding, but I know the end reward is also that I’m going to do something for other kids,” McKinnon said before the team left on their adventure.
“Grannies are doing this.”
The team is so proud of their grandmother status they decided to call themselves The Gogos.
“In Kenya, which is where the organization is that we’re riding for, the word for grandmother is gogo,” Maetche explained.
Four teams are competing in Hot Pursuit.
Avid cyclist Arvid Loewen spearheaded the relay race and is riding alone around the clock in attempt to beat the Winnipeg Police four-rider relay team and the Canadian Mennonite University five-rider relay team.
All embarked from White Rock, B.C., on July 17 destined for Winnipeg.
The Alberta grandmothers joined the final leg of the race, leaving Calgary on Sunday full of determination to cycle to the provincial legislature buildings in Manitoba by today.
The Gogos will take turns riding 10 km in 20 minutes or less by averaging 30 km/h, rotating from sun up to sun down as they travel the more than 1,300-km to reach the final destination.
“We are going to be very curious to see how long we can stay ahead of everybody,” Maetche said.
“And who knows, we might stay ahead of them all the way.”
Long-distance cycling is not a new to Maetche or McKinnon.
Maetche joined a friend from church for a ride in 2001 and has been hooked on long-distance cycling ever since.
She’s completed seven week-long trips through the mountains and has gone on numerous multiple sclerosis fundraising rides.
McKinnon has also rode for MS in the 26 years that she’s been an avid cycler. She even went on a bicycle tour around the Gulf Islands in 2004.
“I want to do this until I’m old,” she said of riding.
While all enjoy cycling, orphaned and abandoned African children remain in the forefront of these women’s minds.
They started fundraising in May and hope to raise $20,000 for the orphanage.
“It is definitely making a major change in a lot of kids’ lives,” Maetche said.
“We all consider it a very worthwhile thing that we are raising money for.”
Maetche and McKinnon will continue accepting donations after they complete Hot Pursuit and can be reached at 403-346-6282 and 403-309-4489, respectively.
Updates regarding all four teams involved in Hot Pursuit can be viewed at www.hotpursuit2010.com