Second Annual Senior Trike Fest in Big Cypress

By Susan Etxebarria

BIG CYPRESS — Ever noticed those giant three wheel trikes sporting a red flag that with a Tribal elders onboard pedaling around the reservation?

“These three wheel trikes are just as much exercise as regular bikes,” said Edna McDuffie, who was getting warmed up before the competitions began at the Second Annual Senior Trike Fest on Nov. 18.

As a fitness tool trikes are excellent for seniors since they encourage health and fitness. The Trike Fest was developed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Fitness department under Program Director Vicky Barogiannis, with the full support of the Tribal Council.

This year’s Trike Fest was held in the hangars at the Big Cypress Aviation center. There the trikers ate a continental breakfast, registered for the event, pick up their team T-shirt, mixed and mingled. What many noticed was the really cold wind blowing that day through the opened giant doorways of the hangar creating a Chicago-style wind tunnel. Jackets and sweaters didn’t get peeled until almost noon.

For many months the eager seniors at Hot Meals were in training at most of the reservations for the upcoming competition consisting of four challenging contests: the relay race, the double figure 8, the maze and the ball toss.

Morning rides were organized by the Hot Meals activity directors and staff to help get the cyclists in shape. By the day of the Trike Fest every team and individual from each reservation was ready for good natured fun. However, make no mistake about it; there was a very competitive spirit.

Which team would take home the trophy? Who would wrest it away from last year’s winners, Brighton? Who would prove their agility, speed, and strength on the trikes?

“It’s going to be a very competitive day so everyone have a lot of fun,” said Chairman Mitchell Cypress, one of the fellow trikers, at the start.

The trikes the seniors ride on take a little practice to get familiar with since they maneuver different from a two-wheeled bicycle. Features that make the trikes an excellent choice for seniors provided a strong, stable ride and the super low step that makes getting on and off easy and safe. They also have the large western saddle design that provides a stable, comfortable seating area.

The Trike Fest started off with a “breakfast of champions” so no one would go without the nutrition needed for the day. After the welcome by Chairman Mitchell Cypress, the Morning Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Seminole Flag, the first contest was for best dressed triker.

In this contest the women looked like bikers in their sassy black leather, skull caps and gold and silver chains. Amazing creativity was displayed in the best decorated trike contest and it was hard for the judges to decide the winner.

“These decorated bikes were a lot of work and there was lot of thought behind them,” said event emcee Stan Frischman, of the BC Recreation department. “They took hours and hours of time and you can tell they were decorated from the heart.”

The relay race was held outdoors. Each team had four members in the race and they had to ride their bike across the cement parking lot to hand off the baton to their team mates. The team that completed the relay in the least amount of time won the relay.

The indoor course events had trikers lined up to take their turns for the next couple hours. The events moved along quickly as a large number of contestants tried very hard to win prizes. At the end of the day, the trikers dined on a well deserved lunch catered by Cleve Baker of Renegade Barbeque.

Finally all the winners were announced and pictures taken before senior trikers went back home with a sense of accomplishment.

Results are as follows: 1. Hollywood, 2. Brighton, 3. Big Cypress.