The Grey Escape is a charming little documentary film about a group of volunteer cyclists delivering bicycle rickshaws from Denmark to neighboring Norway. They take with them as passengers, a group of elderly residents from a Danish retirement community.
The 250 km. journey started in Rende, Denmark, and covering around 50 or 60 km. per day, the group traveled north to Hirtshals, where they took the ferry to Norway. There the bikes were handed over to the local municipality of Arendal, where they will be used for trips with retirement home residents there.
Coming from Denmark, these elderly passengers had been cyclists all their life, so a trip like this must have brought back many happy memories. To once again feel the wind in their face. It was mentioned in the movie that cycling is to Danes what skiing is to Norwegians.
In one part of the film a commentator says, “They’ve cycled all their lives, and now they can’t do it anymore.” I wondered why? If someone has ridden a bike all their life, they must have a certain level of fitness. They don’t suddenly become disabled overnight.
In a country like Denmark, where cycling is the normal way people get around, I would have thought there would be a number of the elderly who still ride bikes. The only reason to stop is when a person can no longer stay upright, their eyesight fails, or they are too weak to turn the pedals.
The movie touched on a subject that is constantly in my own thoughts, especially when some of these retirees were close to my own age. This is a generation who grew up in the same period I did, and at least in Denmark they maintained a certain level of fitness through cycling.
Whereas, most of the same generation from other parts of Europe and the USA, never exercised a day in their life. These Danish retirees did appear more mobile than those I see of the same age group in the US, but they were still “Old Folk.”
Age is not just physical fitness and appearance, it is attitude. Who was it said?
“People don’t grow old, they only become old when they stop growing.”
The state, or society can provide care for the elderly, a place to live, food, a warm bed, etc. But society cannot provide a purpose in life, and independence. This is up to each individual, and what is more symbolic of independence than the bicycle.
The documentary is 28 mins long, some of the dialog is in English, and that which is not has sub-titles. There are more details here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/thegreyescape