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The Grey Escape

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

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Reader Comments (5)

Great post Dave , the last paragraph sums it up perfectly !

Take a trip to any Walmart Then go look in the mirror.

August 15, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

When I grew up in Brum UK and I am sure that Dave's mother also did this. But every day Mom would walk YES WALK! down to the local shops and pick up the days meal that she would the COOK on a stove for us.No micro or instant this or that. Dad had a Rover car that he drove for his Insurance business. But sis Joan and I walked or rode our bikes, everywhere or took the bus. I left Brum March 1957 and had not even tried to drive a car until I arrived in the USA. I also have never smoked, Dad did, I hated the smell and dirty ash trays.So apart from all the fried foods that I ate, Did the exercise and riding a bike help me to reach my 84th year on this earth? Good question, But as I look around Parker Colorado USA as my wife Marcia says "Not many old geezers around these days My comments about Walmart is just, look at the people there.Drive up in there SUVs park in the handicap parking places, jump on a Walmart supplied electric wheel chair (almost need a hoist to get on them) and off shopping for twinkies and TV dinners they go. Then home to watch the telly and wait for the mailman to deliver their disability checks.Amazing country we live in!

August 16, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

I work in a recumbent bike and trike shop, so I can happily report that of the reasons to stop you listed, at least one has been solved! Some of my happiest customers are those that used to ride but have become unable to balance a bike for various reasons, and can once again enjoy cycling on a trike. I've even got customers that can't walk, but they can ride. It's a beautiful thing.

August 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

my Dad turned 91 a couple of months ago and he stopped riding his bke a few weeks before that. He has just been given a mobility scooter by my sister and has his freedom again. He did fall off a couple of times due to balance. He misses it but enjoys his new-found freedom. I remember as a kid him doing up my first bicycle which he got second-hand from somewhere, painted with gold paint with flakes of real gold in there (he was a decorator). I've got a few years to go before I get there but it may be that cycling is a factor in longevity for some.

August 23, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterpeter
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