Staying on a youthful trail

She might be 80, but Mary Pakka doesn’t plan to stop pedalling any time soon.

Going up: Salmon Arm’s Mary Pakka competes in the hill climb portion of the cycling event during the 2012 BC Seniors Games in Burnaby.

Going up: Salmon Arm’s Mary Pakka competes in the hill climb portion of the cycling event during the 2012 BC Seniors Games in Burnaby.

She might be 80, but Mary Pakka doesn’t plan to stop pedalling any time soon. In fact, she said she doesn’t think of herself as old. Maybe that’s because Pakka is as active as ever and has been competing in the B.C. Senior Games since 1992.

She has competed in different areas, from slo pitch to swimming to her current forté, cycling.

Cyclists at the B.C. Senior Games participate in time trials, a hill climb and a 40-kilometre endurance ride. Pakka says it’s not about getting a medal, though.

“As long as you finish your race, that’s all that matters,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed it.”

She indulges in 10-km rides through Balmoral and up White Lake Road as often as she can.

To her, cycling is convenient and fun, since she can just hop on her bike and take off on a scenic Shuswap route. She started cycling after finding other sports were less convenient.

Her body is also thanking her since the sport benefits her lungs, her balance, her strength and her blood pressure, keeping her in all-around good shape. She laughs, saying her doctor is pleased.

“It absolutely makes me feel young,” she says.

Pakka encourages all seniors to get involved in the B.C. Senior Games. For her it has been a source of joy and a great way to make friends. Seniors don’t have to be athletic to participate, she says, citing bridge or archery as other options. She is pleased to see new sports on the roster, such as the dragon boats and pickle ball, noting that it feels like the event gets bigger every year.

This year seniors 55 and up will gather in Kamloops Aug. 20 to 24 for 25 different sports and activities.  Pakka is glad to see the games come close to home and hopes it enables seniors in the area to participate.