Tour de Zest

(left) Patricia Schweikert, David Zinder, Lois Goldstein, Millie Batte, Seema Liston, Vera Downing, Clara Stewart, Kay Dries, Francine Garner. Front row: Sandra Klausner, Pam Shedd, Carole Datta, Diane Radloff.

Residents of Phoenix’s La Siena senior living community celebrated the Tour de France last month by putting their spin on the cycling competition and calling it the Tour de Zest.

The 10-day “ride” was hosted by Senior Resource Group – the company that owns La Siena – with residents from their other senior living facilities competing against each other.

The race was held June 26-July 5. La Siena boasted 32 competitors, ages 50 to 95, each of whom had a peddling machine and would peddle for 30 minutes to gain as many miles as possible.

“My favorite part was coming in every day and just getting it done,” Kay Dries said. “It was great exercise, too!”

“I’ve always been a rider. I used to ride my bike to the tennis court, so this came natural,” Sandra Klausner said. “But the camaraderie, us all getting together with the built-up energy and everyone being enthusiastic, made it fun.”

Another former cyclist, Fran Garner, was excited about the competition, as well.

“I would cycle around the neighborhood when I was in my 30s and, of course, younger, so this was a lot of fun. We are a fun group,” Fran said.

Team Captain Vera Downing said that the competition was an excellent way for the residents at La Siena to come together and bond.

“After the pandemic, it was so fun and enjoyable to have us all together as a group,” Vera said. “Plus, we like a little competition!”

Seema Liston said she joined in on the fun not only for the exercise but also to prove to herself that she could make it through the competition.

While they were peddling for the win, residents also followed along with Arizonan Brandon McNulty as he competed in the Tour de France for the first time.

Fitness instructor Pam Shedd took on the role of La Siena’s Tour de Zest group leader. She has over 10 years of experience in the cycling industry, leading numerous cross-country bike tours from Oregon to New Hampshire and California to Georgia.

When the Tour de Zest idea came about, she jumped at the chance to help, especially since she had just started working at Siena.

“This was a nice and exciting way to share my passion for cycling,” she said. “I didn’t know many of the residents when it started, so I was also able to make some new friends!”

In the end, Villa Hermosa in Tucson won the trophy, with over 6,000 miles peddled. La Siena residents peddled over 2,100 miles.

Although they didn’t win, Pam said the group poured their hearts into the competition and remained in good spirits.

Peddlers were treated to a “finish line celebration,” where prizes were given out to the top three participants who gained the most miles: third place was Clara and Diane with 112 miles, second place was Kay with 136 miles, and there was a tie for first: Vera and Francine with 160 miles.

The celebration finished with a champagne toast and residents already planning for next year’s competition.