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Many people in their 70s are retired and taking it easy … but not Dick Banks. Banks stays fit by riding his bicycle—and his love for biking is helping students at an inner-city elementary school explore new paths. Reed Galin reports.  

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(Locator: Tulsa, Oklahoma)

At 77, Dick Banks isn’t slowing down.

Dick Banks: “You just ride along. You feel the strength in your legs and the air in your hair and the wind in your face.”

Banks still works as a petroleum engineer and computer consultant. But his passion is repairing—and riding—bikes.

Dick Banks: “Oh, 25 or 50 miles would not be a problem. You hit a pace and you stay with it.”

A dozen years ago, he and a couple of biking friends decided to share the joy with elementary school students in a low-income neighborhood near Banks’ church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dick Banks: “There’s a lot of bad stuff going on and there’s a lot of mean stuff going on. But they can rise above it and I think I can help them rise above it.”

(Student riding bike) “Oh, it’s fun!”

Students who sign up for the bike club and finish five days of rides get to keep used bikes that Banks has restored.

They also earn helmets and backpacks, and something Banks says some may be lacking at home—words of encouragement.

(Dick Banks at awards presentation) “Tommy, you are a champion.”

Banks’ church, First United Methodist of Tulsa, backs the effort. Cash donations and bikes come from church members, repair shops and some just show up.

Dick Banks: “I may come home and find five or six bicycles on my patio.”

Those gifts—and Banks’ dedication—offer new pathways for bike club members to explore.

Tatyana Pizana, Bike Club Member: “It’s like a little bit of freedom, because we get to just get away.”

And the club makes riders of all ages feel young at heart.

Dick Banks: “When I’m on my bike, I’m only 18. I’m 18 again.”

Tatyana Pizana, Bike Club Member: “Just be free and ride.”


The principal of Eugene Field Elementary School is glad to have the bike club on campus. Cindi Hemm says the students who ride in the club have better attendance, are healthier, and get to see new sights.

For more information, contact First United Methodist Church of Tulsa at 918-592-3862.

Also, see: Bike Club opens new pathways for kids and Profile: Dick Banks

Posted: April 29, 2009