A gang of bikers has claimed a quiet Collegedale neighborhood.
Under cover of dusk, the bikers circle the neighborhood on their tricked-out three-wheelers, causing curious residents — and dogs — to spill out into their yards.
The bikers apparently have no official club colors, but their bikes show a disdain for conformity, outfitted as they are in the Kool-Aid hues of lime green, lemon yellow, grape and punch pink.
The club members go by classic monikers such as Judy, Margaret, Estelle, Elsie and Mona that sound like they could be a roller derby team from 1960.
They need a group name. The Daughters of Dusk, maybe? Or, wait, better yet, the Pandemic Pedal Pushers?
The youngest is 72. The oldest is, well, 80-something.
And they banter like the golden girls they are.
"Riding [the bike] has helped my mood," said Estelle Harris.
"Yes, it has," chimed in her friend, Mona Trotter. "Speaking from one who should know." Wink. Wink.
Harris and Trotter, two octogenarians, said they used their federal stimulus checks to purchase their $450 three-wheel "tricycles" from East Ridge Bicycles. They've even been featured in the store's social media marketing.
The bikers are all residents of Mulberry Park at Collier Place off Ooltewah-Ringgold Road in Collegedale, a neighborhood of about 60 condominiums clustered in a circle. Mostly the friends are just committed to having a good time, or "cutting up," as people used to say back in the 20th century.
The women — there are about 10 in the group — gather most weeknights at dusk (when it's cooler) to make six to eight laps around the neighborhood, which they figure is a smidge over a mile. But there is no distance goal.
"When we start talking, who knows how far we'll go," said Judy Allen. "We don't have a [lap] counter, so we just go until we can't go any more."
The women comprise the remnants of a neighborhood lunch club. Once the coronavirus pandemic put a lid on their mid-day restaurant outings, they decided to use bikes as a way to exercise and, more importantly, to socialize.
"You come to know them — their families, their life stories, their friends," said Elsie Keet, who, at 72, is one of the younger members of the group.
The friends said the three-wheelers — a.k.a. adult tricycles — give them stability they can't get on a two-wheel bicycle. After all, what good is exercise if you end up with a broken hip?
"At my age, I don't want to fall," Harris said.
"When you stop, you don't have to get off the bike," added Keet. "You can just sit, which is so much nicer."
And the health benefits are clear, the women said. Margaret Whittle, who is diabetic, said the rides have helped her regulate her blood sugar.
"The last time I went to the doctor he took me down from two pills a night to one," Whittle said.
The rides might be even more aerobic if the riders didn't stop so often to chat with their neighbors. There are a couple of animal lovers in the group who can't pass a four-legged creature without hitting the brakes.
"They have to stop and pat every dog that comes along," Trotter moaned.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.