96-year-old cyclist still clocks hundreds of miles on stationary bike each week

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POSTED: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 5:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 5:04am

Sam Cohen may be walking a little slower these days.

"I'm not walking as good anymore. I'm kind of shuffling," Cohen says.

But to the people who see him at least four times a week at Indianapolis' Jewish Community Center, Sam is something of a rock star.

"It's kind of like the Godfather walking in," says Kyle Mills, director of athletics at the JCC. "Everybody that comes through, whether it's staff or members, everybody knows Sam."

"Well, I go get my fan and I get on the bike and start going," Cohen says.

"People know when Sam comes in, to move on to the next bike, if you're on Sam's bike," Mills says.

It all comes down to respect for one's elders and, at 96 years old, riding a stationary bike 25 miles a day, four times a week, Cohen has certainly earned it.

"At 96, most people are kinda resting. I don't think so," Cohen says.

For Sam, it's not about needing to go anywhere, it's about his need not to go somewhere.

"To keep myself going. If not, I'm assisted living," he says.

"When we look at him, we see what we are really capable of doing," says JCC member Dee Schwartz.

Sam didn't even start riding a bike until he was 62 years old, when his kids bought him one for his birthday.

"I started riding 25, 35, 40 miles in the morning," Cohen recalls.

Since then he's logged thousands of miles.

"I'd ride to Lebanon, I'd ride to Noblesville. I'd ride all over the area," Cohen says.

Enough to have gone from California to Maine and back five times.

"I feel like I'm doing my job. Like I'm punching a clock and I want to keep at it," Cohen says.

And until just three years ago, Sam was still keeping at it - outside - until his doctor told him that had to change.

"I've been hit by cars three times. I broke my hip on a fall. I've had any number or road rashes. But if you don't get hurt, you're not riding enough," Cohen says.

Now, 100 miles a week inside is more Sam's speed.

"My balance is starting to go. Getting the old man's disease," he says.

Still, he keeps going.

"If he's doing 25 miles, if he's doing 14 miles, if he's doing one mile, either way you look at it, you know, he's doing a lot more than what a lot of people can do," Mills says.

"He's going to go until he runs out of gas," Schwartz says.

Sam says he's okay with that.

"I know I'm in my twilight, going to go. It's all I can do," he says.

Until then, Sam's going to keep on pedaling.

"One of these days, I'll drop and that'll be the end," he says.

Today, though, is certainly not that day.

Sam listens to CNN on his headphones. He doesn't like to work out to any music. His family offered to get him an iPod, but Sam said that's just too high-tech for him.  

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