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Residents: Cycling Seniors Tackle 10- and 17-mile Rides

Dan Dougherty missed his bike riding buddies from Roseville’s Sun City so much, he invited them to visit him Friday and explore some new routes.

Dougherty, 89, spent 17 years at Sun City before moving to Paradise Valley Estates in April. His main activity there was the Sun City Roseville Cycling Club where he was known for organizing mystery trips.

While he’s stayed in touch and done some rides with them since relocating, Dougherty thought it was time the club members see where he rides six days a week, with an average of 10 to 12 miles each time.

With the help of Sharon Dominik, sales coordinator at Paradise Valley Estates, Dougherty and more than 40 other cyclists hit the streets of Vacaville and Fairfield. All of them were 60 or older.

“I was hoping to get 25 (riders),” he said. “I got 43.”

The majority left Roseville at 7:30 a.m. with their bikes attached to the racks on their cars. Some cyclists from Paradise Valley also joined in.

Riders could do a 10-mile route through Fairfield neighborhoods or trek to the Pure Grain Bakery in Vacaville via side roads, which is about 17 miles.

Fred Barrie, 83, took the longer route. He rides five days a week, racking up 90 to 100 miles a week on his bicycle. Curiosity got him out of bed, in Roseville, into his car and on his bike in Fairfield.

“I wanted to find out what kind of ride Dan has put together,” he said.

Three of the almost 140 members of the cycling club have ridden their bicycles across the United States. Wendy Appleby and Gail Devitt were part of a women’s tour group that made the trek in 2013, traveling the southern route.

“It was on my bucket list,” Appleby said.

The trip took 58 days. Thirty women began the ride. Twenty-seven finished, she said.

Devitt started cycling when she was 60, purchasing a $49 bike.

“It took three of us to pick it up,” she said. “It was so heavy.”

She’s gotten a new bike since.

“I’ve learned the less you have on a bike, the more it costs,” Devitt said.

A few tools to fix flat tires, a cellphone and a clip to hold maps keep her load light as she rides.

Appleby and Devitt are now training for an East Coast ride in April 2015 that will take them from Florida to Maine.

Norm Boice did his cross-country trip in 2006, beginning in Seattle and ending in Washington, D.C. It took 48 days.

He has chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and raised $13,000 for the American Lung Association during the ride. There were 40 riders, the youngest was 16. Boice was the oldest at 71.

John Cook, who lives in Paradise Valley Estates, led the 17-mile ride Friday.

“I don’t think I’ll be the fastest rider,” he said. But he would definitely be doing something he loved. “There’s not much else I’d rather be doing,” he said.

As Cook and the 17-mile riders pulled away from Paradise Valley Estates, Jack Spencer offered a quick greeting.

“Happy Trails,” he said.

Spencer, who also lives at Paradise Valley, opted for the shorter ride.

Dougherty was the oldest rider. The retired insurance broker used to run and took up cycling when he began having knee problems.

It was back problems that kept Sun City resident Larry Fletcher from riding Friday. His wife of 30 years, Linda Fletcher, took the 17-mile trek as part of her training for a duathlon she plans to do in early January. That event involves a 2-mile run, a 6.5-mile ride and a second run.

Not only does she benefit physically from cycling, Fletcher said the friendships she’s made through the sport are wonderful.

“We are all active,” she said. “There’s companionship and support. It’s a good group of people.”

To see the article on the Daily Republic website, click here.