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Senior cyclists travel to Fairfield to ride with friend

FAIRFIELD — Gail Devitt is proud of her unusual record.

“I made it half way around the U.S. without having a flat tire,” she said.

Devitt was one of a few dozen seniors who traveled from Roseville for Pedaling in Paradise, an event which reunites Paradise Valley Estates resident Dan Dougherty with his cycling buddies from Sun City.

The riders are in their 70s and 80s. Many of them, including Devitt, have done cross-country rides on their bicycles.

Dougherty used to live at Sun City. He moved to Paradise Valley Estates in April 2014.

The first ride was last year with more than 40 cyclists choosing between 10- or 17-mile routes.

This year, Dick Wright, 83, led the longer trek, one he takes often from Paradise Valley Estates to Pure Grain Bakery in Vacaville’s Town Square.

“I go there almost every day if I’m not playing golf,” Wright said.

This year he opted for a two-wheel bike. He rode a recumbent three-wheeler last year, but found it hard to keep up with the group.

He’s also taken several long-distance bike trips. Wright recently returned from a 10,000-mile car trip that took him all the way back to Maine via Montana.

And, after Wednesday’s ride, Wright was headed up to Oregon.

Ralph Koppe, who lives in Vacaville, rode his bike to meet Wright at Town Square.

“He’s unbelievable,” Koppe said of Wright. “He’s my idol.”

Norm Boice has traveled from Roseville both years for Pedaling in Paradise. While the 80-year-old, who also did a cross-country trip on his bicycle, likes the health benefits of riding, he said the socialization is just as important.

De Emory, 81, from Roseville, talked about the proof he got from his cardiologist about the benefits of riding his bike on a regular basis.

“I’m the only one left in my family,” he said, adding that his active lifestyle plays a key role. He got a new aortic valve a few years. “It’s a cow valve,” Emory said.

“He doesn’t moo that much,” Boice said in jest.

Many of the cyclists left Roseville between 7:30 and 8 a.m. to arrive in Fairfield. The riders gathered for a group picture before embarking on their journeys.

With everyone ready, the riders took off about 15 minutes earlier than planned. All were treated to a free lunch when they returned.

Riders such as Devitt and Wendy Appleby did some big rides since they last visited Paradise Valley, including an Atlantic ride from Florida to Maine.

Devitt started riding bikes when she was 60.

Dougherty spent 17 years at Sun City before moving to Fairfield. His fellow Roseville cyclists speak highly of him and spoke of the mystery rides he organized there.

“We miss him,” Boice said. “This is a good opportunity to say ‘hello.’ ”

The Sun City cycling club has almost 150 members, Boice said. The members often break into different groups for rides.

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