By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Under gray skies and with a chill remaining from the morning fog, Santa Rosa’s George Gallegos called out “rolling” and an informal, decade-old bicycle club of seniors streamed single-file out of Armstrong Grove in Guerneville.
The 38-mile ride continued at a leisurely pace Wednesday to Cazadero, with lots of irreverent chatter, talk about family and friends, and jokes, especially about being old.
With a moniker of “Seniors in Spandex,” it is what you would expect.
“There’s one thing, we can’t pass a bathroom, not this group,” said Bob Smith, 64, a retired Sebastopol police officer.
The seniors’ club is one of several that are springing up throughout Sonoma County as part of a boom in physical fitness activities in general and in cycling in particular among the over-50 age group.
“I started it 10 years ago and it morphed from being a Friday-only ride because they wanted to do more, so we started to do Wednesday and Monday too,” said Janice Eunice of Santa Rosa. “I have nothing else to do but ride my bike. Isn’t that boring?”
At 72, Eunice is an average age for the group, which numbers about a dozen riders. The senior member is 92-year-old Lynn McClintock, but he was missing from Wednesday’s ride.
At 55, Robin Abramson of Santa Rosa, who also works part-time at The Trek Store in Santa Rosa, is the youngest, a ‘Senior in Training,’ as she puts it.
“It’s all about staying fit,” Abramson said.
The ride left on Armstrong Woods Road, wound over Monte Rio Road and Moscow Road to skirt Highway 116, and then up Old Cazadero Road, through stands of redwoods and beside Austin Creek.
“I never appreciated the beauty of this place until I started riding,” Abramson said.
The ride also was about coffee and pastries, with a long stop at Gold Coast in Duncans Mills.
The group even has what it calls its pastry ride, which starts at the Bodega Bay home of professional photographer John Hershey, 66, whose ID bracelet says Ride to Eat.
That ride includes stops at Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, Gold Coast in Duncans Mills and Road House Coffee in Bodega Bay.
For the record, the Seniors in Spandex finished the ride at an average speed of 12.3 mph in three hours of riding time.
“What I like about this group is it is not about who can go the farthest or the fastest,” Gallegos said. “If some falls behind, we generally wait.”