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Old Guys On Bikes: to the beaches and battlefields of Normandy

“Nothing in life is without risk, but I think this is minimal.”

Da boyz: 17 miles still to pedal
Da boyz: 17 miles still to pedal

Stay in lockdown? Not these retired police captains. It’s 8:52 on a sunny Tuesday morning, and all five of them are sitting around outside Chase Bank at Tenth and Orange in downtown Coronado. They’ve just pedaled their bikes 17 miles up from Bonita, and are about to make the return journey. And here’s the thing: they’re all between 70 and 80 years old.

“We were mostly involved with police work, or teaching, or government,” says Keith Enerson (80). He was assistant chief of SDPD, Jerry Sanders’ number two man. Until the corona virus, they would ride most days of the week. Gil Dominguez (78) is wearing a tee shirt that says “O.G.O.B. Old Guys On Bikes.”

As they always do, they get a coffee at Panera. Except this time, they can’t sit inside.

Old Guys On Bikes, power pedaling since 2000

Keith says the ride up from Bonita is not competitive. “It’s a shared enjoyment of the ride. We wouldn’t get up at 5 o’clock every morning and meet at 6:30 if it wasn’t enjoyable.”

But what about all those stay-home, social distancing rules?

“We don’t ride to any parks or beaches, and we try to stay six feet apart. I think it’s really important that you get some kind of exercise every day, and this is low impact, very safe. Nothing in life is without risk, but I think this is minimal.”

“And we have done bigger things,” says Jim. “Like the California-Arizona-Nevada ride.”

“Or the Oceanside to Annapolis 12-day,” says Keith. “I’ve ridden in Australia, the Netherlands, the UK, or” — and here, his eyes light up as he looks at his wife Josie — “that French ride. Two years ago, to the beaches and battlefields of Normandy. A friend of mine had been a paratrooper who jumped on D-Day.”

Keith says there’s something special about touring a foreign country by bike. “A bicycle can take you into unexpected experiences. You usually go through small villages and towns because you take the road less traveled. And you get the word that the French are rude, and maybe they are, in Paris. But in Normandy they were just really nice people, very friendly, and went out of their way to give us directions. And the French maintain those graveyards and fields like we maintain our museums. They take care of them. They’re immaculate.

“So here’s what happened. There were a lot of little restaurants, and we go in and the menu’s in French. And I don’t speak or read French. But I stood up and looked at it, and this gentleman came over and he said ‘I speak English and French. Can I help you?’ And I said yes, I wanted to order something. So he told me what it was, and I said, ‘Thank you for doing that.’ And he said ‘No, I thank you. My father was in the French Resistance, and spent the war in a prison camp. I’m free because of the Americans.’ And then he grabbed me, and gave me a big hug. It really was an emotional moment. I’ll never forget it. Things like that happen when you go by bike.”

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Da boyz: 17 miles still to pedal
Da boyz: 17 miles still to pedal

Stay in lockdown? Not these retired police captains. It’s 8:52 on a sunny Tuesday morning, and all five of them are sitting around outside Chase Bank at Tenth and Orange in downtown Coronado. They’ve just pedaled their bikes 17 miles up from Bonita, and are about to make the return journey. And here’s the thing: they’re all between 70 and 80 years old.

“We were mostly involved with police work, or teaching, or government,” says Keith Enerson (80). He was assistant chief of SDPD, Jerry Sanders’ number two man. Until the corona virus, they would ride most days of the week. Gil Dominguez (78) is wearing a tee shirt that says “O.G.O.B. Old Guys On Bikes.”

As they always do, they get a coffee at Panera. Except this time, they can’t sit inside.

Old Guys On Bikes, power pedaling since 2000

Keith says the ride up from Bonita is not competitive. “It’s a shared enjoyment of the ride. We wouldn’t get up at 5 o’clock every morning and meet at 6:30 if it wasn’t enjoyable.”

But what about all those stay-home, social distancing rules?

“We don’t ride to any parks or beaches, and we try to stay six feet apart. I think it’s really important that you get some kind of exercise every day, and this is low impact, very safe. Nothing in life is without risk, but I think this is minimal.”

“And we have done bigger things,” says Jim. “Like the California-Arizona-Nevada ride.”

“Or the Oceanside to Annapolis 12-day,” says Keith. “I’ve ridden in Australia, the Netherlands, the UK, or” — and here, his eyes light up as he looks at his wife Josie — “that French ride. Two years ago, to the beaches and battlefields of Normandy. A friend of mine had been a paratrooper who jumped on D-Day.”

Keith says there’s something special about touring a foreign country by bike. “A bicycle can take you into unexpected experiences. You usually go through small villages and towns because you take the road less traveled. And you get the word that the French are rude, and maybe they are, in Paris. But in Normandy they were just really nice people, very friendly, and went out of their way to give us directions. And the French maintain those graveyards and fields like we maintain our museums. They take care of them. They’re immaculate.

“So here’s what happened. There were a lot of little restaurants, and we go in and the menu’s in French. And I don’t speak or read French. But I stood up and looked at it, and this gentleman came over and he said ‘I speak English and French. Can I help you?’ And I said yes, I wanted to order something. So he told me what it was, and I said, ‘Thank you for doing that.’ And he said ‘No, I thank you. My father was in the French Resistance, and spent the war in a prison camp. I’m free because of the Americans.’ And then he grabbed me, and gave me a big hug. It really was an emotional moment. I’ll never forget it. Things like that happen when you go by bike.”

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