Bonita Bay Bicycle Club – FL

“When it’s my time, I want to die on my bike.”  That was one of the statements shouted out from the group of seven, extremely well fit 60-70 year olds who make up the Bonita Springs Bicycle Club in Bonita Springs, FL.

We went there to film an interview with Dr. Brent Holleran, a retired 76-year old cardiac surgeon from Wisconsin.  Bonita Springs is his winter home.  The southwest environment, as he puts it, “allows me to have the time of my life.”

Bonita Bay is one of several gated communities with 3,500 homes.  The residents who live in this sprawling 1,400 acres are able to enjoy the more than 12 miles of bicycle and walking paths, golf or just socialize with other retirees.

Then there is the Bonita Bay Bicycle Club, made up of 150 strong men and women, who enjoy riding the well-marked bike paths in Bonita Springs.  Most of the members of the cycling club are of retirement age.  Some are in their 50’s, while some are pushing 80…all peddling steadily.  They are “enthusiasts”…fitness zealots who ride for the fun of it.

Several times a week, and sometimes everyday, they gather early mornings and split into groups.  It is here where I met Dr. Brent and six of his riding comrades.

It’s important that I explain that these guys are not casual bikers - this is serious cardio work.  On an average, they ride 50 or more miles and an average speed of 18 mph.  The Bicycle Club has a statistician who keeps track of everyone’s performance.  A typical ‘A player’ rides 4,000-5,000 miles during the season.  Last month, a small group set a club record, riding 154 miles in one day.

They each have personal goals to try to reach of 200 miles a week and 4,000 – 5,000 miles per season they are together.

Dr. Brent, the oldest of the pack, clearly sees the value in this heart-pumping exercise since he spent his life in the O.R. repairing hearts from poor lifestyles or disease.  I witnessed the energy of these guys and boyish attitudes they shared with each other.  It was as much of a benefit as the bike riding itself. 

“It’s never too late to start an activity,” according to Holleran.  “Just pick something you’re capable of and get started.  Your energy level will improve; you’ll shed unnecessary pounds, build muscles, think quicker and rid yourself of depression.  Before you know it, you’re starting to accomplish things you couldn’t just the year before.”

When asked as a group, “are they afraid of getting old?” they all were quick to respond to the question.  Someone blurted out “I want to die on my bike.”  They all chimed in, “Yeah, me too!”   Then out of curiosity I asked, “do you still have sex?” The answers were coming so quick it was hard to keep up! “With our wives? You mean on our bikes?”  Some said all the time.

It was clear that this group of guys truly enjoyed being with each other.  It’s important to understand that riding 50+ miles at speeds upwards of 26mph, you have to be confident with who you’re riding with has your back and knows what they are doing.

On this production/filming day, we were fortunate to have two deputies from Bonita Springs that helped with traffic.  I think after hours of filming and being with these guys, I can’t wait to be 70 years old and to have friends like this.

Who knows? Maybe Dr. Brent will let me ride with his group.  He will be 92 then and probably still logging 200 miles a week.

Thank you, guys, for a great lesson in friendship.