On any long bike ride, cyclists tend to feel each other out.
Who’s hurting on the climb?
Who can’t keep pace on the flats?
Who is going to complain loudest at the foot of the next hill?
When Doug Newberg of Santa Rosa leads a regular group ride on Friday mornings, he tries to assess how strong his riding companions are feeling just before they tackle a steep climb. Over the years, he has come to expect a raised eyebrow from the same guy at the foot of any substantial climb. Then, almost like clockwork, 88-year-old Geoffrey Newton, the owner of that bemused glare, will start turning the pedals a little faster and charge up the hill.
“I’ll say, ‘We’re going up this hill’ and he’ll look at me. But now he’s got it in his blood,” Newberg, 74, said. “He’ll still look at me, though.”
“Physically, he’s unbelievable,” he said of his riding mate.
“We have been on rides and somehow we kind of throw out our ages,” Newberg recalled. “We say, ‘Guess how old that guy is?’ When we tell them his age they just kind of fall off their chair.”
“He’s a pure exception for his age,” Newberg said.
Steve Strain, another member of the loose knit riding group that gathers under the moniker “Freewheeling Fridays,” said Newton isn’t afraid to jaw a little with his friends.