Health Care

19 years of easy riding for Chain Gang bicycle club

Ida Pinderski sprays some bug repellent on Joe Bogacz as The Chain Gang bicycle group gets ready to set out on a Tuesday morning ride around Palmetto Hall.
Ida Pinderski sprays some bug repellent on Joe Bogacz as The Chain Gang bicycle group gets ready to set out on a Tuesday morning ride around Palmetto Hall. Staff photo

Joe Bogacz looked back as he slowed his bicycle to a stop.

He patiently waited for the other nine riders in this Tuesday's Chain Gang ride to catch up.

"Sometimes it's like herding a pack of turtles," he said with a laugh.

This year, Bogacz has served as the ride coordinator for the Chain Gang, a bicycling group for active retirees on Hilton Head Island. They meet year-round on Tuesdays for what they describe as "comfortable rides."

The other riders caught up, and the ride continued through Palmetto Hall Plantation. As riders passed through the entrance, the security guard walked out of the booth to wave.

Riders pedaled alongside each other, chatting as they cruised.

In August, the Chang Gang will celebrate its 19th anniversary. Eleanor Lehmann, who died in 2012, served as the group's coordinator for 15 years.

"She kept the bike club together. She was the spit and glue," said Sue Bogacz, Joe's wife.

When Lehmann moved into The Seabrook retirement community, the club members would ride to visit her.

Hilton Head resident Jacque Carbiener missed the first Chain Gang ride in 1994. Four people rode that first ride, including Joanne Santoas who was a founder along with Maggie Posey and Therese Renand. Santoas invited Carbiener to the group's second ride, and she has been a regular ever since.

At one point, the group had as many as 50 riders each week and considered splitting into two groups.

Carbiener said that since the group was founded, about half of the members have passed away.

"Some members have 'graduated,'" Carbiener said. "It's been almost 20 years, and some people were already in their 70s when they started."

Over the years the group has taken biking trips to Jekyll Island, Ga., Amelia Island, Fla., and Disney World. Carbiener traveled with the group in 1999 for a European tour biking in Belgium. The group hasn't taken a trip in two years.

"It took a lot of planning," Hilton Head resident Happy Levy said. "We're getting older and don't necessarily want to jump in the car for 10 hours."

After riding 10 to 15 miles, the group enjoys lunch together. And for some, the morning is more about the lunch than the ride.

"I can't imagine not going to lunch," Levy said. "I wouldn't be in the club."

Bogacz says there is a 40-degree rule, with rides being canceled if the temperature dips below 40 degrees or if it's raining.

And even if weather doesn't permit, Carole Crankshaw said lunch is still on.

"Another name for us ought to be wheels to meals," Ida Pinderski added.

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