Tregg Hartley may be 55, but when he jumps on a bicycle and feels the wind in his hair, he immediately is taken back to the carefree days of his youth.
There is just something about being on a bike that Hartley adores. Maybe it’s being outside, or the rush of exercise, or the social aspect, or the challenge to go faster and longer. Whatever it is, Hartley is hooked.
And he hopes to convince more people to be hooked along with him.
“If I can do it, you can too,” he says. “I am 6 foot 3 and 300 pounds. If I can ride 5,000 miles a year, so can you.”
Hartley is president of the Peninsula Biking Association (PBA), a group of about 400 bicycle enthusiasts who get together regularly to go on bike rides. The group is a mix of riders of all ages and skill levels. Some ride fast, some ride slow. The association has activities for all.
Formed in 1970, the association was born out of the bicycling boom of that decade. Those were the days of Schwinns, high gas prices and a strong push to increase outdoor activity. The club has ebbed and waned over the years, but it is now going strong and looking to increase its membership and presence on the Peninsula.
Members of the association come from all over the area, from Smithfield to Williamsburg. The oldest member is 82 and the youngest is college-aged.
The group hosts weekly rides most of the year and sponsors two big rides annually. The first is the Pedal for the Pig over Memorial Day weekend in Smithfield. The second is the Surry Century ride in September. Those events allow the PBA to raise enough money to be able to donate back to the bicycling community.
Recently, the association donated money to create a repair station along the Capitol Bike Trail in Willliamsburg. It also partnered with the Oyster Point Rotary to purchase and build bikes for needy youth.
“We try to be as active in the community as we can,” Hartley says.
The club has many standing rides. One of Hartley’s favorite begins and ends at the Oozlefinch Brewery in Hampton. Another begins at Newport News’ Todd Stadium each Wednesday night and heads down along the James River. It’s not only great exercise, but it’s also a fun way to socialize and meet new people, Harley says. Most rides take place from spring to fall. A few hardy riders take to the roads in the dead of winter, but not many, Hartley says.
The rides are publicized on the association’s web site and on Facebook and will indicate to what skill level they are targeted. Some are casual rides and are perfect for families and riders of beach cruisers. Others are faster and meant for speed demons. Hartley says it’s important to him that there is a ride available for every skill level. Each ride also has a leader who sets the pace.
“The group rides are great because people can get out with other riders and see that ‘I can do it,’” he says. “Once they do, nothing stops them.”
Bicycling, Hartley says, is a great equalizer. It is a sport anyone can enjoy.
“It breaks down socio-economic barriers. You don’t have to be rich,” he says. “Cycling brings people together.”
Hartley, who retired from the Navy, discovered the PBA in 2010. He went on his first ride in January 2012. That was all it took for him to reignite the passion he had for bicycling as a child. Hartley became president in 2017, after serving as vice president for three years. As president, he says, he has advocated for more bike safety education and more infrastructure for bicyclists in area cities and counties. He is a huge proponent of expanding bike lanes and making the area more bike friendly.
“I really enjoy bike advocacy. You always want to make a better environment for bikers,” he says. “I’ve loved being part of the club and helping make that happen.”
Hartley, a contractor at Langley Air Force Base, often commutes to work on his bike. Since 2010, he has put 37,000 miles on his bicycle.
“It’s the freedom of it,” he says. “I can just take off,” he says. “It’s become a little bit of an obsession. But I really just love it.”