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Cycling to Los Gatos for his 80th birthday party
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Bill Haley is planning to celebrate his 80th birthday on his road bike, with a ride through his old Bay Area stomping grounds of Los Gatos. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Bill Haley can thank his road bike for keeping him fit.

“It’s what keeps my motor running,” he said on the eve of his 80th birthday.

Haley is celebrating this landmark event of his life today in Los Gatos with members of his family. They’ll ride together on bicycles, with Haley making the haul on his nearly year-old Scattante racing bike.

He traded his old GT bike and sold off a 9MM handgun to help purchase the bike shortly after Christmas.

“This was a gift to me,” Haley said.

He had one major setback, crashing after the wheel of his bike got caught in a railroad track and was injured in the process.

“He broke his hip and spent 21 days in the hospital. He was off his bike for a few months,” said daughter Cindy Smith.

Haley amazed his family with his recovery time coupled with rehab.

“I think it helped that he was in excellent health,” said son-in-law Barry Smith. “His legs are solid (muscle).”

He along with his wife, Cindy, and their son, Sean, 21, will accompany Haley during his ride through and around Los Gatos.

“That’s where we’re from,” Cindy Smith said. “We also plan to take Dad to his favorite Mexican restaurant (to celebrate his birthday).”

Haley estimates that the ride planned along the hilly terrain will cover an estimated 14 miles or so.

He’s more concerned about the climbs rather than the distance.

Haley recently completed a two-day bike trip that covered 126 miles, riding with a group from Brannan Island to Sacramento, taking the River Road route.
He’s also done group rides around and to Tracy, Oakdale, Riverbank and Folsom Lake.

Haley spent nine years in military service including three in the reserves. He was employed as a butcher for 35 years, retiring only to occupy his time as a professional bass fisherman.

“I was fishing four to five day a week,” Haley said.

He took to riding, taking out his old 21-speed mountain bike with the Shimano gears – Haley recalled paying $250 for the bike in 1979 – riding it around Manteca by himself.

“As much as I was riding, I began hearing from people that I really needed to be on a road bike,” he said.

In 2008, Haley purchased a GT road bike. He rode the bike but wasn’t too comfortable with the handling.

He opted for the light-framed Scattante bike.

On his rides, Haley, who has logged in 2,299 miles in such a short time, now sports the cleated shoes, padded Lycra shorts with a bike shirt and helmet, and enjoys riding with numerous people including members of the Valley Spokesman Touring Club.

Along the way, he’s inspired folks to become more active.

“There are at least six people that I know who are looking to take their old bikes out of the (moth)balls and on to the streets,” said Haley. “I think they see me riding my bike around town and notice the fun I’m having.”