Bill Keiderling knows a lot about The Civil War, particular the Battle of Gettysburg.
And that’s all his workout buddies at Planet Fitness had to hear.
It wasn’t long before a trip to Gettysburg was in the works. And not long into the planning of the trip that the group — four guys ranging in age from 57 (Keiderling) to 67 — decided the battlefield tour should be on bicycles.
And it was. Not only last year, but this year as well.
In addition to Keiderling, the group is comprised of Jack Nardone, 66; Pat Adonizio, 66; and Butch Regan, 67.
The four became acquainted at Planet Fitness in Pittston Commons.
“It’s really through Planet Fitness where we met,” said Nardone. “I started going there two years ago. Butch and Bill were regulars, going like five days a week, and they really motivated me to come more often. The biking is really a side track, we haven’t been doing it regularly. When the thought came up to go to Gettysburg, we said let’s get on our bikes and go.”
They toured the battlefield on their own, covering between 15 and 20 miles, according to Nardone.
The Battle of Gettysburg last three days, July 1 through 3, 1983. Last year, on the 150th anniversary, the local foursome focused on the first day. This year was more about day two.
“This year we concentrated more on the second day of battles whereas last year we focused on the first day,” said Nardone. “We spent some time on the third day where Pickett’s Charge took place, because you can’t go to Gettysburg without going there. It’s very striking.”
Nardone said he loves the Gettysburg area, but can’t help being overwhelmed by the events that occurred.
“It’s a wonder how such a beautiful place could be the site of such tragedy,” said Nardone. “Again, the area surrounding Pickett’s Charge was emotional for me because I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch 50,000 soliders a mile long walking across the field. If you stand there at the trees and try to imagine it, it’s staggering.
“I saw a reenactment a few years ago and the noise and the commotion from a fraction of the amount was unbelievable.”
The four got a surprise when they met a distant relative of Union General Dan Sickles, who lost his leg in the battle.
Nardone plans for a third trip will be discussed, but he believes they will go back.
He said the group hopes to visit Culp’s Hill, where the names of Pennsylvania natives who served in the war are named and honored.
“We still have that passion for that pace,” Nardone said. “It’s beautiful, and it’s a big turning point in the war and it’s right in our back yard. It seems like we learn something new every time we go down there.”