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Ardent 85-year-old bicyclist killed in traffic

For Fred Rosenberg, who was 75 when his son taught him to ride a bicycle, pedaling became the center of his rigorous fitness routine.

For a decade, Rosenberg rode 15 miles a day _ to the grocery store, the doctor, the park, an apartment complex clubhouse each morning to drink one cup of coffee.

Though cars had hit him before, he rode without a helmet. Wednesday, the confident, gentle 85-year-old died doing what he loved most: riding his six-speed in the sunshine.

"He would talk about the "old people,' " said his best friend and roommate, Maggie Fuss. "He didn't consider himself the "old people.' He kept himself young.

"He would always worry about me and never about himself."

Amir L. Fouad, 16, told St. Petersburg police the blinding sun kept him from seeing Rosenberg about 7:25 a.m. Both were traveling east in the 3200 block of Pinellas Point Drive S when Fouad's 1991 Toyota struck Rosenberg, who was on his way to have his coffee.

Rosenberg was flown to Bayfront Medical Center, where he died at 10:53 a.m.

Neither Fouad nor his sister, Yasmine, 15, was injured in the crash. No charges had been filed, and the investigation was continuing.

"My son is very, very depressed," said Lotfi Lotfi, father of the Lakewood High School sophomore. "He is in a state of shock."

Lotfi said his son was traveling slower than the speed limit and was so shaken up he is afraid to drive, a privilege he has had for about three months.

Rosenberg begrudgingly retired from a wholesale grocery business in Michigan before he turned 65. To bide his time, he spent a decade golfing, playing as many as 54 holes a day. In the bitter Detroit winter, he used a neon orange ball so he could find it in the snow.

When the mercury dropped too low, he joined a gym and played volleyball.

He moved to Florida about 10 years ago to be closer to his younger son, Calvin, who taught him how to bike. He followed his daily regimen like clockwork.

"This is a retired man _ he would set his alarm for 4 a.m. in order to get up not to miss a moment of sunshine," said Calvin Rosenberg, 56, who for two years lived across the hall from his dad at the Sky Harbour condominiums, 7200 Sunshine Skyway Lane S.

"To get exercise, to get structure in his life, that's what he did," the younger Rosenberg said.

He did calisthenics for an hour and a half before running (in recent months, walking) 3 miles. He returned home for a snack of cottage cheese and matzos and hopped on his bike to ride to Coquina Key Arms, where he lived for about five years.

He would sit with friends in the clubhouse and have one cup of coffee. The rest of the day, he drank eight glasses of water, two glasses of milk and some Gatorade when his legs ached.

When he returned home, he often ate a bagel. He then took off on his bicycle again, bound for a park to read mysteries, Westerns or other fiction. He delighted in watching people.

He usually returned home for good about 2 p.m., when he showered, flossed his teeth and settled into his reclining chair. He and his son shared a newspaper subscription, so he would slide the paper under his son's door in the evening.

Sometimes, he even indulged in Fritos or peanuts.

"He took a lot of pride in having people tell him he was in good shape," said Elma Rosenberg, Calvin's wife.

He did his grocery shopping by hanging plastic bags of food from his handlebars. He stocked up on paper products, overloading when he found a bargain, and correcting clerks when they keyed in the wrong price.

Rosenberg was a crossword wizard, making it a point to finish the Sunday New York Times puzzle in ink. He wouldn't put down a word until he was sure he was right.

Besides Calvin, Rosenberg is survived by another son, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The family plans to invite friends to a memorial gathering in May, when the older son, Marshall, 61, returns from his work overseas.

Said Elma Rosenberg: "He just had the greatest time the past 10 years."

_ Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.