Only after the bugler sounded taps, and the bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” and people began to drift away from the grave did the Navy SEALs start filing past Tim Holden’s casket.

One by one, they paused, leaned over and, with a fist or hand, pounded a gold SEAL “Trident” pin onto the wooden lid. Each sailor then raised a white-gloved hand in salute and moved on.

It was a traditional farewell, one of many rendered Friday at Arlington National Cemetery to the retired Navy captain and former SEAL who died this past summer after being hit by a motorist while riding his bike near his home in Bethesda.

Hundreds of SEALs, colorfully clad fellow cyclists, family members and friends gathered at the cemetery to say goodbye as a cold wind chilled mourners and rustled the Christmas wreaths propped against the headstones.

David Rappe, Holden’s old plebe summer roommate from the Naval Academy, came in from Marietta, Ga.

Cyclists gather at the gates of Arlington National Cemetery for the funeral of avid cyclist and retired Navy SEAL Cmdr. Tim Holden. (J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

A retired Army captain, Will Reynolds, who lost a leg to an IED in Iraq, cycled in from Bethesda.

Adm. Brian L. Losey, head of the Naval Special Warfare Command, came from Coronado, Calif., to pay his respects.

As a bell tolled 9 a.m., Holden’s casket was carried from the hearse to a plot in Section 68 of the cemetery, and a Navy honor guard fired a rifle salute for a man who, to some, seemed almost indestructible.

He had been a college gymnast, had run marathons and had once commanded SEAL Team One. A contingent of about 200 cyclists escorted the funeral cortege across Memorial Bridge in tribute to his cycling.

“He was one of those guys that you just never thought anything like this could happen to,” his younger brother, Ray, 52, said Thursday night. “Anything he wanted to do, he did. He would find a way to do it. And he was in such good shape.”

“It still sort of seems surreal,” he said. “Tim . . . had to do everything and give it his all. No matter what he did.”

Jim Donley, 51, who knew Holden and lived two blocks away from him, was among a throng of cyclists from across the area who gathered shortly after dawn near Memorial Bridge to escort Holden’s body to the cemetery.

Retired Navy Capt. Timothy A. Holden was laid to rest on Friday in Arlington National Cemetery. The former Navy SEAL died after being struck by a car while riding his bike in August. (WUSA9)

They rode on Treks, Cervélos and Cannondales, red hazard lights flashing, and gathered under bare trees along Rock Creek Parkway.

Donley wore a bright yellow jacket as he directed the riders to the assembly point.

Tim was a person “who, even if you were not a friend, he always had your back,” Donley said. “He was very religious, very athletic, very humble. The first words out of his mouth were always things about you, not about him.”

“He was in his 60s, and I will tell you he was in better shape than just about anyone you’re going to meet today,” he said.

“And this sums it up,” he said, gesturing toward the dozens of cyclists assembling. “More than half these people never knew him. And look at the gathering we’re having. This is incredible.”

“Thanks for coming out, guys!” he called.

“The world is missing a very important person now,” he said.

Tim Holden, 64, of Bethesda was the second oldest of nine children — one girl and eight boys — and grew up in a small house in Wheaton, his brother said. Their father worked for the gas company.

On Aug. 28, the morning of his death, he was riding to meet his eldest daughter, Kelsey, for coffee in downtown Washington. He and his wife, Pam, also have four other daughters. He was struck shortly after 6 a.m. as he was riding in the 6000 block of Massachusetts Avenue, near his home.

The driver of the car, Ricardo K. Freeman, 22, of Edgewood, Md., was charged with negligent driving, failure to pass a cyclist at a safe distance and failure to avoid a collision with a cyclist, according to court records. He was fined $690, the records state.

Officials said neither speed nor drugs nor alcohol played a role in the accident.

Holden held degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a 1972 graduate of the Naval Academy.

“When he showed up at plebe summer, he was about 5-foot-8 and weighed about 140 pounds,” Rappe, his old roommate, said outside the cemetery.

“He was a little-bitty guy,” he said. “Very shy. He was actually going to go to Catholic seminary and changed his mind at the last minute and came to the Naval Academy.”

“Then he joined the gymnastics team,” bulked up and decided to become a SEAL, he said. “He was just a soft-spoken, easygoing, most likeable guy. . . . He was just an incredible person.”

Ray Holden said his brother joined up with the SEALs before the unit became well known and that he didn’t talk about it much. “A lot of the people in his neighborhood didn’t even know he was a Navy SEAL,” he said.

Tim Holden served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He retired from the Navy in 2001 and was chief strategy officer at Iomaxis, a Virginia technology firm, his family said.

Officials at busy Arlington cemetery said that it is not uncommon for a burial like his to take place several months after a death.

Tim Holden joined his parents and grandparents, who are also buried in Arlington, his brother said.