Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bicycles...the great connectors

This is how Stephen has fun on rides--yes, that is a squirt gun.  Photo by Nathan Vergin

Life is essentially a bunch of "hellos" and "goodbyes".  People come and go into my life, touching my soul and mind in so many wonderful ways.  At least 75% of these connections have been made through the bicycle in one form or another, and have occurred from Hawaii to France.  For me, the bicycle is truly the great connector.

I think of these people often as meteors.  Sometimes they are more like shooting stars, other times they make an impact on me not unlike the permanent craters made on the surface of the moon.  When I close my eyes, thousands of images rush to my mind's forefront and I am often times overwhelmed by the amazing people and adventures I've had surrounding two wheels.  All have been a great gift in one way or another, but sometimes, a person makes an exceptionally large impact.

Just under a year ago, I was lucky enough to meet Stephen.  He came to a bike fed party I was throwing and we talked briefly.  I still can't quite figure out how things fell into place, but he was invited onto our group ride for the following morning.  I remember questioning his choice of bikes he had to ride and wondered if he'd be able to keep up with us on the hills.  He told me the choices were a Surly Big Dummy, a Bianchi single speed cross, a fat bike or a custom fixie.  I couldn't quite wrap my mind around any of these working for a hilly 60 mile loop.

This is what was consumed on our first ride as a group with Stephen
The next morning, as all of us gathered at my place for our pancake ride, he rode up--kitted out--on his fixie.  Huh.  Was he really going to ride that?  Oh well, I had a map I could give him if he had to limp back.  I won't go into details about the ass kicking he gave us all.  I won't mention the fact that it took days for us to pick our jaws up off the ground.  I will, however, mention that as he was schooling us on the hills, he was completely humble (or at least he pretended to be).   I have never, and I mean this, seen any rider do what he did.  It's one thing to ride single speed--it's another thing to ride fixed.  I have many friends that can handle the shorter, steep hills riding fixed but none that could do the distance Stephen does.

I'll refrain from talking up his riding skills too much since I fear it will either embarrass the hell out of him or start the seed of an ego, but you should know he did TWO gravel events riding this beast.  One of them being the famed Almanzo in which he finished in just over 6.5 hours.  You can read about his adventure here.

Taking a step back, I feel that first ride we did together as a group changed us all.  I think we all knew he'd fit in marvelously, and in same ways better our group.  One ride led into the next.  Fall quickly approached, as did the snow.  Stephen and Michael (one of the founders of our group) competed in the Triple D winter race, and we all took turns meeting up for beer to pass the long winter nights in a more gentle fashion.  As Spring approached, Stephen took it upon himself to train with three of the group members for Trans Iowa out of solidarity--even though he wasn't racing it himself.  The snow would fly, the wind would blow, and they would ride.

Stephen and Chris getting ready for Triple D.  Photo by BykMor

Trans Iowa training.  Photo by Nathan Vergin

Brewery tour of Lakefront


As Spring begins to wrap up, another "goodbye" is coming all too quickly.  You see Stephen doesn't really belong in Wisconsin.  His home is Utah--where he had to say "goodbye" to his amazing wife a year ago.  He came to us by way of a medical grant--thank you UW--and as that wraps up, he'll pack his few belongings (most of them bike related) and will head back West.

I know I can't speak for everyone in the Church of the Spoken Wheel, but I'm sure we will all miss him in so many ways.  He has left all of us with so many great memories and I'm hoping our paths cross again soon.  Thank you Stephen for all you've given us.  Ride on Mr. BykMor!

Riding "Triksie"--but not all the way back to Utah.  Photo by Nathan Vergin

1 comment:

  1. Stephen, just saw this..many many happy trails!