Ride in Peace

June 23, 2013 § 14 Comments

I joined the Montrose Ride yesterday morning with local legend and German import Armin Rahm. He guided me along the route, providing the world’s steadiest wheel in a sea of swervy riders. Coming into the big sprint in front of the school crossing, Frank Schroder provided a 1-kilometer lead out at Warp 7 that popped and frazzled all but a handful of riders who were strong enough to come around him at the end. After the ride Armin and I enjoyed a knockout cup of coffee in the picturesque town of Sierra Madre.

Even though it’s all L.A., and even though the distance isn’t very far, the South Bay’s separation from Pasadena by the Great Ocean of Unmoving Traffic means that there’s not nearly as much cross-pollination of the two cycling communities as there should be. Still, it was great to see friends like Tony Sells, David MacNeal, and Ed Engay on the ride.

Afterwards I swapped out Lycra for wool and headed over to the Chris Cono Contreras memorial service at the Pasadena Civic Center. I’m not sure how many people the room held, but it was easily three hundred if not a lot more. Death has a way of cross pollinating, the same way bike rides can. It brings together different groups of people with nothing in common except the person who has died, only to find out that they really have a lot in common, after all.

Chris’s cycling friends got to meet his friends from other parts of his life that didn’t revolve around two wheels. Family got to meet people who had only known him on the bike. The outpouring of grief, and its attendant sense of loss and regret, were intense.

After the service everyone migrated over to a wonderful outdoor reception, where we ate, talked about Chris and his life, and got to do the thing that he most likely would have been doing: Drinking a few beers and talking bikes and bike racing.

It’s a proven fact that after death no one has ever come back to life, myths and fables notwithstanding. The idea of “rest in peace,” then, is a funny one for me, because from a factual standpoint, you’re not “resting” at all. You’re just gone, and the web of life reflexively and instantaneously mends over the tiny tear you’ve left in the giant skein. Death is so painful and shocking and dramatic, but life rolls on like a giant wave, smoothing everything in its path, indifferent, benign.

Still, one of the people who stood up and reminisced about Chris said this: “Ride in peace.” He said it with tears streaming down his face and it was moving. I think it’s a beautiful sentiment for those of us who are still here, so I’ll pass it on as a new motto, in memory of Chris: Ride in peace.

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§ 14 Responses to Ride in Peace

  • Bob says:

    ….hmmm, Wankmeister, treading on some pretty sensitive religious grounds with your “It’s a proven fact……” statement.

  • dan martun says:

    words to live by m’man

  • Brian in VA says:

    I hope someone with your gift for words writes something ths nice about when I run out of air to breathe, sir. Well done!

  • New Girl says:

    ❤ always

  • Roy says:

    Wankster….’the web of life mending/regenerating over the tiny tear one’s death has left’? Dude ur a genious but no way those words are yours, that stuff is too brilliant to come from a cyclist. Btw, I’m going to use the phras at a party somewhere to impress some book reading cerebral babes. I’ll let u know if it worked.

    • Admin says:

      I get the best lines from the trailer park cyclist dude who runs Team Red Neck.

      They work with a certain type of babe, you know, the penicillin kind.

  • Al Lakes says:

    Seth, saw you on the ride but picked the wrong section to try to chat you up. I was on your wheel when you began to hammer on the last few miles. I made a comment about your pro fit.

    Anyhoo, I learned two things this week. Two certainties in life: bike racers and death. And by that I mean that bike racers will always be bike racers. Not sure if riding in peace is compatible with the bike racing mode. But in any case, glad to hear that Cono’s life touched so many others.

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