The road ahead: Mark & Udo
November 12, 2015 § 10 Comments
Two items from two friends:
ITEM 1: The Road Ahead
My friend Dave Worthington is working with the cycling community in Orange County to put together a ride this Sunday that will benefit legendary SoCal racer Mark Scott. Mark is undergoing chemo for advanced leukemia. The ride leaves Bike Religion, 34150 PCH in Dana Point at 8:30 AM. Click on this link to register and learn more about Mark.
Here is what it’s all about, in Dave’s words:
August, 8th Floor, Hoag Memorial Hospital. Surgical masks at the door, tubes and monitors everywhere. I held his arm for a moment. Sick, but still solid gold, and asked my friend Mark Scott, “What music are you playing to help you through the night?”
“David, lately, ‘Shine Like it Does.’
‘This is the story
Since time began.
There will come a day
When we will know
And if you’re looking you will find it.’
“Shit, Mark, that’s a good one. Helped me through my freshman year at Texas. And bro, the chemo diet seems an extreme measure just so a sprinter like you can climb with the goats.” Our tears pooled like rain.
But you know something? We got this.
News We Can Use
Last June a cycling champion, advocate, and all-around great guy named Mark Scott was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). After several rounds of chemo, Mark is still in need of a life altering bone marrow transplant.
With the help of his healthcare team and with your support, Mark is poised to return to life as he once knew it, filled with love, surrounded by family and friends, driven by hard work and by his love for pedaling about this amazing planet.
Until the exact genetic markers are matched for the transplant, the immediate concern is to minimize the effects of the cancer via chemotherapy and blood transfusions. The entire oncology department at Hoag has fallen in love with Mark, and as far as we’re concerned, there’s no surprise there. Mark is so strong, always cool with his Colgate smile and sapphire eyes.
Inside, of course, it hurts like hell, but from the smile on his face you’d never, ever know.
Mark’s eyes were coal. Who dimmed the lights? “Mark … WTF?”
Mark was unresponsive. He was digging deeper than ever before, at war on the inside. For the first time in a long friendship he had nothing to spare for my tiny Me-Problems. “Mark, I’m your little brother, WTF?”
At his bedside, Mark told the enemy, “I’m gonna keep fighting.” Every cell in his body under attack and every cell fighting back.
“Now back off! I’m gonna keep fighting, man.”
More News We Can Use
To date Mark has endured four grueling chemotherapy sessions. From head to toe, his body has been riddled with a battery of probes, needles, bone core drills, aorta catheters, lumbar punctures, spinal taps, x-rays, and MRI’s. Through it all, Mark has yet to utter a single word of complaint, not one. All he’s done is smile, then grit his teeth and battle back. Mark Scott has spent a LIFETIME being the first guy to step up for his friends and for his community, and since he’s too humble to ask for your help, we are asking for him: We need your help.
This Sunday, Nov. 15, we are raising funds to directly benefit Mark during this fight with cancer. Additionally, Team Mark Scott wants to increase awareness of leukemia and those it afflicts. Simply by registering for ride, whether you attend or not, you’ll be helping MARK SCOTT.
Cancer can hit any of us at any time. Why Mark? We don’t know, but we know he’s not the only one. Another champion, Rahsaan Bahati, has an 8-year old nephew suffering from leukemia. Rahsaan will be joining us on Sunday, too.
Words from a Friend
Mark loves and appreciates you all. He has the stomach and backbone to beat this. Though not out of the woods, he’s made huge strides. Still, the hard part is yet to come. Remember, more than the rubber on the road, it’s the inner tube that’s 100 times stronger because it carries the pressure and the load; it’s what’s inside that counts.Whether you can make it or not, a donation of any amount will make a huge difference since Mark will be unable to return to work during this fight. www.gofundme.com/markscott
You can also support simply by registering for the ride. And like the song said:
“Shine Like it Does
Into Every Heart.
Shine Like it Does.
And if you’re Looking
You will Find It.
You will Find It.”
ITEM 2: Celebration of the Life of Udo Heinz
The Belgian Waffle Ride was conceived to challenge limits and to connect us as a community. Udo Heinz, a husband and father of two who was struck and killed near Camp Pendleton in 2013—is the closest to our heart.
Join us as we celebrate Udo’s life with a 55-mile memorial ride featuring friends, road and dirt on Saturday, November 14, starting from Stone Brewing Co. at 8:00 AM.
Hosted by the Ranchos Cycling Team, please RSVP for the ride and view additional details here: http://www.ranchoscycling.org/#!events/ccto
But that’s just the beginning. Udo’s wife Antje shared this beautiful letter.
My Dear Udo,
It has been more than two years that I could ride behind your wheel and hear you yelling at me to “hang on to the wheel.” How I miss your wheel, my love.
I still feel closest to you when I am in the saddle of my bike. Sometimes a simple bike ride makes all the difference in my day. Blue sky above me, road under me, my heart pounding and my legs screaming, climbing up the hill.
I love riding my bike. You loved riding your bike. And we both loved riding our bikes together.
In the first year after you left us, my grief was raw and obvious. And the first anniversary was not a benchmark, really. It was merely the day after day 364, followed by 366, 367 and so on. Year one was a struggle to get up, get the kids to school and to figure out all those things like car title transfers, new health insurance, the mechanics of life.
By year two, most of those things were resolved. But now there is another big job waiting to be resolved: Learning to live life alone, a new identity because you are still GONE and you will always be gone. Year two means struggling to live life again. And it is hard.
Some days I don’t care about anything, some days I am just tired. Tired of fixing the printer without your help, tired of making big decisions alone, and tired of caring for our children by myself.
It is hard because I have to live without the one I can’t live without.
But I always go on. I take breaks when I am really dark but I always come out the other end. I have so many wonderful people in my life that carry me. They didn’t disappear after the first year of initial grief. They are still by my side and encourage me, listen to me, hug me and ride with me. Like all those friends that come to the memorial ride again this year to celebrate your life, your birthday, your smile, your love for riding. We will all ride for you and with you, Udo. We will remember you and talk about you. Because we cannot forget you. You were the kindest and most loyal and smartest guy I have ever met. You touched all of us.
I am still working on trying to live without you. C.S. Lewis said that getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.
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Water the roots
November 8, 2014 § 6 Comments
This post is directed only to people in Southern California who meet one of the following requirements:
- You have a racing license.
- You have a fancy road bike, in which fancy > $1,500.
- You have a cyclocross bike.
- You have at least one Strava KOM.
- You troll Facebook on Sunday afternoon to find out the local race results.
- You follow professional race results.
- You have a power meter.
- You know what “WKO+” is.
- You like to “mix it up” on group rides.
- You have recurring fantasies of riding Merckx off your wheel high in the Alps, with your sixth consecutive Tour victory on the line.
If any of the above applies to you, please take note that on Sunday you will have 2 (two) opportunities (Möglichkeiten) to actualize your inner Walter Mitty in an actual bike race. These 2 (two) opportunities (Möglichkeiten) are outlined in detail below.
Möglichkeit A: Udo SPYclocross
This race has everything. If you’ve never raced cyclocross before, or if you haven’t yet gotten your feet wet this season, no race on the calendar is better than this one. In addition to fantastic organization, a challenging course, and the state’s best competition, Lake Hodges is a bottle’s throw from some of the best breweries in America. Cyclocross, because it’s bike racing, is hard. But it’s also fun — there are actual crowds, they actually cheer for (or at) you, and the only attitude is the attitude of “let’s have fun, and let’s race.”
Udo Heinz, to whom the race is dedicated, was struck and killed by a bus on Camp Pendleton almost two years ago. Udo was the epitome of a good rider. He tirelessly worked to organize and execute the best ‘cross races on the calendar, he was a safe and considerate cyclist who always looked out for the other guy, and he was the kind of person to whom others turned for help and advice.
If you have never raced ‘cross before, make November 9, 2014, your first race. It won’t be your last.
Möglichkeit B: SPY Upgrade Crit p/b CBR & Chris Lotts & Vera!
So let’s say that you don’t have a ‘cross bike or don’t know anyone who has one, which, frankly, is complete bullshit. But let’s say that we accept your bullshit because we’re friends and that’s what friends do. I know for a fact that you want to race your bike, deep down you really do — and there’s no safer, better place to do it than in one of Chris & Vera’s upgrade races. The race will go off on time. Bullshit dangerous riding will not be tolerated. Winners and near-winners will be glorified on a podium, and you will have the satisfaction of having actually raced your bike.
Well, there’s actually a third option for Sunday: Pull on your fancy riding outfit, wheel out your fancy racing bicycle, and pal around with your buddies at the coffee shop talking about how you wish there were more race opportunities in SoCal. See you there. At the race!
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Who’s at fault?
October 14, 2014 § 33 Comments
My friend Brent Garrigus recently began requiring customers to sign a contract when they purchase clothing that carries his shop logo. A copy of the agreement is posted below.
The idea is pretty simple. If you’re going to ride around North County with the name of Brent’s shop on your back, you should follow the law. Why would a bike shop owner care? First, because blatant lawbreaking may correlate with unsafe riding. Second, Brent doesn’t want his shop to be associated with riders who blow through red lights, run stop signs, and commit the other myriad infractions that seem to enrage so many motorists.
Brent has a solid record of practicing what he preaches. He runs his own rides out of his shop and doesn’t tolerate repeated traffic violations. People who can’t follow the rules of the road are first asked to do so, and then, if they still can’t figure it out, are asked to leave. This kind of leadership is necessary on large rides for lots of reasons. It enhances the safety of the group since everyone is riding by the same rules. It teaches new riders proper riding etiquette. And it probably results in better cyclist-motorist interactions.
On the other hand, focusing on scofflaw cyclists, in my opinion, is focusing on the wrong segment of the population. Few if any people I know have ever been hit while breaking the law. To the contrary, they are almost always law-abiding. The most recent outrageous cyclist deaths occurred when a texting sheriff’s deputy hit a biker in the bike lane and when an underage driver with a passenger killed a fully-illuminated recumbent rider who was carefully following the law. The same holds true for Udo Heinz, who was killed by a bus while riding in plain daylight following the law.
In other words, obeying the law on your bike is a good thing in theory, but it doesn’t address the real problem of cycling in traffic, which is careless motorists. You can stop at all the stop signs you want, but running stop signs isn’t what’s killing cyclists. Cyclists get hit because drivers don’t see them, which is often a function of edge-riding behavior, where cyclists hug the curb instead of occupying the middle of the travel lane where they can be seen.
Brent’s policy of helping educate and create a friendlier class of road cyclist deserves only praise. Road riders, like motorists, can often be rude; in extreme cases they can be violent. Helping enforce a policy of better behavior helps everyone, whether it saves lives or not. Leadership in the road community is a highly desirable commodity and deserves our support and respect — people who are willing to take a stand regardless of their bottom line are few and far between these days. And if you’d rather not sign the contract because you can’t resist flying through red lights on the Coast Highway during rush hour in order to snag that precious Strava KOM, well … you may have bigger issues than which jersey you wear.
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November 17, 2013 § 23 Comments
If you choose to write about cycling, you’re eventually going to write about death.
When I heard that Udo Heinz, a man I never met, had been run over and killed on his bicycle by a careless bus driver, I felt the worst thing that any human can feel inside.
I felt nothing.
The almost daily recitation of deaths and horrific injuries that rain down on people for the simple sin of cycling had made me numb. “Another innocent person killed,” I thought. It was as if I were reading of a battlefield casualty in a distant war.
The details trickled in, and they were terrible beyond any description. The sadness I should have felt when I learned that he left behind two young children and a lovely wife wasn’t there, only a black empty hole where my emotions should have been. This, and my recognition of it, made an awful event more awful still.
Udo’s price for riding his bike was destruction all at once. My price, apparently, had been a different kind of destruction piece by piece.
The memorial ride
By now the memorial ride has become a kind of dreaded institution in cycling. So many good and innocent people die so regularly and so violently that there is nothing strange about commemorating their lives with a ride. One of the people I admire most moved quickly to organize such a ride on Udo’s birthday, November 16.
I’d guess that about two hundred people showed up. Before we rolled out, a couple of people spoke. One talked about kindness and about how crucial it is that we care for each other, because the smallest things can harm or kill us. Another spoke of his friendship. Finally, Udo’s wife Antje spoke about the man she loved and about her unwavering commitment to continue riding her bicycle as dedication to the life that her husband had lived.
Seeing the crowd and being in the milieu, hearing the words of Udo’s friends and his wife, the emotions that I’d repressed returned. I felt the weight of the whole thing, and it was terrible, made more so by the knowledge that my feelings were as nothing compared to those of Antje and Udo’s friends.
I thumbed through a notebook in which people had left messages for their friend. They were touching and sad and powerful.
“We’ll think of you when we gaze at the starry skies.”
“Miss you forever.”
“You left us too soon.”
Unlike most other North County bike rides I’d been on, this one didn’t turn into a murderous morning of being tied to the whipping post. People rode together and talked. Much of the conversation was about Udo, and it was all oddly the same.
What kind of man he was
Udo was a German engineer, and this is shorthand for many things. It implies intellect and great rigor of thought. It implies meticulousness and command of the big picture as well as command of the details. I can’t help but think that there were things about America that must have challenged Udo, and foremost among those things would have been the inordinate sloppiness and laziness that often goes along with daily life here.
One of his friends told me about working with him for the first time on a cyclocross race, and being surprised at how exacting and precise Udo was. It was hard for the friend at first to handle, but as they worked together he came to appreciate what a skilled worker Udo was, and how the concern for details was really reflecting an underlying concern for the race itself and the people who would ride it.
The course turned out beautifully, safe yet challenging, technical but not too “mountain bikey” as Udo loved to say, brought to perfect resolution. The relationship turned out well too. Each person who spoke about Udo remarked on an initial reserve that was matched by boundless warmth and sincere friendship as time went on. His intellect and skill as an engineer were also underlain by a keen wit and subtle yet profoundly funny sense of humor.
That life is an exercise in chaotic mayhem was driven home by Udo’s death. As a cyclist he was regarded as one of the safest riders on the road. He refused to ride certain routes if he felt they were too narrow to accommodate car and bike traffic. When he was killed, he was riding safely on one of the safest stretches of road in San Diego County.
In conjunction with my own accident of a few weeks back, Udo’s memorial ride made me review again the bike riding equation.
The way it works, at least in my confused mind, is this: I am going to die. So, since I have to die, I hope I die on my bike.
The reason for this is simple. It’s on my bike that I am most fully alive. Udo’s life was a testament to this. His good works, a lasting marriage and two wonderful children, were expressed through his bicycle. The community of people who now feel a gaping hole is a community of bicycle riders. Udo’s passion for the bicycle was truly a passion, and he passed it on.
At last Sunday’s San Diego ‘cross race, when whiny and cowardly age-graded adults moaned and complained about the muddy sandpit and how dirty and difficult it was, a young boy came charging off the lip, picked a perfect line, and ripped through the pit without ever having to dismount. The boy was, of course, Udo’s son.
None of this is to deny that what happened to Udo was senseless and tragic. Of all people who ride bicycles, he should be here today. But since he isn’t, are we to now dismount like the quaking cowards around the mud pit and declare that, after all, riding a bike is too dangerous? Or are we to take a lesson from the younger Heinz, pick the best line we can, and keep on ripping?
What do you think Udo would have said?
I never knew him, but this much I know.