I'm struck my how much I find in common in their collective passing. The way that Scud would meander through a conversation, ecstatic, sort of like a Robin Williams monologue, whose subsequent passing happened the week of Scudfest, or what will happen to Robin Williams' collection of 60-some bikes, many of them boutique productions, like the men themselves, inspirational, one of a kind, or the fact that you can die on a mountain bike or in your home the same way: well before you should.
The whole thing has given me considerable pause. I've avoided writing about this because I certainly don't know what it all means, but I'll spit it out finally here and hope to be done with the worst of it.
I think it's natural to think you knew Robin Williams. For many of us, we grew up in a context that Robin Williams helped create. It's shocking for us to realize that though he was an inspiration to the people around him, he had no inspiration left for himself, that we did not know Robin Williams after all.
I also didn't know John Potter. I stared at his photo online for a while, tried to place him in my past somewhere, and he does look familiar. Maybe that's just human empathy, and I feel so absolutely terrible for his family that I'm not sure what to write about him. I imagine that I passed him along the trail somewhere sometime, and we said hey and rode on. But I didn't know him. Walnut creek, though, I know extraordinarily well. I've got a 2-inch scar on my left shoulder. I broke a bike there once. But dying there never crossed my mind.
I haven't been to Bryce yet, where Scud was injured, and I don't think I'll go. But if I did, I imagine I'd be most struck by the flow and grace of it, like most people who have been there. I hear it's terrific.
I met Scud the first time while racing the Monster Mash at Wakefield up near D.C. He was the race promoter and director, and the whole thing was a benefit for some kid's program he was running at the time, and I finished 2nd. I crashed pretty hard chasing the leader, maybe 200 yards from the finish. I rode across the line dusty and bleeding, and Scud was psyched, congratulatory, wild-eyed in the way he always was when there was action to be had, and he said what we always say when that happens, "If you're not crashing, you're not going fast enough."
Mental note to self: don't say that anymore.
If I'm honest with myself, and I have to answer the question "how would you prefer to die?" and I don't say "in my sleep" which is sort of a lame, cowardly answer for the moral hypothetical, then I guess I have to admit that if I have to go - not anytime soon, mind you - I'd prefer to pass away on my bike. I don't know what that's about, but there it is.
The thing is, I always thought bikes were supposed to save your life. Not end it. And I think for the most part that's true more often than it's not.
But nothing saves your life, at least not forever.
I'm left, like many of us, with a lot of unanswered questions, many of which I won't write here because they're borderline offensive. But how many miles did those three men tally in their lives? And what are those miles worth now?
I have to pause sometimes, survey what's before me, take stock of the things and people I've been gifted, and remind myself to savor it. It keeps me looking up up up.