One Bike, Two Brothers
In 2005, my brother Martin, came home to Milwaukee for a visit from his home in Denton, Maryland. He brought with him his bike and of course we went for a ride out in the Holy Hill area. He was training for the Seagull Century held each year out of the Salisbury University in Maryland. Along the way he told me in detail about his bike, an Orbea Lobular, how he had researched purchasing it, how the tubes had been formed and how he had found just the right wheels for it. He kicked my butt that day, but it was a great day of riding.
In 2006 I had started to plan a cross country bike trip for the following summer starting in Seattle, WA and ending in Washington D.C. With Martin living on the east coast, the plan was for him to join me for the last few days and ride to the finish together. Unfortunately that summer he became ill and passed away shortly before Thanksgiving from Lyme’s Disease. When my brothers and sisters congregated at his home for the funeral, it was a unanimous decision that I should use his bike for the cross country trip.
His partner Marc drove to Milwaukee that Christmas to deliver the bike and other personnel affects. It was a sad Christmas.
I started training in January 2007 as the cross country ride started June 25th. Mostly indoor spin classes and commuting to work on a Bianchi Axis that I had purchased the year before with the intent of using it to ride across the states. It was not until late April that I finally got on the Orbea for a ride. It wasn’t mine, it was my brothers and it represented the loss of a loved one. I feared the heavy heart I would feel getting on it and thus was reluctant to take it out for a ride, but if I were to ride 3,300 miles on it, I had to get in the saddle. With some trepidation, on a sunny Saturday morning, I brought it out and swung a leg over it, not knowing how I or the bike would feel and headed down the road. Within three blocks, I was grinning from ear to ear. I had never been on a bike like this before, it was light, quick and effortless. On the very first ride I went 60 miles, highlighted by a quick visit with our Mom who became emotional recognizing Martin’s bike.
The bike and the cross country trip that summer became a type of catharsis for our family grief and brought us all that much closer. That bike has taken me from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast, from day rides to weeklong tours to the tops of Mount Rushmore and Pike’s Peak and 22 states. Along the way we have seen so much of the country and met so many wonderful people that are stilled called friends. Whenever I’m on that bike as cliché as it sounds, I feel his presence and it’s a good thing; it is always fun to share the good times.
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