Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Val Kleitz Memorial Cargo Bike Ride

"Have you seen Val around recently?" The question might sound like an odd one, coming as it did at the start of Val's memorial ride, but the speaker was my friend Joe and Joe believes things that not everyone else believes. For example, Joe believes that the world would be a better place if a lot more bicycles looked like this:

I wished I could honestly say "Yeah, Joe, I was riding with Val just yesterday" instead of thinking that cancer sucks and it took my friend away a few weeks ago and I really don't think I'll be seeing Val again any time soon.

It turns out I was wrong about that.

Because Val is everywhere here today. Sure there's the life-sized cardboard cutout of Val that we all get our pictures taken with, and there's Val's bike the Dread Nought being strongly ridden by Val's widow Connie and there are the numerous Val-tribute mustaches but there is something more, something that is the pure essence of Val.

Val could fix things. He wouldn't tell you your bike was too old, too heavy or too weird to do something, but he could tell you what you might do to make it better. Heck, he'd be happy to show you what to do to make it better. And he'd build things. He built bikes, he built rides, he built thousands of friendships.

And about a hundred of those friends are here today. And we're all riding.

We ride and we eat and even though there will always be this sadness in our hearts, sadness that our friend has ridden onward to somewhere we have yet to go, the joy of this day, this ride and the rides yet to come is overwhelming.

"Ride Well," Val advised. And we do.

I miss my friend, but you know I've seen him at least a hundred times today.

Ride well, Val.


Brian Daniels said...

Is this the guy who made you that crazy humungous tube framed stream liner recumbent thingy you wrote about years ago in RCN? That bike was insane!

Kent Peterson said...

Yep, Joe Kochanowski is still building very wild, very fast bikes.

Lee said...

Sad news. I knew Val had cancer, but had no idea he passed away last month. He will be missed by many.

Professor Dave said...

I wrote one, too, Kent:




Bob said...

Some people you do tend to see around after they are gone. I met Sheldon Brown a year after he died and I still very much enjoy his insights and assistance.

Apis said...

Confession: Didn't know the Man, and by extension didn't know he was ill. I can, however, commiserate as I have lost family and friends over the years to cancers.

Any friend and those as giving as Val apparently was are particularly hard to say goodbye to, but we must. We must also remember them for what they accomplished and how they affected the world.

Sometimes it's all we can do.