January 20, 2017
There are less than two weeks to go now, and things are proceeding apace, although it seems like the backlog of projects and tasks to complete at home before my departure is the greatest impediment. But it *will* all get done somehow.
One recent piece of very sad news will affect the trip. Yesterday I learned that my friend Jamie passed away suddenly on January 18. “Passed away” is such an overused euphemism, but almost everything about him was larger than life, and “died” just doesn’t do him justice.
This trip of mine might not be happening had it not been for Jamie. Our meeting was so wrapped up in bicycling that it’s difficult to separate his influence and the extent to which it colored my experiences. We came upon each other on the road in 1978, less than 90 minutes into what was for both of us our first RAGBRAI (of 38 for me and 34 for him). The entire experience of crossing Iowa for a week, as we came to realize, changed our lives.
Through and with Jamie I became part of Team Sprint, and the incentive to be in condition each summer at the end of July cemented bicycling as my physical activity of choice. We rode a lot of miles over the years, talking and laughing and reminiscing and retelling old stories so much that the terrain almost faded into oblivion.
He was Peter Pan, who waged a full-frontal assault on middle and old age. He refused to slow gracefully, essentially “retiring” from bicycling a few years ago when he could no longer ride and party full-tilt as he did in his 20s and 30s. But he was always there in spirit and would usually show up at the end of RAGBRAI to celebrate and share stories.
Foolishly, I thought he’d be there in person nearly forever. So clearly that is not true.
So a part of “Riding into Springtime” becomes riding into autumn in a sense. Jamie Cowles, you will live on and not be forgotten.
As I said in another message to my bicycling friends: Ride on, all of us, in this life and whatever life comes afterward.