The more time I’ve spent on a bicycle, the more I’ve come to realize that there are so many reasons people ride one. Yet, there are strong commonalities amongst riders of all types – from the hard-training racer, to the guy with the bum bars salmoning up Elston Avenue. I believe that the sense of freedom one gets from saddling up and going for a ride is that common tie – whether you’re riding in Belgium or to the bar.
I’ve ridden with many types of riders, and, prior to riding with many of my fellow Heroes, I never felt I fit in with most of them. Pete, however, always got it. We both had a significant penchant for adventure and we often used our bikes to seek it out – as well as for primary transportation (and my own “racing/training”).
Pete was a Hero in many ways, from his relentless desire to continue riding and maintaining his French-threaded Motobecane, to his passionate love for music. I remember, many times, wanting to criticize his handlebar configuration, but could not bring myself to do so because, basically, he had better taste in music than I.
His heroics on the bike were also impressive. He and I once rode to Milwaukee, on singlespeeds -- him wearing blue jeans, a t-shirt and Chuck Taylors, in the middle of the summer, got lost in the ghetto of Racine and, when we arrived, drank beers and Jim Beam ‘til 5 a.m. with some girls he knew. We made it as far as Kenosha the next day, when the empty fifth he was now using as a water bottle ran dry and he got stung by a bee.
He also had his fair share of hard times on the bike, but persevered. He was hit by several cars, crashed as a result of someone releasing his front QR while it was locked outside an establishment, had the ‘cross bike he bought for a move to Olympia, Washington stolen upon his return to Chicago, even jumped, but he kept riding.
I always enjoyed riding with him, because it was only about having fun – and he truly knew how to. Getting on a bike and riding out of town was never about the mileage, but always about the fact that it was a cool thing to do – a diversion, or even an escape. There was no way he and I could not have a great ride, and it didn’t matter if I would’ve been wearing a skinsuit and he a jean jacket. There was also little hope to get home before dawn if we went out for drinks afterwards either.In short, Pete had the Hero’s love for the bike and the other beautiful things in life. I am lucky to have had the pleasure of riding with him. I wish I had done it more. Pete tragically lost his life last month to a drug overdose – essentially on his 34th birthday. Ride on in peace, Hero.
Photo: Marko Mihailovich