Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tony Kornheiser vs. Cyclists

Following Lance Armstrong's Twitter feed, I was appalled to see this.

Scroll down to Tony Kornheiser's March 11, Part 1 segment and fast forward to the 30 minute mark.

If you are as enraged as I am, I encourage you to go here and make your voice heard.

This is what I said:

Mr. Kornheiser,

Your insensitive and inflammatory remarks regarding cyclists in the DC area have caused you to lose a listener of your podcast and viewer of PTI. I understand that your comments were meant in jest, but you neglect to take into account the consequences of the subject. Yes, cyclists, can be territorial and aggressive on the road. I understand that, and I work in my community to try to remind cyclists that courtesy must flow both ways between us and motorists.

That being said, you must understand, that, as a cyclist, stupid hat and shorts and all, when I encounter an aggressive motorist, the potential consequences of an accident range from serious injury at the least to my death in the worst case scenario, whereas you might only be delayed and extra minute or two in your oh-so-hurried efforts to get to where you're going. Hence you might be able to begin to understand why we are so sensitive to this subject.  We like to ride our bikes, and we understand that there are risks involved, but we do not want our lives to be on the line because of impatient motorists when we are merely exercising our rights to the road just like you.

I have been a long time viewer of PTI and have enjoyed your radio show via podcast many times over the years, but you will never get my time again, nor will you ever hear from me again. You are an insensitive, bombastic blowhard, infatuated with the sound of your own voice and enslaved to the pursuit of shocks and ratings. You were relevant at some point, but now I join the growing population of people who wish you'd simply shut up and retire.


Bo Zimmerman

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Perry's Wheel

I feel cold, angry, confused and empty. 12 hours ago, I was told that my friend, Perry Lyles, had passed away. One never knows how they're going to deal with situations like this, and I guess I still don't. I've heard of people describing it as "the new normal," and I guess that's a fitting analogy. Life must go on, even if it is a little bit dimmer and slightly more pale. Perry Lyles was a devoted husband and father, a fierce friend, and a great man. I am honored to have known him for the short time that I did. My life, and many others, was made significantly better because of him.

I first met Perry right at about a year ago, as we were gearing up the training sessions in preparation for the Ride to Austin. He was not the most demonstrative of men, so it took some time to get to know him, on and off the bike. Time, thankfully, was something that we did have. Over the course of many, many miles, I got to know a caring, passionate person that always had an ear to listen, a joke to crack, or a story to tell.

Cyclists are a tight knit bunch as it is. To the outside observer, it seems to be such an individual sport. Granted, we are all only as fast as our legs will take us, but we work together to push through pain, both physical and mental, to get around that next bend, up that next hill, or though those last few miles on a hot, hard ride.  As P3C3 riders, we are even more like family. Through the bike, we get to know each other and rely on each other like extensions of our own self.

I rode with Perry in the heat and cold, sun and rain, in the pre-dawn fog and in the clear blue sky of a summer afternoon. He was a stronger rider than me, so I spent a lot of time holding his back wheel as he pulled me around Upstate South Carolina and parts of Western North Carolina. He was an unwavering force on the road, and he got me through many of my first really long rides last summer.

He was also there at Donaldson every week, keeping the pace steady, taking pulls and periodically putting upstarts like me in our place in the little unsanctioned sprint zones we'd hit on the Country Ride. Every time I looked around, there he was. As the summer wore on, the post-Donaldson tailgating and trash talking became as much of a fixture as the ride itself. We'd always rag on Perry for his customary "Booty Sweat" shower that he take in the parking lot after every ride (He always had an old Arizona Iced Tea jug filled with water that he dump over his head to wash all the sweat off. Before long, we are all doing it). It's memories like this that keep coming back to me in technicolor.

In the Fall of last year, Perry's son, Taylor, started riding with us, and I could see that talent on the bike was a family trait. I got to watch a father-son dynamic that I can only dream to replicate if I'm lucky enough to have children. The two of them were friends, and I got to watch Taylor blossom on the bike, even as he did dumb kid stuff by launching off the front and missing a turn every once in a while.

As a newer cyclist, my days were more uneven. Some days I was on, and others I was off. Towards the end of the summer, I had a strong period where I was giving Perry a run for his money on a couple of rides, but that would always come and go. Through all of that, there was Perry's Wheel. I could always grab on and he'd tap out a smooth cadence, taking me where I needed to go. It's ironic that the last time I saw him was on a bike, but not out on the road. It was in a trainer class, and wouldn't you know it, he was set up right in front of me, as if he were pulling me like he's done so many times. If I had my way, I'd be back there right now, even if only for a moment. I'm going to miss that feeling, and I desperately miss my friend.

I just wish there had been more time, and my heart aches even more for his family. Life is so beautiful, but death is so random, and this has shaken me to the depths of my soul.

I'll see you on the other side, brother. Save a pull for me.

 Perry Lyles: 1963-2010