I had a terrific 80-mile bike ride on Saturday. That’s the good news. The bad news is how the ride came to be. David Relson, a co-worker and fellow cyclist, passed away suddenly at 65 on September 21.
David was an avid and enthusiastic cyclist. I lost count of the times I saw him ride to work. Now and then he’d stop by my office and we’d catch up on each other’s latest long ride or milestone reached, such as when he passed 1,000 miles for the year. Talking about riding was guaranteed to make him smile.
One of his rides in 2012 was especially meaningful to me. When the Dexter tornado destroyed the home of the high school cross-country coaches, I asked folks at work to consider running, walking, or cycling some “extra miles”, which were tied to pledges by others. David’s ride of over 30 miles gave the financial total a big boost.
But we never did ride together. Part of that, I think, was my preference to ride solo and partly, “there’s always time for that” despite knowing what eventually happens with that attitude. So I dedicated Saturday to a memorial ride. If I couldn’t ride with him, I could at least ride for him.
And what an incredible day. After some early morning fog the sky cleared, and the temperature hung around 70 degrees all afternoon. The trees were just beginning to show color, and the roads and trails were littered with windfall apples and walnuts. And I exchanged nods and waves with dozens of other cyclists.
My route included a stretch on the Lakelands Trail State Park (between B and C), lunch in Stockbridge (D) and a loop around Cavanaugh Lake (just to the right of E), which was a regular part of David’s rides with the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society. And what memorial ride for a cyclist wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Zou-Zou’s cafe in Chelsea?
From everything I can tell, and as his obituary confirms, David fully lived his life and knew how to balance his work and responsibilities with enjoying his family and his hobbies. That’s what I’d call a successful life. So long, buddy. Wherever you are, ride on.