Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trail Blazer

If you ride the Fern trail, you owe him. If you ride Tom Brown, you owe him. If you ride Cadillac, you owe him. If you ride nearly any trail in town, you owe him.

I remember when I started riding to work nine years ago, I would see him on his red Cannondale. He was a quiet guy and I had just started riding. I had the zeal of the newly converted and I couldn't engage him about riding, until I mentioned that commuted on Fern everyday. His eyes lit up and he told me that he was one of the designer/builders of that trail. He had hoped people would commute in the woods to work. Just before the famous Winn Dixie section of Fern fell to the bulldozer, he and I squeezed in one last ride. We stepped over felled trees and rode around the machines. He pointed out springs, plants, and all we were losing. I felt as though I was watching a man eulogize a friend.

Over the years I would see him sporadically on trails and at Cycling advocacy meetings. He was the one voice that all the tribes of cyclists, and the people we were trying to reach, respected. He never beat his chest, he never sought recognition, he just helped, worked, and smiled his way through the trying process of moving the greater good forward.

Let us not forget, he is a great cyclist. His exploits are legend. I once asked if anyone had ridden the pipe on the old Fern trail and the only response I ever heard was "I saw Harvey ride it once." That's before the stories of him getting lost in underwater caves, sliding down glaciers, and rafting rivers with Mingo in Alaska.

He is leaving us to take a job in D.C.. We have all lost a great light for the cause of all things cycling in Tallahassee. Hopefully he will make it back our way, but if not, we owe him.

"I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life, there are some that matter most. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail, and it is good to see...."
Kicking Bird, (Dances With Wolves)

Thanks for everything John.



Anonymous said...


Never knew him, but I commuted on fern all the time when I lived out Buck Lake Rd. Best part of my day.

juancho said...

Sucks so hard.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

My writing or John leaving town?...Jeez man be specific!

Anonymous said...

He said "or", ha!

juancho said...

and Magnum lofts one over the right field fence!

Human Wrecking Ball said...

All you have to do is expose a little piece of thread and they rip the sweater off ya. BASTARDS!

BIGWORM said...

That's what you get for wearing a sweater! We live in Florida for (name your deity)'s sake!

Mingo said...

John has ideas for trails in places you live next door to but didn't know exist.

He invented the urban assault concept. We'd buzz through downtown connecting parking garages, drops, drains, parking lots, allies, edges, breezeways, water tank tops and beer stops.

We did bunches of adventure rides together, one of the best was our ride over the Grand Tetons via Alaska Basin by the full moon. Back in the day (1984) there were not rules for mountain bikes in the national parks.

He is a friend we'll miss, I wish I was biking next to him in his new city.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

No one knows the depth of that dude better than you Mingo. You were the Poncho to his Lefty. Feel free to write up on of Yalls adventures and I'll post it. I have heard a few from you and others and they are all head shakers. It should be noted that most of the trails he worked on and designed you were working right beside him. You two are made of the same stuff.

juancho said...

and like lazy dogs we crawl on our bellies to steal the scraps of their kills.

Mingo said...

I wish I had some of what John has, he probably wishes the same about someone else, isn’t that how it goes sometimes.

He is a good leader.

juancho said...

well said. Heroes gotta have heroes right?

Petit fleur said...

Forgive me HWB, I have not been here in a while. i will come back and try to catch up later... but... I wanted to let you and your biking friends know (and you may already) about this:
There is an upcoming 9/11 Memorial Ride in Tallahassee … all bikes are welcome! It's at 8am at the Apalachee Walmart. There will be an escort with fire trucks, etc... For more info contact Mike Terhune 850-212-2494

Not sure if it's your thing or not, but I thought of you when I got the message. Hope you are well.