Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jeff Bates-cyclist, friend, inspiration

Spoke(n) has been quite for a bit. As you may know, our friend and real hardcore cyclist, Jeff Bates, had been battling a recurrence of melanoma cancer which had spread throughout his body.  This past weekend, Jeff fought his last fight with this demon rust and passed this Saturday morning, assisted by the presence of his son and a Greek god. When I say "fight," I mean something of heroic proportions as Jeff battled all the way to the end, the suddenness of his passing is stunning for the many who spent time with him just last week. 

The day after Jeff passed, many of his friends honored and remembered Jeff through our common connection, done Jeff's way: alpine, singletrack, hurry up-break, xc assault.  29er's, SS mostly, ruled the day, but there was a diversity in the 35 or so riders rolling together.  Periera and Lucid bikes (9, maybe) were strongly represented  as their builders, riding, are close friends with Jeff and family.  Like these builders, I think most everyone in the group was inspired and encouraged by Jeff at some point; Jeff saw opportunity quickly and encouraged our bicycle passion.

As in the end of his life, Jeff was not afraid to suffer on a bike, a former elite level racer, SSWC and 24hr competitor and often daily cyclist.  For Fahzure, our ride, on freshly dampened aspen and pine forest singletrack, involved a fair amount of suffering on his 38lb Swiss army bike. We know that our suffering was infinitesimal compared to what Jeff had to deal with for the last few years.  We also know that he handled it like a champion, never dwelling on the difficulty, always looking for opportunity and keeping his friends and family close to heart. We thank Jeff for the many great rides he shared and inspired, he'll always be with us as we ride forward with his passion and encouragement.

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