Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pull Up the Lawn Chairs, They’re at it Again

It’s the season of remembrance for Puget Sound Riders co-founders - Jon, Mary and me. It’s the subtle underlying motivation that binds us together year after year to get out in the rain, sacrifice weekends, trade in our PTO and ask every person crossing our paths for money – the memory of a brother lost to AIDS.

Mary Harding and I met in a crowd of 1000 cyclists standing at Vancouver's Science World waiting to begin the 1997 Ride for a Reason to Seattle. The picture taped to her jersey led me ask to whose memory she was riding. As she spoke of her brother Peter, I noticed the dates under that picture and answered, “He died 6 days after my brother.” Mary and I began our first AIDS ride together moments later. Next week in Atlanta we’ll ride together for the 13th time in the AIDS Vaccine 200.

Jon’s brother, Donald David Fehrenbach, led by example, riding as a Positive Pedaler in 5 AIDS rides. DD picked up a discarded teddy bear, promptly dubbed Roadkill, on one of those rides and made him an annual companion up and down the California coast. After his death in 1998, Roadkill continued tagging along on AIDS rides across America in DD’s honor. In 2000, when Jon took on the role of Puget Sound training ride leader in his first cycling event, Roadkill donned new hiking boots stuffed with mylar and joined the newly founded Puget Sound Riders on the Alaska AIDS Vaccine Ride.  This June, I’ll join Jon for my first time on DD’s California ride, the AIDS/LifeCycle.

Our brothers were the athletes - DD cycled thousands of miles, Bret's bike was his transportation all over the world and Peter walked coast-to-coast calling attention to poverty in America – we were not. And while we’ve all become stronger cyclists, age is constantly working against us. Precisely why at roughly this time every year one of us will begin painting the picture of 3 proud siblings cracking open a cold one, pulling up lawn chairs on puffy clouds above, shaking their heads with a knowing smile and, while their language would likely be far more colorful, shouting out to all who’d hear, “This ought to be good, they’re at it again!”

Dedicated to the memory of our dear brothers:
Bret M. Granato July 21, 1959 - May 5, 1995
Peter T. Harding October 5, 1955 - May 11, 1995
Donald David "DD" Fehrenbach - June 3, 1949 - April 10, 1998


Anonymous said...

Hi, my dear friend! You are so incredible and so are your friends. I didn't know about Roadkill 1 & 2 but he is darn cute! I cannot believe it has been 16 years, like Kyle I cannot beleive it has been 8 years! You make me cry & laugh at thinking of them watching you all get on those bikes again! I will be thinking of you next week and we will see you at Tammie's on the 21st. This old friend is going to donate to your second ride. My Stacey was in awe of you, riding like you do! You take care and be really, really safe! Love you so much!!! Lori

pinkim said...

You paint a poignant picture, my friend...ride on!