I met Simon by random chance while on a bike ride two years ago. My intention that day was to ride alone for 112 miles in preparation for my race at Ironman Canada. Riding a bike alone for 7 hours is lonely. Simon changed that.
While ascending a steep hill at mile 15, Simon pedaled past me with the confidence and speed only known to experienced cyclists. His uniform revealed he raced with an impressive team, far beyond my own skill level.
As he rode past he tapped my shoulder as a friendly “keep up the good work” gesture. I responded in my usual competitive way, by racing him to the crest of the hill. Simon appreciated my tenacity. He introduced himself and we became instant friends and riding buddies for the day.
By mile 50 Simon shared many of his racing stories. He bared his bicycling blunders and told of his racing triumphs. By mile 70 I was laughing so hard and having so much fun I couldn’t remember pedaling the distance.
During the ride Simon helped me improve my cycling skills by sharing his years of knowledge. We stopped a few times to practice racing drills and techniques for my betterment. Throughout the day Simon offered his time, his help, and his knowledge freely. Without ego, Simon selflessly shared himself with a stranger.
When I got terribly tired at mile 100 he let me draft in his slipstream to avoid the headwind. At mile 105 Simon kept my spirits high and encouraged me to stay strong. At mile 110 Simon summoned my remaining strength and raced me to the finish. Mile 112 marked the end to our random ride.
Simon passed away December, 2008.
I only knew Simon for 7 hours. But his impact will last a lifetime. Remembering my day with Simon is a wonderful illustration of how the best things in life are free.