Matt’s spirit and life is certainly not embodied by just a bicycle. It was only one facet to a very layered and rich personality. This day, however, we made the most symbolic offer we could. People called people and places and those people called other places and people and everyone got together and/or contributed whatever they could to honor Matt in the best way we all knew how.
Everyone gathered at Hamlin park, a short distance away from the accident site. I was given the honor of guiding the trailer that carried Matt’s memorial bike. All day was that familiar gray of winter until the sun finally shown itself as it set. It might have been the sun, the company, or both that but it actually felt warmer out there when we began the ride.
There were plenty of potholes and cracks and crevices in the concrete. We steered apprehensively to avoid each new hazard in the road. The trailer bike took lead and the whole group followed as we rode up Damen. It was strange noticing that no cars passed us as we went until I looked back to see the whole group just took the whole lane. No cars honked, no one raised a fuss, it seemed as if the world understood.
Many incredible things happened that day but there was one in particular that I must share.
Imagine that time you look down between your arms and look just beyond your handlebars to see your tire rolling smoothly as it swallows the road right in front of your path. You see no one ahead of you, nor in your peripheral, it’s just you and the front of your bicycle in your field of vision. The scene tricks you into believing it’s just you and the bicycle while the world is off somewhere else. It’s a site we have seen and a place we have been thousands of times when each of us are out there alone on the bike. This time there was an incredible feeling I noticed as I rode and glanced down, retreating to that familiar place. I knew that even though there wasn’t anyone in sight, I was not alone. This time I knew that everyone was right there with me. This time I knew Matt was right there with me.
It’s a humbling experience meeting Matt’s family and friends. They are incredible people that had a sense of understanding, a calm and collective wisdom. It all started with us hoping we could comfort them and, in actuality, they were the strong ones comforting us. As we all assembled at that intersection to set up the bike, Luke, Matt’s brother, jumped at the opportunity to help get the bike unfastened and set up. It was only fitting that he was given the key to the final lock that would symbolically anchor Matthew’s legacy.
Everyone gathered their thoughts as each of us took in the scene in our own way. Some made rounds to comfort others, some found comfort in their own place, and/or some tried to comprehend the traffic buzzing around us. It was a mass of people trying to make sense of it all.
It was phenomenal seeing so many people there, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. This community comes together in the worst of times to bring out the best we can, in the best way we know how. It’s a comfort to know that, even though it might seem as such, we are not alone in what we do. The decisions we make and their outcomes affect us all. Matt’s family and friends allowed us to show them how much we care. It was an honor to be a part of it, I hope they can now see how much this has touched us and I hope they know our hearts are with them.