It was a raw early December morning five years ago. I was riding the inaugural Cider Ride here in DC. The course took us across the Anacostia River uphill into the near suburbs of Prince Georges County. We were riding to a couple of apple farms. The roads and drivers were not exactly pleasant. I was riding alone. At the rest stops I said hi to the few volunteers that I knew. I was looking forward to finishing and warming up at the after party.
Somewhere, somehow during the last ten miles I met Chris Maimone. He, like me, was enduring the cold. Chris asked if he could ride with me. And so we became a pair, chatting and keeping an eye out for each other as the cars squeezed by on the narrow roads. Approaching FedEx Field we came upon Katie Fiegenbaum, an undergraduate at American University who was was riding alone and starting to struggle. So we adopted her, adding her to our little pity party on wheels. The company made the last few miles of the ride so much more enjoyable. Afterward we shared pizza and laughs.
From time to time afterward, I’d run into Chris on bike commutes or at bike events in DC. Of course, as usual, I had a difficult time recognizing him but he never made me feel bad about it. A few years later I saw him at the start of the Seagull Century in Salisbury Maryland. He asked me to ride with him. Forgetting that he was more than 10 years younger, I said yes.
For the next 100 miles, I strained to keep up with him, doing my best to disguise the fact that I was in a world of hurt for most of the ride.
Sometime after that event he described me as the person who showed him how to do bike rides.
We all take the people around us for granted. I didn’t do Seagull this year but when I saw that Chris did I figured I’d see him at the next ride down the road.
That’s not going to happen.
Chris died Wednesday night.
He was a proud husband and father. A devoted Catholic. From his athletic events he raised thousands of dollars for Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis, more widely known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He did this in memory of his father who succumbed to ALS 20 years ago.
Like some many people I know in the BikeDC community I am in shock at hearing this news. We’ve lost a splendid human being.
Here is Chris’s obituary.
Tailwinds forever, Chris.