I am speaking to the riders. The mountain bikers of the greater Tallahassee area.
Line yourselves up, shoulder to shoulder, in order from the fastest to the least fastest. On my count of three I want you all to take one step to the left, one notch up in the ranks. Congratulations. We have all been promoted one step closer to the unregulated, but only official podium in this town– Bike Church.
With the loss of Dr. J Maner (not his real name) to Northwestern University we lose the amiable alpha-predator in our woods. Where is Northwestern University anyway? Pensacola? Do they even have trails?
While there will forever be constant speculation and debate about what defines the fastest rider in town, there can be no debate that this guy, with his chipmunk cheeks and goofy grin, has picked the legs off of many of our strongest and battle-tested every Sunday morning for what, 10 years?
If you don’t ride bike church then, no disrespect, but I’m not sure there is a comparable measuring stick in this town. Despite his efforts to blunt his destiny with Fireball whiskey and warm cans of Miller High Life, he has only become faster since I first got blasted by him on the trail.
The last time I saw him in the woods, with another grinning cannibal, my buddy Taco and I followed them for a bit along an unmarked trail until the relentless pressure of the pace cooked me, crashed me, and left me staring up into the retreating clouds above the forest. I am here to vouch for him. You can not be abused by a nicer guy.
We are going to miss him, but maybe not on the bike.