Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving


The legend, our sun, at center and his planets in rotation.

When I became a serious roadie some two decades ago, part of the attraction to me was the shared adventure. Group rides that lasted 60, 70 miles or more through mountainous terrain defined my sense of fun. However, finding a group of guys whose idea of fun matched mine was a challenge; most of them headed home after that second hour. That is, it was a challenge until around 2000 when a subset of the riders I typically train with decided to focus more time on climbing the mountains nearby.

One of our number, a guy we refer to as a heat source, has served as a catalyst to drive our rides longer, faster and with more climbing. Unafraid to define someone’s masculinity in terms that would be censored from a Quentin Tarantino film, Sterno crystallizes all that the group itself is: from bonding us through our suffering to demonstrating our shortcomings with the stupid acts we undertake in traffic and the things we’re apt to say when the passions fire first, he is each one of us—only moreso.

And the guy is nothing if not stylish. From the Rapha and Capo Forma kits to the immaculately clean bikes, he's more PRO in appearance and riding style than any of us will ever be. And in a way that only an alpha can, he is the first to remind you what's cool and who has it.

So it is that Sterno is moving and leaving the nucleus for another set of mountains, ones more gorgeous and less hospitable. We kid about how long it will take for him to move back; I bet 8 months until his return in the pool we started. It gives us a way to joke about something we are all too sad to face full-on.

Sterno is that most necessary of ingredients. As the center of attention, he reduces each of us to supporting roles in his world, but for that we are enriched, for he can’t be the center of attention without the audience and we, his friends, never want to miss a moment. He keeps the rides together, strings them out and never lets them dull.

We’ve had our moments. I’ve said things to him I wouldn’t repeat to a construction worker. And yet he always wants me on the rides. Those flintier moments give our friendship an enduring spark I wouldn’t trade for gold.

So on this day of thanks, I express my gratitude for someone I simply can’t imagine riding without. We’ll miss you.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said Padraig. I too have had my momments with Sterno. We will miss him on our rides. Thanks for Giving us a lot of fun rides.
Neumann

Anonymous said...

you haven't been a real biker until sterno has sanctified you as one. he's my favorite asshole and that is high praise indeed.

whatever shit comes up... it belongs to the moment and is gone just as fast...
and i will certainly miss the hours being pushed out of my skull to keep up while pretending i'm not racing you when i am.

thanks for everything gregg...

noel

Anonymous said...

there is a little of sterno in all of us. we just let him be the conduit when we really can't go there. thanks for all the 'amazing' times out there on the road Gregg. You'll be missed. — yule

greg said...

I love the Sterno.
I will miss you my good friend.
Patrick is right on the money...however i am pissed at him this minute, since i have tears in my damn eyes.

-g$

Anonymous said...

- my dream remains to be half as strong as Mr. G... few will ever match his spirit or passion for competition and even fewer have been kinder to me.

Until we ride again...

Peter

EP said...

As the realization of not seeing Sterno as part of the local cycling community sets in, we all feel a loss and some sadness. Sterno’s legend in the South Bay will live on long after we are all gone. You are loved and will be greatly missed. Keep the passion.
Eric

Peter Armitage said...

What? Sterno is leaving LA?!!!! Nooo!!! I'm sure he'll be happy in Santa Fe, but I want to be able to come back and visit LA and have everything be just as it was. You can truly never go home again.

Happy riding "Greg" with to "g"s

-P

JP said...

Moving to Santa Fe? Sounds like a guy to watch in the races? Does he race?

love the blog.....

JP
Alb, NM

Anonymous said...

I've been riding a road bike since 1996, I cut my teeth on the South Bay rides and building some sort of status was quite difficult to do as the South Bay breeds so much talent! I remember an aggressive very outspoken gent in all green policing the group and keeping anyone and everyone in check. I knew at that time if I ever expected to be excepted in to the group it would have to be through Gregg. We all know Gregg's bark is much worse than his bite and he has proven to be good for all of us and once you had Gregg's approval you knew inside that that meant something. I didn't know much about riding on the road at that time but Gregg has forced the majority of riders in this area including myself to raise their game and for that I thank him! I have grown to really appreciate Gregg and the true friend he's become and he is one of the main reasons I come out to ride, he always makes it exciting! I will miss you, it won't be the same without you! Thanks for everything. Greg SWP

Anonymous said...

Gregg,

From the first moment I saw you @ Fleet Feet Triathelete 17 years ago.. I knew you were the real deal! Cool beyond words & style out the wazoo... from the sunglasses to the Marcel Calborn... made me want to sell my Trek on the spot! Too many good times to write about but none will be fogotten... I will miss talks about bikes, cars, motorcycles, who's in, who's out, who's strong who's not.... I could go on all day! To those of you who don't know the real Sterno he is an amazing friend, father & husband! May the roads of Santa Fe be kind to you & I look forward to someday riding them with you!

MG

Anonymous said...

Gregg will definitely missed, for all the reasons above, and more.

Seth

Dominique mcaree said...

Gregg: @ Times we fought like brothers, @ times we found ourselves far from home on some stretch of road which is where you always seemed to be the happiest and the most focused on purpose. You definitely define the word passion and presence. You demand a lot from your friends but also from yourself and over the course of the last 15 years I known you, you've clearly become part of the sport and social fabric of the cycling community in the South Bay. All of us will miss you- though we know you will be off the front somewhere...ripp'n it up, and putting the hurt on people on some climb. Keep her in the Big Ring. Ride to win. Best to You and Ellen in Santa Fe...you'll love it.

Rusty said...

Gregg,

So sorry to hear I missed the chance to have the last morning "donut" with Sterno. You may or may not remeber putting in my place on more than one occassion in the south bay but I can say that I deserved it everytime. Your council was appreciated at every race and your aggression was always respected by someone who only hopes to have the passion you do for riding. I have ridden with quite a few people from coast to coast but none have the same story quality as you do.

Take care, safe travels and best of luck.

Rusty Elder
NYC

James said...

Thanks for may tips and words of advice over the past few years and epic rides. On the road, thanks for being one who was always willing to go longer, climb higher, and ride harder.

Having myself recently left the South Bay for the front range, I know it's hard to leave such as a good a group of riders and friends. I'm glad I had the privilege... I hope to now see you on some mountain passes in the Rockies.

James
Boulder, CO

Anonymous said...

lived,
strength,
power,
single minded,
strong will,
moments,
lance,
TDF,
laughter,
hollywood,
coffee,
new bikes,
bitchen gear,
new cars,
go-karts,
france,
italia,
charlie litsky,
talking crap,
foe,
friend...
you will be missed sterno.

Give them hell in N.M.....
ernie b.

cynsickle said...

i only met Gregg not but too long ago, and i'll never forget the day because on that day, i almost gave up on group rides all together.

it was my first one, and i was outfitted in my local shop kit, feeling very PRO (thanks for the vernacular update, GKW).

i was waiting at the coffee shop, scared that i had already missed the start off. legs and arms shaking from the south bay brisk and the first ride jitters.

but alas, i had not missed the train as a well tanned, well outfitted and stylish rider led a small pack (sharing the same kit as i) to the coffee shop. i was excited to see others, but then nervous that i had to actually speak to them!

not sure if there was some sort of cyclist 'salute' or not, i stood, then sat, then about knocked over my bike all in one swift, clumsy motion.

i knew off the bat i had not Mr. Stern's approval.

he then approached me and gave me the once over, asked if this was my first group ride, who sold me my bike at the shop, where's your resume, why are you wearing your arm warmers around your knees and your kneewarmers around your arms!?

the ride embarked shortly, feeling a bit unworthy, inexperienced and down right scared-i had a hard time concentrating. i almost crossed wheels. was having trouble holding my line---then i heard the ever present Sterno up front barking back at some lads who must not have been following proper suit. the things this man said, i tell you, i laughed my ass off. i chuckled, listened and wouldn't you know it-was feeling much better on that ride. i was more comfortable, i sat in and enjoyed what would soon become my favorite ride in the future.

the moral of the story is, Sterno never picked on anyone. he picked on everyone. but although he made me pee in my bibs a little before the ride began, he also made my ride so much better about a dozen miles down the road.

fact of the matter is, Gregg affected the group. in one way or another, he managed, he parented, he entertained and drove that myriad of riders. he was a leader in many ways.

i'm not sure if i ever formally received his 'approval' but his presence and personality sure will be missed by one knee-banging, kit-wetting, wheel-crossing newb!

best of luck!

David W. said...

I pitty those few too ordinary and sour in Nuevo Mexico who will now be rocked and shocked by our Friend Sterno. I envy them others who will be pushed and tickled and inspired... Sterno Sir, Please Rage On with the pearly whites and matching Booties. You will be missed in the Freak Show out West.
Peace, HoverHawk.

Anonymous said...

I am saddened by Stern moving. The switchbacks will not be the same without him pushing me. - Vern