My Friend Bobby

Everyone has the same Bobby Mac story.

Bobby led the weekend group rides out of Quad Cycles in Arlington. He was boisterous, self-deprecating, and always the center of attention. He’d start each ride reminding us to “be nice to everyone you meet” and “ride with love in your hearts and smiles on your faces.” If you were new to the ride you’d be forgiven for thinking, “Is this guy for real?” It was his energy that made the whole thing work – he brought together nervous newcomers in cargo shorts and weekend warriors riding bikes that cost more than your first car. Bobby made us all feel like part of the same tribe.

Word spread through cycling circles a few weeks ago that Bobby was fighting cancer, and that the prognosis was not good. We shared with him and each other our photos, memories and words of encouragement in hopes that it would brighten his final days. I sent Bobby a photo of him and I at the finish of “Harbor to the Bay”, a 130 mile single-day charity ride from Boston to Provincetown. One-hundred and thirty miles. On a bicycle. In the pouring, unyielding rain. I wrote him, “Didn’t think I could do anything remotely like this before I met you.”

That’s the commonality in so many of our stories. The challenges and circumstances are different, but the thesis is repeated. Bobby Mac helped me do something I never thought I could do. Bobby managed to make hundreds of us feel like we could do what we previously thought impossible. His genius was in making us think it was all our idea; all our doing. Isn’t that the truest measure of a coach?

Bobby Mac was my friend and my coach and I will miss him dearly.