I met Al on a bicycle. Where else? We met while doing qualifying
brevets for Paris-Brest-Paris. Al and I, and thousands of others
riders dreamed for years about doing this ride. We lived it, breathed
it, ate it and dreamed it.
Al had epilepsy and his doctor's told him it would keep him from
doing long distance rides, but he defied them by doing a century.
They said nothing longer. He did a double century. They said that
was the limit. He did a triple, and then a quad. After he completed
Boston-Montreal-Boston in 1990, they decided to stop telling him
he couldn't do things anymore.
Al started taking conversational French lessons before we traveled
to Paris last year. He used to drive me crazy calling out obstacles
in French while on rides, but it helped to prepare him for the
ride and got him psyched. Telephone callers were even treated
to an answering machine greeting in French when they called.
But Al had so much energy, that in addition to all his training
for France, he was on the crew that pushed Cathy Ellis to victory
in last years RAAM.
When I was getting burned out riding last year, he helped bring
the fun back into the ride. He was one of the ride leaders for
TOSRV-East. This ride tours scenic rural Vermont, by traveling
up route 100 for 100 miles and then back the next day. This year
will be the 21st year of the ride. Last year, Al and I had planned
to drive up together, but at the last minute, I broke a shift
lever. I suggested that we try the tandem. Al had never been on
a tandem before, but decided to try. We set the seat height, put
him on the back, and road around my neighborhood. Based on that
3 mile ride, we decided to do the back to back centuries the next
day. He did great, and rarely complained about sore stoker butt.
He fell in love with tandeming on that ride. We did a few more
centuries together. I even let him on the front once!
He had just started riding with a new tandem partner recently,
and we were looking forward to doing a little competing on TOSRV-East
Al completed Paris-Brest-Paris in 1991 and was ready to do it
all over again in 1995! We had a blast on the ride and touring
around Paris. Al practiced power napping while standing over his
bike on the first day. He would get ahead of me, and stop, sleeping
standing up over his bike. When I rode by, I'd wake him, and he'd
do it again. He helped me through some of my low points during
Al served as president of the Greater Boston Chapter of American
Youth Hostels for 4 years, until he did a walkabout this past
winter. His leadership there pushed a great many projects along.
He led trip after trip and ride after ride. He was an absolutely
Al had done a tremendous amount of touring in the US and in Europe
and had incredible stories about the people he met along the way.
Al attended MIT, and received a degree in Computer Science. This
past year, after suffering major burnout or plain dissatisfaction
with his career, he decided to take some time off and tour through
the southeast for a while. He planned to lead several trips and
tours this summer and then enter graduate school in the fall.
He wanted to teach math.
Al had mentioned Ididabike and RAAM as future possibilities.
Al was competing in his first 24 hour ultramarathon in Johnstown,
NY. He was always a strong rider, but he was shocking everyone
with how well he was doing. All that touring this winter had really
paid off. Apparently, he was just playing with us, when we won
those town line sprints from him on the 300K this year.
Al was 31 years old, and had definitely packed a great deal of
adventure into those 31 years. He touched a lot of lives along
the way. You may have been one, and not even known it. He touched
my life and I miss him dearly.
Al, just before the start of the race
It was during that 24 hour marathon bike race, that he was hit
head on and killed by a drunk driver. In the same race, and just
minutes apart, Andrew Spiller suffered a similar fate. Please
don't drink and drive, and don't let your friends, family and
children drink and drive.
Andrew, out training Easter weekend