Remembering Mark Miller
... and the questions that don't have answers
When I heard Mark Miller had been hit and killed by a driver on U.S. 78 I had so many questions, but the largest was: Why didn’t the driver stop? Now that police have made an arrest, maybe we’ll get an answer. But it’s a reminder of the broader questions we push out of our minds. These are the questions that don’t have answers, or at least we don’t have them: How many times will our friends’ routes happen to overlap with ours? How many times will we get to ride together? How long will we be able to ride at all?
I didn’t know Mark well but we had ridden together in groups over the years and a few times just the two of us, either planned or unplanned. Twice we rode together on the day after Christmas. It wasn’t intentional; it just worked out that way.
I think the last time we rode together was December 26, 2020. This one was planned for about 70 miles and we headed out to Camp Winnataska Road. I showed him a little detour through Stewarts Crossroads that I usually do; he’d never been on that road before. And for someone who rode 15,000 miles a year or more, that’s saying something. I found video I shot on that ride and I heard his soft-spoken, gentle voice. He was a retired veterinarian and as we came up to a dog walking along the side of the road he gently told him to stay in the voice I’m sure he used many times over the years in an exam room. While I had planned 70 miles for that ride, once I turned for home he added another 25 or so.
I had ridden with him on another day after Christmas in 2017. I was headed out toward Leeds with the goal of riding 53 miles, just enough to put me at 7,000 miles for that year. Our routes happened to overlap just outside Irondale. My recollection is hazy but I think he had stopped to take a phone call and I overtook him. He was such a strong rider it’s very unlikely I would have ever overtaken him otherwise. We rode together out to Mimosa Road. My back was bothering me but he was patient, always looking back to make sure I was still with him.
I wrote about that ride here but hadn’t re-read it in some time. And it really wasn’t about the ride; it was more about my 7,000 miles and the other numbers cyclists focus on. But today the last line has more significance: “Digits are infinitely repeatable; the important stuff never is.”
At the suggestion of one of Mark’s good friends, Eric Riddle, I’ve renamed a Strava segment that Mark frequently rode in his memory. In fact at the time I’m writing this, no one on Strava has ridden that climb in the last 90 days more than Mark. The segment is now called “Climb like Mark Miller - memorial segment,” a name suggested by another good friend, Tony Robbins.
Sincerely appreciate your story Rick…thank you
Thanks for sharing Rick. Your words always resonate home.