By Phil Bird
Bobby was more than a friend. He was an inspiration. He was a mentor. He was a ‘how-to” guide to living life. Though he was a few years younger than me, he was the closest I’ve ever come to having an older brother.
Bobby and I became close because of our similar life experiences. We were both the oldest of 4 with 2 brothers and 1 sister: our sisters being the youngest in both families. We were both transplants from the east coast. We both worked at REI together and we both loved our new home: the great city of Chicago.
But our bond was always: the bike. Bobby lived to ride and I admired that. He rode in the best and the worst of weather conditions. Through Chicago’s hot summers and unforgiving winters, he rode on. He taught me to be a smarter, safer rider. At times pointing out my mistakes and making me wear a helmet.
He convinced me to become a year-round cyclist. When it was 14 degrees and snowy I’d sometimes get soft and consider taking the CTA. But I’d always stop and ask myself the question, “What Would Bobby Do?’’ His cycling encouragement always got me to ride - Even if I IMMEDIATELY regretted it.
Debating weather or not to drop $100 on a piece of gear. What would Bobby do? (He’d always buy it). When I’d get cut-off by a disgruntled cabby and my instinct would be to chase him down to give him a piece of my mind. What would Bobby do? Which probably saved my life a number of times. And when I didn’t know the answer to what he’d do; I’d ask him.
What would Bobby do now takes on a new meaning. It’s how I live my life: to be a better person. Bobby’s energy and appetite for life has made all of us better people. Over the past week and a half, I’ve made hundreds of new friends, reunited with old ones and even made a few new best ones. That’s because that’s what Bobby does. He brings people together. Bobby loved everyone and wanted everyone to know and love each other. That’s his legacy.
Bobby is love, Bobby is life.
Ride on, Bobby. And may angels lead you in.