So long Owen
Last Saturday, a few of us convened to say goodbye to a friend and mentor who had died the previous month.
Owen Mulholland (I’m leaning on him, and he’s with his twin, John Mulholland) was one of the first diehard bikies I met in Marin County.
Within a year of meeting, both of our lives veered in new directions. I quit trying to pass physics classes in order to apply to medical school, and started envisioning myself as a bike racer, and he fathered a son.
Emile grew into a superb human being and I managed to acquit myself in the racing.
I shared one little thing with Emile: the sting of Owen’s tongue.
When dancing on the podium with Liz Newberry who’d just won the national cyclocross championship (a new thing for women), Owen chastised me for unseemly behavior.
But he also backed me when I needed a letter for a small grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation. And rode with me, and listened as I wept about being yet again shunned by the men’s morning ride.
He was a writer, historian, father and above all a cyclist to the core. He truly lived to ride, and Emile saw to it that his close friends would be able to experience a meandery loop through Point Reyes, taking in a couple of side-trails and then climbing up the long long wooded spine of Mount Vision. I went with the dirt riders on my Croclo-Zeiss (Cunningham cross bike). There were kids in front of me and old men behind. In the middle feels comfortable now. The ride was just hard enough for me to feel worked, under the forest canopy which the Japanese know is so healthful.
Road riders convened with the dirt riders and we shared stories. Franklin Blackford (the fourth person in the above picture) spoke of how he was embraced by Owen and his men’s Wednesday riding group within months of moving here. Believe me, it’s rare. Our county doesn’t have a warm fuzzy exterior, but there are people within that reach out and grab you.
After the ride, John Mulholland approached me with a smile and announced I was wearing his Pedal y Fibra jersey from 1963, when he raced in Mexico. I was flattered, and wondered how it ended up with Charlie Kelly. It was C.K. who gave it to me (well, he was throwing it away, actually, and I caught it mid-throw), and who swore it was from someone in the Grateful Dead crew.
A very patched up 5 pocket work of sartorial art, I am keeping and wearing this thing til it’s in shreds. It’s only fitting.