It isn’t often that I get to write about someone that I knew in the pages of this blog. Of course it isn’t often that you get to chat with, race around, and interact with a person like Chase Pinkham.
His tragic passing marks the departure from the pro peloton, and the Utah cycling community, of one of the nicest guys to ride a bike. But more of that in a minute.
I first met Chase while attending a post-wedding dinner for a roommate at the Old Spaghetti Warehouse in Salt Lake, where by chance he was our waiter. One of my roommates pointed him out as a pro cyclist and we chatted with him for a few minutes about cycling and racing.
After that I ran into him at various races, and chatted with him here and there. He never dodged us mere-mortals, readily sharing tips with us. After all, we were all seeking the infinite beauty that is cycling at its purest.
The last conversation I had with him was about a week before I heard he had passed to the eternal climbs above. We were both signing in for the Utah Crit series, and it was his return to the bike and racing after an extended period away. He said he was doing well, and made a comment about it being a good day to get dropped, that he was there for fun and to get back into things. He was upbeat and glad to back on a bike.
I admired the beautiful blacked out Specialized Allez he was riding and we chatted about it for a bit. Then it was race time. He in his group, me in mine. We discussed for a few quick minutes after, and we were off on our separate ways.
I didn’t know Chase in the way that many who have been in the local community far longer then I did. But, as I stood with friends and fellow competitors at a memorial service I listened to the stories being told and realized that my experiences were typical. He was a cyclist who epitomized the spirit of the domestique.
Stories were told of him passed out on climbs in competition because he didn’t want to let his teammates down. Of his sacrifices to support one of the budding elite women’s cycling teams here in Utah. Of his kindness, and desire to help others improve. Of his fearless return after devastating accidents. All the things that epitomize what this sport is about.
This week we as a sport lost one of the greats. Perhaps not in palmares, but certainly in heart and spirit.
Farewell Chase. Keep dancing on the pedals up the climbs into eternal mountains. Someday perhaps we’ll ride there together.
Image courtesy of Cycling Utah