February 28, 2006


Roll On, Brother

I received the very tragic news Sunday that my friend and fellow Chattanooga mountain biker Mike Callahan passed away while riding up at the Tanasi Trails near Ducktown, Tennessee.

He was on a ride with some folks from the Chattanooga Bike Club, and while going down Thunder Rock Express he collapsed. There were several people on the ride with various degrees of medical knowledge who bravely did all they could to revive Mike but sadly to no avail. The Polk County coroner has determined the cause as cardiac arrest. It's quite a shock because Mike was only 55 years of age and ostensibly very fit. He used to race bikes competitively.

I sure will miss Mike. I truly count him among my best cycling friends. He was one of the most laid back dudes I've ever known. An awesome technical mountain biker, he would roll over things from the get-go that I would have to stop and inspect thoroughly before I'd dare to try.

I looked all through my photos and couldn't come up with a particularly good head shot, but for the sake of tribute here are a few that I did find:

Here's a shot of him on a ride last winter at Fall Creek Falls State Park up on the Cumberland Plateau. The photo doesn't do his skills justice - it's just a dinky little log pile - but that's an old school fully rigid (no suspension) Schwinn Paramount, one of his fave rides.

Here Mike is crossing the swinging bridge over Cane Creek at Fall Creek Falls S.P.

He was a dedicated trail worker, too - always happy to help out when he could. In fact he had been helping out on this bridge building project on the nearby Clear Creek Trail just the day before his last ride.

Here Mike leads us out to work at Booker T. Washington State Park at last year's IMBA Trail Care Crew visit.

Mike was always so good-natured, and on many a post-ride occasion we enjoyed sharing some laughs and a liquid and/or herbal libation. I'd often run into him downtown at the summer Nightfall concerts on Friday nights, boogying to the music and enjoying a brew or three. Everytime I saw Mike I'd think "I need to get together with him more often," which just adds to the sadness and the reality of how fleeting life is. He was an accomplished guitar player (again, sad I never got to play with him) and had great taste in music - I was steered right by his recommendations of new music several times.

Mountain biking was such a passion in his life and I know so many people who will be at his memorial that will be able to relate to that. It's a shocking loss to our clan, but I think Mike will be happy to have people laughing and smiling when they remember that he was doing what he loved most when he died. The word I got from someone with him on that final ride was at one point he was beaming and said, "This is what I live for!"

Well my friend, I hope when it's my time I can have something as good as you did to die for.

Roll On, Brother...

Sorry to hear about your loss, man. It seems that the blogosphere is full of eulogies these days. I didn't know the guy, but from your description, it seems like a life well lived.
:( How very sad. One of my favorite teachers from high school, Larry Longshore, died from a heart attack while biking several years back and he was in SUCH good shape. It was a horrible shock. Godspeed in your healing.
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