|Rudy Wolleswinkel, Cajon Pass, 16 April 2012|
Rudy and I met at dinner on the first night in Santa Monica. He sat to my right and didn't order dessert for himself but just stared at my fresh peach pie until he got half.
The day after this photo was taken Rudy and I were riding together, past Newberry Springs and Amboy. A strong, fast rider, he began to struggle in the heat and hills on the way to Ludlow. Probably due to the many medications in his bloodstream.
Rudy knew a thing or two about second chances. He survived a blood clot in his heart, cancer, a post-operative infection that almost killed him, and a bad cycling accident. The accident left him with a brain injury and broken bones. 22 days in the hospital. Mylar was holding his abdomen together. Laid off from his job, he worked for the rights of brain injury survivors. At times he was just glad to be alive. At times he wished the last 20 years had never happened. Oh, I know that feeling.
He still rode fiercely, like a racer, like a bat out of hell. He was abrasive and smart, with a raucous sense of humor and a huge heart.
At the bar at the Big Texan in Amarillo, he told about another kind of second chance. After an affair, he divorced his wife. Stayed with this new person right to the end. He thought Danny and I should get married, even with the bad blood between my folks. He said happiness is more important. It's everything.
Rudy was coming out to California in April to ride Highway 1 with Russ. Do a few rides as training beforehand. Rudy loved good food; we were planning to treat him right. I was going to ask him for an interview, his story as a TBI survivor. Now that story is gone.
Hopefully he's eating peach pie somewhere. Roaming beautiful roads and making new friends.
|Looking across the Colorado River at the Needles|