I have known Robbie since he came into the first bike shop I worked in the late 80's. He was another one of those damn skate punks, only pint size version. He insists he is 5'3", but he isn't. 5' 3" in heels maybe. My daughter at 5"3" always calls him on it.
Having lived the life myself, I knew punks. They were always a pain. So I kept Rob on my radar. It took him about 5 minutes to completely tear down any barrier. An infectious smile, the pint size, and an obvious intellegence just made me not able to dislike this guy. He was still a punk, but you couldn't hate him for it.
Robbie was one of the best skaters in town. The day I watched him ollie off the top of an Econoline van in the parking lot and nail the landing, I realized he had no fear. Ever on the look out for a new bike sale, I broached the idea of mountain biking to him. Skateboards rule and bikes drooled were his sentiments.
The next year Rob bought a road bike from us. Figured it would be handy when he headed off to college. We had created a monster. A cycling monster. Rob rode that Nishiki everywhere the summer before college. He could not get enough of it.
His biggest problem was his inability to locate that line he should not cross. Several accidents with cars skunned him and his bike up that first summer. He always said he was JRA (just riding along). Right. I never let him get away with that.
Rob hits college. Rob rides his bike through a 3rd story window in his dorm. After healing up, Rob is asked to leave college and take his bike and crazy man ways with him. By this time Robbie has finally discovered the joys of mountain biking. He enters his first race and does well. But I hear complaints as race director about the "crazy guy who passes in the pucker". It had to be Robbie.
The next 8 years or so Robbie's priorities were his time in the saddle first and his time in the saddle last. Anything else he did, girlfriends, work, go to another school, whatever ran a distant second to his intense passion for cycling. Robbie went through bikes like shit through a goose.
At some point during this time Robbie became a messenger in Boston. He lasted a year or so until he finally realized that getting hit by cars can have lasting repercussions. I think it was the Jeep that T-boned him, leaving him in bunch under the front fender that told him being a messenger probably meant a premature death before he hit 30.
So Robbie moves out to San Francisco to be near his girlfriend who had transferred to Berkley. Life is idyllic for awhile until one day his girlfriend comes home with her new girlfriend. She tells him he can stay long enough to find a new place, but he has to leave. So what does he do? He rides. And then rides some more. On one ride Robbie has another encounter with a car at an intersection. He doesn't skate so easy this time. Rob spends 3 weeks on the couch healing up at his ex-girlfriend's apartment while she and her new squeeze set up house in the bedroom.
Throughout this soap opera, the bike remains the focus for Rob. He has graduated from college on the 8 year plan, loved and lost, and crashed and lost. But the bike is always there to show him it's love.
Robbie is a graphic artist living in Idaho now. He has a good paying job, his own apartment, a new girlfriend, and his bikes. He lives to ride. And even though he has mellowed some and his head has less hair on it, he still manages his minimal 5000 miles a year. It has been a pleasure knowing him.