A mountain biker died during a rider at McDowell Mountain Regional Park Saturday. That’s the second mountain bike fatality at my favorite park in the last six weeks.
I have a story on Examiner.com with more details. That’s what you want to read for the "just the facts" info. Frankly, the story is missing the rider’s identity. I could press harder – but in this case, that’s not what’s important about the situation.
My motivation for writing the Examiner story was two-fold: First, so other riders can remember the basics of how to be prepared (see below). Second, I hope it’s a wake-up to the abject performance of the so-called outdoor writer at The Arizona Republic. Every hiker who skins a knee on Camelback Mountain warrants a story, but the Republic can’t be arsed about anything beyond sight of the newsroom.
But here on my own site – I just have a few messages for my mountain bike brethren. There are a few points I want us all to take away from the deaths of Ron Cadiente and the as-yet unnamed out-of-town visitor.
If you mountain bike without a helmet, water, tools, a properly maintained bike and a cell phone -- You.Are.Not.Prepared. Don’t leave home without any of these. And think about a sports drink and some snacks, especially as the weather gets hotter. I can’t believe I still need to tell anyone to wear a helmet. It boggles my mind that anyone would mountain bike without a helmet – there is just no valid reason for it.
Don’t Do Anything Stupid
If you can’t pass someone safely, don’t pass them at all. Wait. I don’t care if you’re a Cat 1 or pro mountain bike racer (in fact, they tend to ride safer than Cat 3’s front-of-the-pack riders), finishing a few seconds earlier is not worth your safety or that of your fellow riders. Your sponsors or the bike shop who sponsors your team certainly agrees. And yield the trail whenever you can to riders headed the opposite direction. I notice a lot of people like to ride Pemberton counter-clockwise these days. Fine. Let’s all be good to each other and allow some room.
This means to things: Keep your speed reasonable and watch where you want to go. I know speed is fun – but the there’s a fine line you’ll cross when the speed gets too much for your skill or the trail conditions -- and it shrinks your margin of error. And that’s not fun.
Now, onto "where you want to go". Most experienced riders instinctively know that your bike will go wherever your eyes do. Call it "target fixation" or whatever, but it’s true. So look at the path around the obstacles before you. See the smooth line and fix a firm but loose gaze on it. It sounds easy, and it is – but it’s also essential for keeping your mountain bike in control.
You are Cool, Caring People
Mountain bikers are good people. The Internet can bring out the worst in people. But read the very first reports of Ron’s death on MTBR. And then witness the support as people set up a low-key but meaningful way to raise funds to honor his memory. The response makes me more than a little proud to be a mountain biker. And I regret not doing more to participate. If there’s a second-annual ride for Ron, I’ll get behind it on this site and I’ll be there to ride.
Do any of you other riders out there have any observations about what we can take away from these unfortunate losses?
Sometimes, I really hate mountain biking. Like when I learned earlier this week that a fellow mountain biker died on one of my favorite trails.
The local media has not seen fit to cover the death of Ron Cadiente, 61: I heard about it on Facebook and MTBR.com. Details are sketchy. All I know is that he was a properly equipped veteran rider. It’s unclear if his death was caused by a crash, or if his crash was caused by cardiac arrest while on the Long Loop of the Competitive Track at McDowell Mountain Regional Park.
These are the moments that suck the energy out of mountain biking. I can’t count the number of times I’ve ridden this trail. And now someone lost a life on it.
This is a shadow that follows me every time I ride. I hate admitting this, but it’s as honest as I can be. My number-one task on every ride is -- come home in one piece. I often roll into a stretch of trail, give my brakes a quick tap – knowing full well I could go faster and do it better. But I know that quick feathering of my brake levers makes it more likely that I’ll walk back in my door.
The same unease hits me when my wife rides. I just want her to come back happy and safe.
How and why do we ride like this? Hell, how do we live like this, while the potential of changing our lives for the worse chases us every mile of the way?
I can’t explain it fully. It’s part of mountain biking, and it’s part of living. Risk is everywhere. Eliminate that risk, and I guess you eliminate everything that’s interesting in life.
Of course, that doesn’t mean much to Ron’s family. To them, I can only say this: I wish it hadn’t happened, and it’s not supposed to be like this.
To those of us who still ride: Come home safe. For yourself, and for all those who care for you.
UPDATE (Feb. 14)
A member of the MTBR forum posted information about services for Ron, which he found on the Bunker Mortuary website. And condolences to his daughter Brooke and son Brett, who posted very kind messages thanking the mountain bike community for its support. It’s impossible to not think really well of Ron and those who survive him when you see the goodness and dignity in their words.
Name: Ronald Roy Cadiente
Date: April 15th, 1950 – February 11th, 2012
Cadiente, Ronald, 61, died in a mountain bike accident February 11, 2012. He is survived by his wife Pamela, children Garron (Sharon) Cadiente, Brett Cadiente, Maren (Jimmy) Bloomer, Brooke Cadiente, Paige (Sterling) Stahle, 13 grandchildren and brothers Herb Davis, Carlos Cadiente and Rick Cadiente. A kind and loving husband, father and grandfather he was devoted to his family whom he loved unconditionally and enjoyed being involved their lives. He was passionate about the work he did as a software salesman and valued the relationships he made. He was honest, hardworking, sincere, and compassionate. Ron was a baseball coach, avid hiker, mountain biker, University of Arizona graduate and family man who was as generous in his relationships as he was genuine. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he served a mission in southern California and served in a variety of church leadership positions, including Bishop, all of which he loved. He was an influence for good in every aspect of his life. He is missed and loved by many, especially his family. Viewing is February 16th from 6-8 PM at Bunker’s Garden Chapel, 33 North Centennial Way, Mesa AZ 85201. Funeral is February 17th, 11 AM with viewing one hour prior at the LDS Church, 1430 N Grand Street, Mesa AZ 85201.
6:00PM to 8:00PM on Thursday, February 16th, 2012 at Bunker’s Garden Chapel
10:00AM to 10:45AM on Friday, February 17th, 2012 at LDS Lehi Stake Center
11:00AM at LDS Lehi Stake Center on Friday, February 17th, 2012