Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Ride to Remember

Almost a year ago to the day I last saw and rendered aid to my friend, Jim Cottingham. You see, a bunch of folks from the Motorcycle Tourer's Forum met at the Queen Wilhemena Lodge on the Arkansas side of the Talimena Scenic Byway for lunch and to pick up our SPOT units from Peter. Somewhere along the Talimena Jim found himself riding off-road and took a spill. His Valk faired well, but Jim... not so much apparently.

Jim didn't get to the lodge until after lunch. When I first saw him it was a typical meeting - smiles, howdys, me wondering how long it might have taken Jim to get there and an attenuated handshake. After seeing Jim's wrist it was obvious he had a mishap and needed some help. I retrieved the first aid kit from my bike and as Jim tried to explain what had happened I began cleaning and wrapping his wrist. He mentioned his ribs were hurting a bit and I urged him to head into Mena and have himself checked out. He said they didn't hurt *that* badly. He wanted to reattach the windscreen to the Valk and start heading toward home. I told him to take care of himself and if he started hurting more (and he would) to find the nearest hospital and get checked out. I bid him more smiles, a handshake and a till next time. I thought about Jim on the way back to Bowling Green and hoped my friend will make it home safely and have a fast and full recovery.

Reading about Jim's passing took me by surprise. I missed him immediately and shed tears not just for my friend, but for me and all of us who, to whatever degree, had the pleasure of knowing Jim. No longer would I rocket past Jim on the highway after leaving an RTE. He was the consummate tortoise. Slow, methodical and consistent. Whenever I passed him I always found myself wondering what he might be thinking while droning across west Texas a little shy of the speed limit. I reckon it was probably nothing in particular.

This weekend was Jim's memorial RTE in Rochester, Texas and I was unable to attend. I was, however, able to take a nice, slow, no-worries ride in his honor and that's exactly what I did.

Mostly back roads with no particular destination in mind, but just a general direction. I thought of Jim, smiled and wondered if I'd eventually pass him somewhere along the way. Perhaps next time.

The folks on the MTF put up a Memorial Page for Jim.


Fleeter said...

Nice memorial to a friend we all miss seeing on the road and at MTF functions. RIP Jim.

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Very nice Jason RIP Jim