It was June 25th, 2013, at about 4:45 in the morning in a dark parking lot on the corner of Jackson Rd and Sprague in Edinburg that I had my first real welcoming to the 5am Wake Up Riders. I had been riding my bike for just a few months prior to that but this was the morning when I had announced to the group that I would be riding up the mountains of Nevada 5,000 feet as a challenge to raise money and awareness for cancer in my mother’s memory.
“Do you have the course and elevation?” one of the riders asked.
“Oh ya sure! Here, it’s on my phone.” I replied and showed them with pride the steep incline and decline on a photo in my phone.
I swear each of them took a step back and gave me the now coined “look”. I knew they thought I was crazy but they NEVER told me that I couldn’t do it nor insinuated that it was impossible with my background (or lack of) or in this timeframe that I had. This group was unique.
Now, not to take away from the other cycling groups around town because there are lots… but the other groups who also had experienced, competitive cyclists never really greeted me with welcomed camaraderie. In fact, I witnessed quite a few noses stuck up in the air when I came around their group rides. Regardless, I always smiled to them when I wasn’t scared to death.
The 5am’ers never left my side. When it got to the point when I needed to reach 60, 70, 80 mile rides… they were always there for me right alongside me regardless of what ever they were personally training for. Tuesdays and Thursdays were for either recovery rides or sprinting intervals and weekend rides were for long distances.
And it was the Tues/Thurs rides that I loved the most… because I knew that fellow coffee addict Eddie would be there and we’d share some coffee and chit chat and laughs afterwards… or during the ride. Now, I’ve NEVER been a morning person. Everyone who knows me KNOWS that… and I’m basically a useless zombie without coffee so when I discovered that there was another cyclist that understood my situation… I knew it was true friendship!!! :)
So by August 20, I had already become coffee buddies with Eddie. I hadn’t had a lot of sleep the night before and was a complete zombie. I just honestly was NOT in the mood to be out riding… but I did it. Before every ride, the gang always asks each other what ride we are all doing so that we can partner up and ride in groups. Some of us, depending on training and events, need longer faster rides, some of us need shorter slower rides and some of us just need the fastest point between “A” and coffee. Eddie and I were in that last group.
This is what was posted on August 20th:
That morning I was so out of it that I forgot my ATM card and Eddie actually bought me my coffee.
We took our time and sipped our coffee in bliss and because of that, it ended up being Eddie and I by ourselves riding back. We returned going North on 10th from Starbucks and turning right on Sprague instead of continuing North to 107 and looping to Jackson because we both needed to get back in time to take the kiddos to school. I’ll never forget that conversation we had in the darkness of Sprague Street.
“So what’s the deal with Billy? Is he seeing that friend of yours? Are they dating?” he asked.
“Yes! And it kind of caught me a little off guard, too!” I replied. *We were always playing cupid.
“How so?” he asked.
“Well, because I had been trying to set up Wally with a friend of mine that I was running with, Laura, but she had just reconnected with an ex-boyfriend, and then I tried to set him up with Alex but then out of the blue.. here comes Billy!!” and during my conversation I had lifted up my arms because I tend to talk with my hands and he started laughing hysterically.
“You just lifted your hands from the handle bars!!!!” he exclaimed with pride!!!
“OMG I did!! Wow!”
“Do it again!!!” he egged me on and let go of his handle bars clapping.
I tried unsuccessfully.
“Well I’m glad that Billy is happy. But what about Wally now?” he said.
“I don’t know. My poor mijito. He’s such a good kid.” I replied.
He let out a little giggle and said, “Wally can be an *** sometimes but when he loves, he loves hard. Who ever the next girl is, he’s going to fall hard for her.”
It was at that moment that I realized we shared a trait that extended beyond coffee and beyond bikes. We shared an extremely protective nature of our friends. We were both mother hens and he saw exactly the same thing that I saw with our dear cycling guru, Wally.
Last Thursday, I sat with Eddie at Starbucks after our ride and beamed with pride as I was able to share with him an instagram photo of two bikes together in the park.
“No way!!!!” He screamed and smiled at the same time. “That’s Wally’s bike! Who’s the other?”
I coyly showed him the bike owners photo… and sat back for his reaction.
“Dude! You need to set the rest of these kids up now!” he said in a tone that contained approval, disbelief and giggles all at the same time.
On Thursday, April 17th, I could not wait for coffee and chit chat with Eddie as the new couple told me they “made it official” and shared with me a photo of themselves together. I had it ready to show Eddie because he was right. Wally really did fall hard for her. I think she’s the one for him.
Eddie Arguelles was my coffee buddy, my long ride comedian, my chisme comadre. I would not have made my training for my century ride without him always by my side. He taught me how to change gears correctly, how to master the starbucks order and how to pucker for selfies. I am overcome with grief. God be with Monette Escaname-Arguelles and their family. Please know that we all loved him so very much.
I attended the arraignment hearing for the two boys that killed Eddie. It was a packed house filled and overflowing into the hallway and parking lot with supporters and fellow cyclists uniting together for a change in our community streets.
Eddie lost his uncle just a few years ago in the exact same manner… a drunk driver killed his uncle while he was riding his bike. Three people just this month lost their lives on bicycles in Hidalgo County.
The problem that is blatantly in front of all our eyes is that we have a serious driving problem. Distracted driving, texting and driving, drinking and driving, drunk driving, drugged driving… it goes on and on. Our problem is way beyond sharing the road. Our problem is our own self-centered thinking that because of our safe cars that we drive in every day, we think we are invincible and do whatever we please because… well, what we’re doing at that very moment is more important than what ever anyone else is doing… or who anyone else is.
I CAN SAY THIS BECAUSE I AM GUILTY OF FEELING THIS WAY AND TEXTING AND DRIVING OR PUTTING MAKE UP ON WHILE DRIVING OR DRINKING COFFEE AND DRIVING… but I’ve never done drugs and drove and I’ve never had a DUI or DWI… but I’m not like most people. I have had six automobile accidents in my lifetime. Four of them were caused by drunk drivers. None of the accidents were my fault. But I’m not like most people.
As the news of Eddie’s tragic loss flew across all platforms of social media, I was taken aback by G.J. Reyna’s quote: “There are two types riders, those that have gone down and those that will.” But I’m not like most people. I have not gone down nor do I want or accept that I will be. It is ridiculous that cyclists, or runners (because when I was a single sport athlete, many runners were hit by cars as well), must not only be out of breath because of their tough workouts but they must also accept that at any random time a distracted driver can get away with taking their life.
On Saturday morning, I admit that I was not able to get back on my bike. I allowed fear to deter me from the joy that cycling gave me that was once shared with Eddie and the cause that I promised my mother I would not break. After Ramon said his traditional riders prayer, I asked the group to do the biggest “selfie” I’ve ever attempted. It was a comical tradition that Eddie had me start. And I was successful.
I wrapped the arms of a hundred cyclists with bright yellow bands and the newbie TNT cyclists that Eddie looked over each Tuesday and Thursday morning with yellow roses and I rode in the SAG vehicle that followed the group that eventually broke up into various speeds along Jackson Road. The “short loop” was officially renamed “Eddie’s Coffee loop” that day.
I yelled for the first time to my fellow cyclists to make sure that they kept their lines so that crazy distracted speeding drivers wouldn’t take another cyclist friend of mine away from me. I felt guilty for doing that.
The core group of 5am’ers gathered after the ride and reminisced over our good times. And it was during one of these little interviews around the tables at Starbucks that I remembered Eddie sitting at with me. And it was during one of these little interviews around the tables at Starbucks that Mike Padgett said “He died doing what he loved. I hope I die that way, too.”
And THAT was what hit me hardest… the realization that each of these riders around me do something that they love so much that they know each time they mount their bike, it could be the last time. And they do it anyway. They know the risk is sky high and they do it anyway. They know there is little that can be done in the society that we live in today and they do it anyway.
Well, I CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN ANY LONGER! Eddie was just as much a mother hen as I am and I know he’d back me up. But I cannot allow Mike Padgett or any other of my friends or myself to die on a bike without a fight, without a plea for help from my fellow citizens, without begging to please please please make a change.
Put down the cell phone. Don’t drink as much as you do… and if you can’t stop drinking or drugging, call a cab or a friend who is not under the influence and in the morning, please, seek help.
I beg you, please, learn the laws of our shared roads. Some of those turning lanes that you’ve been using or parking in are actually bike lanes and if your F-350 is blocking a cyclist from using it, you’re forcing them to go into the major traffic lanes and endanger their lives. Please don’t think that your life is more important than theirs. We are all equal.
And the same goes to cyclists. PLEASE follow road rules.
I’m going to end this long rant with the words from fellow 2-wheeled amigos who at this moment seem to have been able to capture the right thoughts with the right words and not place anger and emotion into them.
G.J. Reyna: This is a serious problem. It makes no difference what you ride, 2 Wheels are 2 Wheels! Motorcycles or Bicycles we ALL need to do more! Public Awareness is our only tool to make this happen. We need radio, print, tv and ALL forms of socialmedia. Myssie Cardenas-Barajas is on the right track. Problem is that this will take “everybody” all the time to stay focused and not just one person and not just when we loose and friend or family member. Are YOU really going to wait until it hits home. Keep in mind people, NO ONE is immune to this. Every time you jump on your type of two wheels, make sure your lives are in order because it may be your last ride. In our motorcycle world we have a saying or a creed and it goes “There are two types riders, those that have gone down and those that will.” If you dont believe this then you really have no business riding. These accidents will never ever stop but we can all do our part to make sure these lost lives are not in vain by limiting them through public awareness.
Eddie ArguellesApril 19, 2014 at 4:12pm
I found a message today by Dan Santella, one of the local Monitor reporters, asking me about Eddie. I saw his request too late but it made me want to sit down and write about Eddie because so many people have only heard a headline or listened or viewed a sound byte. I have known Eddie since I was a freshman in high school. In these 24 years, I have had a few observations.
For those that never had the opportunity to meet Eddie Arguelles, the things they should know about this marvelous man:
1. Eddie was ridiculous. He made everyone laugh. Often times at his own expense. That was part of his charm. He wanted people to feel good about themselves even it meant being ridiculous. Once he became a father and a step father, this was taken to a whole different level. Whether it meant having his nails painted or getting down on all fours to play with his son, he did it.
2. Eddie was not always an avid sports enthusiast. Matter of fact, for a long while Eddie hated even the suggestion of exercise. PE was definitely not his favorite subject. But when he began riding and became part of the community, the change was astonishing.
3. Eddie collected hobbies unlike anyone I know. AND there was no in between for him. If he was going to do something, he was going to go all in which meant buying all of the necessities and gadgets he could. Surfing, woodworking, biking, computers, cooking, motorcycling…he was all in. And that ridiculous man was good at it all.
4. Eddie was a musician and a writer. Therefore, Eddie loved and lived life with passion. He embraced tragedy and questioned love like only a musician/poet can. He loved music and books in their purest and rawest form: dirty because of the misplaced emotion and rough like the women the music described. Boleros, ballads, heavy metal, his tastes were as eclectic as his hobbies; his reading ranged from Kant to Herman Hesse. It seemed only fitting that he passed the day Gabriel Garcia Marquez died. I imagine them now discussing philosophy, and music over a coffee and a cigar.
5. Eddie was a photographer. He didn’t advertise this as much as he should have but Eddie would take wonderful photos. He had the eye for the unusual and the beautiful. His favorite subject that shadows all of the beautiful images are the images of roadkill that he collected on riding trips.6. Eddie was a philosopher. His love of philosophy was rooted in music because with music he was able to meet and talk to people in a laid back manner, a perfect setting for a philosopher. We had many late night conversations about the existence of God and man’s search for meaning. He read Nietzsche (for awhile there he was a bit too obsessed with him) and Kant and could argue like the greats. His uncle Juan fed his lust for knowledge and understanding but Eddie never let one person be the source for him. Everyone gave Eddie insight. That was why so many people were drawn to him. He listened and engaged.
7. Eddie should have been a professor though the piece of paper really would not have made a difference. Eddie was already a teacher and a professor. He helped everyone he came in contact with. There are generations of people, young and old who can easily tell you about the great lecturer that Eddie had become. That is why there are so many people who light up when you ask them to talk about Eddie Arguelles.
8. Eddie was the greatest cheerleader you could ever ask for in a friend. Eddie was the type of guy who would ride along side you and make sure you could make the next mile then ride ahead just so he could be there for you at the finish line. He wanted everyone to succeed even if he couldn’t. This applies not only to sports but education and community as well.
9. Eddie’s loyalty was legendary. If you messed with anyone Eddie loved, you messed with him. And he took his friendships seriously. There is nothing Eddie would not do for a friend. He loved like only a strong man can. He cared for his friends to the point of being so angry at their self destruction that he would cut them off hoping they would realize their faults. It worked most of the time because to disappoint Eddie was like making your superhero cry. The thought itself demanded reform. And that is how Eddie saved so many from the dark side.
10. Eddie was not perfect. His was a journey to become the man everyone is now talking about. For years he didn’t see how important he was and, honestly, there were a lot of people who didn’t see it either. He used his hobbies as ways to develop himself. With surfing, he developed his love of nature, with woodworking he developed patience and attention to detail, computers taught him to be analytic, music put him in touch with his roots and allowed him to see love even in the sadness of breakups and death, music also made him a romantic and gave him the confidence to sing in front of a crowd, philosophy honed his intellect and developed his thirst for knowledge, motorcycles fed his lust for living on the edge then, when he took to cruising, he learned art of zen; bicycling gave Eddie more than a philosophy, it gave Eddie desire, it fed his competitive spirit, it gave him a community and a family, and finally, it taught him that with his mind he could surpass his pain and finish the distance.
But when he met Monette and gained a Skylar as his step daughter then when they had his son, his life became complete. He always wanted to be the type of father who would always be there for his kids, who would love them so completely that they would never want for anything. And he wanted to love someone with all of his soul, someone who was his intellectual and spiritual equal not his arm candy or someone he felt obligated to be with. Eddie was the father and the husband that he wanted to be and he did both more passionately and perfectly than even he could imagine.
And here are the media updates:
(Texas Monthly used my instagram photo for this!) http://www.texasmonthly.com/daily-post/horrific-cycling-hit-and-run-valley#.U1bHxjAJHLs.facebook