Today is/ was (depending on where you are and when I finish this) the birthday of my best friend James Todd Becher- also known as Racer Blue Squirrel.
It seems as if I have known Jim my entire life, but it has actually only been about 15-16 years. When we met, neither of us knew anything about the other's previous life as a cyclist. At the time we met, Jim was finishing architecture school and I was working in a coffee shop/ art gallery and living the starving artist life of a poet. Neither of us was riding at the time, Jim being in school and living part of the time in Europe (he was actually ON the Berlin wall when it fell) and I was spending all of my waking time smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day, chasing girls and writing until I fell over asleep. Jim and I were introduced through a bunch of mutual friends, but long before we were ever officially introduced, we were two ships passing in the night. Actually, two guys passing in the hall to the bathroom- we were dating two girls who were roommates. We didn't even know who the other person was, as we were never introduced (and truth be told I only dated the girl for three weeks before she taped a note to my front door breaking up with me). Anyway, we became very good friends through the coffee shop and have been very close friends ever since then.
Over the years, Jim has been my best man each of the two times I've gotten married. Some might think that means he did a bad job the first time, but he did a great job- which is how he got the job a second time. For probably the last 10 years, Jim has lived in Los Angeles and I have stayed here in San Diego. Because of this, we don't get to hang out as often as we would both like to. However, the friendship has remained strong and we talk very frequently. In fact, Jim was at Interbike the past two years. And this year, just as last year, Jim has been the person responsible that I actually get a chance to eat and drink during the show each day- since I never get a chance to take a break and get out of the booth.
Not all that long ago, maybe 5 years ago, Jim decided to get back on the bike. Since making that choice, he's been pretty much an even bigger nutjob about cycling than me. He probably reads more of the race reports and watches all of the online race coverage- even though he still pronounces the names of riders worse than Phil Liggett. (I swear, for a guy who has seen nearly every inch of Europe, his pronounciations are horrible!) Jim has over the past couple years become one of the world's biggest Masi fans- outside of me of course. His undying support of my work has been very much appreciated and needed. He's been a great sounding board for my ideas and has been a constant cheerleader for the brand. He's been a great racing supporter and has put his money where his mouth is and started a team- the one I race for. On top of being a great architect (a really great one), he's also a damned good graphic designer and web designer.
Over the past few years, we've ridden together several times- though admittedly we'd both like to ride more together. I've had the great pleasure of watching Jim regain fitness, enter races and really progress as a rider. It's been great to watch his passion for cycling grow and grow. I mean, I'm pretty consumed by cycling (just ask my wife), but Jim is right there with me.
This is beginning to sound a bit too much like a love letter, which it isn't, so I'll get to the damned point; Happy Birthday Jim. I'm more thankful for our friendship than you'll ever know. (But this doesn't mean I'm going to let you start winning those sprints any time soon! Some things will never change...)