Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Day 3: My ride up and around the Rim

Posted by on September 12th, 2007 at 7:51 am

This was the ride I’ve been waiting for. My ride up to and around the Rim of Crater Lake awoke not just my dormant leg muscles, but my love of riding.

Cycle Oregon Day 3 - Crater Lake!-38.JPG

View slideshow below
Cycle Oregon Day 3 - Crater Lake!-27.JPG

Pumice dotted deserts; boulder-strewn hillsides; windswept, whitebark pines. Oh, and then there’s the stunning view of the lake. It was a visual feast (more photos here).

But it’s not the postcard panoramas that I’ll remember most from this day. That distinction will go to something tragic, but no less memorable.

Cycle Oregon Day 3 - Crater Lake!-31.JPG

A memorial for Mike Simmons.

The story started when I rolled up on a heart-shaped display of rose petals just before a turnout. Thinking it was just a nice gesture of encouragement for passing riders, I pulled over and snapped a few photos.

After I rode away, something made me turn back around and talk with the two women sitting on the tailgate of a truck near the display.

I soon learned the roses were a memorial for Mike Simmons. His wife Carole Johnstone-Simmons and his daughter Hallie Stanfield retold the story…

Mike was struck by a motorcycle at the spot of the rose petals while training for last year’s Cycle Oregon (see news story here). “He loved riding up here”, his wife Carole said. Hallie added that, “It was just a freak accident”. Mike, a hunter and all-around mountain-man from nearby Roseburg, collided with a motorcycle on August 19th, 2006 and died from head injuries two weeks later. He was 61.

memorial for Mike Simmons-2.JPG

Hallie, Carole, and Nicki.

As the story sunk in, Carole and Hallie told me that Mike’s other daughter, Nicki Ford, was on the ride this year and would be coming up the climb any minute.

When Nicki rolled up, she hugged her mom and her sister and then went over to a rock by the side of the road where her dad was fatally wounded.

She uncovered a Diet Pepsi — her Dad’s favorite drink — and said, “This is for you Dad” just before chugging it down. Her custom-made bike had “unfinished business” painted across the top tube.

In one of those strange, circular moments that gives you the chills, I finally connected the dots…

On last year’s Cycle Oregon, I hung out with a group of folks from Roseburg. I recalled they were wearing matching necklaces in honor of a friend who had died just before the ride. They had a special dinner one night in his honor and they asked me to take a group photo. I now realize that friend was Mike Simmons.

My ride around the Rim was unforgettable in many ways.

For all my photos from today, view the slideshow below…

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you.

  • erin g. September 12, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Jonathan, thank you for sharing this amazing story. I was moved/got chills just reading your account of it, so I can only imagine what it must have been like to experience that. Keep up the great riding and reporting! Man, you\’re making me wish I was out there. Luckily, thanks to your road reports, I get to “be” there, albeit vicariously.

    Great job,

    erin g.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jeff September 12, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    I drove to Diamond Lake, camped 3 days, did the boat around Crater Lake the first day (which is awesome!) then biked the Rim the next day, with Cycle Oregon. Cycle Oregon is a hardy group, there are long rides with hot weather during the day and freezing tempertures at night. When I finally got up on Wed. the camp was nearly empty, breakfast was closed up. They\’re a dedicated bunch of riders, though slightly pampered they earn it. I was kinda glad I was driving home.
    I saw those flowers on the road? thanks for the story Jonathan.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Javen September 13, 2007 at 12:57 am

    Jonathan, you really gave this story some life. I\’ve got the chills now, just like Erin G, and I don\’t know whether I should be happy or sad.

    Anyways, when I am surrounded by beauty like up on Skyline, I ride faster, and I can only imagine how endless your energy felt on the Rim. It doesn\’t get much more scenic than that.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andy A September 13, 2007 at 7:58 am

    What an amazing week you\’re having! Days filled with moments of connection with others and yourself just like this. Very nicely done.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Eileen September 13, 2007 at 8:38 am

    To Javen who didn\’t know whether to be happy or sad, be happy!

    The man whose earthly life ended there was one of the most friendly, energetic, outgoing, character I\’ve ever met. He had a joke on his lips every time I saw him, which was about every day. Mike loved and savored life to the fullest, whatever he did, he did with gusto…there was no half way. He was doing what he loved when he died…so please don\’t think of this place as a somewhere to feel a chill, because those of us who knew him will remember with the warmth of love.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Terri Carson-Greenwood August 18, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I didn’t know Mike but I know his beautiful wife, Carol. He had to be an incredible person and full of amibition, drive, and soul as Carol is. My love to the family.

    Recommended Thumb up 0