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Manfred & Gord
PBP 1991 - Fougeres Control

On and Off the Saddle with Gordie
Reflections on the life of Gord Cook
by Manfred Kuchenmuller

Gordie and I were drawn to each other in 1990 when he joined the Randonneurs and I was searching for riders who I thought I might be able to keep up with. Gordy was fast, he was a sprinter, but like all sprinters he slowed down on long brevets. That is how I caught up with Gordie and how we began to ride together. Gordy and I rode most of the rides that he did between 1990 and 2004 together and I was sad to see him and Doreen move to Fruitvale in 2004. At the same time I was happy that the move would allow him to finish his Falco plane (which had been a 30 year project) as well as keep his friendship with me and his connection with the Randonneurs.

Gordie contributed to our club and to cycling in general in many ways during his 14 years of riding and volunteering. He completed a series almost every year, he rode a number of 1000 k rides, two PBP's, one Rocky Mountain, one LEL and probably ten or more Fleche events. Together we raised the Fleche M&M trophy a number of times. He served as club secretary and president, he developed a procedural manual for ride organizers which was useful when we had fewer established routes and he spearheaded and oversaw the building of our long-lost aluminum gull-wing bike trailer. Gordie volunteered a number of times for Danelle's and John's Tour BC and for the Blazing Saddles fund raiser in Portugal where he rode in the company of Sean Kelly. Gordie always admired strong riders. He spoke endlessly about Sean Kelly's strength and riding skills even when I reminded him that we needed to stop talking and focus our energy on finishing a ride. While Gordie was impressed with Sean Kelly, I was impressed with his unflagging readiness to stop and help any rider who even remotely appeared to need help. And as we often rode near the tail end of longer brevets, frequent stops to help others were not uncommon. I did notice however, as Gordy found the longer rides more exhausting, that he was periodically lying at the side of the road resting as I and others were fixing a flat or a mechanical. Most of all Gordie was a gentleman randonneur who hated conflict, who loved to volunteer and whose quick wit and quick comebacks and even his occasional salacious comments were always welcome and often relieved the misery of bike problems and an aching and sick body in the middle of a rainy night.

Gordie was my friend and my riding companion for 14 years and we shared our life stories along countless Kilometers of roads in coffee shops, hotels, training rides and in his garage where he was building his Falco. We buried each others fathers and I admired his ability to forge the right path for his family when they were dealing with the loss of his daughter and the emotional turmoil that surrounded her wishes for her daughter. I admired his technical skills and enjoyed many moments of helping him by holding some part of the plane that he was working on or lifting something that required four hands. Gordie and I rode the 1992 LEL together in the rain, in the headwinds and up and down that miserable Roman road called the A68. We were lost many times and had to explain to a policeman on at least two occasions where we were going in the middle of the night and why we were riding on the wrong side of the road. Gordie, the peacemaker, replied politely that we were from Canada and would get our act together immediately. I guess being from Canada was enough explanation for riding in the middle of the night as the police were always satisfied after we got back on the proper side of the road. On one of two nights were we realized that we were lost because we had passed the same village three times, an indigent LEL rider came along and said follow me I know which way to go. We were overjoyed until the three of us became lost. We cursed the organizers of that LEL and finished despite their best efforts to lose us somewhere. We finished and the comment of someone who had to abandon because of severe saddle lesions summed it up for us. He said "I would have been really pissed off if I hadn't had such a good time".

Toward the latter years of Gordie's rando career he admitted something that I knew all along: Hesaid that he really preferred the shorter distances and an occasional faster pace over the longerbrevets. With that in mind, Gordie and I rode the 2002 Rocky Mountain 1200 on a tandem. Iremember coming into the penultimate control late at night and Gordy crashing on a couch the minute he got into the control. He was exhausted and there was no need to tell me that he wasdone with ultra-distance cycling. We finished and Gordie rode a number of shorter brevets for the next two-years and more often than not preferred volunteering to riding the longer brevets.

I last saw Gordie in 2008 when we embraced each other at the Rocky Mountain control in Golden that he and Doreen organized. From then on we kept in touch with e-mail and telephone. I wasimpressed with his completed Falco which I had last seen in June of 2004 when we loaded it's various sections onto a trailer that he towed to his new home in Fruitvale. I said good-bye to Gordie and Doreen on July 27th, 2004 over a coffee and our sadness at parting was tempered with the knowledge that we would see each other again. And then things changed. Gordy developed pancreatic cancer about two-years ago and with treatment he enjoyed several months of reasonable health, but when I spoke with Gordy ten days before he passed away, I knew that we had probably said our final good-bye. I have admired Doreen's faith and the network of spiritual support that has carried her through many difficult times and I am glad that I am learning to experience life as temporal.

Richmond, BC
December 25, 2013

Gord chillin' on Tour BC 2008
Photo: Don Hollingshead

Go to: Main Gord Cook memorial page.


December 28, 2013