This last Friday, October 14th we The Red Peloton lost one of our very own. While cresting the top of Los Alamos road with fellow team mate Henry Stroud, Matt Wilson collapsed and was pronounced dead upon arrival at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa. It was his 23rd birthday. Following is a brief video put together by the team to pay tribute to Matt. We hope you enjoy the many photos taken of Matt and by Matt over the years. As evidenced by the overwhelming response to his passing by the community at large, Matt’s presence both on and off the roads of Sonoma County will be very much missed.
On the morning following Matt’s passing we held a memorial ride up to the top of Los Alamos. How wonderful it was to see so many of you at NorCal’s door that morning, to ride in remembrance and honor for Matt. There were other pelotons of his people whisking down the Sonoma County roads this day, riding for Matthew Wilson in heart and mind.
We saw a large crew from West County Rev. roll up to join our group. There were Windsor Bike Shop riders there, 2Wheel, Colavita, Boba’s, Echelon, SRCC members there, NorCal folks, Red Peloton folks, even local cycling strongmen like Sterling Magnell and Ted Simpkins rode for Matt.
We asked Shaun Ralston, Garth Powell, Laurel Green, Henry Stroud, Susan Noble, and Parker Neece to lead us up the first part of Los Alamos. They took flight with the notion. The top of Los Alamos that morning was beautiful as always. We laid our respective mementos on the grassy hillside in a spot Henry approved of and took in the sunlight and wind against our sweat-laden bodies.
This would near-perfectly be, the precise way Matt would want us to celebrate him. On his roads, sun, sweat, wind, smiles, commingling… and tears because we miss him. Some of you may have barely known him; some of you were closest friends. And although Matt is loved by many in cycling circles, he wants to be remembered not just as a cyclist but as a person who loves Community, first and foremost.
There is something about Matt though, you always feel like his big brother or sister, or his parent. This will usually last throughout the months/seasons but every so often it will get blurred when he hits you with some of his quirky wit and offbeat humor. It is during these moments, you begin to realize you are in the presence of a superior mind, a greater intellect than yours. And it seems to happen most often when you are about ready to blow sky high on some climb in Sonoma County and Matt will be beside you talking happily at you, and just smiling away.
Matt ALWAYS smiles. Nervously, mischievously, sarcastically, dorkily, joyfully…..always. At the sight of all of you on your bicycles riding to his homage, Matt would have blushed, mumbled something inaudibly towards his handlebars, and then powered away over the far horizon. All the while, a huge smile would break out across his face, as usual.
I recall when we first gave Matt his jersey and shorts to join our team. We sat down with this young exuberant lad. We told him that we were a serious team, filled with serious people, doing serious things. He politely allowed us to pontificate until we felt supremely important. He even nodded and smiled at every uber-critical point we made to him. I know that Matt was overjoyed to receive his Red Peloton kit. It reminds me of when you give a superman costume to a 3 year old boy for his first Halloween.
I am positive that Matt took it straight home and tried it on. I am sure he ran around the house leaping over sofas, bounding up and down stairs, and high-fiving the other furniture. Pausing only when he passed his reflection in windows and mirrors. I am sure he then leapt onto his bike and rode 500 miles around Sonoma County seeking out cyclists in need on HIS back roads. “Don’t worry ma’am, Red Peloton is at your service!”
It is good to take the time to miss Matthew. To comfort those closest to him who miss him the most. But do not linger upon grieving for Matt. There are some who live until they are 103 and have experienced far less joy and camaraderie. There are sadly those that have few to count as their good friends. There are many that don’t know the sublime beauty of the sunrise over Sugarloaf State Park. Or the fulfillment in helping your friends tackle their goals.
Matt had all of these things in spades, and much more. It is ok to miss Matt. But do not grieve for Matt. Matt is ahead of us all in the most important of events. Matt is leading us in the most mysterious of races. Matt has embarked on the next stage of his Grand Adventure. There are some that have lamented what they consider a cruel irony that Friday was Matt’s birthday. Do not waste a moment on that. Matt wouldn’t want you to. When I embark on the next stage of my journey, I think I’d like for it to be on my birthday, where I first begin.
Matt believes in a Higher Power, a Higher Calling, as do I and a lot of you. Matt is smiling down on us now, I suspect surrounded by a harem of hot women all of whom are far wittier, quirkier, dorkier, and sillier than he is. Perhaps feeding him grapes while he tries to explain something while mumbling bashfully …and smiling away. I’m sure he would have something witty to say to get us all laughing right now…I won’t try to compete and risk falling far short. You were resplendent in his honor these past days. He is most definitely smiling now. His smile is bigger than the sky over Los Alamos.
Please feel free to share your memories & thoughts in the comments section below…