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I had no clue that Russell rode bikes. I only knew him from our brief interactions at work in the ER. It would usually be a few off-handed comments or eye rolls while we transported a patient. Me just starting my day shift, Russell just about to escape his night shift. Neither beginning nor ending a 12 hour shift in such a rushed manner is appreciated in the hospital world. One of us hasn’t yet finished wiping sleep from our eyes and the other has fantasies of sleep growing in their’s. Most of us deal with these situations using humor, usually sarcastic and somewhat dark. Russell was fairly well versed at this type of coping mechanism and I enjoyed our shared 5:30am road trips. We never discussed outside life during our predawn passing, hence my surprise at him being one of eight riders assembling at the trailhead.
It was already hot when we left a truck at the trail’s ending. It was still hot thousands of feet higher when we unloaded our bikes to begin our ride. Summer’s early arrival…

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