A Ride to Remember
The old adage, ‘live every day like it is your last’ is one we are all two familiar with yet rarely heed. The truth of the matter is you just never know what lies around the corner
On Sunday, four riders will be celebrating their friend who tragically passed away last year age 34. Each will be donning a headband with the slogan “Powered By Bart” to be reminded that as they push themselves through the ups and downs of the grueling Campagnolo GFNY World Championship course that their friend is right there with them.
Jeffrey Bart was a cyclist, not super serious but a weekend warrior, hobby cyclist. He had taken part in GFNY NYC in 2014 and 2015 and had tried to talk his best friend, Jared Rice into joining him on both occasions, but it had never worked out.
This year, 35-year-old Rice will be riding alongside some of Bart’s closest friends in his honor.
“He passed very suddenly. Alone in a hotel room traveling for work, we think it was due to an unknown heart condition or arrhythmia that caused heart failure. The true underlying cause of death was never clearly identified.” Reveals Rice.
Rice and Bart had been life-long best friends since the age of five.
“We literally went through every stage of life together from playing as kids, to high school to college. We lived in Colorado after college as ski bums; we traveled in Europe together for a summer, and then lived in NYC together for many years in our twenties.” Recalls Rice.
Not particularly avid cyclists, they both enjoyed riding as an occasional hobby.
“We didn’t really get into it (cycling) until I had moved back to Maryland, so living in different cities didn’t really provide many opportunities to ride together.”
Rice describes Bart as ‘always a happy guy – always up for going out to play, experiencing different and new things, and challenging himself.’ In the last few years he had become an avid Crossfitter, had run the New York City marathon and done GFNY NYC twice.
This Sunday will be Rice’s debut GFNY NYC and first 100 miler.
“I’ll be riding with our best friend Ron Kenigsberg who Jeff worked with for the last 12 years and two other friends, Paul Gigante and Franko Kokot.”
Coming to terms with the passing of a best friend or loved one is hard at any stage in life but particularly trying when a life is taken so young. Jeff undoubtedly left a huge void in Rice’s life.
“I’ve definitely struggled to find ways to honor and remember my Jeff,” says Rice. When I talked to Ron about doing the GFNY this year, I knew immediately it was something I wanted to do to remember him. I remember being so impressed and in awe of his courage and ability to commit to and tackle what looks like it’s going to be a beast of a ride.”
Rice continues, “I’m downright scared at how hard it might be. I’ve never even done a century, and have not trained as much as I would have liked but I know that whatever happens on race day, Jeff will be with us and we’ll do what it takes to make it to the finish line together.”
Rice will also have a favorite phrase of Bart’s that has become something of a mantra. The words ‘Wake up, there’s a whole world out there to enjoy’ can also be found engraved on an honorary bench in Central Park.