The Passing Of Another Friend And Thoughts On Mortality – Updated

Mike Bell’s shop-sponsored Husky broke during a Carlsbad CMC Pro moto and he was pushing it off the track. A long-haired, 250 Junior got behind him and helped push the bike back to the pits. Mike was appreciative, said thanks to the guy and flashed his famous smile. I was around 21 years old so Mike would have been 17. I never imagined that we’d be friends the rest of our lives. In hindsight, it is not surprising. Almost all of my long-time friendships started out on a motocross track.

The news of anyone’s death is sad and shocking. The freak accident that took the lives of Marty and Nancy Smith was a sucker punch to the gut that still hurts. But it was a freak accident. The odds are in our favor against leaving this Mortal Coil by accident. If the reports are correct that Mike died of heart failure while riding his mountain bike, that hits closer to home. Mike’s passing makes it clear that our generation is in the express lane at the check out counter. 

People my age who are football or baseball fanatics grew up losing their heroes to old age. That’s because both of those sports and the sports’ stars were well established before our generation came out of the womb. News of their passings is sad, but not surprising. Not so with motocross and especially not with mountain biking. My generation was born a decade before motocross came to America and multiple decades before the first mountain bike was fabricated in Joe Breeze’s garage. We are not used to losing our heroes, especially to natural causes.

I was bragging to a buddy about how good I am at the financial practice of delayed gratification. He looked at me dumbfounded and said, “Jimmy, at your age you shouldn’t be thinking about delaying anything.” He is so right! The passing of Mike makes his advice even more pertinent.

I’ll miss talking to Mike and dropping him an e-mail from time to time. I hate that it takes a loss like this for me to get in gear, but that’s what I’m going to try to do when I wake up tomorrow.

Godspeed, Mike Bell.

INTRO PHOTO: The photo above was shot after Mike (second from the left) had just finished a cyclocross race in Bend, Oregon. I was there on business and I still don’t know why Mike was there, but it was so cool to just bump into him. The photo is all jacked up but I don’t care. It still makes me smile when I come across it. 

No doubt that Mike left way too soon, but at least he was doing something that he loved. This shot is from Mountain Bike Action‘s December 1987 issue.
Mike Bell was a great coverboy because he made any bike and the gear he was wearing look great. 

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