What is the "Missing Man Formation"? According to Wikipedia.com,: "The missing man formation is an aerial salute performed as part of a flyover of aircraft at a funeral or memorial event, typically in memory of a fallen pilot."
What does that have to do with me? Unfortunately, it has more to do with a very good friend of mine than it has to do with me. I received word last night that my Polka Dottay team-mate Perry passed away.
This was unbelievable news to me, because Perry was the picture of health. He was an incredibly fit individual. I would not believe that his body fat was more than 12%, and I knew how strong he was on the bike. I was in shock when my friend Jeni called me to tell me of his death.
Perry was an incredible individual. His strength on the bike was matched by the love he had for his family and friends. He always had a smile and kind words for everyone - regardless of whether he knew you or not. His death has left a huge hole in our peleton.
In honor of him, I asked my P3C3 friends to join me in honoring him on this first day of the 2010 riding season - the first Tuesday after the clocks change - also known as the first day of riding at the South Carolina Technology and Avation Center (SCTAC - formerly known as Donaldson Center).
I was not surprised by the turnout. Perry was known and loved by many in our small community. As I watched his friends gather, I was filled with awe. To be loved by so many people - it has to be the goal of everyone.
The goal tonight was to honor Perry in a way similar to the military tribute of the 'Missing Man'. We departed the parking lot about 30 strong. We rode in a double paceline formation with the front left position held open for Perry.
I'm not sure about anyone else, but I could certainly feel him riding alongside us. It was an incredibly emotional experience. Perhaps the most difficult 2(ish) miles I have ever ridden.
Perry, you are already missed my friend. May you rest in peace. Perry Lyles - 1963 - 2010 RideStrong my friend!