When I read about Paul last night my heart sank. I remember being star-struck 10 years ago when I first started writing software for professional cycling and met Paul in the TV compound. But it was only with his passing last night that I realized just how much our friendship was core to my connection to cycling.
For years now the thing that kicks off my Tour of California is Paul's voice behind me on the first day shouting "Allan, Allan, Allan" like the groundhog in the viral video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0BfcdPKw8E.
Not sure that I want to experience the TV compound knowing he won't be there.
I'm still searching all my old videos to find one where he is doing the groundhog. No luck yet, but did find one when he spontaneous broke out into song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRLpIxRQBGI. The final "la, la, la, la" makes me laugh still.
I also wanted to share one of his best stories he shared with us over dinner a couple of years back.
Apparently their house is literally on the edge of the wilderness in Uganda. So much so that they have regular sightings and close calls with wildlife. One particular evening, however, was a bit more than they bargained for. He woke up to sounds in the bedroom. Not a big deal given their location, but this time it was a big deal. Literally.
Unsure of what to do at first, Paul explained that "fortunately" the animal went into the bathroom at which point Paul rushed to slam the door. I say "fortunately" because at that point in Paul's words "I now had a pissed-off, trapped, fully-grown adult orangutan locked in my bathroom." Locked inside, the animal started to get violent and take apart the bathroom, its aggressiveness growing with each moment of captivity.
Eventually Paul planned his escape which was to open the door to the bathroom as he sprinted into the main house, leaving the animal with a path to the outside while keeping it out of the main house. The plan was successful although I'm pretty sure I would have just abandoned the house for the night. Paul, however, wouldn't let some wild animal keep him from a good night's sleep.
We will miss you Paul every day we think of cycling. Which is pretty much every day.