Thursday, January 05, 2006

R.I.P. Isai Mendina

A cyclist died last night in Chicago. He was Standing On The Sidewalk With His Bike when a car spun out of control, hit another car and jumped the curb to kill him. He was part of the Rat Patrol (freakbike builders: choppers, tall bikes, frankenbikes of all sorts).

Pictures of him at the bottom of this site:
http://www.chicagofreakbike.org/2002_11_01_archives.php

Here is the message we received from "Chopper Carl":
THE GUY THAT GOT HIT WAS ISAI MENDINA. A.K.A CHOPPER ISAI HE IS THE GUY THAT RIDE A CHOPPER WITH THE CAR ALARM ON IT AND ALL THE PRETTY LIGHTS . HE BE ON MOST MASSES WHEN HE DON,T HAVE TO WORK HE ALSO HONG AT NAVEY PEAR. SHOWING OFF THAT CHOPPER

HE WAS MY BEST FREAND.

I LOVE YOU CHOPPER ISAI

CHOP TILL YOU DROP

R.I.P CHOPPER CARL

I only knew Isai by face and have only had the briefest of interactions with him. I do know Chopper Carl, though. I met him first when I was organizing a ‘bike float’ for one of the city’s parades in 2004. Carl was riding his cheap mountain bike, saw us and stopped to chat and join in. The next time I saw him, he was "Chopper Carl"--in the few short weeks between these initial meetings, he had gotten sucked into the bike community, especially the Rat Patrol and was riding his own freak bike.

Chopper Carl isn’t the average bikey person in several different ways: he isn’t well educated, isn’t a yuppie, doesn’t live on the North side and isn’t white. He lives on the West side and moves pianos for his job. He also has enough of a speech impediment, and possible developmental disability, to create distance between other people and himself. I suspect that like many of the other bikey people, he has been a bit of a misfit socially. He is however, super-friendly and super sweet and seems to be thriving and making lots of friends within the community. His confidence has grown while his belly has shrank. Chopper Carl is always greeted enthusiastically when he arrives. If Isai was Chopper Carl’s best friend, then I can’t help but assume that he played a significant part in Carl’s blossoming within the Rat Patrol, and larger bike community.

Western Avenue is an arterial street that people treat like a highway. It is one of the few streets in Chicago that has timed traffic lights, so people are able to hit several green lights in a row without stopping. This gives them the opportunity to go fast and jackrabbit around. Many cyclists refuse to ride on this road. Many, if not most, of the pedestrians who were killed last year died on this street. The street now has claimed yet another victim.

Anyone responsible at all for the transformation that I have witnessed with Chopper Carl is certainly a special person, and will be missed by many.

1 Comments:

At 12:57 PM, Anonymous (y(leDelic said...

Dear Isia (RIP) was not a member of the rat patrol, just a lone wolf freakbiker who rode everywhere and inspired so many people with his great chopper and friendlyness.

We know he's riding his chopper in heaven

 

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