The Passing of a Friend and Neighbor

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Anonymous's picture

"Perhaps more than anywhere else, New York provides the opportunity to meet and know interesting people. About 2 years ago, after a ride I brought my aging Cannondale Super V into this one neighborhood restaurant that allowed bikes indoors, space permitting. As I was taking off my helmet, this bear of a man comes up to me and says: ""my daughter used to ride one of those -- I haven't seen one in a couple years, brings back memories. Come sit at the bar, I'll buy you a beer."" So I sit down next to the guy and he starts talking. Yes, his daughter did once ride a Cannondale, she is also one of the all-time greatest professional mountain bike racers, Missy Giove. She is also perhaps the most notorious female professional mountain bike racer ever; knowing her father Ben, it is easy to understand why.

Ben Giove was a tough, native New Yorker. Ben grew up in the East 50s living an ""Our Gang"" early childhood filled with Els, stickball, petty delinquency and swimming in the East River. He had energy, drive and strength -- the kind you get on the streets. The kind that never leaves you. He was street honest, no bullshit and in your face, in other words sincere.

Within weeks of meeting him, Ben made me feel like he was my uncle. One day I see him on the street and he tells me to meet him Friday evening for dinner, he has some things for me. So I meet him for dinner and he gives a bag filled with various memorabilia relating to Missy: hats, shirts, jerseys and a Selle Italia limited edition Missy Giove Saddle, maybe $500 worth of stuff. The saddle sits unused on my bookshelf, a prized possession not because of Missy but because of Ben and his sincerity. Smaller gestures of generosity from Ben were continual, but his real gift was his genuine personality. I don't watch much TV; I like to get my entertainment from real people. Ben was my Tony Soprano; tough with a soft core. Ben's stories about New York in early 1950s were enthralling, as were his stories about NORBA's rise and fall and cycling at the highest levels, both as seen from the inside.

When I learned of his death yesterday, I felt saddened not only for the personal loss but because Ben's passing represents another small step away from what New York City was to what New York City is becoming. I'll miss his stories."

Anonymous's picture
ben (not verified)
Thank you for sharing that

That was nice.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Sounds like quite a character

"You were lucky to know him.

May his ashes rest in peace. I hope Missy doesn't put them in her sports bra as she did with her dog's."

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