Matt “Bronco” Bradley died on Tuesday, March 20th. I didn’t know him nearly as well as I would have liked to, but the time I did spend with him affected me deeply, and I am going to miss him terribly.
In many ways, I am an equal opportunity offender … I will make fun of just about anyone for any reason at any time.
At one of the first Utah Cyclocross races this past year, about a year or so since Matt had his leg amputated below the knee due to bone cancer, Matt, Bruce Bilodeau and I were sitting on the stage, and Bruce made some self-effacing comment on weakness; I forget exactly what it was … but I turned to them both and said “so basically, I’m sitting here with a wimp and a gimp.” It’s a crass joke, admittedly, but sometimes it’s difficult to resist the opportunity to play with words. And me? I’m the bad little chimp without a filter who just opens his mouth and lets fly.
Matt just busted up laughing, and a few weeks later, he shows up to race in the kit at left. This was so typical of what I knew of Matt’s good nature and good humor; to take what could have been a disastrously offensive joke on my part, and to embrace it, the same way he embraced life.
In one of the later races of the season at Wheeler Farm, on a really slick, snowy and muddy course at Wheeler Farm, Matt was doing pretty good for the first few laps; then he comes sheepishly walking back into the announcers area; “what happened?” we asked. “A mechanical?” No … his just lost his leg in a crash; it just came right off. Right there, best excuse for not winning a race ever: “Hey Matt, what happened? Why didn’t you finish?”
“Oh … my leg fell off …”
Matt was one of the most exceptional people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and his perpetual good humor even in the face of adversity demonstrated his lust for life and serves as a perfect example of why he was so inspirational for so many people both within and outside the cycling community. In the time that I knew him, he never let anything hold him back.
No excuses. Never surrender. Never give up. Never say die.
Whether or not he considered that to be his personal motto, it’s definitely the way he lived his life, and is certainly how I’m going to strive to live mine from this day forth. I’m going to miss Matt terribly for a long time.
Funeral Services for Matt Bronco Bradley will be held at the Pepperwood Chapel, 2195 East Pepperwood Drive (10900 South) in Sandy on Monday at noon.
Friends may call Sunday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Gardens Mortuary, 1950 East 10600 South in Sandy and Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Pepperwood Chapel. Interment at the Larkin Sunset Garden.
I’m going to miss you, buddy … the entire Utah cycling community (and the many other communities whose lives you touched) is really going to miss you, and all we can do is strive to celebrate your life rather than just mourn your death … and try to emulate you as much as possible.
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
Thank you Matt, for being who you were. You may no longer be with us in person, but you will always be with us in spirit inside.