From the moment Kurt Jensen found out that his older brother had been killed while riding his bike to work in Alabama, he wanted to do one thing – ride. So the morning after he lost his only brother, he hoped on a bike and pedaled nearly 20miles.
“That was the only thought I had,” said Kurt, who is helping his parents and sister organize a ride to honor Derek’s life on July 4 at 6 a.m. in Memory Grove, a ride that will coincide with one in Alabama where Derek’s was living when he was killed on Thursday, June 14. “For me, it was a way of connecting with him again, sharing something we did together, something we both loved…We used to get together and ride as much as we could.”
So it is fitting that the tribute his family and friends in two states are offering is a ride to remember him. But the ride is also about reminding each other of the lessons they learned from Derek in his 37 years with them.
“One of the things I realized about Derek,” said Kurt, who got his big brother interested in cycling when they were roommates at Ricks College in 1996-97. “He was passionate about life no matter what. He did everything full bore, committed 100 percent; if there is anything I would love to emulate about him, it would be that. He was 100 percent committed to his family, to working, and when he rode, he gave it everything he had. It was obvious to everyone…Whatever it was, he put everything into it. If I had to identify a legacy, that’s what I want to remember.”
Wednesday’s ride will start at 6 a.m. and will be led by Kurt and Lisa Jensen, the youngest of the three Jensen siblings. Those interested should meet at Memory Grove Park (east of the Utah State Capitol), and be ready to ride by 6 a.m. The riders will travel to Ensign Peak and return to Memory Grove, which is about 8 miles, and includes some pavement, but mostly single and double track.)
This ride is in conjunction with the Memorial Ride being sponsored by Derek’s bike association in Anniston, Alabama, in which his wife, Mina, and their three children will be riding.
After the ride, from 10-11:45 a.m., there will be a remembrance time for family and friends to greet Derek’s family prior to the Memorial Service. That will be held in the Relief Society Room of the Canyon Rim I and II Ward Building Grace Street, 3100 East 3000 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84109. From noon until 1 p.m. there will be a Memorial Service in the Canyon Rim Chapel.
The family is also inviting friends and family to send memories and stories about Derek to firstname.lastname@example.org so they can build a book of remembrance for his young children.
Cyclists are a unique and determined personality type. A friend of Derek’s from his Alabama cycling club offered this tribute to his friend in the wake of last week’s tragedy.
DEREK JENSEN: By Preston York
Cyclists by nature are a close knit community. We are known to gather by the hundreds at the crack of dawn to embark on our two-wheel journeys together. Groups of us even dress alike on our rides and races. Many of us consider bikers to be a family, and today I lost a brother. He was unquestionably a great cyclist, friend, father, husband, son, coworker, and member of our community.
Derek and I first met on one of our Munford group road rides about a year ago, and have ridden together ever since. A strong rider, but a gentle person. He was always happy and smiling, mainly because of his wonderful wife and three young children. I was looking through the dozens of our texts, most of which were me trying to get him to go mountain biking with me, and most of his replies were that he was busy spending time with his son, coaching him in basketball, watching his baseball games, or going to his daughter’s choir festival. I truly admired him for that.
He and I just graduated from Leadership Calhoun County, where we got to spend a lot of time “off the bike” together. I had a lot of great cycling moments with him that we continued to talk and laugh about months after they occurred. I know that every time I clip in and ride, Derek will be on my mind.
Here is a link to my column on my former colleague and friend. Happy Riding.