KC Eulogies and Tributes

 
Khaliq and I met as fellow riders on the 1996 cross-America bike trip. We started dating shortly afterwards and have had a long distance relationship (with plenty of long distance bike rides and long distance phone bills mixed in) over the past five years.
Through Khaliq's hundreds of always entertaining SCU tales, I feel I've come to know many of you very well. Khaliq knew how to tell a good story, and every cycling night he'd be eager to tell me what had happened on the road or after the night's ride. 
 
The friendships, laughter, and hill climbs he shared with you on the road did more than make his days brighter and his legs even stronger. Being with you all made him happy. From the moment he'd get to the parking lot for a Tuesday/Thursday ride his heart would be pumping and he'd be ready to have a good time. Even if he had spent the whole day in the heat on an outdoor job site, he'd be itching to jump on the bike and push himself (and you) hard -- and have fun in the process.
 
On his behalf, I wanted to thank each one of you for celebrating life with him -- for sharing some of the miles and smiles that made his life so rich. I haven't gotten back on my bike yet, but when I do, I know I'll be riding with him. And when I tackle a tough climb or push hard in the last miles of a century ride, I'll hear Khaliq in my heart, telling me to be strong and not to give up. I hope you will too.

When you are hammering down the roads of Pennsylvania on your next ride, Khaliq will be with you. He will be there to make sure you never forget the roads you and he shared in the past -- and to remind you to always look for beauty, joy, and laughter on the roads ahead.

Sending each of you a big KC-style hug,
Emily Littleton
elittleton@npr.org
 
He took a special joy in each of you -- and loved to talk about your individual riding styles, unique abilities, and fun-loving personalities in detail. He was also deeply troubled when anyone was hurt on a ride or if he noticed that someone's  spirits had been low that day. Luckily, when someone was feeling down, a signature KC-style hug was never too far away.
“If you can’t have fun at work, then don’t go”. These are words to live by, or more precisely, these were words that Khaliq lived by. Khaliq loved his profession. He loved designing and building works of art that others could admire and show off to their friends. The more difficult the project, the more he enjoyed it. He had the rare ability to figure out the smallest details long before the design made it to blueprint. His customers relied on his expertise and he never let them down. However long it took to complete the job, that’s how much time he put into it. The job was never done until Khaliq was satisfied that it was done right. I know this by working with him on my house, his mother’s house and a few side jobs where I tagged along as his assistant.

To watch KC ride a bicycle was like watching a gazelle running on the open plain. His long sleek legs and smooth pedal strokes made it look effortless. His strength and endurance made him a very good cyclist, but it was his heart that made him stand out from the rest. Whenever, we rode together, we always pushed each other to our limits. At the end of a long and tiring day at work, Khaliq was still able to reach inside himself and pull out the energy to get on his bike and ride hard for 2 hours. When it came to climbing, KC was “King of the Hill”. It was a rare sight when Khaliq was not the first one up to the top of a hill. In October of 1995, Khaliq did the North/South ride from Maine to Florida. I did not go with him. Upon his return, we went out for a ride. I figured he would be exhausted after 3 weeks of riding. This was going to be my chance to beat him going up the hill on North Wales road. Needless to say, I was wrong. His competitive spirit brought out the best in him. Even though the rides he did were “recreational rides or tours”, we trained as seriously as any professional racer does. When it came time to ride, there was nothing that was going to stop us. That included the 115 degree temperatures of the Mohave desert, ice and snow, torrential rain, thunder and lighting or even injuries. Two years ago, our bike club went down to Maryland to do the annual Seagull Century. A small group of about 18 of us turned this 1-day, 100-mile ride, into a 4 day, 300-mile long weekend. At this time Khaliq, had not been riding a lot due to work and injuries. The Thursday and Friday before the actual century ride we rode from Palmyra, NJ to Salisbury, MD, a distance of about 155 miles. When you have not trained for a while, this kind of mileage can take a lot out of you. On the morning of the Seagull Century ride, Khaliq and I left the hotel to ride our bikes to the Salisbury State University where the ride is going to begin. We got about 1 block from the college when we had to stop for a traffic light. Someone in a car decided to open their door right as Khaliq was passing by. This resulted in his thumb getting bruised so bad that he could barely use his left hand. If things were not difficult enough, Mother Nature made it worse by throwing in extremely windy conditions. On this day, with all these things working against Khaliq, he still rode like a true champion. I have never had more respect for Khaliq as a cyclist and as a friend than on this day. It turned out this was to be our fastest Century ride ever. It was not just strength and endurance that made this feat possible. He had the heart of a lion and a mind that was committed to achieving any goal that he set. That was the fabric that Khaliq was made of.

As serious and as dedicated as he was in his carpentry work and bicycling, he also knew that life was meant to be enjoyed. Whatever Khaliq choice to do, he did it with all his heart. The same was true when he laughed. No matter what the occasion, if Khaliq was present, than laughter was in the air. To KC, the Suburban Cyclists Bicycle Club was part of his extended family. In the club, he had found the perfect group of unique individuals who’s off beat humor could easily be ignited by his sharp wit. My fondest memories, as is for most of you, are those times we spent just laughing. On many occasions, the laughter we shared was the kind that left us gasping for air. During our cross country ride in 1996, we ended up in the small town of Dalhart, TX. This town had a human population of 600 and a cattle population of 600,000. Arriving late for dinner that night, KC, Emily and myself ended up sitting at a table by ourselves. We had ridden 90 hard miles that day and were a little tired. While waiting to eat, the 3 of us were in one of those giddy moods and we starting laughing uncontrollably to the point where tears were coming out. I remember looking up and seeing everyone in that restaurant staring at us as if we were from another planet. In my opinion, the real reason they were staring was that they wished they were having as much fun as we were. As is the case with most of these wonderfully fun moments, I couldn’t even tell you what we were laughing about. All I know is that Khaliq had the gift of laughter that he loved to share.

They say that for 15 minutes in each of our lives, we are in the spot light. For Khaliq, these 15 minutes lasted for 11 years. Since I first started to ride with KC back in 1989, he was always a person who could make things happen. The social activities that he attended, were his stage and he always played to audiences that loved him. To quote the famous football coach Vince Lombardi, “the worth of a man is not measured by his wealth, but by the number of friends that he has”. By looking around here today, all of us would have to agree that Khaliq was a rich man. All of us who were fortunate to be able to call him a friend, have become better human beings because of it. People tend to measure life in the number of years that we live. For Khaliq that number was way to short, but in the 43 years that he graced this planet, he did more things and had more good times than most people would have a several life times. Khaliq would not want any of us to be saddened by his death. He would want us to be happy for him, that he was able to live a life where he was free to be whatever he wanted to be and was blessed to have family and friends who loved them. As long as you remember Khaliq and all those wonderful moments that we shared together, you will keep Khaliq alive inside your heart. Let his “Fun Loving” outlook on life become yours. Let his life be a gift that each you will always treasure and offer you comfort whenever you need it...

Joel Gaskin