I've known Jeff for a lot of years. Usually I was pissed at him because he'd usually beat me in a sprint! And his team, Wisconsin Health and Fitness, lovingly known as the Red Horde, always tried to beat up on our little team.
And as I got to know him, as a person and as a racer, I knew him to be an incredibly competitive, passionate cyclist, who'd rip your legs off in a sprint, then congratulate you after the race. He was a good man and an amazing advocate for the sport.
Jeff died today after being hit by a car last Friday. In some ways, it is better. If he had survived, he would have been paralyzed and likely suffering from brain damage.
All weekend, I've been thinking of him, of me, and countless other cyclists who have been hit by vehicles. I am lucky to survive. Jeff was not. Our passion should not be so dangerous. We should not have to risk our lives to enjoy pedaling through the world.
I don't want to continue to weigh in on the cyclists v. driver argument. We all need to be more vigilant. Nor is now the time for blame.
Now is simply the time to remember Jeff and what he brought to us.
On Saturday at our cyclocross race, I rode with Jeff in mind. He would always want us to ride as hard as we possibly could, no matter how we felt, no matter how much suffering we endured. I remember him telling me once he trained much harder than he raced.
Jeff is now a guardian angel of cycling. That sounds lame, but I can imagine him up there, guiding cyclists around hazards, keeping us safer, pushing us to ride our hardest.
I, we, the cycling community, will miss you terribly.