I heard that I lost a friend today, one whose megawatt smile and animated personality touched a lot of people. I met him my freshman year of college, on the HSU cycling team. He was new to cycling, but took it head-on with an awesome level of reckless abandon and excitement.
He had a penchant for drawing people around him into his stories—and he had more than a few. “Ever heard about the time I survived an avalanche?” he would say, as he threw his head back in anticipation of the tale and flashed a big smile.
The dude went all out, in everything. He could draw people in without even trying; he was the guy everyone wanted to hang with, to have at the party. But that’s not to say he was some cheesy charmer, not always. It just seemed like—though maybe he enriched and added to some of his tales, for all of our benefit—he was actually extremely genuine. When he said something, he meant it, to the fullest degree. You know it when you meet people like that.
Everyone’s got memorable stories with Shaun. I’ll remember his own epic yarns on an eight-hour drive to Parkfield, where he taught me about fisheries and how to charm a girl. I’ll remember hearing of—or witnessing—crash after crash on his mountain bike or road bike. Once, in fact, Hayley and I met up with him in Arcata to get a used textbook. He had broken his shoulder just minutes earlier in the Community Forest after falling off his mountain bike, but it didn’t even occur to him to blow off our meeting for the ER.
True to form he would always get back on it, no matter how many bike parts or bones he broke. And after having a tough time with school, I hear he was getting into firefighting in Chico, no doubt thrilled to master a new skill and develop his new profession. Because that’s just what he did.
I’ve never met someone so permanently enthused about life, no matter what it threw at him. I doubt I ever will.
As an aside, many of you might not know this is the second person with ties to the HSU cycling team to pass away in the last couple years. Not to make a depressing time more so, but there’s a reason I’m bringing this up. From the HSU cycling blog archives:
A heartbreaking end of the year. Club member Eric Kilgore died on his way home for Thanksgiving break. He was truly one of the nicest guys on the team, and had an appetite for learning how to mountain bike well that we witnessed on every group ride. He was brand new to the sport, but loving every minute (and becoming quite fast I might add). I have no doubt we would’ve seen Eric giving it all on his road bike this spring.
The team had a memorial ride to end the semester in honor of Eric. On a rainy Saturday afternoon, nearly 20 of his teammates showed up for a final romp through the forest. We also set up “The Kilgore,” a short track loop for practicing our racing and tactics in the future. The loop is right behind Redwood Park. Check out some pictures from the ride over on the website.
It looks like Vicky set up a (likely quite large) memorial ride for Shaun tonight, much like the one we had for Eric. That’s awesome. I just hope we don’t forget about these guys going forward, even as the team continues to evolve, people graduate, and lots of new faces join. I’ll admit, I had already forgotten we had set up “The Kilgore” course in Eric’s honor. That tradition and racecourse wasn’t really remembered or passed on.
So my point is, let’s remember the two of them, and always ride and race with enthusiasm like they did. They represented what HSU cycling is about. Let’s not forget that.