An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Thursday, September 10, 2015

The passing of an icon

Photo by DBC Photography,
lifted from the Jerry Baker is Everywhere Facebook Page.

Some people are major forces in a community, and you never even know it.

Some people influence your life and you don't even realize it until they're gone, and you look back and see the fingerprints.

The Pacific Northwest cycling community lost one of those types of people today in the person of Jerry Baker.

I first met Jerry as the owner of the Baleno clothing company, a Seattle-based maker of cycling togs that also sponsored the Puget Sound Cycling Club, the racing club whose major sponsor was Gregg's Cycles. Our team meetings took place in the printing and cutting room of Baleno every month. That was in about 1990. He was kind of goofy, but always upbeat, always smiling, and always supportive. I had no idea at the time just the amount of effort he put into the racing and riding scene.

He is, as I've read, the only person to ride every Seattle-to-Portland Classic to date, even winning the first edition (back when it was actually considered a race) in 1979. He raised the initial funding for the Marymoor Park Velodrome in Redmond. He was a tireless supporter and advocate of racing, and was the man driving the development of the local cyclocross culture surrounding Seattle.
These are all things I came to know over the years of being around him occasionally, attending the annual New Year's Day ride from Bellevue, and seeing his face at so many races throughout the years.

But here's the funny thing -- for all his tireless support and energy, he was the man so few people even knew about. He was just that way. Sure, when talked to, he would be gregarious and always had a good story to share, but he was also very content to just do his thing behind the scenes and watch the community benefit. Or at least that's the way he always seemed to me. And quite frankly I had no idea he was 73 years old -- he always struck me as much younger, such was his constant energy and enthusiasm. 

There's a life lesson in that.

As a cyclist in the area, and past racer, you look back on all that and see his influence on your life, the opportunities he created for so many people, and realize that it shaped you in ways hadn't even noticed.

One man with energy. Not even caring who got the credit.

Rest well, Jerry. You will be missed.

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