Steve Tilford, the first real, honest to god, bike racer dude I ever met, died last night in a car crash in Colorado. I remember seeing him hanging out on the couches in the back of Michael's Cyclery, holding court about some bike race deed or other with the guys. He raced for a number of years for Michael in the 80s, and knew my dad well from the scene at the shop. There was always a sort of manic energy about him, like sitting still was a waste of his time. He was a compelling character in the way that many such driven people are, like a little crackle of electricity arcing through the room as he ambled in. There was a newspaper article in the back break area of the shop with a picture of Steve, arm in a sling spinning along on his rollers. The headline said, "Steve Tilford Wants to Race His Bike Badly." Underneath, someone had written And He Does in neat block print.
The last time I saw Steve, he was fuming after some jerk kid from United Health Care chopped his line in a corner of the nighttime crit in the Sands Casino Hotel parking lot at Interbike in 2009. He was talking with my dad, and was obviously still coming down off of an adrenaline rush from what would have been his thousandth crash in a race. My dad always insisted that Steve was likely immortal, because scar tissue doesn't die.
Even if you've never heard of the guy, I'd recommend reading this blog post, which paints a compelling picture of a fairly crazy dude. I'm sure you've seen shades of this guy in the people we know around Philly or in your scene, whatever it is.