|Lee Mitchell at the 2013 Davis Double Century|
It is with great sadness that we pass along the news that Lee Mitchell passed away this morning after a lengthy illness. He was 77 when he died. Lee was well-known throughout the world of long-distance cycling from his many years of supporting participants at brevets, centuries, double centuries, the Furnace Creek 508, RAAM, and other cycling marathons. Lee, a resident of Woodland, a charter member of the Davis Bike Club, an early member of Randonneurs USA, and a recently retired community college instructor, had countless friends made though his years of helping at cycling events around the western United States.
Lee was a man on the move. He was on the road most weekends, driving to various events in his well-known red Bike Van. A good cyclist himself with several double centuries and Team-RAAM events under his belt, Lee knew that providing effective support during a long race could make the difference between success and failure. Or, when not helping a particular racer, Lee would drive at other events for hours on end, providing roving sag support to everyone who needed it. He helped stranded riders replace or repair their broken equipment, he gave them water when their bottles ran dry, and he ferried exhausted riders back to the start/finish. Lee usually had classic rock blasting from Bike Van’s loudspeakers, something that always lifted the spirits of weary randonneurs in the wee hours after midnight. Even if we didn’t need help, just knowing Lee was out there looking after us was a real comfort. For decades, Lee spent the month of June traversing the country while supporting RAAM riders, and the lengthy waiting list of endurance racers seeking his support showed the high level of expertise he brought to the job. The amazing part is that Lee did all this sag support for free, year after year. Lee sought nothing more than to help riders go far on their bicycles and fulfill their sporting dreams. (Between the cost of fuel and replacing worn-out vehicles, he must have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to help cyclists.)
In the end, I hope Lee knew how much he enriched the lives of so many people. Indeed, the high regard with which Lee is held by so many people--friends, family, students, and cyclists alike--is strong testimony to how he made our world a better place. Simply put, he was a lovely guy and all of us will miss him terribly. The Santa Cruz Randonneurs, along with riders all around the country, send Lee’s family, and our friends in the Davis Bike Club, our sincere condolences in their time of sorrow.
Bill Bryant & Lois Springsteen