R.I.P. CHRIS CONO
I am devastated to report that a great rider, racer, organizer and friend passed away yesterday from following a crash during the CBR Public Safety Memorial Day Criterium. Chrisopher “Cono” Contreras was a hugely energetic and motivated person who believed that bike racing should be enjoyed by everyone. He created and organized a popular fixed gear stage race called Fortune 700 which took place seasonally at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. On Wednesday nights, I had the pleasure of training with him many times at Encino Velodrome. He was always great company, enjoyed riding his heart out and loved to introduce others to his passion for bike racing. Chris is survived by his wife and son. He will be hugely missed by his family, friends, fellow riders and Southern California’s cycling culture.
I can’t believe this happened. I raced at this CBR Criterium on Monday. We heard there was a crash, but there’s always a crash. We heard it was pretty bad, that he had hit the curb and smashed into a phone pole, but you still just assume the injured will be alright. You never think about death as a possibility. We saw the flashing lights and the ambulance, we saw the race organizers scrambling for his paperwork, but still couldn’t fathom that the incident would end in him passing. We are so fragile, yet we tempt the odds to prove ourselves, to push ourselves. I thought about every crash I’d ever been in and/or witnessed and how delicate and vulnerable our bodies are, and how amazing it is that deaths are this infrequent. It’s a reminder that when you’re racing, every little move you make, every little wobble and every little misstep involves the lives of the 30 or more cyclists around you. Even though I didn’t know you, Chris, thank you for reminding me how precious my life is and how important my loved ones are (as cliche as that may sound). I hope we can take this as a lesson to be both daring and careful at the same time.