Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Memories of Dan Crain's Furnace Creek 508 Adventures

Jim Cook wrote:

"I saw Dan shortly after his first surgery. On this Sunday about 1:30pm I finished up a ride with a friend. Then started to ride over to the hospital to see Dan, but change my mind because I knew I would be in that area on Monday. Never thought of Dan not being there the next day... WOW! I'm thinking a lot more now! 

The first time Dan had me crew for him on the FC 508 was 2007. It was one of my best memories with him. He was racing that year with Joe Brown, and they had Kevin Baer and myself as their crew. The four of us laughed so hard on that event, our guts were sore. Everything was just funny to us, no matter what it was. Cindy Staiger, who was officiating, had stopped us. Dan's hardwired-in auxiliary flashing went out on his van in Panamint Valley, so everyone was frantically trying to trace a short in the dark. About a half hour later a solo racer DNF'd right by us. Cindy borrowed the portable flashing lights from the solo racer, came over holding the lights in her hands and asked us if these would help us. We all laughed and Dan was on his bike racing to Death Valley. 

On Townes Pass, Dan wanted me to follow him down the pass. Dan was very particular how he wanted to be followed down the pass. Kevin was driving up the pass, so we decided to switch drivers as the van was moving. Not a wise move, before we could get switched the van is rowing backwards, and Dan lost the van's ahead lights as he continued to climb the pass. Joe was about ready to jump out, but Kevin and I couldn't hold back and we started laughing. In Furnace Creek, Dan asked if he was going too fast up Townes for us... more laughs. 

Next, Dan was cycling the gradual climb from Kelso to Amboy, and Wade Baker was closing in on Dan fast. Dan was almost at the summit, but I could see Wade was going to catch him. I asked Kevin to pull up next to Dan. I asked: "Do you want a picture taken as Wade passes you, or do want it taken at Amboy before Wade gets there?" Dan kicked in the afterburners... more laughs. When we got to Amboy, Isabelle Drake was there waiting for Wade. She had the same polk-a-dot 508 Jersey as Dan was wearing. While she was waiting for Wade, I took a picture of Dan and her. They looked like they were on the same team. It later became one of Dan's favorite pictures. Dan and Joe set a new record that race for the two-man relay team 60+ division that race, which still stands today.

Congratulations to the Whooping Cranes
 on their 2007 Furnace Creek 508 record setting ride!!
Photo taken by Jim Cook

Team Whooping Cranes
Thanks to Jim Cook for this photo

You can see an on-line album of the 2007 FC 508 that I had made Dan and Joe after the race HERE.

One of the most exciting moments of cycling for Dan was in 2009 coming down Townes Pass during the 508. It was about midnight when he reached the summit. He had me take his vest, arm warmers, and water bottle, then handed him two water bottles that he specially prepared for this descent. They were both filled with lead weights from car wheels that he had collected while riding. The conditions for the descent were almost perfect, extra weight, and the confidence having his van's lights right with him all the way down. The curves and especially the dips were very dangerous at speed. Dan would have me follow him on this major descent 3-5 yards back in the middle of the road. On the curves, I would be on the left-side of road and cut the curve before he did, to give him the van's lights through the curve. His daughter witnessed this as she nervously sat in the passenger's seat. Isabelle Drake tried not to watch as she prepared for her shift. I clocked Dan for a sustained speed of 65+ mph for about 2.6 miles down Townes Pass. He passed five racers on that descent as if they were standing still. Dan loved to climb and descend, and he did it fearlessly."


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dan Crain ... You Will Be Missed


The California Triple Crown family lost one of the Most Accomplished Long Distance Cyclists in California when Dan Crain passed away last Sunday, August 15, 2010.


Let's celebrate Dan's life!! 

This is a place where people who loved Dan may feel free to write a memory they have of him, a story, or to say goodbye to a good friend.  Please share your thoughts by clicking on the "Comments" at the bottom of the tribute below. You need not be a cyclist to share a memory here. 

The California Triple Crown family lost a really good friend
and a cycling legend with the passing of Dan Crain
on Sunday, August 15, 2010.

Dan Crain on the 1996 Eastern Sierra Double
Photo by Robert Freed

Dan supporting the 2010 Grand Tour
Photo taken June 26, 2010 by Lynn Katano

Dan and Anny on the Grand Tour Staff Ride Highland Double
Photo taken July 24, 2010 by Steve Meichtry

A memorial service to celebrate Dan's incredible life was held on Saturday, August 21, 2010 at Harbor Christian Church in Newport Beach. Over 300 people witnessed the wonderful stories and memories that was shared from family members, as well as his personal friends. Following the service and luncheon, Anny Beck hosted an 8 mile tribute ride in honor of Dan as they ride Newport's Back Bay loop. 

ADO Gang-member Roland Hoffman produced a beautiful video that was shown during the service, capturing Dan's incredible life here on earth. You can enjoy the video HERE

Cindi Staiger wrote on the Ultra Cycling e-mail list, "A few weeks ago a great ultracycling friend was in an auto vs.bike accident in Orange County CA...Newport Coast.  A Range Rover did not see Dan Crain and struck him. 

He went to the Mission Hospital and underwent a couple surgeries thereafter for a broken L1 vertebrae. 

From friend's emails and FB postings a few words... He was recovering well he even went for a 'walk' around the hospital floor - Sun., Aug 15th however - he got up with help from the nurse - they say he felt faint and the staff got him back to bed.... The Code Team worked on him for half an hour trying to revive him.  They think he had a pulmonary embolism, a fatal blood clot in his lungs, not uncommon after surgery. (The Coroner will do an autopsy to verify this.) 

He was a 7 time finisher of the Furnace Creek 508 (1 time four-man, 4 times two-man, 1 time two-mixed, and once solo). He also holds (with Fred Boethling) the two man 60+ record at Race Across America... He also finished 106 California Triple Crown double centuries, earning 13 triple crowns along the way. He also gave plenty back to the sport, having volunteered at 21 double centuries.  ...some Everest Challenge records too...Davis 24 hour Challenge record. 
Dan was 65 - he leaves behind his Daughter Danielle and a son, other family and a great many cycling and other friends." 

The Orange County Register published this report on Dan's tragic accident.  On August 18, 2010, the Orange County Register published the coroner's report.

Dan's Sister, Sandy, wrote: "Dan's Memorial Service, or the celebration of his life, will be this Saturday, August 21st, at 11:00 a.m. at Harbor Christian Church, 2401 Irvine Avenue, Newport Beach 92660. I know that I originally thought the service would be several weeks away, but this Saturday worked out better for Dan's daughter and son, Danielle and Alan. I do hope that his bicycle family will be able to attend. There will be a time of open sharing of memories of Dan from everyone, as well as a light lunch provided afterward. Please pass the word on to all of Dan's bicycle family."

Dan and Bobbi Fisher on 2004 Davis Double
Photo taken by Eric Smith at Redbike Photo

Dan at the 2006 California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast
Photo taken by Eric Smith at Redbike Photo 

Dan loved to ride a bike. Any bike. Any time. And he always made it fun no matter how hard the ride was!!

Dan completed an amazing 106 California Triple Crown Double Centuries including many of the most difficult ones in California as shown on his California Triple Crown History report HERE .  In 2000, Dan rode every Double Century in the series ... all 18 of them!!  In 2001, Dan and Anny rode the 1st Place Tandem in the 2001 California Triple Crown Stage Race.  In 2004, Dan and Anny rode the 2nd Place Tandem in the 2004 California Triple Crown Stage Race.  Amazingly, Dan was a Solo Finisher of the brutally tough California Triple Crown Stage Race in

1997

1998

1999

2000

2002

2005

2006

and

2007

Yet, he gave back BIG TIME to the sport ... as shown on the report, he supported 21 of these Double Centuries!!!  He was a Gold Thousand Mile Club Finisher in 2004, 2006, and 2007 by completing 5 Double Centuries and volunteering at more than one of them those years!! 

Charlie Irwin, Dan Crain, and Chuck Bramwell
2001 California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast
Photo from Chuck Bramwell's Archive

The Hall of Fame Class of 2001
2001 California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast
Photo from Chuck Bramwell's Archive

Dan Crain was inducted into the California Triple Crown Hall of Fame in 2001 after riding 50 Doubles starting back in 1996.  When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, Dan gave these tips to new Double Century riders:

- Don't accept pain from riding long distances … work on the problems.

- Don't try to make up time on descents. The risks aren't worth the rewards.

- Enjoy the ride, and share the experience with others. Life is better experienced as a shared journey rather than as a race to beat others.

Dan told the audience: my personal philosophy is to celebrate life and share the celebration with others.


In 2007, Dan was inducted into the 100 Double Century Club
of the California Triple Crown!!
He was only the 6th Cyclist to ever complete that achievement!!

Dan also was a legendary cyclist on Randonneur rides which are long-distance unsupported endurance adventures.  More information on these rides can be found HERE.  Dan was amazingly tough on these rides and he completed the 750 Mile Non-Stop Paris-Brest-Paris in 1999.  He also completed the 750 Mile Non-Stop Davis Gold Rush in 2001 on a tandem with Anny Beck.  Dan went on to be awarded The Randonneur 5000 award for those riders completing at least 5000 kilometers of brevets (including a Paris-Brest-Paris, a full ACP series of 200 km, 300 km, 400 km, 600 km, and 1000 km brevets, and a Fl├Ęche team event) within a four-year period.  Few Americans have ever earned this award.

Dan and Lynn Katano wearing their 2004 Davis Bike Club March Madness Jerseys
Photo from Lynn Katano’s Archive
I believe Dan logged the most miles of anyone in that 2004 Competition

Dan loved challenging himself on the Furnace Creek 508 course.  In fact, he was inducted into the Furnace Creek 508 Hall of Fame in 2007.  Dan competed in this 508 Mile Non-Stop Race a total of 8 times!! Jim Cook wrote about his favorite memories of crewing for Dan on his Furnace Creek 508 adventures HERE.

Bill Osborn was Dan's Furnace Creek 508 Teammate in 2002 and he wrote up a beautiful report HERE with some great photos.

Dan and Anny were always fun to ride with
 no matter how steep the road got or
how tough the conditions were

In 2005, Dan and Fred Boethling set the South to North Across Utah Two Man Team Bike Record in 21 Hours 47 Minutes with a great report HERE.

Later that year, Dan and Fred competed as TEAM 60+ in the Race Across America.  Fred and Dan both turned 60 shortly before the 2005 race. In fact, Fred was the oldest rider in that year's RAAM. They finished the 3,052-mile ride in 8 days 13 hours 34 minutes, setting the over-60 age group record with an insightful report HERE.

Fred Boethling wrote in the Race Across America newsletter: "Dan's cycling palmares were significant. He finished the Furnace Creek 508, a RAAM Qualifier, seven times and completed 106 California Triple Crown double centuries, earning 13 Triple Crowns. In 2005, he and Fred Boethling established three 2-person 60+ team records ... the Davis 24-hour Challenge, a RAAM Qualifier, a UMCA Utah S-N Cross-State record and the Race Across America. All three records still stand. According to Fred Boethling, "Dan was a horse. He did all the work. I was the supporting cast."   Dan gave back to the sport as well, having volunteered at nearly two-dozen double centuries.

Dan is survived by his two children, other family members and a great many cycling friends. Dan, we'll miss you greatly."

Dan competed in the Davis 24 Hour Challenge and in 2006, he set a course record for 24 Hours Solo Riding in the 60-69 Age Group of 399 Miles on the Big Canyon Course then he came back in 2007 and set another course record for 24 Hours of Solo Riding in the 60-69 Age Group of 387 Miles on the Cobb Mountain Course as shown HERE.

Dan was also featured in Roy Wallack's book, Bike For Life: How to Ride to 100.

Roland Hoffman wrote: "Dan was a true emissary to the sport of endurance cycling! I'm in a total state of shock as I was planning to make my visit with him tonight after work! It's certainly a blessing to ride with a true "legend" of the sport on many occasions during my 15 years of ultra endurance cycling! A courageous, adventurous, and caring person . . . and well loved by us all!

Rest in Peace my friend as the lord will comfort you and keep you . . . as you truly enriched and touched each and everyone of us . . . more than you'll ever know. We are so blessed to know you during your life here on earth. You are now "God's chosen one" as you will be riding alongside him among the heavens, as the joy of your presence here on earth will be within our hearts . . . forever! 

You will be well missed . . . "


2008 Hemet Double Staff Ride
A lot of which was in the COLD rain
Photo taken by Jim Watrous

Rick Burneson wrote: "Other than sticking with me on that miserable Hemet ride, my two other memories of Dan helping out are:

1. Repairing my broken chain under the wind-mills on Tour of Two Forests (the Tour of One Desert Year) with SRAM Quick-Link.

2. Loaning me a front wheel when mine started breaking spokes on the Grand Tour in 2007.

He was a frequent rider on our OCRR Tues. / Thur. ride where he was also an excellent mentor to some of the newer riders.

Dan will be missed!"

Dan training on Glendora Ridge Road
Photo by Rick Burneson

John McKee wrote on his excellent racing recap about Dan HERE : "Dan decided in 2009 that he wanted to experience more from cycling and thought he would give bicycle racing a try at the age of 64. Dan joined OCW/Paramount in April of 2009."

Dan at the 2010 Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

Charles Chen wrote: "Jim Leslie found Dan's personal blog HERE

He is one of the nicest guys I know on and off the bike.  I am still in disbelief that he's no longer with us.  Dan, you're truly missed."

Dan and Anny at the start the Davis Gold Rush 1200K in 2001
Photo taken by Chuck Bramwell

Two days and over 500 miles after the above photo was taken, Tom Reynolds and I were fortunate enough to find Dan and Anny.  Unfortunately, by that time, I was out of film in my old camera.  We must have ridden 200 miles with Dan and Anny coming back into Davis that awesome night.  We were plenty tired by that time but the miles just flew by. And how could we have been flying like that after riding 500 miles the prior couple of days? Dan was just motoring with Anny on the tandem and I remember working real hard keeping up with them and Tom.

For me, it was beyond epic.

It was beyond hard.

It was one of the best long distance pacelines I’ve ever been in.

It was a time I will always remember as being the best of times.

And that's how I'll long remember my buddy Dan Crain. Flying at full speed on his tandem with smoke coming off his Rear Derailleur!!

With a big smile on his face.

I’ll miss you Dan.

 I'll miss your help.

 I'll miss your big smile going ear to ear.

Chuck Bramwell
California Triple Crown Guy