Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lee Mitchell's Fan Club Page

Some call him 'Fuzzy'.
Some call him 'Santa Claus'.
Some call him 'SAG Angel'.

On Sunday, September 1 2013, Chuck Bramwell wrote:"It is with a very heavy heart that I write to tell you that Lee Mitchell passed away Saturday from the cancer he had been battling.

Lee was one in a million. I will miss my good friend who helped me and thousands of cyclists in so many ways. I will miss hearing the fun music from his Red “BIKE VAN” and looking back to see his smiling face.

I know you will as well.

Barbara Anderson, the President of the Davis Bike Club, wrote in an e-mail on the Davis Bike club list this afternoon:

“Lee Mitchell, a dedicated and devoted friend and supporter of cyclists everywhere, but especially of the Davis Bike Club, died this morning.

Lee will be remembered for his unfailing smile, his signature "Santa Claus" look, his never-changing wardrobe, and his red mini-van blasting music to get you over that next hill. Most of all, we'll remember him for his unfailing SAG support, his generosity of spirit, and his single-minded concern for the safety of cyclists on the road.

I understand plans for a memorial service are pending but no definite date is yet set. As I learn more, I will pass it on.

Our heartfelt condolences to Lee's wife, Shirley, to his family, and to all those who counted him among our friends.

Barbara Anderson
President, Davis Bike Club"

Lee, you were a great inspiration to me and to many cyclists.

Thanks for being such an amazing example to us.

Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.
We will honor you in the days and months ahead.  We will share some of these many stories at the California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast on Sunday September 29, 2013 from 7:30 A.M. to about 9:30 A.M.   The Breakfast will be held under the gazebo in Pena Adobe Park which is where the Knoxville Double will Start and Finish the day before."
A memorial service will be held:
Sunday, September 29, 2013
02:30 PM - 06:30 PM
Veterans Memorial Center
203 East Fourteenth Street
Davis CA 95616
Lee's Obituary in the Sacramento Bell is HERE

Dan Shadoan wrote: "Have you ever found yourself riding a dark, lonely road heading for a finish line, your speed in the single digit range? You're wondering if you'll make the cut-off. You hear some distant music. And then Credence Clearwater booms through the night from the speakers on a red van. Your spirits rise and your bike speed increases exponentially. And this fuzzy-faced guy asks how you're doing from the driver's window.

Have you ever been riding the Davis Double, climbing Resurrection, and spokes start pinging and wrapping around your derailleur? "Is this the end of my ride?" you think. And miraculously a red van, driven by some kind of Santa, shows up with a myriad of perfect wheels in its back end for you to choose from.

Have you ever had a burning desire to challenge yourself to ride the Furnace Creek 508 or perhaps even Race Across AMerica and wondered who could help you? Someone says, "Call the red van guy". You do and he says, "Yes, I'll get a crew and organize everything for you. Just train up."

We all can call Lee Mitchell our friend for supporting us on so many big time challenges.
Lee Mitchell has set the standard for supporting us on Double Centuries, Brevets, and huge rides like the Furnace Creek 508, Hoodoo 500, and the Race Across America for over 30 years!!
In 1989, Lee was supporting John Hughes on the Furnace Creek 508
Lee giving Hugh Murphy a water bottle on the
1991 Furnace Creek 508
Lee with Steve Born and Rick Anderson at the start
of the 1998 Race Across America

With Anne Schneider and crew at 1998 Furnace Creek 508
Lee and his Red Bike Van supported us all the way on
Lee helps Rebecca Smith with her Windbreaker
 at the Start of the 2003 Race Across America
Lee with Jim Penseyres
at the start of the 2009 Race Across America
Lee Mitchell interviewed outside
 of Durango, Colorado on RAAM 2009
Lee with the Hammer Frogs at the 2010 Hoodoo 500
Lee on the Hoodoo 500 Course in Southern Utah
With Isabelle Drake at the 2011 Furnace Creek 508
Lee with John Robbins at the
 2010 California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast

Lee and Eric Smith were recognized at the
2010 California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast

Lee with Doug Goodwin at the
2012 California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast 

Just look HERE at how much he has given back to the Double Centuries in the California Triple Crown and that only shows his good work since 2004 … Lee has been supporting us since way back in the early 90’s!!!!


Lee was inducted into the California Triple Crown Hall of Fame way back in 2000 as shown HERE and in the Ultra Cycling Hall of Fame in 2004 as shown HERE

Glenn Mounkes, the President of the Davis Bike club, wrote: "Lee was also honored with the Davis Bike Club's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.  As a cyclist who has been helped by Lee from, a handy floor pump for a flat tire to a ride to the Hospital after a bad crash, it was my privilege to present him with the Award at the September 14th "Lee Mitchell Day" Event."  

Lee at the start of the 2004 Race Across America 

Lee riding a good stretch on the 2004 Race Across America
 for the Grand PAC Masters 
Lee is starting treatment for cancer of the esophagus. It would be great to send cards to: 

Lee Mitchell
26 Clark Ct.
Woodland, CA 95776

Or you can add your stories by clicking "Post a Comment" at the bottom of this page.  Or you can send your stories and/or photos to Chuck at cbrams at caltriplecrown dot com and he'll add them here.
Or you can send emails to him at LeeBikeVan at aol dot com

Let's be sure Lee knows that we are on his team supporting him all the way on his challenge!!

Isabelle Drake wrote: “Lee is very optimistic and is a fighter. His Ultra Cycling experience will help him as he faces this unexpected challenge. He has helped so many of us over the years crewing, sagging, etc. and he really needs our support now!”

Let’s keep Lee in our thoughts and prayers!!
Chuck Bramwell
California Triple Crown Guy

Thanks to all of you, we turned Lee's house into a House of Cards!!
In May of 2013, Lee wrote me:

"Largely because of you our house has become a house of cards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many were from bike riders I never met but had heard me coming and were glad to know I was out there sagging, just in case. All helped me fortify myself.

Son Tim helped me sag the Davis DC yesterday. Good thing he was driving--I ended up exhausted early and we came home by 4 PM. Was first sag since fall Death Valley DC.
Will be more.
See you at Knoxville in September!
Hugs, Lee"

From Frank Neal, CTCDataGuy…
I first met Lee at the first time I had a challenge on a CTC Double.  It was Death Valley, the southern route, when it started and finished in Stovepipe wells.  I purposely bought new headlight batteries at the Trading Post because I did not want problems after dark.  Guess what?  The batteries were bad.  I was in that long stretch between Bad Water and Furnace Creek.  My headlight went dark.  There was little moonlight.  That is one dark stretch!  I had to ride down the middle of the road to follow what I could see of the white line to prevent myself from running off the road.  A vehicle came up from behind, so I pulled over to get out of the way.  Guess who?  Lee Mitchell.  He stopped and asked me if I needed anything.  I said, “Yes.  My headlight batteries died.  Do you have batteries?”  He replied, “Sure what size and how many do you need?”  I was ecstatic and grateful to this guy that looked like Santa Claus.  At that point, he was Santa Claus.

I was riding my first Davis double.  I had an eight speed cassette at that time.  I had moved up to a 54-tooth big chain ring because I liked to chase tandems on down hills.  After lunch there is a huge and fast downhill.  I was chasing the tandems.  I was in my 54/12 at the bottom, made the turn and did not realize there was an immediate climb.  I was Way in the wrong gear!  I stood up, but to no avail.  It was too steep.  I tried to shift gears and I twisted and broke my chain.  I kept asking all passing riders if they had a chain breaker.  If I could remove the broken link, I would be okay to finish.  Who showed up?  You guessed it:  Lee Mitchell.  Saved again by Santa Claus.

This next save was at Eastern Sierra Double.  I got up on Saturday morning to get ready for a good day of riding from Bishop to Mono Lake.  The weather was perfect.  One thing was missing.  I did not pack my bike shoes.  I ran up and down the halls to all of my friends to see if any one of them had an extra pair in their trunks.  I didn’t care what size.  No luck.  There was a bike shop on the ground floor of the motel, but it was closed and nobody knew how to contact the owner.  I was wearing court shoes.  That is all I had.  I went ahead and started thinking I could fix it somewhere on the course.  This was a bad idea.  I had the old Shimano SPD’s which are about the size of a half dollar.  The court shoes were sliding off the pedals.  I had to curl my toes just to stay on the pedals.  There was no way I could stand up.  My feet were cramping.  The Eastern Sierra has a big loop south of Bishop in around 25 miles returns close to Bishop.  I knew I was done by the time I got back to around Bishop.  I pulled over to wait for the Sweep SAG to take me back to Bishop.  This would be my first DNF.  Who showed up?  Who always shows up?  Lee Mitchell.  I said, “Lee, you have to take me in.  I am done”.  He said, “Frank, you never DNF?!”  I replied, “Look at my shoes.”  He looked down and saw I was wearing tennis shoes.  He said, “Oh yeah, you do have a problem.”  He got out of his van and opened up the back doors of his van and started going through his many parts drawers.  He said, “I have a very old set of platform pedals, with cages.  What would you think about trying a double century in tennis shoes with platform pedals and cages?”  I said, “Let’s give it a try.  I’m already dust.  I have nothing to lose.”  So he changed my pedals and I finished in tennis shoes.  My feet hurt for two weeks.  I had blisters on top of my blisters, but I did not DNF.  Now, this guy changed from Santa Claus to my SAG Angel.

I never DNF’ed a Double.  Guess who was always there to save me?  Lee Mitchell.

I have now retired from riding CTC Doubles, but have changed to supporting them.  Guess who is always there to educate me?  Lee Mitchell.

Another Lee Story:  I hope this is appropriate for mixed company.  This was last year at Death Valley Spring.

I had a ride share and a room share, so I made it a vacation and did not volunteer.  We stayed in the bungalows at the Furnace Creek Ranch.  The bungalows have patios.  As I walked past, Lee and Veronica Tunucci  were sitting there exchanging tall tales.  I stopped to say, “Hi.”

Lee knows I have followed him as a SAG with his major mentoring.

He said, “Frank, I bet I carry one thing you do not.”  Okay, I am always good to learn from Lee.  He said, “Do you carry tampons?”  Instantly, my mind was in high gear.  Why would I need to carry tampons?  I couldn’t figure out the answer.  I carry first aid and why would I need to carry tampons?  He smiles, “Take four women across the U.S. for RAAM and you will understand.”  Lee is so precious.  He is unassuming.  His smile says a lot.

For you, who know me well, I am Garfield the Kickstand Guy.  I never got to hear much of Lee’s music.  I always have had Garfield sitting on my bike bag.  Lee has a barking dog sound on his loud speakers.  That is what I always heard.  I was always amused because I knew it was Lee and I was well supported.

Lee is my SAG Mentor, my SAG Angel, and my constant goal to learn all I can from him.

My Best to Lee for a Speedy Recovery.  Respectfully submitted. – Frank Neal, a devoted SAG Student of Lee’s.  Thank you for letting me be your student.

On the 2013 Davis Double, John Clare wrote: "It was great to see the legendary Lee "Fuzzy" Mitchell out at the Davis Double. He has helped MANY of us finish rides. He in fact helped a rider with a broken wheel immediately after we took this shot."


Mary Conte said...

We love Lee Mitchell!
I still remember crashing twice on cardiac hill on the 300K return. Only 25-30 miles to go. But the rain and I couldn't stop...anyway his stunt double took me to the hospital and I was scared to go downhill in the dark..

so.. at the next double solvang that last hill before the end drum canyon he put on his lights and played music for the start down...

lots of memories with Lee in Death Valley!
xo Mary Conte

Doug M said...

In 2008 I was going for the TC stage race. I was on the back side of Hamilton and sliced a tire. A boot would not hold it. Someone stopped and gave me a tire, it was one of those "rainbow" tires that weigh a couple pounds. I was happy because my day was not over. However, I felt like my day was over as the tire weighed so much I felt I had nothing left. Halfway up Hamilton Lee drives by, I flag him down. He exchanged the 2 lb tire for a Michelin pro. I rode off up the mountain and felt as if someone gave me a new set of legs. Lee saved the day for me. I ended up 3rd in the stage race thanks to Lee!
I know there are countless stories like these, Lee is the true hero of many many endurance cyclists.

Anonymous said...

Lee, I remember you from your sag support at the Terrible Two’s Bad Little Brother. Creedence Clearwater as you climb! Thank you, and good luck.

Gary Wysocky

Tim Bartoe said...

Lee, throughout my many years of cycling you have come to my rescue more times than I can recall. On a Davis 400k Brevet you saw me shaking and shuttering as I rode back in toward Davis in the early morning and offered me your jacket.

At the Death Valley double I threw my back out lifting a bike off of a roof and you padded me up with ice in the early morning hour before the ride start. If you hadn't I would not have even started but I did and because of your help I finished.

These are just two isolated times you've given time to someone without any thought of reward. Through your kindness and effort during our events you've shown what it truely means to give of yourself.

You my friend are a strong person and you will beat your illness. Just stay strong and believe in yourself as many of us believe in you.

Tim Bartoe

cyclegirl said...

There have been so many, many rides over the years where Lee has lent his characteristic, enthusiastic and unselfish support. I have seen him guiding riders in the pre-dawn hours, driving that iconic red van - music blaring in the mid day and there still after dark, picking up the weary and encouraging the determined.

Lee is one of the last, genuine good guys and the world is a better place thanks to his kindness.

Wishing him a thorough recovery and hoping that he feels the support of the community of cyclists to whom he has so graciously given!!

Unknown said...

Lee -- "Thanks for the music" is a phrase we have heard over and over from many riders. How you come up with some of that music is beyond me!

Best of luck dealing with your health. It helps to be fit for the battle.

mac said...

Lee, your tenacity is as far-reaching as the selection of spare parts in your van. Thanks again for bailing me out at the start of the Death Valley Double last spring when my pedal broke and you fished one out that was compatible. I figure I owe you 200 miles for that. I will be sending you positive vibes in a week when I am back in Death Valley. See you on the road! -- Michael Collier, San Francisco Chronicle

Anonymous said...

Lee has saved me so many times! More times than my own spouse!
Sometimes it seemed miraculous the way something went wrong, and you were on the spot in just seconds. My buddy peeled off a tire on Wildcat during the Grizzly Peak Century, and before we were even off the bike, Lee was handing us a new tire and tube. I broke a spoke just before lunch at the Devil Mountain Double, and coasted right up to Lee, who handed me a Campy 10 speed wheel, and toted the broken one for me. I've never DNF'ed -- because Lee was there for me! Seeing Lee is more inspirational than the Specialized Angel!


Snicklefritz said...

My first interaction with Lee was when I signed up for the Davis 12/24 challenge. I was a completely new rider, had never raced before. In fact, my longest ride up to that was maybe 50 miles. When I showed up, it was pretty obvious I had no idea what I was doing. He was there supporting the event and was very nice to me and made me feel so welcome. His SAG support and cheerful nature made the event a pleasure to ride in spite of my lack of experience. That prompted me to get more involved with DBC and long distance cycling.

My second experience with Lee was being on a random ride somewhere in the hills, nowhere even near Davis. All of a sudden I hear music blaring but I can't see any vehicles anywhere. I just knew it was Lee supporting some kind of event. Sure enough, a minute or two later, Lee comes around the corner in his van. Made me wonder how that guy gets around to so many places. Maybe someone has figured out human cloning and there are multiple copies going around?

Lee is an icon in the cycling community and I aspire to be as fit and happy as he is when I'm his age.

Best wishes for a successful treatment and recovery!!

Kitty G said...

Lee, you always bring cheer to whatever ride you are supporting. Playing Santa at the Davis Double, or blasting "Brown Eyed Girl" as I struggled up Mt. Hamilton during the DMD. You are the go to guy for every emergency on the road...I have asked you for gloves when my hands were freezing and for chain lube when my bike was being fussy. I always love to razz you about your unchanging wardrobe of striped shirt and blue shorts. You hang in there while your treatment continues. You are as tough as they come and I'm praying for your recovery. With all my love, Kitty.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all those countless times you helped me through tough spots on doubles and other brutal rides, Lee. Your music, your assistance with mechanicals, and your good-natured presence all came to the rescue at one time or another. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Ken Bartholic said...

Lee - You saved me on the Central Coast Double when I dropped the only water bottle I had that was full and it rolled way down the hill somewhere. As I continued to the next rest stop I was about to visit the nearby creek when you came along and gave me an new bottle with water. Thanks for all your support and good luck with your current issue.

Regards, Ken Bartholic

Anonymous said...

You rock! You seem to always be there when we need you on the big rides. I have always been awed by your achievements and dedication.

ChrisBenner said...

I don't know Lee at all, but I'm an avid long-distance cyclist, and through these stories, I feel like Lee's spirit is simply infused throughout the California Triple Crown community. What an awesome man, and what a great community to show such an outpouring of love and support. I don't know you Lee, but I love you!!

Chris Benner

Natasha de Lange said...

Thinking of you and your family during this trying time.

Derek Marich said...

There's been more than one occasion when Lee has gotten me through to the finish of a Death Valley Double.

One occasion in particular is was almost 110 degrees in the valley and somehow, Lee always seemed have ice cold water for our bottles.

God Bless you, Lee! Best wishes on your speedy recovery!

VELEZ said...

(Excuse my English)

Courage, Lee, you do not miss ...

We do not know, although I've often timidly crossed with admiration and respect. You do not know how much you have inspired me and inspired me again.
Today, it is up to me to tell you that I love you Lee, you are a good person and that we are there.

Bob the Wheelbuilder said...

Thanks for all you have done for the cycling community. I appreciate your having been there for me on many of my past rides.

Your positive outlook that has been a boost to others so many times will now be a blessing to you. Best of luck with your treatment and recovery. God bless.

kyle@rideataxia.org said...

4 man Team FARA completed RAAM in 2010 and there is no doubt in any of our minds that we would not have even made it to the Starting line without the assistance of Lee Mitchell. Constant support and information, rider exchange practice in the parking lot across from his house, conference calls, and plenty of stories and jokes. Lee continues his service to FARA by helping us plan routes and perform chief SAG duties for Ride Ataxia NorCal.

Lee, hearts do not get any bigger than yours. Thank you. Sending strength and healing from Team FARA.

Michael Cook said...

Lee - You have been an source of help and inspiration for so many of us. Your cycling accomplishments are almost unbelievable. Over the years and through some dark nights, you have helped others get moving when they thought their ride was over. Keep positive and keep moving. Your ride is not over!

Paul Haussler said...

I met Lee on the Davis Double in 1997. I was riding with Kit Meader (now Kit Brown). We were climbing resurrection. It was hotter than hades. Kit was overheated and fading fast. Then this red minivan shows up and a guy with a white beard jumps out with ice water. He probably saved Kit's life. Said his name was, "Fuzzy..."

Paul "trash nazi" Haussler

Joan O'Connor said...

I think I first saw you as you directed traffic on the Davis Double in 2010. But ever since that first time, you've been our touchstone on the doubles and Davis brevets. As long as we see you on the road, we feel we're doing OK. The sight of your van and music always cheers us up when we're riding.
Good wishes and prayers for you for a speedy and easy recovery.

Peter Meyer said...

Lee, You will always be in my memories as the guy who fixed my mate's cleat by duct taping his shoe to the pedal. He finished his first double because you did that, and I was way impressed with you.

I still am.


Peter Meyer

Unknown said...

Dear Lee,
From my first Davis Double and all of the brevets in 1997, through other doubles and letting me help sag here and there, you have been an inspiration! Not just to me, but to all of those other riders out there who delighted in hearing music from the Bike Van, accepted tires and tubes, guzzled down hydration and food, and loved knowing that you were just out there somewhere. You set the bar for anyone who helps riders, and of course, being a rider of some repute yourself, you knew how high the bar should be. Your courage (anyone who drives a van at 5-15mph for hours on end has patience and courage!) will see you through this challenge to a speedy recovery.
Judy & Rufus the Touring Teddy

Doug Dexter said...

All my best wishes for your successful recovery! Besides the many times you came by with your van in the dark supplying music and eliminating that feeling of loneliness out on the road, you also enabled me to finish the Death Valley Double when one of my cycling shoes bit the dust at mile 25. You supplied me with a spare shoe and the ability to complete the ride. It has always been great seeing you on almost every double I've ridden!

Dana L. said...


I could fill this entire page with thoughts just from RAAM 2010. You took a bunch of rookies and got us organized into a real team! We took 3rd in the 4-man division and we couldn't have done it without you!

But your reputation preceded that. David Bradley and I were riding the DVD in 2009 when we came across Sara Lee Liner with cassette problems. The lock ring was loose and I had no way to tighten it. David assured me that you would have one in your van, so we told Sara Lee to continue riding, but in the lower gears to pull the cassette inboard a bit. Sure enough, we got to Ashford Mills and you had a Campy lockring tool. Who carries on of those, anyway?

Lee, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Thanks for everything you do for this small community of crazy cyclists! I look forward to seeing you on the Gold Rush this summer.

Dana Lieberman

Unknown said...

Lee doesn't know me, probably wouldn't recognize me if he saw me on a ride, and certainly wouldn't recognize my name. But, I'm probably like many riders who know Lee on sight and feel like he is an old friend even though I've exchanged only a few words with him over the years. Lee: seeing you out on the road, either at a stop or in a van, is an incredible comfort to so many of us. Hearing those speakers coming up behind me, blaring Creedence or Beethoven or lord knows what, always brings a smile to my face. Seeing that bushy beard at a rest stop or blowing out the window of a van says that all is right in the world, even if I am 8 hours into a ride and ready to fall over. Thanks so much for your incredible generosity and best wishes for your speedy recovery.

Cristin's Cookies said...

I met Fuzzy on my very first double century. At mile 88, the handlebar bag on my PINK bike broke off and fell into the spokes of my front wheel immediately stopping the bike and thrusting me over the top of the handlebars in a pretty good crash. I was dazed and not knowing what happened. Fuzzy picked me up off the pavement, brushed me off, took a quick look at my PINK bike and told me to get back out there. I was bloody and big welts, but I believed him when he said I could finish. I rode all day and into the night with endorphins and adrenaline pulling me through and Fuzzy's words in my ears. I finished my first double century because he told me I could.

I lost my father to Esophageal Cancer in 2008. I ride the LiveStrong Challenge every year and do lots of fundraising for the fight against Cancer. You can do this Fuzzy. You can beat Cancer. You are an inspiration to all of us with all that you have accomplished and your outlook on life. Fight the good fight. We are behind you all the way! Hugs, Cristin (Pinkie)

Unknown said...

Dear Lee,
From my first Davis Double and all of the brevets in 1997, through other doubles and letting me help sag here and there, you have been an inspiration! Not just to me, but to all of those other riders out there who delighted in hearing music from the Bike Van, accepted tires and tubes, guzzled down hydration and food, and loved knowing that you were just out there somewhere. You set the bar for anyone who helps riders, and of course, being a rider of some repute yourself, you knew how high the bar should be. Your courage (anyone who drives a van at 5-15mph for hours on end has courage!) will see you through this challenge to a speedy recovery.
Judy & Rufus the Touring Teddy

Unknown said...

Yes! I definitely remember the "Bike Van" cruzing by me a few times on many a rides. I was always glad to see Lee's smiling face either it be on the flats or the climbs. Always in the back of my mind, I knew I could count on him in some weird sort of way, althought I never used his service or met him face to face in person in street clothes. Refreshing to know he and his van was out there in the boonies ready to help. Good luck to you Lee with your treatments and recovery. You are in our prayers. God bless and speed, - Mahesh.

Unknown said...

Lee Mitchell ... A Legend!
In 2010 I was honored to ride the 508 with The Hammerfrogs. All I had to do was show up. With Lee Mitchell at the helm ... no worries.
Next was the Hoodoo and then RAMM in 2011. All course records in large part to the experience of a great Crew Chief. Lee Mitchell has supported more "Ultra Events" than anyone in the world ... pretty sure this is a fact. He also has cycling records himself. But ... forget all the cycling stuff. Lee is an exceptional human being and really cares about people. Lee's wife Shirley also embraces the same ideals. The first time I met Shirley was the morning of the Davis Double ... after sleeping in their spare bedroom on Friday night. The two of them together are an amazing force always helping whenever they can.
Isabelle Drake

Bill Pelican Palmer said...

Lee, my good friend:
I stand behind you in all things, even when it looked like we were on different pages, we were on the same page. Since 1991, you were there in my life, helping me onwards. I've been under the knife twice for cancer and conquered. I know that you will also.
Remember, just as Riparian Man conquers all, you will also.
Ride hard and then ride harder.
fight hard and then fight harder.
Your friend forever
Bill Pelican palmer

Chuck Bramwell said...

Myke Berna wrote: "One of the most useful emails to ever grace this list serve.

I had not heard.

Lee is a wonderful man who has given completely, unselfishly, to anyone on two wheels for decades.

Thanks for the info Eric.

Sending all healing cancer beating energy vibes to Lee."

Unknown said...

You're the best, Lee! Whenever I was on a double or doing the 508 (with you as the expert crew chief), I always knew I was in good hands...no matter what happened. Having you at the wheel while I was descending Townes Pass in the dark was very very calming for me. You are the absolute best! Look forward to seeing you back out there...and giving us that wonderful 'rolling/surfing hand' out the window as you go by providing support.
---Jennie P

Chuck Bramwell said...

Jim Mihalick wrote:

"God Bless YOU ALL!!! This is Jim Mihalick and because of all your prayers I am still here today. I had an accident training on my Bicycle September 23rd for another race. I crashed around 74 MPH and hit head first. I broke both cheeks, jaw, chin, both clavicles, both shoulders, all 6 ribs twice. I was dying from aphixiation of the throat from the blood from my face, drowning from the blood in my lungs, and the brain dying from breaking my skull from the front of my forehead to the back of my head and having A STROKE on the right side and a seizure on the left side. My helmet shattered when I crashed. I finally left the hospital on Feb 1 at 5:00 pm. I thank God and Jesus for saving my life and listening to all your prayers. Thank you all. God Bless all of you and your families. I will now pray for Lee Mitchells health and safety."

Chuck Bramwell said...

Linda Cammell wrote:

"To Lee you are in my prayers! Yes i do remember on one of my doubles hearing music coming from behind! It was so kool! it lifted my spirits up to peddle to the beat! You have done a fantastic job!"

Chuck Bramwell said...

Brian Chun, the ACTC Membership Coordinator, wrote for the ACTC Board and Club Meetings:

"Please send your wishes to longstanding tour van SAG volunteer and ultra-cyclist Lee Mitchell (check California Triple Crown website) to help him overcome esophageal cancer (per news from Chuck Bramwell). He has supported several ACTC members personally, including Joan Grant/Deitchman, on her RAAM 2012, and our FC 508 racers. Lee regularly supports April's Devil Mountain and Fall's Knoxville DCs, among many, many other events."

Anonymous said...

I'm Paul, from the Furnace Creek 508
"Krautdog" team. I had the good fortune to talk to you a few times at the race last October. It seems EVERYONE knows you...for good reason. I was thrilled to finally have a chance to meet you in person and have a chat. Thank you for saying "hello" to my 5th period class in my end-of-race video. My students loved the video and I'm glad you could be a part of it. You are a hero to many, and we all wish you the very best. Get well soon!

Bumpster said...

Lee, you bring such joy when I am cycling the tough climbs on our doubles. Your red van, music, and your smile/wave is such an energizer. Our last conversation was on FC 508 this past year. You availed yourself with words of wisdom in regards to sag support to us newbees. Your zest for life and motivation-apply to yourself for positive vibes of healing recovery time. Sending you hugs and well wishes for your healing regimen.

Brenda Barnell said...


Wishing you a speedy recovery and know that you have a HUGE fan club. We are all wishing you the best through this rough road right now.

I love seeing you and your red van during RAAM, 508, the HooDoo and the double centuries. It just completes the race every time knowing you are there. I had to DNF the Mt. Tam double century last year. Brad House was with me and you were kind enough to give us a ride back to the finish area. I will always remember that day. Know that I am proud of that DNF because Brad and I were able to get a ride in the red van and listen to you telling us stories the whole way back. I always get a smile on my face remembering that special day.

Thinking of you and wishing the very best.

Brenda Barnell
Brad House

Anonymous said...

i'll never forget the music coming from somewhere behind us in the dark, just before midnight on last year's davis 600k. it was brilliant! heal quickly, lee!

Pat and Seana said...

Prayers for you Lee for a speedy recovery...Love, Pat and Seana.

Mike A. said...

Lee: May 1% of the strength of spirit and knowledge of people in teams that you used to instill in others now flow back to you and energize a speedy recovery. As an ignorant newbie on the support crew for the 2010 RAAM Ride Ataxia team, it was your advice and experience that helped us make it from Oceanside to Annapolis and finish our journey. Best wishes, Mike

Steve P. said...

Lee, thanks for the wonderful support you've given so many of us on so many rides. I think I've seen you in your red van and enjoyed your music on almost every double I've ever ridden, and it's always a nice boost and a comfort knowing you're there. Best of luck in your fight against cancer. You can do it! Hang in there.

Curtis Corlew said...

Of course you won't remember, but you sagged my wife when her knee stopped working. You entertained us with SAG tales and made the pain of not finishing much less.

I remember your music coming just at the right time on several doubles I've done.

You are a saint.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know who you were when you stop for me at the Davis double about 10 years ago and gave me a spare wheel after I crashed at the rear of a paceline that you made me feel like a real pro when you slapped that front wheel on and said "get going." Many years later in the middle of the night on a brevet qualifying for PBP you came up behind me in the middle of the night and between stanzas of CCR you pointed out that my rear light was out. Finally for those people who only know you for the wonderful SAG supporter you are, they should check out your awesome finishing times on the early terrible twos (in the late 70s as I recall.) Fight the good fight, Mike McKenna

Unknown said...

I first met Lee about 1979 while riding from Davis to Woodland. Lee was driving a Plymouth MiniVan and stopped to ask me about a saddle bag I had on my bike. Nice conversation... and decades later after a nice amateur racing career, marriage, raising a family and near retirement, I started riding seriously again and who do I see driving sag on the centuries and doubles is LEE Mitchell! Incredible!

Peter Moffett said...

Yo, Lee!

So you set another RAAM record last year just to get in shape for this? Good grief, guy!

We go back to the 80s with RAAM and even crewed together a few times but I started doing the paperwork thing a half dozen years ago, lazy of **** that I am, so you could pile up more RAAM miles than I had. And you kept on crewing and riding.

When you get a handle on this thing who we going to work for this year?

Hope the whiskers aren't threatened!

Love from Florida,
Peter -and Dog
(aka gps@RAAM - and other expletives not suitable for framing)

dori said...

Quote from Tommy Lasorda: 
The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination. That's you. You are such an inspiration to the great sport of cycling. Thank you for all you do, and praying that you will be back on the road soon again, and out playing. Stay strong.

Dori Lewis

Peter Moffett said...

Olga Tatrai, Gerry's mum, sends her best wishes from Sydney to the best crew chief in RAAM with hopes for the expected success against new challenges.

Peter Moffett said...

Olga Tatrai, Gerry's mum, sends her best wishes from Sydney to the best crew chief in RAAM with hopes for the expected success against new challenges.

Anonymous said...

Denny Burnham says:
Your riding up a hill and a friend behind you states "Denny" your butt is showing , your shorts are ripped, I said no way. Stopped and yes they were ripped, and you might know along comes the music, Lee and a new pair of shorts. Another time Mr Lee saved the day and the ride for me>
Thanks again sir, and I have been through what you are staring and
April 4th is my four year check up. Hang in there buddy.


intermodaltiger said...


You've bailed me twice on Knoxville for the past two years, and as much as I had wanted avoid that DNF on my permanent record, it was a joy to be riding with you ... even if I was barfing/passed out.

Thanks so much for being there for us!

May you have a speedy recovery.

See you back on the road soon!

Pete and Kristina said...


You saved us during the Death Valley Double Feb 2009, the first time we met you. We were heading to Stove Pipe Wells on our tandem in the dark when we heard your music coming up from behind. You flashed your lights and we pulled over. You said "You guys are invisible out there!" This was our first double century to ride with lights at night, and our back light had fallen down. You gave us ankle reflectors and we fixed the back light. Lee to the rescue! Thank you!!

You are in our prayers. We hope you have a full recovery from cancer.

Kristina and Pete

Clem Bartolai said...

I have no memory of when I first met you Lee, but it was many years ago when I heard music in the distance and it made me feel that someone really important to cycling was near by.

Another time, some years later I broke a seat rail on a double century and it was becoming very uncomfortable to ride, especially when it was over seventy miles to the finish. My thought was it would be impossible to find a seat anywhere. I rode into the next check point and there you were. One of the volunteers called at the top of his voice, "anybody have an extra seat"? No problem whatsoever. You were there and of course you had a seat.

I pray that you will pull through this difficult time in your life.

Best Regards,

Clem Bartolai

Anonymous said...

When you get better maybe we can form a head and neck cancer team and complete a RAAM together! I had oral cancer and went through some major changes but I am looking forward to competing in a RAAM in the near future!

Stay Strong

Sean Z Smith

Chuck Bramwell said...

Stuart Stevens wrote: "Sorry to read about Lee's medical problems. He has such a huge heart and has helped so many people.

I remember vividly struggling in my first double century when I was trying to prepare for PBP and Lee's words of encouragement kept me going. It was the Death Valley Double and it was getting dark and I was having an issue with a wheel. Lee arrived with support, swapped out the wheel for me with a spare he had and gave me a good pep talk. I was at one of those points when you start to ask why I am doing this and Lee just reminded me to focus on making it through the next ten miles and then the next. "You can do this, easy as can be."

I kept those words in my head all the way to the finish of my first double. Without Lee, I am pretty sure I would have DNF'd my first double and who knows if I would have made it to Paris.

Bill Becker said...

I remember meeting Lee for the first time in 2005. I was rolling along past the hubcap farm on the Knoxville Double, all by myself, not having any clue about where I was, or even if I was on the right road!

All of a sudden I started to hear "Help me Rhonda" coming from somewhere. At first I thought it was from the farm. But then it got louder as I had passed the farm. Wait. What is that?

Then "The Van" rolls by. "Hey! Everything ok?" "Yes, thanks." "Need anything?" "Nope, I'm fine." "Have a nice ride." And he drives off.

And I thought to myself, "Yup, this is right where I want to be."

Thanks, Lee!

Tom and Elisabeth said...

The best part of yesterday's Davis Double Century seeing Lee in the morning guiding cyclists.. Stay strong Lee. keep fighting.

Tom and Elisabeth said...

The best part of yesterday's Davis Double Century seeing Lee in the morning guiding cyclists. Stay strong Lee. keep fighting.

Patrick Garner said...

Lee wanted to be part of history which is why he joined the Grizzly Peak Cycling Club. He said he joined because the club was organizing a triple century and he wanted to be part of a club that was gutsy enough to do that. He volunteered to help plan for a new metric century in Vacaville because he recogized that it had potential to become a new classic annual ride. The Solano Monticello Century benifited by receiving Lee's advice and support. Lee also supported me personally whenever I did a double century on my tandem by carrying my spare wheel.

Colin McNamara said...

Little things Lee did made big differences for me. I wouldn't have had my frost double century down if lee hadn't of heled me out.

ANNY BECK said...

The two days interviewing Lee on my video camera, just before he started cancer treatments, were the best two days with Lee, EVER!!!!
I knew I was doing this for all of us.
Roland Hoffman is getting them up for all everyone to enjoy!
Lee was also honored as a Volunteer, with his pictures on the jersey sleeves, and all the pockets of Joshua Tree Double Century. As most of you know, the purpose of this DC was dedicated to honoring Volunteers, with Lee, no doubt being at the TOP!
The pictures on the jersey were chosen by Lee. I especially like the one showing Lee on the 75+ Team RAAM. His wife Shirley is there with him as part of his crew team. She was his angel.

Unknown said...

There have been times in my double riding career that the ride had beaten me. I was down and not feeling really motivated to continue riding. Then here comes Lee with his music playing. It really boosted my spirits and got me refocused. Once I made it out to Death Valley and I forgot my bag of lights. I asked Lee if he had a light I could borrow. He opened his van, pulled out a huge box of lights and said,"take your pick". He has saved so many rides for so many people. He helped riders out all the way until the end. He was such a kind and giving individual. He enthusiasm was infectious. What a great man, legend and a huge loss to all of us. I just hope that in Lee's spirit we can all be a little kinder to our fellow rider and help those in need. John M Clare

Unknown said...

Whenever I saw Lee at an event, I felt that it was going to be a good day, and that I was among a lucky, elite group of cyclists whose crazy exploits were watched over by somebody who understood who we were and why we were out there killing ourselves. I never needed Lee's roadside assistance, but his presence was an inspiration to me each time I saw him.

Unknown said...

I, like everyone else have been touched by Lee. It could be his infectious smile, his quick wit, his helping hand, that beautiful music in the middle of the night to get you through a tough part of a ride or a combination of all of the above. If you were doing a ride and you knew Lee was on the course, you had no worries, Lee always knew when to show up and just give you that little extra to get you through.

Lee I know you'll be looking down on us, keeping the cycling community safe and moving. There will be times when I'll be having a rough spot in a ride, but in the back of my head I'll hear that beautiful music and I'll know I'm in good hands. Lee, you'll be missed, but never forgotten.
Dante Borradori

commuter G said...

Lee was the most well known of cyclists. I have seen him at more events than anyone else. I appreciated the support he gave me and to others. This is a loss to all the people and events he was a part of. His impression is everlasting. I am sorry to hear of his passing.

Lanceoldstrong said...

"Stay out of the Van!" Lee would answer me with this cheery exhortation when ever I would say to him from my bike on a double with a jaunty wave as I pedaled on.

I will always be inspired by this and his other wise advice to "Beware the chair" at rest stops or it would suck a lot of time away from your ride.

Anonymous said...

There are volumes of praises and memories for Lee so I won't write about all that again. Those that know me (and were there at the time) will remember Lee first came to sag TTBLB in 2001. He did many more in the years following, so I will put my own personal story about Lee the music van.

In the 90's I was pretty active in many of the dc's in CA. I was riding Death Valley the year they reversed it in hopes that we could pick up the favorable winds that always seemed to be blowing in our face with the original route direction. Well...........of course the wind outfoxed us and blew in our faces up the valley and then turned almost at the same time I did, so the whole ride was headwind for me. At about mile 160 I started to feel week...the first symptoms of dehydration were setting in. I kept on and at the last rest stop before Jubilee Pass I talked to Lee. He said I looked pretty bad, but if I hydrated well and rested some I might make the finish...he would keep an eye on me. I was much worse than I thought and 1/3 of the way up the pass I started stopping and resting against my bike....then getting on an climbing at a super slow pace. Lee came by and slowed...asked me if was still ok and if I wanted a sag. I,of course knew I could make it over the top and then coast to the van. Obviously dehydration had stripped me of my reasoning, and every 100-150 feet I was getting off and resting. Twice more Lee came by and I told him I was still going for the top. Finally Lee came by one more time and said I had only gone about 50 feet in 15 minutes. I relented, but I had become so weak that Lee had to load my bike AND me into his van...I was falling down. He took me back to the RV park in Shoshone and almost carried me to my van and locked me in crashed out on the floor. I awoke in the morning...and made my way home.

It was just this single act that endeared Fuzzy to me forever. I saw and jabbered with him plenty on all the other dc's after that, and at all the Santa Rosa Cycling Club's TTBLB's he sagged until I moved out of Santa Rosa and stopped riding doubles in the early 2000's. There will never be another like him.

~Rich Fuglewicz SRCC

Rieks Koning said...

The first time I met Lee was on either the 1993 Northern PAC Tour or the 1994 Central. Ever since oud paths have crossed many times, even though I'm on a different continent.

In 1999 I did the PAC Elite Tour and Lee was once again wonderful to all riders, even though this ride is very roough on the crew. It was in the finish hotel on the beach, South of Charleston, that Lee suggested I do RAAM. I was hesitant, because besides being a tough race it be very complicated logistically an expensive too.

But Lee reminded me that if didn't do RAAM I would for the rest of my life be wondering "what if?". And so I found myself on the startline in Portland, OR of the 2000 Solo RAAM and went on to become an Official Finisher. Lee, thank you for your encouragement! I will have a drink to celebrate your life, your support, your music. A Grand Marnier seems to be appropriate...

Rieks Koning
The Netherlands

Mark Dehanke said...

Lee was always great to be in the company of. First time I saw/met him was at Fall Death Valley 2002.
Remember a Central Coast Double ride, where after exiting the military base (and riding with Rowena-my spouse) had a rear tire split on me. What great fortune that Lee happened to be driving by within just a couple of minutes after my puncture. He provided me with a used tire to get through the rest of the ride.
Lee will be very much missed!!

Chuck Bramwell said...

Doug Goodwin wrote:

I have lost a friend, and a mentor.

I feel privileged to have worked SAG with him on many of the CTC doubles over the last dozen years. I also feel especially pleased to have been a part of his RAAM crew.
RIP, old friend.

Chris Kostman said...

In a sport filled with athletes with enlarged hearts, Lee Mitchell had the biggest heart of all. A man with an unwavering love of cycling, he literally gave away twenty or thirty weekends, or longer, every year, without fail or hesitation. Driving the world-famous, seemingly ever-present, music-blaring, and smile-inducing red BIKE VAN (of which several editions came and went, with hundreds of thousands of miles driven), Lee has been a fixture for decades at every Furnace Creek 508, every Race Across America, and scores of centuries, double centuries, brevets, and other cycling events across the state and in particular those hosted by his home club, the Davis Bike Club. He's been so important to our sport for so long, we dedicated Furnace Creek 508 to him way back in 1998, fifteen years ago!

Carrying an amazingly wide assortment of bike parts, equipment, and necessities, Lee rescued hundreds, probably thousands, of cyclists on the side of the road every year. Whether they needed a tire, a wheel, an energy gel, a bandaid, a tampon, a pat on the back, or all of the above, Lee always did whatever he could, and seemed to have anything that anyone could ever require, to help cyclists keep on pedaling.

At one event I organized, a rider broke his handlebars, and he was sure his ride was done, but then Lee showed up and saved the day with a spare set of handlebars. He did the same for riders who forgot to bring their shoes, pedals, or helmets to events, and usually only realized at about 5am, right before the ride start. Countless riders in such quandaries have come up to me at various start lines, and Lee saved their day every time.

I once organized a 26-mile bike event in conjunction with the Los Angeles Marathon, and I'd convinced then LA major Richard Riordan to ride the event with a group of sports and entertainment celebrities including Bruce Jenner, John Marino, and Ed Begley, Jr. Wanting to be sure that the Mayor and his special entourage had a flawless experience, I called upon Lee to be their personal SAG support amidst a field of 13,000 cyclists and otherwise closed to cars. "I'd love to," he said, and promptly drove 800 miles round-trip in under 36 hours to support the riders for just two hours of cycling. That's Lee for you.

Crewing for ultra cyclists at The 508 and RAAM was Lee's particular speciality and love. With more than 50 of those events under his belt, I think it would take less than one hand to count the number of "his riders" who DNF'd. Lee's heart, his wisdom, and his motorized tool box could keep just anybody on the road. Riders booked him him several years in advance; his dance card was never empty.

Let's not forget that Lee was a fellow cyclist, too! He rode his first Davis Double Century way back in 1975 and he rode across the USA in a mere 14 days in the very first PAC Tour in 1985. In 1995 he raced on a four-man 60+ team in RAAM from coast to coast, then did the same on a 70+ team in 2004! And yes, he kept that trademark Santa Claus beard on, even while racing.

And money for gas or food? Forget it: No matter how long the event, no matter how far from home he had to travel to get there, Lee never wanted to be reimbursed for anything. A community college professor whose mind was as sharp as his students sixty years his junior, Lee didn't sweat the small stuff. Life was an adventure and cycling a pursuit more noble than anything.

Lee's spirit will live on at this event and at countless others. Likewise, his name will live on at The 508 in particular as we create the Lee Mitchell 508 Support Crew Hall of Fame in 2014. Lee will be the first inductee, and membership will be open exclusively to those who exemplify his standards of love, kindness, giving, sportsmanship, and many, many years of commitment to the sport and event.

Thank you, Lee!

Chuck Bramwell said...

Jim Pyatt wrote: "Great words, we have lost an icon in the cycling world."

Chuck Bramwell said...

Sandye Clare wrote: "My favorite story about Lee Mitchell is the first time I met him. John T. introduced me to him and he said to me, “Hi Sandye, I’ll never forget your name. My first wife’s name was Sandy. I met her at a nudist colony when I was 15!”

Chuck Bramwell said...

Linda Cammell wrote: "Even though it's been many a years gone by! In 2002, I can still hear the music that came up playing behind me and my friends, it put a spark in our peddling and brought so much joy! Looked back to see a big smile and you waving at us! It was such an up lift!

This will forever be a memory of you, and every time I see a man with a white beard will always think of you! Just this weekend while riding I saw a few whom reminded me of you! put a smile on my face and a prayer for you and your Family!

So glad you were a part of my life! You will truly be missed! Rest in peace my Friend! Linda Cammell

Chuck Bramwell said...

Jesse Smith wrote: "We probably will never see such an accomplished SAG nor the amount of dedication and time put into rides as Lee provided over the years."

Chuck Bramwell said...

Roland Hoffman wrote: "I received the news of Lee’s passing while I was riding the Palos Verdes Loopfest 400 over the weekend (at mile 280). From there, I had Lee in my thoughts during the rest of my journey, thinking of my time during the CTC events and hearing “Ode to William Tell” and “Bad Moon Rising” on his BIKEVAN audio system.

I remember the MANY riders he has helped and supported over the years. I was struck by his passing . . . . and more determined to finish the Loopfest 400 in dedication to Lee. After all, it was Lee that always said, “Do whatever it takes and continue to the end.”

I finished this most mentally difficult “loopfest” ride in my cycling “career” last Sunday evening at 407 miles, 19 laps, at 37 hours, 39 minutes, 28.20 seconds straight (no sleep) on Palos Verdes West, South, East, and North, getting through this epic loopfest through Lee’s famous quote.

He will be forever in our hearts. Lee has left this Earth . . . a legend."

Chuck Bramwell said...

Paul Haussler wrote: "I met Lee on the climb up Resurrection. I was with Kit Brown at Davis 1997 and she was completely overheated. Suddenly a red Chrysler minivan shows up with a bearded guy and ice water! He said his name was Fuzzy. He probably saved Kit's life.

Several years later he loaned a light to Sandra Summers so she could finish Davis.

Lee was everywhere at the right time equipped with everything. He saved a lot of us."

Unknown said...

I only met Lee once or twice but he is a name and a spirit that forever left its mark -- that's the kind of person Lee was. Blessings for all his loved ones and for all who loved him. I am fortunate to have crossed paths.