Just days after the loss of Mike Hall, the cycling world has lost another legend. Steve Tilford died in a car crash west of Grand Junction on Interstate 70 this morning, according to updates posted by Vincent Davis, a friend who was in the car with him at the time. Tilford’s van was hit from behind by a semi after being involved in a chain reaction crash that began when another semi overturned. Tilford’s dog, Tucker, was traveling with him and ran away from the scene but was found a few hours later. Davis alerted the world through his blog, posting while still at the hospital.
“It’s me again Vincent. Steve and I were in a bad car accident west of Grand Junction on I70 at about 12:15am. I am kinda ok in a hospital in Grand Junction. Steve is not good I do not wish to say more now. I will update when I have more specific facts. Please be patient
I am posting from my phone.
4:25am I (Vincent) have a fractured sternum, that hurts, otherwise just sore.
6:12 Steve is dead. More later. I am flying back to Denver. Need to get to the airport now“
Tilford won the inaugural U.S. Mountain Bike National Championships and raced all over the world at the highest level. At 59 years old, he still rode almost every day and raced as much as he could, often covering huge distances in his van with his dog by his side. Where many of his generation gave up racing, Tilford’s enthusiasm never waned. His popular blog was filled with stories of gravel rides that ended with beer, mountain bike races in the freezing cold, and criterium tactics that saw him at the front of pro races with riders less than half his age. Tilford’s readers recently supported him through a very serious brain injury he sustained in a crash. The news today has already caused an outpouring of grief on social media and on his website.
On a personal note, I was lucky enough to know Steve. I last saw him a week ago today; I was riding a trail and he was riding the road. We waved, shouted hi, and I meant to text him to connect for a ride, but I never did. I remember the first ride I ever did with Steve: It took us up into the mountains east of San Diego, where he was happy to keep up with the pace of some of the best pro bike racers in the U.S., and he never once stopped asking me questions. I recall him telling me that one of the great things about cycling was that you meet all kinds of interesting people. Steve was one of them and he’ll be sadly missed. He is survived by his wife, Trudi.