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Marilyn Hayward, bike shop owner and recumbent evangelist, has died

Posted by on November 13th, 2014 at 9:28 am

Marilyn Hayward

Hayward in her shop in February 2013.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Marilyn Hayward is no longer with us. A family member confirmed the sad news Wednesday afternoon via a post on her Facebook page: “Some of you may or may not know,” wrote Marilyn’s nephew Matt Ford, “But my Aunt was having a difficult time with her brain injury after the accident. Unfortunately she took her own life last weekend and is no longer with us.”

Marilyn was 65 years old. She was the owner of Coventry Cycle Works in southeast Portland and she was very well-known among recumbent riding enthusiasts for both her bent bike evangelism in various online forums and her riding prowess. Known by many of her friends and fans by her riding name of “Tweety,” she competed in endurance events up until 2012 when she was involved in a collision while on a training ride in Washington County. The impact from the collision left her unconscious for two days and in the hospital for over a month. She sustained broken bones and a traumatic brain injury that had lingering impacts to her health even after she left the hospital.

marilynfbpics

Photos from Marilyn’s Facebook page.

That collision was the second serious brush with death Marilyn experienced. In 1995 she had a serious bout of cancer, then beat the disease through a mix of her trademark tenacity, a strong belief in naturopathy, the power of positive thinking, and ultimately, through cycling. At the recommendation of one of her doctors she was introduced to recumbent bicycles. She bought her first one in 2005 from Sherman Coventry, the founder of Coventry Cycles. Hayward would eventually buy the shop when Coventry retired in 2009.

Marilyn used her background as a computer programmer and financial analyst to build Coventry into a successful shop with six employees whom she referred to as family. If you are interested in a recumbent, a trike, a quad, or any manner of adaptive bike, Coventry is the place to go. It is the quintessential niche bike shop and Marilyn was its guiding light.

In February 2013, still in recovery from her brain injury, Marilyn decided to purchase a second location near her home in Beaverton. Less than one year later, Hayward found herself on the brink of financial disaster. With looming court and medical costs from her 2012 collision and expanding financial commitments from her business.

She blamed her decision to expand into Beaverton on the lingering effects of her brain injury. She was frustrated and angry and struggling to keep everything together.

Coventry Cycle Works-3

Marilyn outside her shop in December 2013.

She reached out to me last December to share her story. It was a cry for help from a woman who had always been strong, fearless, and independent — but who was coming to grips with a scary reality. “I went into the Beaverton store deal as a nutcase,” she told me, “I signed lease papers without reading them, borrowed on credit cards… I was clueless that anything was wrong at the time… The old me would have never done that.”

But despite those challenges, Marilyn was resolved to push on. She persevered.

Marilyn maintained a regular presence on Facebook. A month ago, she shared a photo along with the caption, “Think positive and positive things will happen.” As recently as last week, a friend posted on her page that he missed her and wondered how she was doing. The very next post in her Timeline was the first mention of Marilyn’s death. Now her many friends are flooding her page with photos, remembrances, and memories from her life.

Cycle Oregon Day 1

Marilyn riding in Cycle Oregon 2006.

I met Marilyn on the road during the first day of Cycle Oregon in 2006. I commented on the yellow flag she was flying behind her recumbent and shared several miles with her. In my recap of that day’s ride I noted her strength and called her a “breath of fresh air.”

Since then I stayed in touch with Marilyn; but in hindsight, maybe not as much as I should have.

The world was a better, brighter place with Marilyn in it. We all miss her and we share our warm regards and condolences with her family and friends.

Marilyn’s Facebook page
An interview with Marilyn in About Face Magazine (April 2014).
— “Moving forward with life’s difficulties” – A KBOO radio interview with Marilyn (July 2014).

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

26 Comments
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    Spiffy November 13, 2014 at 9:55 am

    truly sad that she has passed… she left a lasting legacy of memories…

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    dave November 13, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Very sad. The lingering effects of a TBI, especially depression (either as a direct consequence, or a natural result of facing lengthy recovery and significant impairment), cannot be underestimated.

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  • Jessica Roberts
    Jessica Roberts November 13, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I am sorry to hear of this. I met Marilyn at least 15 years ago, when she was a BTA member and I was the membership director. I always appreciated her sunny disposition and feisty attitude. Wishing comfort to her family and friends.

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    whyat November 13, 2014 at 10:35 am

    This sucks. Marilyn was such an awesome biking advocate. She would always go out of her way to help me when I was in her shop. She gave the service that many shops talk about, but aren’t able to deliver on.

    TBIs can have catastrophic and long lasting effects on their victims. RIP Marilyn.

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    Laura November 13, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Very sad news, her amazing spirit will live on in the cycling community.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu November 13, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Goodbye, Marilyn. A wonderful woman. I hope Coventry can keep up her work.

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    Sam November 13, 2014 at 11:06 am

    As a survivor of TBI, I know all too well the depression is very real. The loss of ability is both real and perceived and adds to the depression. I was a drunken ne’er-do-well when I cracked my skull in winter of 2001. It would be hard for me to be alive and in a worse place than I was then.

    I can’t imagine the extent of the depression a successful well-liked person feels when he/she recognizes how much they’ve changed and lost. I’m sure that unlike me, Marilyn was wearing a helmet and not three times over the legal limit when her TBI occurred.

    More attention to TBI and mental-health in general is greatly needed in our city/region/state/country/world. Friends should not blame themselves for not being enough of a friend. The medical community and the policy-makers that pull the purse-strings need to step-up provide more than lip-service to mental health.

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    Joe November 13, 2014 at 11:46 am

    🙁 RIP

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    carye bye November 13, 2014 at 11:59 am

    marilyn was a ball of energy and would deck out so amazingly on the Pretty Dress rides. photo from 2006. https://www.flickr.com/photos/dontbecreepy/142465687/in/set-72057594128561444
    I’m just really sad that while she made an amazing comeback from her brain injury that life got hard for her … RIP Marilyn, you left us all many gifts.

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    Taz Loomans November 13, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for this in-depth story about Marilyn, and thanks for including what an awesome person she was and the struggles she was going through. It was very touching and a fitting tribute to a great woman who left us too soon. Peace to her and her family.

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    Case November 13, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    What a terrible shock. I have done business with Marilyn for a long time and we had become pretty good friends because of this. She was a caring and very fine woman and she will certainly be missed by many out there in the bikeosphere. The unfortunate connection with TBI can’t be discounted. I hope she was able to find some of the peace she had so much trouble locating in the past two years.

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    Bill Stites November 13, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Very sad. Marilyn was a wonderful person on many levels – and as several have noted, tenacious in the best way.
    Beautiful write-up Jonathan.

    Wishing her family comfort and peace as the holidays approach.

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    S. Brian Willson November 13, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    So sorry to hear this news about Marilyn. As a recumbent handcyclist, Coventry has been my maintenance shop. I sure hope that Conventry can remain in business as a major recumbent dealer in the Pacific Northwest.

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    Chris Ortolano November 13, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    R.I.P. Marilyn, your spirit lives on in the many wonderful people you inspired with your life’s work. I admired your strength, tenacity, and passion to make our lives better in so many ways. See you cycling in the afterlife…and condolences to all her knew her well in this life.

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    Andrea McBride November 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Very nicely done Jonathan. Marilyn had a refreshing spirit and a warm heart. Rest well Marilyn.

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    David Lewis November 13, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    At the end of my Army career, I was in the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg, where I go to know a great number of athletes riding recumbents in our cycling program (I was the “team” mechanic). I met Marilyn at a bicycle convention here in PDX in 2013 and making recumbents was one of my thoughts as I entered the industry as a veteran. I have more or less stayed in contact with her the past year and a half, and this news makes me quite sad. I offer my condolences and whatever support I can give.

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    BIKELEPTIC November 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Marilyn is a personal hero to me in particular. She has had so many life experiences. Some unpleasant and many spectacular things. Thank you for your stories. I have always enjoyed each spring at PIR at the human powered vehicle races.

    Elly Blue did a great story from her in one of her novellas re: Marilyn’s 24hr race way back when.

    As someone with many health concerns and a traumatic brain disorder, I’m familiar with the mental health and emotional stress that can pair with that. She has been so brave and strong. I’m so proud to call her a friend and know that she had such a great support system.

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    K'Tesh November 13, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    RIP Marilyn

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    ROAM November 13, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Sad to hear this loss ….Such a Sweet Lovely Lady.
    RIP Marilyn Hayward
    Because of you this ole cripple had many more mile he could peddle .

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    Shari November 14, 2014 at 5:29 am

    I got a chance to ride with Marilyn only once. She traveled to Florida for the 2007 Bacchetta rally. She and I shared the commonalities of recumbent love and cancer survivor-ship. I was impressed with her upbeat outlook and strong presence. Hearing of her death is a great loss. Rest in peace, Tweety.

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    Trikeguy November 14, 2014 at 6:55 am

    Marilyn spent over 2 hours talking with me the first time I went into Coventry interested in a trike. She was truly a class act. She’ll be missed.

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    Steph Routh November 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Marilyn was a wondrous human being and advocate. It’s hard to imagine not being able to swing by Coventry for a story and a smile.

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    Patty November 14, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    The community lost a ray of sunshine with Marilyn. I am deeply saddened. Thank you, Jonathan, for the beautiful story. Wishing support to her family, close friends, and the team at Coventry who may wonder about their futures now.

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    Zeppo November 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Does anyone know if Coventry Cycle Works will remain open? Or will it be liquidated?

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    Patrick Cofield December 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I just wanted so support Mayilyn and at least pay respects to her. I really didn’t know her all that well. But from all of this I feel like I have known her my whole life from all of the out pouring sentiments and passages about her and everyone she knew in her 60+ years of life.

    I just met her for the first time on March 15th, 2014 when my traveling companion Robert De Palma and I were approaching back into this area from the east coast we happened to stop in her Portland store to see what she had for bikes. My friend and Navy comrade Robert really speaks highly of the recumbant bikes and has been probing me to buy one for myself for sometime now. He and I had the honor and priviledge in talking to her one on one about recumbant bikes in general and shared with us her love of bicycling period and she highly is pro bikes in general especially in the Portland area. That just resonated with the two of us. From our visit that day we both grew an attachment to Maryillyn and her crew. I haven’t been able to be back in her store since though unfortunately. Robert is the one who notified me of her death via text. I was star struck and shocked that she took her own life. I immediately called Robert rather than texting back and forth to talk to him about the news. We are both quite saddened to hear of her passing and we comfort those folks who knew her and to her family and loved ones in this time of grieving. We are all grieving from this news and will for some time. May Marilyn R.I.P now. We will see her again. Amen.

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    Sumner Parkington March 5, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I met Marilyn at her bike shop last summer. I was looking for information and asked this nice lady if she worked here. Yes I do, I am the owner. Well that starded a long conversation and I learned a lot, about bike recumbents and her own personal trama. We purchased a few things and I was really looking forward to shopping there again when I was in Town. A very sad loss. Sumner Parkington

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