“Austin Crenshaw, adventurer, animal lover, cyclist, and all around amazing gentleman died during a bike ride in the Columbia River Gorge at the age of 37. He was doing an activity he loved and surrounded by people who loved him.”
Austin Crenshaw wasn’t a Portland native, but his presence and way of living inspired a lot of deep friendships — many of them forged on long bike rides and on the race course.
Austin was on one of those rides this past Saturday morning. With friends at his side, the very skilled rider leaned into a corner and reportedly lost control of his bike. As he overshot the curve, someone was driving a car in the opposite direction and a collision ensued. Despite attempts to save his life, he passed away minutes later.
Austin’s friend Erin Playman was on that ride. Now she’s encouraging anyone who knew Austin and who was touched by his good nature, sportsmanship, and love of life, to attend a funeral service tomorrow in southeast Portland.
In the past few days I’ve gotten to know Austin by reading heartfelt remembrances from his friends and piecing together his life through various postings. I know that he and his partner Reagan Ellis were in love and in a great life together (with their dog, a Weimaraner named Abel). I know he leaves behind a family and many friends across the country who also loved him. And I know he and I shared a common love of bicycling in all its wonderful forms: his social media postings are full of photos of racing, riding with friends, the thrill of participating in a big Pedalpalooza ride, a poignant reflection after seeing a ghost bike, indignation during a mountain bike protest ride, and so on.
To help you understand what kind of person we’ve lost — and to encourage more appreciation of his life — I’ll share a few thoughts from people who’ve emailed me about him in the last 24 hours.
“Austin and my husband Mat shared a love for cycling and spent many days riding and racing together. They were on the same racing team at the time of Mat’s accident at PIR 3 years ago, when Mat sustained a T-4/5 spinal cord injury. Throughout Mat’s hospitalization and adjustment into life with Paraplegia, Austin and Reagan have been among our core support network of friends who have jumped at every chance to help me and Mat out with anything we have needed.
Austin held my hand and cried with me when Mat was in the hospital, he rode solo in the “6 hours of Mt. Hood” event in Mat’s honor as a fundraiser for Mat, he and Reagan helped with numerous other fundraisers on Mat’s behalf and they even painted our apartment at the time and then later helped us with remodel work once we bought a home… He became like family… We miss him so much already and seek to be there for Reagan in whatever way we can.”
“I’ve known Austin since 2006 when I met him here in Atlanta, Georgia. He was an integral part of the cycling community here just as he was in Portland after moving there…
He was truly a special person: generous, kind, smart, funny, talented. He had amazing skills on the bike. One of those guys that didn’t do any structured training, but would show up and spank everyone’s asses, and didn’t need the latest and greatest bike to do it on either…
Some of my best and worst (but most memorable) rides were with Austin. I spent a few months in Portland in 2009 and we rode together several times a week. Usually up in the hills of West Portland or out in the Gorge towards Mt. Hood. I’ve never seen him go down on his road bike or ride recklessly. What happened to him was an utter tragedy…
Cycling wasn’t his only passion either, he just loved the outdoors. Hiking, camping, snowboarding. His knowledge of music approached scholarly levels and he himself was a drummer.
There are many here in Atlanta that are absolutely crushed and devastated by Austin’s passing. Several of us are flying out to Portland for his service later this week. There will also be a memorial ride here for those that can’t make the trip out to Oregon.”
He rode with TeamJVA, who posted these thoughts and wonderful photo of Austin on Instagram:
I'm having an impossible time processing how sad I am about losing my friend and riding companion Austin this weekend. He was without question one of the nicest people I've ever known. Always eager. Always up for any ride. He was my most trusted wheel, and I have thousands of pictures of him from the back all over Oregon to prove it. I'm devastated that none of us will get to spend hours each week in the saddle with him, but feel so lucky to have explored so much of the state in his company. We're all better off having known him. This picture is how I'll remember him. Looking back while politely dropping everyone. Smiling.
A funeral for Austin will be held at Holman’s (2610 SE Hawthorne) from 1:00 to 3:00 pm (there will be a viewing at 1:00 pm and a ceremony at 3:00). Visit this page for an obituary and more details about the service.
Rest in peace Austin.