Veteran Oregon bike racer Rich Wolf killed by drunk driver in Bend

Posted by on August 13th, 2021 at 8:30 am

(Photos courtesy Oregon Bicycle Racing Association)

Sad news from our extended community in central Oregon: Rich Wolf was killed while cycling on a road just outside of Bend on Tuesday evening.

The location of the collision on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is a very popular bike route.

According to Oregon State Police, Wolf was bicycling in the shoulder of Century Drive (Hwy 372/Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway) about seven miles southwest of downtown Bend when 19-year-old Flynn Lovejoy, who was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser in the opposite direction, veered out of his lane and struck Wolf. Lovejoy was arrested for Driving Under the Influence, Hit and Run, and Manslaughter.

Wolf was 61 years old and a prolific racer who competed in mountain bike, road, and track events in Bend and Portland. He raced on the Sunnyside Sports team. The owner of that shop, Susan Conner, told Central Oregon Daily News Wolf was a “highly skilled cyclist” who was an “all-around good guy”.

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“This isn’t about cycling safety,” Conner told the Daily News. “This is about driving safety. Drunk drivers kill people. They kill cyclists. They kill walkers. Drunk drivers are the perpetrators of this.”

Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Executive Director Chuck Kenlan shared news of Wolf’s death in an email to members on Thursday. “Rich was an active racer at Alpenrose and in cyclocross races. Rich’s wife Michelle is also an active member of the OBRA community working as medical support for many of the races in Bend and at Alpenrose, especially during the AVC. We are heartbroken over this sudden and senseless loss of our friend.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Chris IDancmh89Rain WatersThe Dude Recent comment authors
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The Dude
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The Dude

Over 20 breweries around Bend and a road network unsuitable for biking or walking, with no public transit. The obvious consequence is that a lot of people drive home drunk. It’s surprising it doesn’t happen more often, though once is too much.

Central Oregon is a beautiful place to ride, but there’s a great reason most of us stick to the singletrack, and it’s the tyranny of the auto drivers.

Joseph E
Guest
Joseph E

The drunk driver was 19 years old, so probably was not driving home from a pub or bar, unless he got in with a fake id.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Drunk and heading east on Cascade Lakes*. I’d bet many dollars that this young man was partying at one of the lakes out there with his friends, got messed up and then headed home.

Bend is actually pretty to get around by bike or walking because it’s pretty compact. Not saying drunk driving isn’t a problem there but this negligent motorist wasn’t drinking at a brewery.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Except hardly any sidewalks and no protected bike lanes, so no, not that easy.

James Calhoon
Guest
James Calhoon

That’s bike riding in 99% of the world.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

You must be thinking of a different Bend than I am. I’d rather walk or ride around any part of Bend over any part of Portland. Not as good as Eugene for biking but better than here for sure.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Well, your mileage may vary, of course, but it’s a fact that there are no protected bikeways and lots of gaps in the sidewalks.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Well, your mileage may vary, of course, but it’s a fact that there are no protected bikeways and lots of gaps in the sidewalks.

The same could be said for most of Portland. Unless you’re in one of the select privileged neighorhoods that PBOT spends real money on. I don’t feel safe in any part of Portland whereas Bend drivers are much more chill from my experience and the streets are a lot quieter.

SCOTT DIAMOND
Guest
SCOTT DIAMOND

Since he apparently drove across to the lane on the opposite side to strike Rich, it is hard to see how this is tied to inadequate road network. And as others have pointed out, it is unlikely that he was served at one of the local breweries.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

A lot of room for seperated path network out there…

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

It’s an atrocity that Bend doesn’t have more of that considering who lives there. Kind of like Salt Lake City – lots of recreational cyclists who don’t care about riding a bike as utility.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Without going into a long rant, we in Central Oregon who ride far and fast do not want to be shunted off onto bike paths. In fact, there is a separate bike path in that very area for slower, recreational riders and walkers.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

How about for the people just trying to get around town and not for the recreational cyclists? I agree that I don’t like using bike paths for going far and fast, but they are ok if I am going to the store or a brewery or just trying to get home during times where there could be high numbers of drunk drivers.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Bend has pretty decent system of bike lanes. Not perfect. But, the problem is that Bend has grown from 50K to 100K in a couple of decades without a significant increase in road infrastructure. There is some ‘nibbling around the edges’, attempts to create ring roads, but it is minor. The main emphasis has been on roundabouts (probably 20 new ones in five years), which work well for cars, but terrible for cyclists and peds. Bottom line, is that riding in Bend is suicide. Not only is traffic very heavy and constant, worse is that many of the drivers have moved here from places where the car is their entitled weapon. Totally different drive mentality. I have been hit twice by cars from behind in the past three years, and the article about Rich’s death featured many quotes from riders who have given up on road riding, especially in town.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

same situation in Reno, intense californication, be careful.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Californification and a huge population of entitled, wealthy boomers who have recently retired over there. Mix in some rednecks and you have a recipe for some bad encounters out there. I still think it’s a great place to ride, but it can be stressful.

Wendy H.
Guest
Wendy H.

So tragic. Condolences to Rich’s family and friends.
Are there still plans for an off road cycle trail from Bend to Sunriver?

Steve B
Guest
Steve B

What a horrible tragedy. Rest in Peace, Rich. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Opus the Poet
Guest

How is killing someone riding on the opposite shoulder not treated as a murder? It requires a deliberate action to cross the opposite lane of travel to the shoulder and hit someone. Last I heard deliberately killing someone is murder, drunk or not.

Watts
Guest
Watts

If there is evidence the collision was intentional, it would definitely constitute murder. Drunk drivers, however, have shown themselves quite capable of crossing out of their lane without intent to crash.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Why shouldn’t getting in the car drunk count as intent?DRUNK DRIVERS ARE NOT PEOPLE!!!

Dan
Guest
Dan

I agree; if he was really weaving to the opposite shoulder, how did he make it more than half a mile without leaving the road or hitting another motor vehicle? Can’t imagine there wasn’t some intent there.

Craig Massie
Guest
Craig Massie

So many fond memories of racing and hanging around with Rich. His friends in Corvallis mourn this loss greatly.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

Note the hit and run portion of this.
1. All hit and run is really DUI, people try to flee and sober up before turning themselves in.
2. He likely didn’t know how badly hurt the victim was, but he left him to die alone in a ditch anyway.

Hit and run penalties should be much higher than they are because a hit and run driver is an intoxicated driver with absolutely no respect for the life of their victim. Hard to tell from the story if the victim might have survived if the driver hadn’t fled.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Damn – I was riding that very road on Tuesday. Very sad – and I saw a lot of reckless driving.