“Sometimes someone is such a big part of a community that they become a symbol of that community.” That’s how River City Bicycles owner Dave Guettler described Luciano Bailey for a GoFundMe campaign earlier this year after he was diagnosed with cancer back in March.
This morning Luciano’s family announced on Facebook that he has passed away. He was 62 years old.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share that Luciano passed early this morning. He was surrounded by love and we are so grateful that he is no longer suffering. Holding those who knew and loved him close to our hearts,” his family wrote.
Luciano was considered “The voice of OBRA” — the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association, our statewide sanctioning body of competitive racing. He was a dedicated enthusiast of all forms of bike racing — and all forms of bike racers. It didn’t matter if it was elites racing on the track at Alpenrose, beginners racing a cyclocross slog in the wind and rain, or racing mountain bikes at Short Track, Luciano and his voice were there. For many of us, his voice and constant presence was a huge comfort.
In an immediate sense, Luciano offered a brief shot of warmth when he’d say your name or make a supportive remark as you tried to show composure during a grueling race where you could barely breathe or see through the pain in your legs and lungs. And in a broader sense, he represented stability by his many years of service to the community. Our lives can change so much from race season to race season, but there was always Luciano in his trademark cycling cap, holding the mic, and making each one of us feel special.
Condolences and memories about Luciano are pouring in on his Facebook page from racers he touched from all over Oregon. Here are just a few of them:
“I can’t even begin to fathom a world without Luci, a bike race without his unparalleled commentating, jokes, and insight, and that epic playlist that always kept everyone’s spirits high. I know we all have our own unique relationship with him, and that’s what he did – he always made you feel so special and was never too busy for a quick hug or catch-up.”
“We first got to know him when our son and Luciano’s son Clyde were 10 year old juniors. Then I got to spend years hanging out with Luc at finish lines. My absolute favorite time was riding together to work Ski Bowl at Government Camp. Uninterrupted time with Luciano in the car. He had me laughing so hard telling me stories about his own childhood that I was afraid I was going to run us off the road.”
“He was truly one of a kind with so much positive energy to share. His love for the sport and people that surrounded him just radiated. His passion, voice and influence will be missed.”
The last time I bumped into Luciano was at the 2021 Mt. Tabor Circuit Race. He loved that event. And while I didn’t talk with him as much as I would have liked to (the event was cut short due to a bad fall on the hill), I share the clip below so you can hear his voice:
One of the people who knew him very well and shared his deep love of racing and the community around it was Mielle Blomberg. Over the weekend she was asked to be the announcer at the Corn Cross race in Sandy. She posted to Instagram that she became emotional thinking about how Luciano couldn’t be there. I asked Mielle to share a few thoughts after hearing the news about this death:
“Luciano was a true professional. He brought his A game to every race, regardless of how he was feeling or discomfort he had due to injuries. We carpooled to races together over the last 12 years and that is how we became friends. I would drive and he would just start talking, telling me stories of his family, his time building sets for Stevie Wonder videos in the 80’s, his dream to one day have a plot of farm land where he could grow a garden and enjoy the quiet, and we would catch up on OBRA racer news. Many times after cold, wet cyclocross races, he would crawl into my backseat and fall asleep on the drive home. Tired but happy from a long day of calling the plays.
This cycling community meant the world to him and he meant the world to us.”
Rest easy Luciano.
Wow. Thanks for sharing Jonathan. I have so many fond memories of being in the pain cave up on Tabor or in a local crit and hearing Luciano’s steady voice over the speaker, announcing a prime or commenting on a breakaway. For the crowd, bike racing isn’t always easy to follow, but he provided a helpful narrative for casual fans and insight for more experienced ones. A true pillar of the Oregon bike racing community.
One of many special things about Luciano was how closely he paid attention to bike racers, not just the elites but the amateur back-of-the-packers. He knew so much about everybody, in every race, and I know that took a lot of work!
I’ll never forget him heckling me (gently) as I fell for the third time in the same spot in a Short Track race. Looking across the PIR motocross course, and spotting me on the ground, he said loudly into the microphone: “Leslie Carlson! That is the third time you’ve fallen in the same spot during just one race!” I still laugh about it.
He was one of a kind and I will truly miss him. RIP Luciano.
I don’t think we can say enough great things about Luciano or what he meant to the racing community. I appreciated his gentle heckles (“did ya get lost out there?”) and my kids loved him. Getting a callout from Luciano was a highlight of every race.
Luciano was such a big part of the community. He gave so much. And was so good at what he did. An expert and a professional. I hope his family and close friends know how wonderfully he touched the lives of so many.
Luciano made me feel like a part of the OBRA community. My favorite memory will be him not only giving me a shout out at the Zaldercross race, but also my kids who were cheering me on through the corners of that race within the infield. He was the best and the community misses him a lot!