Rabbitt Fox, a person who inspired many people in many different ways, is no longer with us.
As word has spread throughout the community this week, people are mourning and sharing memories online, in group texts and in sad conversations.
You might have known of Rabbitt, even if you didn’t actually know Rabbitt. That was the case with me, before we built a friendship forged over years of bumping into each other at local bike events. As a wide-eyed new Portlander in 2005, I first met him when he was a member of the Alberta Street Clown House troupe and my family and I would visit Last Thursday. The Clown House and its creative and fun denizens was one of the first things that inspired me to document this community, and Rabbitt was always in the middle of the creative chaos on the corner of 25th and Alberta.
Then I’d see him at Zoobomb events like Chariot Wars. And then there was jousting. He was one of the best. A fearsome warrior on the bike who had no care for consequence when a crowd was there to cheer him on.
He was tough on the outside, but kind and sweet on the inside.
I didn’t know Rabbitt deeply, but we shared an important bond that runs deep: We both loved Portland bike culture and the community around it. I admired his role in creating it, and I think he respected my role in documenting it.
I knew Rabbitt had a hard life and that I only saw him during his happy times. He would tell me about his love of hopping trains (he also went by “Railroad Rabbitt”) and this week a friend of his told me when he got in a down mood, he’d skip town on the rails to try and clear his head and figure things out.
He was a skilled carpenter and builder and would do odd jobs to get by. One time we heard he was looking for work and had him build our backyard shed. It still looks great and is still standing tall!
I’ve seen a lot of people come and go from this scene in the past 17 years, and Rabbitt was one face I was happy to know was still around. When I saw him riding at the Ladds 500 back in April, I was eager to include him in my video. What he said that day, totally unscripted and unprompted, was something I’ll always cherish:
“I’m actually having a great time out here, this is a big family and this is an annual event. Ladds 500! Tall bikes, all kinds of freak bikes, six-wheel bikes. Clowns! You know, we’re having a great day here. I’ve been part of the bike culture since ’92. Originally, I rode bikes with Hard Times Bike Club and the Black Label and I was a Dropout for a long time. I was a clown and a feral clown and with Rebel Alliance. And now I’m Dead Baby Bikes, a Seattle original club and there’s a chapter here in Portland. I mean, we all Zoobombed like crazy back in the day. A lot of us were pretty hardcore about it. There’s been some flux in the bike community, but it’s definitely coming back to life and it’s a lot of the new school people riding bikes and they’re kind of picking up where a lot of us are growing older. While we’re still crushing it, we’re running out of steam you know. OK. I got two laps and I gotta go. See you all later. Thank you Jonathan.”
We love you Rabbitt. We miss you. Rest in peace friend.
There will be a memorial ride for Rabbitt on July 17th.