View Full Version : Eulogy for John Jenkins
August 30th, 2002, 07:55 AM
It is with great sorrow that I convey to you that NEMBA member, John Jenkins, died last night. John sustained head injuries after falling while working on his barn in Petersham, Massachusetts. Alf Berry wrote me the following:
“I’m writing this while trying to hold back my tears but I thought that you and the other members should know that John Jenkins died this evening as a result of head injuries suffered in a fall while working in his barn. To those of us who rode with him regularly this comes as an especially deep blow. I also know that John touched the lives of many others throughout New England. At the moment there have been no arrangements made. I will try to get any information that I get, to you as soon as it is available. I apologize for the informality of an email message; it just seemed like the best way to get the word out.”
John was the salt of the earth, possessing a huge heart that he used both for mountain biking at a level few will ever attain as well as for caring deeply about his friends, family and the trails. I shall never forget him cross-training for the World Championships (which he won) by coming out to a workday at Leominster State Forest and running with wheelbarrow-loads of gravel that most of us could barely push!
His generosity, humor and down-to-earth personality will be missed by all that he touched.
Letter of condolence may be sent to his family:
788 Dana Rd.
Barre MA 01005
August 30th, 2002, 09:54 AM
Wow, that is just terrible!
I can remember racing the NE series for that jersey he is wearing in the picture. I was racing expert 19-34 and he was in expert master starting 5 minutes behind me. I had a good race if I could finish without him passing me. Here I am racing along like its the most important race of my career (yeah, right) and he would zip by just having fun while riding in his jean shorts and a rack... I do think he had more fun riding than the majority of us racer heads.
August 30th, 2002, 10:21 AM
I have to admit that I'm very shaken up by the news of this tragic lost of a great human being.....
Perhaps to help with the grief, those who knew him might consider sharing their stories of John in this forum.
John was the quintessential epic rider. I remember hooking up with him by chance at Otis AFB during the winter. I was riding with a few hardcore racers who were out training for the upcoming semi-pro circuit, and around the bend came John, all smiles. After pulling out a sandwich from his seatpost rack and wiping his hands on his trademark bluejean cutoffs, we headed out for a blistering three-hour tour that left me half dead, seeing spots and gasping for oxygen. All the while John was chatting and laughing, like it was a pleasant walk in the park.
After the ride when we were crawling back to the car, John piped up asking if anyone wanted to go out for few more hours. He had driven to the cape from central Mass and was damned if he wasn’t going to get a full day of riding in. I don’t think he had any takers, but off he went to ride for the rest of the day. John always wanted to make the most of everything.
August 30th, 2002, 02:06 PM
The Legend will live on....we will never forget you John.
August 31st, 2002, 08:21 AM
My memory of John is of a gentle man who consistently cleaned up the EFTA Master's class AND finished in the top 10 overall! It's been a few years since he raced the 'Wahoo but that last time, after the award ceremony, he approached me to give his winnings back to the charity! A gesture that has not been repeated - just the kind of guy John was. After he took his class at the Cactus Cup we wondered if he'd receive a sponsorship deal from Wrangler or Levi Strauss! I also recall his attendance at a NEMBA BOD meeting, voicing access concerns about his local area. A terrible and sad thing but he will certainly be remembered fondly by all as a humanitarian and passionate cyclist.
August 31st, 2002, 11:07 AM
On my third attempt to write, I still cannot find the words to describe the incredible man behind all the stories.
Perhaps, I don't need to, for those who know John Jenkins, All have thier own to tell.
One thing is for certain: they all end the same way......
" Then, John just disappeared over the hill"
John is now mountain biking over the last hill known to man.
He's out in the lead.
September 1st, 2002, 03:57 PM
John was much more than a great rider. John was a great friend. When I hit my head after crashing in Douglas State Park, John took me to the ER at UMass. When it became clear that I had a concussion and couldn't remember anything from one minute to the next (I still can't remember 2 hours before and 4 hours after the crash) I was admitted to the hospital. John stayed with me for the six hours it took for me to start remembering things (like where my wife was). He answered my same questions over and over again (What happened? Where were we? Was I riding well?...) with incredible patience, compassion and humor. He did all this despite having a horrible aversion to hospitals. He had watched his sister die of breast cancer in the same hospital only a few years earlier. I have a million John Jenkins stories. They are all similar in that they reflect a man of incredible integrity who knew how to live life to the fullest. My heart is empty.
September 1st, 2002, 04:04 PM
Memorial for John, Sept. 5th, 2pm
The Jenkin's family wish to let everyone know that there will be a Memorial Service held for John Jenkins at 2pm this Thursday, September 5th, at the Unitarian Church on the common in Petersham, Massachusetts. There will be a potluck gathering after the ceremony.
The family also wishes everyone to know that they appreciate the kind words on this forum.
September 1st, 2002, 04:10 PM
There is also a ride preceding the service . It will start at 8:30am on 9/5/02 at John's house.
September 1st, 2002, 08:23 PM
I rode Leominster today, and I was thinking about you. At every spot where we used to cross paths, I kept expecting to bump into you.
But you weren't there.
We're going to miss you down here. I hope the riding is good where you are.
September 1st, 2002, 08:44 PM
John, my father, was an incredible person, friend, and everlasting companion. He would be truly touched by the amount of support that has been sent our way from the people that he met during his lifetime. Our phone has rung off the hook ever since he passed away. The people on the other end bring back wonderful memories with their stories of where they met John and how he affected them. I was always amazed to go riding with him and no matter which state we were in we almost always ran into somebody who knew him. The stories that have been posted on this page are a true tribute to the man behind the jeans. These posts were printed and brought to my mother the other day and tears came to her eyes as she read the words and felt the emotions behind them. John had a very intense personality and that intensity was contagious to the people around him. We have been riding together for twelve years. He came to spectate at one of my races at Temple Mtn. He came home from the race and ordered a custom Rhygin the next day. For the next six months I dragged him on every trail I could think of and thrashed him hard, as he didn't know a bunny hop from an endo. Little did I know that I had created a monster. A monster that would spend the next ten years kicking my ass. Luckily this didn't harm my ego, because I wasn't alone! He spent many years at the top of the masters class and often running times comparable to the experts half his age. I knew many racers who dreaded to hear him asking them politely to pass on the left and asking them if they were having a good day, while giving them one last glimps of his rack as he pedaled away. A ride with John was usually an epic. A ride was good unless it lasted over six hours, we got lost, ran out of food, had to hikeabike, and had plenty of hills. His famous line was always "it's only 45 minutes to the car" while knowing damn well it was three hours. He loved nothing more than to smell the burn coming off of cocky riding companions, and it was at that time he would lower the hammer, shift up a few gears, lean over and quietly mention that if they just used a bigger gear they could go faster. He was a true competitor. He would try his hardest to beat anybody, but would stop with no hesitiation to give his rival a tube or help them up from a crash, and upon crossing the line be the first to congratulate them on a good ride.
I will miss him tremendously. I took a look at his bikes today for the first time since his death. I tried to imagine the stories that they have to tell, and choked back tears withthe knowledge that no more will be added. We shared many adventures and during our years riding together he was an inspiration to me. He will be truely missed. I just hope that he will join me on rides in spirit and we can still share a few sunsets.
I thank everybody again for their support and kind words. I know that if John was here now he would be sincerely thankful.
September 1st, 2002, 10:03 PM
When I first started racing back in the early 90's he was the one guy everyone would remember was in the race.......why is it always the good one that have to go.
September 3rd, 2002, 02:23 PM
Mt. Snow NORBA Nationals-early 1990's . The stronger riders in the Veterans category were just catching up to the juniors on the climb just before the feed zone, and I'm hearing the crowd yelling and applauding. As I look behind, I see the guy who started 2 minutes behind us , the guy in the cut-off jeans, the guy with the rack on the back of his bike , just as easy as can be, passing rider after rider . And as he powers his way past us, I uttered in disbelief to a couple of the guys in my category..".Here comes that old guy, Who the hell is that?" And then a young voice from the Junior class piped up and ever so proudly said.."That's My Dad!"
John, we will all miss you . But I'm certain that you are scoping out some new singletrack in the Great Beyond.
Ride in Peace
September 3rd, 2002, 09:31 PM
I have so many memories of John that I do not know where to begin. I remember first meeting John at one of the races. There was something about his happy and smiling personality that made you just want to talk to him and be around him. He truely shared the passion and love to ride that so many of us do. It was not just riding but it was fun and it was social. Although I knew John for a relatively short period of time I feel I have memories and inspiration to last a lifetime!
I remember a Wednesday night ride that we had done from my house a few years ago. It was thundering, lightening and the rain was pouring down. I was hiding out in my kitchen with my bike and John and the gang were outside persuading me to get out there and lead this ride. Off we went laughing and riding away like it was a sunny day.
I will always remember seeing John racing and looking like he was just having a good 'ole time and never looking like he was working hard.
Always with a smile and a laugh and a kind word to say....these are the memories that are cemented in my mind of John and they always will be.
My heart goes out to the Jenkins family.....................
September 3rd, 2002, 09:59 PM
JOHN, I'M SURE I WILL REMEMBER YOU EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE! I AM ONE OF THE VERY FORTUNATE MEMBERS OF THE PETERSHAM MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDERS, WHO WAS LED BY JOHN WEEKLY THROUGH MILES OF SINGLE TRACK ADVENTURE, HIS ENDLESS KNOWLEDGE AND MEMORY OF TRAILS IN THIS AREA WIL BE MISSED , BUT THE EFFECT THAT HIS 110% ATTITUDE,FREINDSHIP AND ENDLESS YOUTH WILL HAVE ON MY LIFE AND THIS GANG HAS MADE US BETTER PEOPLE AND WILL LIVE ON.
September 5th, 2002, 04:37 PM
The picture up top says it all. That's how I'll remember you John. You were an amazing person and somebody I am so fortunate to have met. As others have said, your racing and riding spoke for itself. However, it's the man behind the cut-off jeans that made the racer. I think that's what most impressed people. It was your style: the cut-off jeans, the Rhygin, the competitive gentleman, the bike rack, the sandwiches, and those surreal race day finish times!
When I think of a mountain biking legend, the name John Jenkins is at the top of the list. You will forever be the New England Mountain Bike Man of the Mountain.
I remember racing the New England scene in the 90's boom years. I remember all of the Pedro's NE series races, the Trail 66 races, the EFTA races, the enduros, and the Vermont 50 miler. I think you were at every single race. Those were fun times, exceptional times, and days that are etched in my memory forever. I will never forget your style and I will never forget your 'race uniform'. I may have been one of the lycra-clad semi-pro's trying to conquer the world, but I learned from watching you about how to compete with class and style. I'm glad you never changed. It helped the rest of us keep things in perspective on race day.
This is very difficult. When my brother told me of the accident I was very sad. I happened upon this website today and read this thread. Mountain biking has lost one of their finest. However, I am happy to see that you had such a profound positive impact on so many other people.
Ride in Peace John.
September 6th, 2002, 10:07 AM
Super sad to read this. In my early days of racing I recall parking next to John at temple mtn at one of infamous spring mudfest races. I recall him laughing at the mud and enjoying every second. I can't say it better than rob
"but I learned from watching you about how to compete with class and style. I'm glad you never changed. It helped the rest of us keep things in perspective on race day."
That goes for me and many others I know. RIP John.
September 6th, 2002, 11:59 AM
What a beautiful sendoff for a man that made for so many wonderful rides. A great turnout, a great ride, gathering, party, a real exclamation point for the Jenkins Legacy
Chris, Will, the PMBC crowd, Alf, Kelton, (Great remarks and props) Cindy and the girls. He touched us all in so many ways, and saved the best for last.
My memories of John have always been very positive,
and this is just one more to add to the pile.
I'll bet you had a couple of good laughs yesterday John!
September 6th, 2002, 04:52 PM
The legend of John Jenkins and the loss of this great person transcends from the east coast all the way to the midwest. It is with great sorrow that I received news of John's parting from my good friend Chris Logan. Chris had introduced me to John at the NORBA world qualifier at Seven Springs five years ago. The first thing that caught my attention about John was his infectious smile and a real firm handshake. I was a bit taken back by his choice of riding clothes and personal additions to his bicycle. The trademark cutoff blue jeans and carrier rack on the back of the bike distinguished John from any racer I'd ever met before. Being from the midwest, I just figured this was a bit of the Yankee breed of riders, and I certainly learned later about eastern sense of humor.
The following year I was fortunate to be asked to be apart of a 4 man team for the 24 hr race at Canaan and I was told that we would have a legend on our team by the name of John Jenkins. I had forgotten his name from introductions the year before but I certainly recognized John when the team met at Canaan. Blue Jeans, rack, troll-mojo. (Later he added toolbox and American flag)
John was 52 at the time and our team was racing in the Vet class. All I heard in the transition area was riders coming in and asking other riders if they got passed by some old dude riding a bike with a rack and wearing blue jeans. In the next breath they were asking, "who is that guy?" I had the opportunity to team up with John at Snowshoe this past June. Combine that with the time I spent with him in 1998 and I can tell you what I gathered about John Jenkins and who I think he was. John knew how to live life and he loved to ride his bike. He loved his family and John was not a braggart until he started talking about his kids. He was a very proud father! John was a fierce competitor! At Snowshoe John ripped off a derailure in his night lap and ran his bike all the way in, still posting a respectable time regardless of the mechanical. He was very upset because he thought he had let his teammates down. He was a fearless rider who rode lines that scared me to death. I'd be walking my bike while John would fly by me expressing his delight with that wide toothy grin and infectous laugh.
I came back to Missouri and started telling John Jenkins stories. Stories about this 56 year old fearless man that could ride us in the ground.
Last night I arrived at our weekly Thursday night ride and broke the news of how we had lost our good friend and legend. We rode John's memorial and then toasted the legend with a cold dark-stout beer, just the way John liked it. We have lost a very dear friend!
My heartfelt condolences go out to John's family and all his friends.
Good Bye my friend!
September 6th, 2002, 10:46 PM
Reading from the memorial service for John Jenkins 9/5/02
It would seem to be easy to talk about something as big as John Jenkins. The name itself conjures a flood of memories, with story after story of adventure, each bringing a smile to one's face. But there is a paucity of words the describe the enormity of this man.
Perhaps, props would help, like this old Bruins jersey which may remind some people of an ongoing battle between John and myself. Or, perhaps this old peanut butter sandwich, made in Fruita, Colorado three years ago, which in some cultures, apparently, is a cure for heat stroke.
Everybody knows John Jenkins. People who have only heard of him and his legend know he was a great rider, a great competitor, and one of those rare people who was always willing to lend a hand. People who only briefly met John know that he was full of energy, that he had a great laugh, and that he had a funny way of walking. People who have had the privilege of spending time with John, know all that, yet still would have a hard time finding the correct phylum in which to place him.
It seems, and John would howl to hear this, he was complex. He was a paradox. He was part Buddist philosopher, part curmudgeon. He looked like Oscar the Grouch from Seasame Street. He had a mouth that could make a trucker blush (and a very interesting way of describing tuna fish). Yet, people were drawn to him by the invisible warmth that emanated from his huge heart.
Of course, there were times when the deep philosophical meaning of his message was difficult for the uninitiated to fully comprehend. Like when one received a tire rub while gasping for air on a particularly arduous climb - as one turned around, there would be John smiling and asking questions which could not be answered with a simple yes or no. Or when one had been chosen for some AA (attitude adjustment). John was a great motivator. He had an arsenal of phrases designed to keep one on one's bike even in the face of the dreaded whole body cramp. They ranged from the sublime: "It's all in your head", to the absurd: "We're only 45 minutes from the car", to the not so subtle: "Get on your ******* bike!".
The teachings from the Church of John were not in any way limited to bike riding. He took a huge interest in the lives and well being of each member of his increasingly large flock. Bike riding was just his allegory for life.
We all know a million John Jenkins stories. Each makes us laugh and glow. Perhaps this story can help me demonstrate why John was special:
Recently, John had been having increasing problems with his back which caused him pain and weakness in his right leg. Nonetheless, he had registered for a 24 hour race with his son and some other Petersham riders. It then became increasingly clear that John shouldn't race for medical reasons (not that that had ever stopped him before). He knew how much I had wanted to do a 24 hour race. He also knew that he was at least twice as fast as me, with or without the use of his right leg. Somehow, he convinced Christopher and the rest of the team that I would be a suitable replacement.
Despite his obvious disappointment with not being able to race, John came to the venue anyway, to offer support. As usual, he gave it his all. He made sure everyone was in the right place, was eating the right food, and was riding the technical sections the right way. He stayed up all night to help our team.
I did a lap from 2:30 am to 4:00 am. At 4:00 am, as I crossed the finish line and handed off the baton, there was John. He had a huge grin on his face. He grabbed me, shook me, and hollared "Way to go Big Guy! Nice job! Great job!"
I felt a surge of pride. At first, for maybe a microsecond, I wondered if I had set a course record. No, I quickly decided, I probably just did a really fast lap. As I walked by the timer's table with my chest puffed out, my bubble was rapidly burst. I had in fact set a record - for the slowest lap. At 4:00 am, in the dark and the cold, with fatigue and the inevitable cramps setting in, I still felt great. Because John had made me feel that way.
This brings us back to the original question. What words do I have to describe John? Simply, John was my hero. Not because he was a great rider, not because he was downright hillarious, but because John had incredible integrity and a huge heart with which he spread his unyielding spirit. He always made those around him taste life, even if he had to grab them by the scruff of the neck and lead them to the fountain. Then, he made them feel good about the whole experience. It is easy for us to put people on pedestals. It is hard for them to stay on them.
John never even dabbed.
In closing, I would like to read an excerpt from a poem by Mary Oliver which I think John would have enjoyed (although I am sure he would have preferred a dirty limerick).
"When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,
like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.
Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.
Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.
A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.
Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.
In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.
Live with the beetle, and the wind."
John, I miss you.
The Big Guy
September 7th, 2002, 11:46 PM
I truly cannot find enough words to accurately describe my memories of times spent with John. I was lucky enough to have spent some great years riding and racing with John, Chris, and the Petersham gang. I remember trips to West Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania for races and epic rides. These memories are vivid and still full of so much life! Riding with John was ALWAYS hard. He did not believe in going easy! His idea of an easy recovery ride would consist of three hours of hilly singletrack! The man was relentless with everything in his life. He worked hard, rode hard, and lived hard! The first time any one rode with John they knew immediately that he softly commanded respect! I think back through so many great riding memories with John to try and tell a story that embodies the man for what a great friend, person, rider, and father that he was. I can't think of just one, but here goes!
My last great memory of John was at a World Cup qualifier in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. I met John there, coming from North Carolina. We rode all day the day before the race, even after I asked him repeatedly if he thought this much riding would hurt his legs the next day. As always he laughed at me saying "No, I'm here to ride." I had just finished racing in the mud and freezing rain and John was about to start. Out of no where the rain let up and the sun started to come out. I was pissed and John was laughing at me! John was on the line for a World Cup Qualifier race with his damn seat post rack still on the bike. I said to him "Aren't you going to take that stupid thing off." He yelled back to me that he had already taken the tool kit and first aid kit off so that was plenty less weight! I shook my head and climbed up the first hill to watch. This was not an ordinary hill it was a 150ft wall that preceeded a Mount Snow length climb. This climb started immediately after the start line. It was brutally steep and wet. Out of the whole Pro field only 4 guys rode it. Everyone else chose to get off and run. John's race started and he rode right up the climb and away from the field. I could only shake my head again and admire his strength. John was the only rider in his field to ride that wall, and he rode the damn thing every lap. In the end I think John finished third. Good enough to qualify, but not good enough for John. We talked after the race and he was not sure if all the riding the day before had any effect on his racing, but he did vow to remove the seatpost rack for the Worlds!
John was a real live hero and one of the kindest people you could ever meet. I hope where ever he is, he is happy and enjoying himself. He could make everyone laugh in one instant and make you hurt something fierce in the next!
His family and friends will feel a void in their lives for many months to come, but the memories of John should more than fill years beyond. To Chris, I am very,very sorry for your loss. I know the bond you had with your Dad. He was your best friend first and your Dad second! Keep your head up and live every day of your life to it's fullest! :)
John you will be remembered by so many for so many things. You are truly an Icon in New England! Take care and ride hard wherever you are! :(
September 9th, 2002, 05:16 PM
The Giant of Petersham is gone? It can’t be possible! The openhearted, big-ring rider, who will fill his shoes? He motivated all of us who knew him and rode with him. He drove us to reach for the strength inside of us and brought us together. He was a big brother, a kind yet firm example. I loved him.
To all of his family, Cindy, Mary, Chris, my deepest sympathies to you. He was a friend and the rarest of humans. You should be so very proud of him for he touched so many people so deeply and I will miss him greatly.
To Chris and Kenton and Peter, Alf and Chuck and all of the Petersham riders, please keep a place for me on the next ride. I’ll be there, remembering and honoring John. It’s what he’d want us to do.
Doug Fraiman from Alaska
September 13th, 2002, 02:14 PM
A 'Free spirit' in cutoffs
Sunday, September 8, 2002
By Mark Conti
Telegram & Gazette Mountain Biking Columnist
Like a knobby mountain bike tire rolling through soft terrain, John H. Jenkins left an impression on every trail he traveled.
Jenkins stood out on mountain bike racecourses and trails from New England to New Zealand not just because he was the only racer wearing cutoff blue jeans and riding a mountain bike with a utility rack. He stood out not just because the expert racer finished first in so many bike races. Jenkins stood out because he made friends with everyone he encountered.
“He could always make me laugh. He was a magnetic personality. He made you feel great about yourself. And not just mountain biking. He really took an interest in you,” Kelton Burbank of Princeton said Thursday morning before a memorial bike ride in Jenkins' honor.
Jenkins, 55, died Aug. 29 as a result of a head injury after a fall from a loft while moving hay in his barn in Petersham.
About 65 people from Maine to Connecticut showed up at Jenkins' house for a three-hour ride in his memory. Several riders wore John Jenkins' trademark apparel: cutoff blue jeans. Jenkins' son, Chris J. Jenkins, 27, of Barre, also an expert racer, led riders on some of his father's favorite local trails.
“This is a great example of how many people admired him,” said Obie Buell, a Maine resident who grew up in Petersham. “He was always pushing and encouraging others. He brought out the best in people.”
Mountain bikers who rode with John remember not only his cutoffs and gregarious personality, but also the six- to eight-hour rides he loved to take.
“He was a great rider who loved the long epics. Many of our rides were exploratory rides that involved running out of water and food. If you ride for eight or nine hours, you can only carry so much,” Chris said. “There was a lot of bushwhacking, a lot other riders that bailed out, a lot of other riders that came back and curled up in the fetal position.”
Buell agreed. “He was a Neanderthal. He was not quite human.”
Pat Carey, 17, a junior-expert racer from Oakham, said he could describe a ride with John in one word: “Slaughterfest. John had no mercy for the younger guys. When you were murdering yourself, he was still not at his limit.”
John always understated how long a ride was going to be, Buell said. “You could never trust him. You had to add two or three hours to any ride he would do.”
Chris said his father had a great attitude about riding. “He didn't care if it was cold, if it was raining. Every ride was good,” he said.
Chris got his father hooked on mountain biking about 12 years ago, when Chris was 15 years old. At first, Chris said, his father was not really into it. Then he came to a race to watch his son compete and “got fired up about it.”
The fire for mountain biking never dimmed.
John started racing in 1991, Chris said. In short time, John established himself as a top expert master. He raced in New England Championship Series events as well as National Championship Series races across the country. He traveled west several times to ride and compete in races, including the classic Cactus Cup in Arizona.
“One thing that he really was, everyone keeps telling me, was the perfect competitor. He ruled everyone in the masters class,” Chris said. “He'd do whatever he could to beat his rivals, but he'd be the first one to congratulate them after the race.”
John's toughest competition in New England over the years came from Bob Mazzawy of Connecticut, who attended Thursday's memorial ride with his son, Salem Mazzawy, a national professional racer for CVC/Iron Horse. John and Bob have been the top two racers in the masters division for years.
“He was a hard man to beat. He was a strong guy and a super spirit. He was the nicest guy,” said Bob Mazzawy, 59.
“He had a booming laugh,” Bob Mazzawy recalled. “You could always hear him. You knew where he was.”
Bob said he remembers one race in which he was ahead of John and he flatted on the course. He said John came upon him and saw that Bob didn't have a tube, so John stopped and gave him one so he could finish. Technically, it was illegal for Bob to receive any such help, “but that's the kind of guy he was,” Bob said.
John once took a monthlong mountain bike vacation in New Zealand, where he competed and won his division in a race there, Chris said.
In 1998, John qualified for the World Masters Championship at Mount Saint Anne in Quebec. He finished sixth.
In every race and every ride, John could be recognized in his cutoff blue jeans. All mountain bike racers wear padded Lycra shorts, except John Jenkins.
According to Chris, after a Nationals race at Mount Snow in Vermont, someone asked John if he wore padded cycling shorts under the cutoffs and John repeatedly declared that he did not. However, the person did not believe him, so John unsnapped his cutoff jeans and dropped them to prove it.
Peter Saloom of Gardner said he never tried to persuade John to wear cycling shorts. “No, it was hopeless. He made no concession to biking norms,” Saloom said.
John Jenkins broke many norms.
Chris said his father would give any money he won at races to charity. At one race, he gave the money back to the promoter to give to a charity that was receiving a portion of the proceeds from the event. The promoter said at the time that such a thing had never happened. Last week, the promoter said it hasn't happened since.
In addition, John did a countless number of charity rides, including the annual 600-mile ride for diabetes.
Chris said he and his father rode mountain bikes all over the country and his mother, Cindy H. Jenkins, John's wife, always supported John's efforts. “She thought it was a good use of his energy. He was a pretty hyper person,” Chris said.
This summer, John took first place as part of a four-man team in the expert masters class in the 24-hour race at Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia. “That was his final big race,” Chris said.
Back in the early 1990s, when Chris and John began mountain biking, they formed a mountain bike club called the Petersham Mountain Bike Riders.
The riding group recently had jerseys made for members. About a dozen black, blue and white jerseys bearing the letters PMBR on the front were evident at Thursday morning's ride. The letter “M” on the jersey is a pair of cutoff blue jeans.
John Jenkins was a “free spirit,” Chris said.
“Physically, he got older, attitude-wise, he was still in his late teens.”
Mark Conti can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 27th, 2002, 01:03 PM
John Jenkins, my Dad, was a great Dad and someone whom I will always miss. I have been reading this thread along with my family and we would to thank everyone who has been writing to this thread. We have read the stories and felt closer to John. John would be very touched by the stories sent in. He knew a lot of people and would be amazed and honored to see how the people he knew viewed him. We have started a memorial web page at www.mem.com and would love to hear more stories about him. The website has a feature to put in memories, etc. A copy of this thread has been placed there as well.
May 3rd, 2003, 12:40 AM
Although it has been eight months since my father's death (and I am not sure if anyone still regularly reads this thread), I would like to express my sincere thanks to everyone who has shared their thoughts and memories. I spent a great deal of time (about three years) going to every race that my father was in. We would hop in the truck and ride to the races - he would go off and do his thing, and I would be there cheering and making sure that everything was going ok. I was extremely proud of his character and accomplishments. Those many race days meant the world to me. They were my time with my father and I would not have given them up for anything. Our journeys together went from Canada to West Virginia, and never once did he tell me not to come just because I didn't ride.
I often read the memories that people have shared on this thread when I am really missing my father. It is comforting to know that my father will never be forgotten in the minds and hearts of so many people.
~Mary Jenkins (I miss you and love you dad :'( you are always with me).
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