News last year of the death of Edward Lund in a bicycle race accident stunned two large and tight-knit groups in the Fresno area: the arts and cycling communities. I attended Lund’s memorial service at Fresno State, and it was a truly moving outpouring of grief, remembrances and camaraderie.
Little more than a year later, the Edward O. Lund Foundation is honoring the memory of this remarkable man with the Hammer Road Rally on Saturday, Oct. 22. Levi Leipheimer, a two-time national bicycle champion and Olympic medalist, is one of the participants. Four different routes are offered, from an easy option of 27 miles to the “Hammer,” 98 miles with an 8,500 foot gain in elevation. The road rally, which begins and ends at Millerton Lake State Recreation Area, will culminate in a family-festival to celebrate riders with prizes, T-shirts, music, food, and beer provided by Mad Duck Brewery.
I caught up with Edward’s sister, Lisa Lund Brown, to talk about her brother and the event.
Q: When did you start thinking that the Hammer Road Rally would be a good way to honor your brother? How was it organized?
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A: It was probably just moments after the memorial for Eddy that my husband and I started talking about it. As I sat in the theater during the memorial service listening to the speakers and then the wonderfully spontaneous thoughts and stories people shared with the crowd about Eddy and his positive impact on their lives, I felt it was important to continue that in some way – to continue giving back to the community as Eddy did.
Cycling was a vital part of Eddy’s life since childhood. He had the banana seat with the tall handlebars he rode everywhere as a kid, then took over Dad’s classic Schwinn until he was done building his own special wheels. Eddy didn’t get his driver’s license until he was almost 18 because he felt he could get wherever he needed to on his bike. Everywhere he moved over the years, his bike was with him, cycling through the streets of San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and between Manhattan and Brooklyn, yes across the bridge!
Eddy thought biking should be accessible to everyone whether it be the child riding to school or the weekend pleasure rider or those who wanted to push their limits with the challenges of distance and grades and gravel and time. Having an event where anyone could enjoy the ride was important to us, because it was important to Eddy – which is why we went with the Rally format. When we went to design this event, I reached out to his local cyclist friends, as well as the team at Bike Monkey, to help create what we think Eddy would have wanted others to enjoy.
Q: What is the significance of the name of the event?
A: Eddy was affectionately known as The Hammer in the cycling community for the way he powered through even the most difficult rides with rhythm and ease. I understand from other cyclists that he was so strong on the hills that they were always happy when he took the lead because he had so much power they could draft behind him for longer lengths of time while he fought the wind and allowed them to save some of their energy. He was a force on a bike.
Q: One of the highlights of the race is the participation of Levi Leipheimer. How did he get involved?
A: It was during Levi’s GranFondo in 2015 that Eddy died. Levi heard about the memorial ride that was put together in Eddy’s honor last year and came down and rode quietly with the community then. He actually encouraged us to move forward with this year’s ride that day. My husband, Buddy, and I (also quietly) went to the GranFondo this year because I really needed to see and feel something of what Eddy saw and felt that day last year. I needed to “get it,” you know? And I think I did. It was a cathartic experience for me. Not easy at all, but knowing Eddy was surrounded by such an incredibly uplifting environment and so happy doing what he was doing that day, has given me some peace. Levi heard we were there this year and found us and we talked and hugged and cried a bit and it was good. He’s a good man. With a big heart. He and Eddy would have liked each other a lot, I think.
Q: Tell us a little about the race itself. There are several routes, including one that sounds not so hard and another that sounds really hard. Were these routes that Edward liked to ride?
A: So Eddy and I grew up driving and hiking these roads and routes around Millerton and the Sierra as kids, and as he got more and more into cycling he rode them regularly, so yes, these are routes he would love to ride not just because they are challenging, but they are also really beautiful. We do have an easy, fairly flat, non-timed/non-race route that most anyone can ride and then two timed events of varying degrees of difficulty for those who want more of a challenge with a bit of competition. The Classic Road Route, though difficult, would have probably been more of a regular weekend ride for Eddy, while the Hammer Route is, yes, really hard and would have been the annual one he trained for for months – reaching for the better ride every year.
Q: Talk about what you’ll do with proceeds from the event. How did you decide what causes to support?
A: Eddy and I literally grew up at Fresno State. Our father was a Professor of Art there for 33 years, and Eddy spent much of his childhood time hanging out with Dad and all his artist friends and colleagues there. We both graduated from Fresno State then moved away, but after some years, Eddy returned and earned his master’s degree in art there and went on to teach, mentor, curate and install at Fresno State, as well as throughout the community. There was no doubt we were going to create an strong arts scholarship program at Fresno State first and foremost. We’ve started with three this year and will grow that number as our foundation grows.
Eddy was an advocate for World Bicycle Relief so we have started purchasing bicycles and tools for them last year and will continue to do that annually as well. The San Joaquin Valley has such a vast and vibrant cycling community; I would love to see a program like Turning Wheels for Kids in the Silicon Valley or Bikes for Kids Foundation in San Diego developed here, and would support that whole-heartedly.
Q: Edward was passionate about art and bicycles. Do you think that was a pretty unusual combination of interests?
A: Not for Eddy! He was interested in so many things – and good at everything he chose to put his heart into. There was art in everything he did and the way he did it. Technique, movement, rhythm, flow are all important elements of cycling as they are in art. I imagine Eddy found great inspiration in the hundreds of rides he took and that translated into the work he did.
Q: What will you and other family members be doing on the day of the race?
A: Unfortunately, my dad and his wife, Judy, can’t be here this year, but Mom, her husband, Jim, Ed’s life-love, Selena and daughter, Grace, my daughter, Emma, my husband and I will all be there from start to finish on Saturday – supporting the cyclists and welcoming the entire community to what I hope is a time of joy and celebration – for everyone. We call that Ed spirit.
Q: For those who didn’t know Eddy, could you tell us just a little about your brother and his qualities?
A: Wow. It’s difficult to say just a little about Eddy. Even though he appeared somewhat understated or calm in demeanor, he exuded such a tremendous energy when he was in a room. He was the guy you were drawn to meet, no matter your age or status in life. Eddy was curious about everything and genuinely interested in everyone he met. He was a brilliant artist who put his own creative time aside if it was needed by others.
I think few would argue that the level was his favorite tool in the gallery. He believed Helvetica was the only true and worthy font. He was a master of comedic timing and impersonations. He was a phenomenal dad, even though he never fathered his own child. He loved a good Scotch and a fine craft brew, as well as strong coffee or a simple cup of PG tips. He was wicked on the dancefloor, gifted with a trowel, and could create epicurean miracles in the kitchen. He was generous with his time, often to his own detriment. He loved deeply and was passionate about the truth in all things.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say?
A: Eddy embraced everything and tried to live each moment of his life fully, or as he believed we all should, to the point of tears. Imagine if we all aspired to that.
Hammer Road Rally
- Registration begins 6:30 a.m. and races start at 8 on Saturday, Oct. 22
- Millerton Lake State Recreational Area
- www.hammerroadrally.com, 707-560-1122
- Registration fees are $80 for the easy route and $145 for more advanced routes