Bike LA, as we here in the LA area know, is a community like no other family in the world. Period. In that family there are characters big and small everyone is a partner in the FUN. Chris Cono was a BIG GIANT character who’s love for FUN and cycling is eternal. And his fire has been going the longest of anyone. No matter what, at any cycling race ride or event that he was at or that he organized, Chris emitted an infectious energy that spread that LA love to everyone present.
It’s unreal to me that just yesterday Chris introduced me to his son and as per usual was excited to talk cycling with me. We were chilling at the Major Motion tent enjoying a beautiful day with Dan and Dianna… Chris was awaiting the elite race at the Public Safety Crit. He was giving me much needed pointers and advice about how things go down at crits interspersed with his brand of comedic insight. Chris was one of those energies that could work up a child like excitement for cycling that would have you caught up too. I was hugely jazzed to hear about the team he was putting together for our crit. In fact this very post was planned to be his competitor spotlight. He was smiling ear to ear because he so deserves the recognition that he gets for what he has done in LA cycling across decades of time. That day it dawned on me that Chris was nearly 50 years old. What a young spirit.
During what would turn out to be Chris’s final race of his life, I approached his son who was dutifully waiting at the finish line with a camera watching for his dad to come around the curve. What a fucking awesome dad to have no? “How is your pops doing?” “I haven’t seen him for a couple laps.” the race was a blur of speed when it came through so I just watched to try to spot Chris and the wolves… Aram and Evan were in the mix… I heard talk of a crash on the other side… That it was serious. But somehow I didn’t connect the dots. Chris was just one of those icons that had been there for so long that its unquestionable that he would always be there. The race ended and people began packing up. I was gathering up my ride and caught up with goodbyes. I had no idea that Chris was inside that ambulance rounding the turn, making a final and unusually slow paced journey across the finish line continuing the course and then quietly disappearing off into the distance….
There is a certain camaraderie shared between race organizers where chats and texts sometimes flow “across the lines” with “insider” discussions about race formats, promotion ideas, rider critiques, shit talking, plotting…. I’m gonna miss that connection with Chris – he would always hit me up about his Wednesday rides and I always meant to ride… but I could never get my ass out of bed or find time. Well people, lesson learned. Make time to ride with your friends and with future friends. You never know when someone will no longer be here especially with a sport as dangerous as competitive cycling. I feel like a pillar of LA cycling has collapsed. It’s just not real… it’s like looking at the familiar downtown skyline and seeing one of the skyscrapers now gone.