On Friday morning I received an email from Troy’s dad, whom I’d never met or talked to. It said: “I regret to inform you that I was notified last night that Troy had been killed in San Diego at 5:30 PM crossing the street and was hit by a trolley. I loved your article on the mountain ride and would like to talk to you.”
Even under complete physical duress at the Etape du California, Troy couldn’t help but smile.
I didn’t know Troy like a lot of other people do, but I know friendship was important to him, and based on a story I wrote about riding with Troy at the 2012 Etape du California, his dad thought I was a good enough friend to ask me to call.
I called the phone number in the email and Troy’s dad confirmed the terrible news.
In that instant, I was at the same time flattered, and gutted.
I’d really only spent a few hours with Troy, and am not sure we’d reached official ‘friend’ status yet (although I could see it coming…), but his enthusiasm and effervescence were they kind of qualities I like most in people, and over the few hours I spent with him this past April, I could see some bright things ahead.
I first met Troy (a career marketing/ promotions/ make-it-happen kind of guy) at a BMC training camp in January of 2010, in California, and while we were only just introduced, he made a point of complimenting me on the site, and also on my PEZ Mondrian kit design. Here was someone I didn’t know, and who didn’t have to say anything, but he made a point of saying something nice – and that stuck in my mind.
We reconnected last year as Troy moved over to Champion Systems clothing and was helping set up the brand’s marketing operations for some major growth in the US market. He had an idea to do something cool around the Tour of California. And while the team was not in the race, Troy thought it would be fun to invite a mixed bag of riders to do the Etape du California cyclosportif to ride the “Queen” stage.
Troy in his natural habitat – at the center of another fantastic event.
While I still didn’t know Troy that well, I was flattered to be included, and happily bought a plane ticket to join his group for a dinner and the ride. (See the story here).
Troy later emailed me about the story:
“I laughed…a couple times…even if you’re giving me some shit! Can’t you remind people more that the ride is a bitch! ”
Troy picked me up at LAX in a beater Saab station wagon that was sporting the mini-spare on the rear wheel, and was running so rough it would barely idle. Troy’s Q7 was in the shop getting the wheels anodized (“flat-black because this is LA!” he said), and we had a few laughs about how uncool this car was, especially in Los Angeles.
We went by the new space Troy was setting up for Champion Systems where he fitted me in the custom kit we’d be using for the ride, and generally gushed with enthusiasm for the big things coming for Champion. I’ve seen a lot of guys pander to us media types over the years, but I never doubted that Troy would succeed in what he had planned for Champion Systems.
I got the sense he was a natural born promoter, and creating splashy events that people remembered was what fueled his days. By mid afternoon I was famished, and I almost apologetically asked about getting some good Mexican – but Troy was all in and took me to a great local spot that even had a valet. He readily joined me for a couple of tequilas, and we finally had a chance to swap some stories and get to know each other.
LA’s traffic meant we took over 2 hours to drive to Ontario for the dinner, but the time passed easily as we bounced through a long list of topics, many cycling related, but many on a more personal level. The 6-7 other dinner guests were mostly pretty good friends of Troy, and while I was just meeting everyone for the first time, it was easy to see the affection that these friends had for their host.
Even at 6:45, with the sun barely up, the day was full of possibilites.
Everyone in the group had a blast, and Troy followed up with even bigger plans for the next one:
“We have been talking about an EPIC drink wine bike multiday maybe instead of L’Etape next year:
We have Andy with the touring company to plan route, Kevin with the Vineyard for drink, Eric with the Support Vehicle, You can document it, Nate will shoot it, I will make our clothing and then Mari, Nelly, and Floyd are the lead out crew, all the other guys have stuff like Jets so really this could be interesting. A few day nothing crazy.”
Like any business, cycling is filled with all kinds of people, and like every other business, we have our fair share of pretenders. One of life’s big challenges is weeding through the abundance of these guys to find the people worth having around, and it didn’t take me long to recognize Troy as a keeper.
Troy was a guy doing great things but destined to do more – he’d already established himself as a guy who could create an event that would long be remembered, but his Tasmanian Devil-style of activity was taking him somewhere bigger. I was excited to be part of his trajectory, and looked forward to getting pulled into his vortex again sometime in the future. I was genuinely looking forward to start working with a guy with his enthusiasm, lack of self-importance, and ability to turn ideas into reality.
I only knew Troy for a short while, but I know the impression he made on me and he was a rare individual. There were a lot of good times to come with Troy – and for me that’s where his loss is deepest. He’s one guy I can truly count myself lucky to have known.