ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – With a lot of hugs, a few tears, and an ample supply of Oreo cookies – members of St. Louis’ tight-knit bicycling community gathered Monday night to honor one of their own.
Casey Saunders,30, died Sunday in what has been described as a freak accident during a race in Kansas City. Saunders had been racing since high school and others knew him as a skilled athlete.
Police say he was wearing a helmet at the time. Friend and employer, owner of Big Shark Bicycle Company, Mike Weiss,says Saunders was taking part in what’s known as a crit race.
“Criterium racing…there’s a lot of guys…a lot of turns…you are pushing your physical envelope,” Weiss says. “Those races are 25 to 30 miles per hour.”
Peter Holohan worked alongside Saunders at Big Shark Bicycle Company on Big Bend for several years and supported him during many races.
“Just an awesome personality, man,” Holohan said. “Working with him was a pleasure, riding with him was a pleasure. He was just a good guy.”
Starting at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company in The Grove, makers of Saunders’ favorite beer, several dozen cyclists tooled north to the Velodrome on Penrose.
Each carried a laminated photo of Saunders.
“Casey was probably the friendliest, most generous, humble person that I knew,” Maurice Hessel said – sounding a theme heard over and over again from those who knew Saunders. “Never had anything bad to say about anybody.”
While echoing that sentiment, Saunders’ friend Rob Bell recalled that he could also be a fierce and compassionate racer.
“He was a good all-around guy, but he was a mean racer,” Bell explained. “Don’t let the nice guy fool ya. Ooh, he could really rip it up man. He will be missed.”
As for the Oreos?
Friends revealed that Saunders’ favorite post-race snack to replenish all of that spent energy was Oreos chased down with Urban Chestnut beer.
So that’s what they all consumed in honor of their fallen friend and colleague.
“He was a regular guy with a lot of talent and he loved bike racing,” said longtime racing team member Scott Ogilvie, who reflected on his friend’s legacy. “Casey knew everybody because he raced and he was a bike mechanic, so he really helped a lot of people really get into the sport, recreationally or competitively way. He lived a great life that was just too short.”
Weiss says that if there is anything they can learn from the Kansas City Race and Saunder’s death, they will take that into account to make cycling competitions here safer in the future.