Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanks Steve!

Steve Hed discussing his Adventure rig with Byron of Bike Hugger at I'bike '13
Las Vegas, Nevada 2013: I am wandering around the Mandaly's convention floor in a snarl of nearly unnavigable booths when I am stopped by someone who asked me if I had seen the bike in the HED Wheels booth. Now I had heard of HED Wheels, of course. If you are a cycling geek worth your salt at all, you knew of HED Wheels. "All about aero" HED Wheels. Tour de France winning wheels. Triathlete wheels, time trials, aero road, yada,yada,yada.....

Okay, so what? HED has a bike in their booth. Not my monkeys, not my circus. I am about mountain bikes and gravel road stuff at this show. Not triathlon. Not time trial geekery. But this person insists that I should check it out and that Steve Hed wants to meet me. (!!!) Uhh......okay, I guess. So I didn't make much of that and went about my way trying to navigate through and find something exciting. This show was a big let down for me, until the moment I actually found the HED Wheels booth and saw the bike. But that wasn't the biggest surprise for me.

Now I should add that I knew HED was getting into the gravel bike scene. Heck, I had already been riding some HED Ardennes+ wheels, which I had reviewed for Gravel Grinder News. That wasn't anything new, really, and maybe Steve Hed just wanted to say "thanks", and maybe they had something else up their sleeve for gravel road riding. You know, it was kind of a "thing" at Interbike that year. Lots of new "gravel specific innovations" were being introduced. I wasn't too expectant of anything "big".

Beautiful fork crown as done by Eric Noren of Peacock Groove for Steve Hed's adventure bike.

 That was until I saw the bike. It was by far and away the coolest bicycle at Interbike '13. Nothing else even came close. A fully customized rig torched up for Steve Hed by Peacock Groove's own Eric Noren. Then a man with a long mane of silver-ish hair with glasses approached me. He was smiling, and his name tag read "Steve Hed". He introduced himself, and what followed during the next 45 minutes or so pretty much blew me away and became the highlight of my Interbike trip.

The sticker on Steve Hed's bike says it all.

You know, I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to preconceived notions. I was found most heinously guilty of this when I met Steve Hed. I figured he was all "aero this- drag coefficient that", but what I learned during our spirited conversation couldn't have been further from that notion. Steve Hed certainly changed the world of aerodynamics when it comes to bicycles, and his contributions are numerous, but his heart for cycling was not to be found there. No, he was a true wanderlust. A guy that totally understood what the gravel riding scene that has risen up was all about. He understood that even better than I do.

There will be stories written in the coming days of Steve Hed's innumerable contributions to cycling and lamentations will be given for his untimely death. It is a very sad thing, certainly, and my condolences go out to his family. That said, I won't be surprised if there are no mentions of his love of riding gravel roads and how Steve Hed wanted to help push gravel racing and riding along. Steve was very active in helping Minnesota based gravel road events get going and stay going. HED Wheels supported the Almanzo 100 and attendant events, the Filthy 50, and were supporters of Trans Iowa and Gravel Grinder News as well.

I will never forget Steve Hed and his passion for the back roads of Minnesota and elsewhere. He surprised me with his stories of his rural upbringing and riding dusty roads. His view of the triathlon scene, the fixie fashions, and all the Pro road racing stuff was eye opening for me. He was a strong advocate for the gravel road rider and his influence will be felt going forward as a passion that will be carried over by those he influenced.

Rest In Peace , Steve. Today, I give thanks for having gotten the chance to meet you.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all the readers out there. I hope that you all have a blessed and safe day.

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