REMEMBERING JOHN HUNTER

It is with great sadness that the Peterborough Cycling Club is informing its members that we lost a very important person this week. John Hunter passed away on a group ride on the morning of Sunday, July 18th from non-cycling related causes.

John was a local legend long before Strava coined the term. He was known and loved far beyond the reaches of the local cycling community. If you were riding down in Prince Edward County, or in Ottawa or in Toronto and wearing a PCC kit, odds are that other cyclists would stop you and ask; “Hey, you are from Peterborough, do you know John Hunter?”

John loved to ride bikes. It was both a profession and a passion. John worked in the cycling industry for many years, and he was a font of technical knowledge and practical advice. Almost every rider in the PCC has received assistance from John on a bike ride at some point in time for minor or major repairs or with timely advice.

John liked to push himself and challenge others to find their personal limits and capabilities on a bike. When you found your limit, John was always there with support, perhaps it was an apple fritter to restore your hope that you could, in fact, go on. Along with Alan Barber he helped to organize a large Peterborough contingent to ride in the Rideau Lakes tour for many years. Every year was a learning experience, and John always managed to make new friends and acquaintances. He generally convinced seasoned and newer cyclists to help pull the group faster and further; most came back for more the next year. The more the merrier; or, perhaps, misery simply loved company on the Rideau Lakes Rides with John and Alan.

He didn’t follow all of The Rules of the Velominati religiously, but there were a number of rules that he demonstrated and exemplified on every ride:
2. Lead by example.
3. Guide the uninitiated.
4. It’s all about the bike.
6. Free your mind and your legs will follow.
10. It never gets easier, you just go faster

And of course, there is rule number five. John lived up to that rule on every ride and he encouraged us to follow it as well. Many people have heard about the Tuesday night John Hunter Hammerfest that ran from John’s house for many years. In the days before Strava, John kept a spiral bound notebook with names and times for every participant, and he loved to tell stories of the many adventures and misadventures of that ride. The Hammerfest was a well-organized team time trial for 36 kms and often averaging over 36km per hour. The last three km were a flat-out sprint uphill back to John’s house. The goal was to support your friends as best you could in the team time trial without blowing up — and then ride hard at the end until you had a bad taste in your mouth but didn’t quite throw up. Not everyone appreciated that level of intensity, but it was a hell of a lot of fun, and it generated endless stories and tall tales — even some funny pictures of riders sprawled out on the lawn, which wasn’t always John and Karen’s lawn, in various states of misery and disarray before Karen appeared with a recovery beer.

John loved to tell stories about people and bikes and rides. Just last week he told us the story of how he originally met his tandem-riding friends Sue and Steve on a Rideau lakes tour many years ago. They had a mechanical about 70 km outside of Kingston on Day 2, just where the hills start. Sue and Steve pulled over desperate to find the bolt that had fallen off the bike. Without the bolt they wouldn’t be able to continue. John rode back down the road, found the bolt and then proceeded to help fix the tandem. It was like magic. They formed a deep, lasting friendship and rode together for many years during those years together shepherded many other riders successfully through the 368 kms of Rideau lakes.

Perhaps John’s greatest strength was his generosity of spirit. He was generous with his time to help a friend with their bike, he was generous with bike parts and extra gear that he always had lying around or stored in his amazing garage. He was generous with his stories and support for friends when they were going through a hard time. If you asked John for help with some small issue with your bike, he would usually invite you over to fix the bike, provide new parts and you would often leave with a new pair of shoes or a new piece of kit because he thought it was a good fit for you. If there was room to tell all of the stories of his generosity, they would fill several books.

Our sincere condolences go out to Karen, Andrew, John’s family and to all of his many friends. While Karen wasn’t an avid bike rider, she always welcomed us at the end of a ride, and she joined in with the teasing and camaraderie. The PCC won’t forget John and all of the friends he rode with will work hard to honour his memory. When the time is right, please reach out to Karen and Andrew and share your stories and memories of John.

The PCC thanks all of the riders who were with John on Sunday and tried to assist him. This was a very sad and traumatic experience and we encourage you to reach out to Robert Brown if you need any support during this difficult time.

The PCC is working on one or more tribute rides, during which we can share our grief and celebrate John’s life in cycling – details to follow. In the meantime, in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to B!KE, the community bike shop’s foundation, to the Peterborough Humane Society (John loved his adopted cats, Merlin and Tim) or to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Visitation will be held at Highland Park Funeral Center
Saturday July 31
1-5pm

Please use the website to RSVP (available Thursday evening)

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