As many of you may have already heard, local legend Christopher Hipp died today. The rumor mill is churning furiously, but I have yet to actually hear a first-hand account of what happened. I will not even attempt to report on the event itself, as that’s really not what is important.
Hipp winning the P/1/2 Burlingame Criterium, roughly 1 year ago. From Garrett Lau.
Many of you probably knew Chris better than I, but I knew him well enough to be convinced that he was a fantastic individual. He was gruff, friendly, reserved, hiliarious, and kind-hearted all at once. I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t like Chris, a testament to his character, and his personality had a broad appeal. I’ll try and illustrate what I mean.
I first heard Chris Hipp’s name many years ago, uttered in admiration by one of my friends (who was one of the most brash and talented young sprinters I have ever met.)
“Dude, Chris Hipp is like 80 years old, and he has beat me in 10 straight Woodside Sprints!” he exclaimed to me after my first Valley Ride.
“Who is Chris Hipp?” I asked ignorantly.
“Oh, you’ll find out when you upgrade to the 2’s. He’s crazy, and he’s hella fast.”
Not only did Hipp have the legs to beat us young whippersnappers with a clean set of wheels, but he also had a presence and charsima that commanded the respect and reverence of arrogant college kids.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, I have a somewhat quiet, reserved young female friend, who had briefly chatted with Chris from time to time on local group rides.
Not more than a few weeks ago, she excitedly told me about a recent ride in which she and Chris had “become friends,” more than just acquaintances. They talked about random things, really–cycling, cyclists, news, gossip–but that’s mostly what friendships are built on. Chris was a man who made everyone feel comfortable, and he made everyone want to be his friend.
Finally, Chris Hipp always knew what to say, but it was rarely what you expected.
On the Morning Ride, another female friend of mine was hurting, struggling, and trying to hang on to the back.
She gasped to Chris, “Man, is this ride really fast today?” to which Chris responded instantly, without hesitation, “No, you’re just really slow.”
You can’t say things like that to just anyone, and that’s probably not what my friend was expecting to hear, but it made her laugh. That’s exactly what Chris could do: say damn near nothing at all, and say it quietly, but make you laugh even when you were suffering.
I last saw Chris at the San Rafael Twilight, less than 3 full days ago. We chatted for a moment, exchanged a few good-natured barbs, and then he spotted someone he knew a few meters away. He made “crazy-eyes” at them, which was a most intimidating stare to say the least. After a few moments, he couldn’t hold it any longer, and a gigantic, warm smile burst across his face.
That’s how I remember him…crazy-eyes, and then a big huge smile.
Tomorrow is the Valley Ride, a ride I’ve never seen him miss. I’m certain that a full-on memorial ride will take place over the next week or so, but I would like to do something special for him tomorrow night because that’s where I got to know the guy.
A lot of you read this blog, so I hope word of mouth carries this. How do people feel about a SILENT ROLLOUT DOWN FOOTHILL tomorrow, leaving from the usual Peets location? Obviously, calling out signs and obstacles is a necessity.
Leave your comments below. We’ll miss you Chris.
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