• Christopher Hipp

    by  • July 14, 2009 • too random • 40 Comments

    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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    40 Responses to Christopher Hipp

      July 14, 2009 at

      I knew Christopher in a whole different light. I met Chris 8 years ago when I met his brother Michael. Mike & I dated for 7 1/2 yrs and I got to know Chris outside of the cycling world. He was always such a prankster with me and seemed so serious. It was sometimes hard to figure him out. He, like Hernandito had mentioned in his blog, would give me that crazy-eye stare and then would burst out laughing like a crazy man. I would just laugh along with him. He could be very stern, but then loving at the same time. He comforted me when I couldn’t get it out of Mike. I haven’t seen Chris & Lorraine in several months and have missed them dearly & am so sorry for Lorraines loss as well as Mikes. I’m still in shock over this as is many of you are. I will always remember Christopher and his dry, but yet hilarious sense of humor. May he rest in peace. I love you & I’ll miss you Chris.

    2. July 14, 2009 at

      Chris was a fantastic guy. Extremely fast and competitive on the bike. Always down for a sprint. And with bike handling skills unparalleled by any this side of Steve Axt. The Chris Hipp “stoppie” was legendary.

      Chris was warm with a great, but dry, sense of humor off the bike. I’ll miss the post-Spectrum-ride conversations outside Los Altos Peets. The last one being just 3 days ago, prior to his heading to San Rafael, where I joked whether he would do better than 5th, which was his previous P12 race result.

      Godspeed, Chris, you will be missed.

    3. Rick Hyman
      July 14, 2009 at

      I was chatting with Chris last night on FB. He was rebuilding his RAID for his computer. Said he was going to drag his ass out of bed for the morning ride. I will miss him. I always loved his humor and love for cycling. He was genuine.

    4. me
      July 15, 2009 at

      This guy is a inspiration! He gives me hope! I want to live my life as great as he lived his!

    5. July 15, 2009 at

      The Nez is very, very sad….Bummer Chris

    6. Hani
      July 15, 2009 at

      I met Chris through his partner Loraine. We talked computers and of course cycling. I saw him at the Burlingame Crit this year. Said it wasn’t a great race for him but seemed to be in good spirits. The cycling community here is amazing and Chris is an example of that. Thank you for writing this article.
      Hope to make it out tomorrow.

      Hani – A guy in shock.

    7. Gary Westby
      July 15, 2009 at

      Chris was one of our areas greatest all around riders- he could hammer it out with the best, was awesome in the dirt and always fun to ride with. He has been a good friend to many of us and will be greatly missed. I am planning on stopping on Sand Hill- where Chris made his final stop, tomorrow on the morning ride to pay my respects. I invite the rest of our cycling community to do the same.

    8. Julie
      July 15, 2009 at

      Chris was awesome. He loved his bicycle as much as his motorbikes. Had the funniest humor. I remember him giving me so much shit for not cleaning my sunglasses….I think of him every time I put them on.
      You will be missed Chris.

    9. July 15, 2009 at

      I met Chris 20 years ago when I was racing in Texas and he was the only one we usually had to battle it out with, but a real sportsman and always fair. Not a week ago we talked about him and he’s just one of those people who would leave a lasting impression. A loss for his family and friends, a loss for cycling, I will have my private moments of silence on my ride today and remember him…

    10. bob mionske
      July 15, 2009 at

      I met chris in dallas over 20 years ago when my
      team was in town for the Tour of Texas. He told me all
      about his battles with some junior and kept telling me how strong he was. I scoffed at him. Maybe this kid was good compared to HIM but I was not impressed. This ‘kid’ is going for his 8th Tour de france this week….

      Chris graciously housed me in his place, a Dallas warehouse and if you ever saw the movie Omega Man you would have an idea of what his place was like. Years later, living in an
      old warehouse would be all the rage but to Chris, it was just natural to do it his way.

      A few years later Chris and I were teammates on
      Celestial Seasonings. Very cool guy, lots of power
      and super smart. Could sprint with all the hot shots
      on the team which irked them, to my delight.

      The next time I saw him was at the Tour of california
      and was impressed on how he had lived,accomplished and that he could still fly in races.

      I met lots of incredible riders in my day but if I had
      to hang around with someone off the bike I preferred intelligent, creative and funny and Chris was tops in all

      bob mionske

    11. July 15, 2009 at

      I’ve known Chris from back in his Texas days. Only had the pleasure of beating him one time in a Tuesday night race, and I didn’t even beat him. He miscalculated. In an all-out sprint, not many could beat him.

      Not many could beat his candor, nor his presence in pak. Chris was as they say, one of a kind, and I’ve never met anyone who even comes close to resembling the Hippstar. My most recent communication with him was last week in facebook in which he and I exchanged some comments through the inbox. I was actually waiting on another reply. It won’t come now. RIP.

    12. July 15, 2009 at


      I’m a reporter from The New York Times and a friend of Chris. I have the regrettable task of working on an obit about him. If someone who knew him well from Team Labor could contact me, I would really appreciate it. I’m at 650-428-1291. Thanks!

    13. Kornflake
      July 15, 2009 at

      I’ve known Hippstar for the last 20+ years. I still remember us doing one legged hill sprints in downtown dallas at 10:00pm. Or the times we would go inside the state fair grounds in the middle of the night and make up our own crit course under the lights and gun shots.

      Chris, I know I never said it enough, but thank you for everything. Wether it’s from teaching me bike handling skills, sprinting skills or the ability to laugh at things that don’t really matter. You were a great influence on my life and I am and always have been proud to call you my friend.

      I will see you at the big crit in the sky. Save me a spot on your team.

      Bill Short
      aka: Kornflake

    14. Phil Roberts
      July 15, 2009 at

      So sad. I would really like to know details of what happened, but the bottom line is that he’s gone. Up the road in a solo winning break, leaving us behind. Damn! Hadn’t talked to him for a long while, then I just got the chance to catch up with him at the recent Benecia crit and gave him props for all that he had been achieving all this time, riding at such a high level consistently for some time now and reliving one of the ultimate two-man breaks (at the Presidio crit in SF)I had ever been in (with him) as we bridged across to a larger break that took about 15-20 minutes of work on our part and me telling him to not give up. We finally made it and he was able to finish with them, while I finally cracked hard against Wolberg, Ben J.M, and some other sickos…Those experienes are bonding and we were friends ever since with mad respect. We had some great races together and I always knew he was a good wheel to follow. Right place, right time, making key moves….He was a one man team. (I tried to recruit him long ago) I guess now he’s on the highest step of the ultimate podium, smiling down at us all…..

    15. July 15, 2009 at

      When they made “The Hippster”, they broke the mold. He was a fast guy, and I was a slow one. He nevertheless took the time to ride with me, and challenged me to be the best I could become. He was a consummate competitor, incessantly curious, good natured, energetic and great pal. From the 20+ years I’ve known Chris, I have enough (great) stories to write a novel–which is sometihng this guy and the life he lived probably deserve. Given the space allotted, however, I’ll simply say that I’m very, very sad to have lost him, but very glad to have known him–and I’ll take comfort in knowing that he jammed a couple hundred years of living into all-too-short a life…

    16. Louis Briones
      July 15, 2009 at

      Chris will be missed by many.

      He was one of the most interesting guys I’ve ever met. He could be as competitive as hell one minute yet would take the time to give you cycling tips the next, if you simply asked.
      He was reserved until the conversation really mattered, at which time he had plenty to say. He was one of the strongest and yet in his way, softest guys I’ve known.

      He was one of a kind. The good kind.

    17. Hernandito
      July 15, 2009 at

      Unfortunately, a late meeting may preclude my presence at the start of tonight’s Valley Ride. In any event, I trust that those of you that read this blog will share a few stories about Chris Hipp as you wait for 6pm to arrive, and remind people to observe a moment of silence as you roll out down Foothill. Maintaining silence from Peet’s to the Arastradero Intersection seems to make the most sense. Beyond that point, I think the ride should proceed as always.

      Try and ride safely and respectfully, as the ride may be a bit larger than normal tonight.

      I will be trawling the internet for organized memorial rides and will post notices to the blog when they arise.

    18. Gwenn
      July 15, 2009 at

      I knew Chris in the 90’s while racing in Dallas. Well, of course, everyone knew Chris, he was the only cat 1 around. I had the pleasure of knowing him a little better through Lorraine, and still fondly remember him calling me a “dumbass” for not racing while I went back to school. Totally inline with the stories above, makes me smile.

      Super smart guy. Superior athlete.

      I feel for you Lorraine.

    19. Jamie Walton
      July 15, 2009 at

      I didn’t know Chris very well, but I used to think that the way he rode his bike and lived his life that he had a “death wish.” Now I realize he had a “life wish.” He had fun.

    20. Patty Holloway
      July 15, 2009 at

      We will miss him at the early birds when he looks for somewhere to put his stuff after riding over to race and then to ride home again after.
      God bless you Lorraine in this heartbreaking time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    21. July 15, 2009 at

      I put up a few photos of Chris at the link below and will add some more tonight


    22. Tilman Reinhardt
      July 15, 2009 at

      I will always have fond memories of Chris. He inspired me many times that what counts is having fun on the bike and being with your friends. I’ll miss him on rides and I’ll miss hearing about his latest crazy dirt trail exploit somewhere deep in the Santa Cruz mountains.

    23. July 15, 2009 at

      Thanks for the email, Chris.
      – – –

      “Still in shock at the sad news. I will certainly miss the epic Coast rides and chance encounters when our paths crossed while riding.

      Here is a quick Chris story. I was riding on Arastradero towards Page Mill and over my right shoulder I heard a bunch of noise and then saw this blur of a cyclist sprinting along the dirt horse path. At first this seemed odd but then I recognized it was Chris so it seemed pretty typical. From behind I heard a group of fast moving riders on the well traveled asphalt road. Chris in classic Hippster fashion took his own line, dirt and all, and still won the sprint.

      Travel well Chris, and my condolences to the loved ones he left behind.

      Chris Crawford”
      – – – –

    24. Mark Switzer
      July 16, 2009 at

      I knew and raced with Chris back in the 80’s when he was coming out of motor cross. I would think why is this guy diving so hard into a corner and then if he didn’t go down then he was up the road from you. He got those corners figured out very well. I am amazed that he kept it going and at a top level . I remember his mom as the complete fan always there for him Nobody had a better cheering section !I know his spirit will ride on forever !

    25. Shawn Mehaffey
      July 17, 2009 at

      Some of you may not know Chris Hipp was a big force behind computing improvements, helping move the IT industry to more powerful & cooler running servers. See the two links below:



    26. Bryan Burt
      July 17, 2009 at

      I grew up with Chris, we went to elementary school together, and we were always friends. I was a track star in high school, and when injuries in college ended my running career, I started cycling. I moved back to Dallas, and everybody started telling me about this guy with a blistering sprint. What’s his name I said, they said “Chris Hipp”. We renewed our friendship, and he taught me a lot about cycling, he said once that I took to cycling so well, I must be a natural. A natural that never did beat him. I have fond memories of Wednesday Night Worlds, and he usually won the city limit sprint. The Tuesday night crits, and watching him blast away from everyone in the homestretch. He even beat “Fast Freddie” one Tuesday night. When I moved out here, the first race I did was Visalia, and there was Chris. He walked over and said hello, and asked how I did in my masters race. It was like time didn’t exist, he picked up where we left off in Dallas. The world, and the cycling world, has lost a very special person. R.I.P. Chris!

    27. Jesster
      July 17, 2009 at

      For those of you racing the Colavita/Sutter Home Crit in Novato on Saturday or the Berkeley Bicycle Club Crit in Albany on Sunday, we will be observing a moment of silence in Chris’ honor before the start of the P/1/2 and 35+ 1/2/3 races.
      Chris was an enigmatic and original guy and a great racer. What a terrific life well-lived.

    28. Scott
      July 18, 2009 at

      I am very sad to hear that he passed. I only met Chris on the morning of July 14th, when I drove past what looked like a multi-vehicle accident and ended up being a downed cyclist. To my eye, it didn’t look like he was hit. The first person on the scene said he was at the crest of the hill, off to the side, still clipped in. I stopped and helped as best I could with the resuscitation. Among the good Samaritans, there were two physicians and an off duty EMT. Someone even brought an automatic defibrillator from the lobby of one of the VC firms. The Menlo Fire crew arrived after a few minutes and transported him to the hospital. I didn’t know what happened to him until this morning.

      For all you fellow cyclists, if you want to do something in his honor, take a Saturday off from riding and take your local Red Cross CPR course.

      After reading your letters, I wish I could have known him better. He was an heroic person, who passed away doing what he loved, with his clips on.

    29. July 18, 2009 at

      thanks, Scott.

    30. John Creuzot
      July 18, 2009 at

      Reading the Times today and saw the article. Shocked and saddened by the passing of such a good guy. I’m one of Chris’ Dallas friends from White Rock Lake. Injured my foot and took up cycling to recover. Knew Chris already but that time allowed me to know him in a different way. Didn’t know what happened to him when he left town but looks like he left a mark.

      Lorraine, love you and miss you! We’re praying for you.


    31. Vinnie
      July 19, 2009 at

      None of us will know the cause of Chris Hipp’s death until the autopsy is complete. Blood thinners are used to prevent the formation of clots, which can cause strokes and in many cases, death.

      A common heart disease that is thought to be manageable, is Atrial Fibrillation. A-Fib as it is referred, is an irregular heart beat caused by a malfunction taking place in the upper portion of the heart. It is described as an electrical problem causing the heart to misfire. Some Cardiologists treat the problem by restarting the heart, which is a lot like restarting your computer; the heart will normally return to its normal rhythm after the outpatient procedure is complete. Not everyone is comfortable with the procedure which can be compared to stalling an airplane’s engine in mid-flight, then restarting it in time to stay airborne…

      Some Cardiologists do not require the restart procedure, but rather prescribe a blood thinner like warfarin sodium (coumidin), and then keep a constant check on blood levels.

      A-Fib is thought of as manageable and only life-threatening in rare instances. Many individuals suffering from A-Fib lead normal lives. Of course Chris Hipp was a high-performance machine who’s heart was asked to perform at a level few people function at.

      Some Cardiologists describe A-Fib as the best heart problem to have because of its manageability. If Chris Hipp was on blood thinners and got the green light from his Cardiologist to compete in competitive cycling, I suspect he may have been suffering from A-Fib.

      Whatever the cause, Chris Hipp and his extreme enthusiasm for life, will be missed–

    32. Lauren Ames
      July 19, 2009 at

      The first time I met Chris was at my wedding, June 2007 he is a great long time cyclist friend to my hubby Russ Ames, we were married at the lovely hillside home of my friend in St Helena, Napa Valley Ca, Chris came and brought his camera (I later learned, this was a hobby of his and what an extrememly talented eye he had) Russ and I have some incredible shots of our day. Chris captured so much more than my photographer, I had no idea he was doing this, he just showed up the next day with 2 disc packed with our Wedding and Napa Valley Beauty. This was the start of understanding this gentle giant that my husband and his buds called Hippstar.
      I didn’t know Chris very well, but the times I shared with he and Lorraine were special. The conversations, his humor, his way of being present and observing, his one liners, camera always in hand. It was so funny to sit and listen to these cyclist guys banter back and forth only the way good solid friends can do. Always leaving with belly laughter and yelling from the car “Labor”
      He left a lasting impression on me.
      Chris Hipp will be remembered in our home and so missed.
      Lorraine we are here, you are loved.

    33. July 20, 2009 at

      You have all seen the 2008 picture of Chris winning the Pro/1/2 race at the Burlingame Criterium. That day was my 47th birthday, and I chose to ride the Pro/1/2 race as well. It was my first race with the big boys in fifteen years. I didn’t know who any of the riders were (except for Vince Gee), hung on by my fingernails, and finished at the back. Friends, family, and teammates alike were amazed that somebody my age could hang in there.

      Upon checking the results, I discovered that the guy who had won the race was my same age! That was how I first found out about Chris Hipp, and it soon became apparent that this gentleman was special on multiple fronts. While we are all sad about the loss, we should be inspired by Chris’ love for excelling at all aspects of life. He might be gone, but he won’t soon be forgotten.

    34. Mike Stearman
      July 22, 2009 at

      I met Christopher when we were 5 years old in Farmers Branch, Texas. We had a group of 8 friends that spent long summers together. It was kind of like the movie “The Sand Lot”. We invented so many games to pass the summer. We acually thought of frisbee golf back in the late 60’s. Chris was always amazed with anything new. He always had the new stuff before any of us. He started a unicycle gang. He always rode by himself and then one boring summer day we all started to learn on his unicycle. By Christmas 5 of us had unicycles and rode everywhere on them. Chris was my ‘best’ friend when we were kids. We had a lot of fun and experiences that I’ll always remember.

    35. July 22, 2009 at

      thanks mike

    36. July 27, 2009 at

      Man, I can’t believe it. Chris and his brother raced with the Mirage team here in Dallas in the 80’s and they were our stars. Both came to racing from BMX I think, and in the Crits, their bike handling was incredible. Still remember a ride with him at the Hotter than Hell Hundred, think it was won by John Howard that year. Chris was higher than a kite at the finish, rode up to a group of us with our bikes and did his front tire endo, spun his bike around and dropped it right between our bikes, and never stopped talking while he did it.

    37. July 28, 2009 at

      It’s hard to believe that Chris Hipp is no longer with us. He was such a fixture in the Dallas racing scene. Although I hadn’t seen him since he left for California, we emailed several times in the past year. For several years, he was my mentor, as he tried to get more performance out of me on hills.
      Here are a few Hipp events I remember:

      In a circuit race in Duncanville, maybe in the early 90’s, they had a “last man prime”. Hipp went for it. Another did, too. They came to a trackstand while the pack powered away, thinking that Hipp wouldn’t be able to get back. Hipp won the last man prime. Then bridged back to the pack and (I believe) won the race.

      Hipp could do the Loving Hill loop hands free. We climbed it together several times that day, hands off the bars. At the top, if you’re going even a half mile per hour too fast, you won’t be able to make it through the upcoming downhill chicane hands off. I could never do it, but witnessed Hipp riding through the chicane without touching his bars or brakes.

      We were in the Matrix van, going to a race in the Hill Country back in the mid 90’s. It was the Matrix Elite Team of the beginning of the season. Max, Sam, Reveal, Hipp, me, and others. (I don’t want to make a mistake on who was there and who was not, but there were at least 8 of us in the van, all the bicycles loaded on top). Of course, we talked about cyclists we knew as we drove in the dark through the Hill Country. Bob McGhee’s name came up. Bob takes delight in needling people. Someone said that Bob is sometimes obnoxious.(like when he takes to singing opera as we climb hills). Obnoxious? Instantly, Hipp came up with “Bob-noxious”. That’s where it originated . . . . The nickname stuck. Bob is good with it, wears it as a badge of honor.

    38. August 4, 2009 at

      I have known the Hippster for over 20 years. We had a little advertising partnership in the 80’s working out of his Deep Ellum loft in Dallas. At the time, we had the most powerful Mac’s in town (a pair of SE 20’s with 4 MB of ram!) Once while working on a project that had us slammed and working 24 & 7 for weeks on end, Hippster had gotten sick, real sick. He came down with a fever of 101+ and was basically coughing up fur balls. But, he had to ride. The next day he left and competed in the Hotter’n Hell 100. He won the race. One of the most amazing efforts I have ever seen. Honestly, I have worked with professional athletes for over 30 years, and have never met his match. He was a man of dimension with a style and manner that was unique and genuine. I remember back in 1988, Chris ‘entertaining’ my 2 year old son by running around my backyard with a large moving box over his body. My son, now 22, still calls him boxman. We had some great times together and I will miss knowing that he is a phone call away.
      I will never forget that unforgettable over the shoulder grin.
      I learned a lot from Chris and am thankful to have had him in my life.
      Lorraine and Mike, my deepest sympathies.
      Rest in peace my friend.
      Charles Kallassy
      aka to the ‘Skipper’ as ‘Chuckles’

    39. Wyatt Seals
      September 19, 2009 at

      I wanted to add this late post. I just now read of Chris’ death. I raced MX with Chris and Mike back in the early 80’s in Texas. I only knew them at the track and on the track! Although I didn’t know Chris on a more personal level I can witness to his athletic abilities.

      We rode the same class together for a short time and at the local Texas races I could race with him. I remember showing up at the ’82 Houston Supercross and the Hipps and I were pitted next to each other. Since both of us weren’t seeded riders we had to qualify just to be a part of the nights main program. In short, I didn’t qualify and Chris did. Not only did he make it to the night program, I am pretty sure he qualified for the main event. The main event were the 20 best of the night and he was there!

      Chris had this ability to rise to the occasion and he definitely did it that night. I remember he was always happy and laughing and while I was a bundle of nerves that day in 1982 he was at ease and ready for battle. It is apparent through all of the posts I have read that he never changed.

      Kind regards and the deepest sympathy for Mike and all he left behind.

      Wyatt Seals
      A Texan living in NC

    40. Tad Renfro
      September 9, 2011 at

      Searching to reconnect with the Hippster. Found this article… Still not sure what happened.

      He was an amazing athlete with incredible drive to succeed. And, he was an unforgettable joy to work with many years ago (Visual Impact Advertising, Irving Texas 1988-1990).

      I laugh when I think about being slammed around in his VW Rabbit as we race back from lunch. Somewhere I have a copy of his resignation letter which was written perfectly to match the mood – with a pleasant and to-the-point body slam.

      My heart goes out to those who knew him well.
      -Tad Renfro, Stuart FL

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