A bicyclist remembered as a renowned Iowa custom bike-frame builder collapsed during Monday’s stage of RAGBRAI and later was pronounced dead at a hospital. [Update: Later in the week, on Wednesday, a Sioux City man died of a heart attack in his tent. George “Frank” Brinkerhoff, 74, was president of the Siouxland Cyclists bike club. KTIV.com said he was a “huge force” in the cycling successes in Sioux City and had an impact statewide.]
Tom Teasdale, 62, described by a newspaper as one of Iowa’s “secret famous people,” built mountain bike and other bicycle frames out of his warehouse in West Branch for 32 years under the name TET Cycles.
Known as a frame-building innovator, one of his frames is in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Europe and another is in the U.S. Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Crested Butte, Colorado.
He also built tandem bike frames for special needs students at Camp Courageous in Monticello, Iowa.
University of Iowa professor Steve McGuire, who remembered Teesdale as a visiting professor at the University’s School of Studio Arts, told RadioIowa:
“He knew how to match the geometry of a bicycle to a person in such a way that when a person got on a bike — a bike that he built — they felt like they were really riding a bike for the first time.
“It’s been a really sad day, (with) tears, but I have to say that he went out in a wonderful way. He was riding a bicycle that he made for a trip that he took with his daughter on RAGBRAI. … You know, I can’t think of anything more fitting.”
RAGBRAI officials said a “quick response” motorcycle followed by an ambulance attended to a man who collapsed on Monday between the towns of Terril and Graettinger. Teesdale later died of a heart attack at Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg.
Ride director T.J. Juskiewicz said: “The thoughts and prayers of the entire RAGBRAI Nation are with the family who lost a loved one while he was enjoying RAGBRAI.”
The last death on RAGBRAI occurred in 2010 when two riders collided.
Graveside services are planned at 11:00 a.m. Friday, July 25, at the Myers Cemetery near Niota, IL. More obituary information here (Thomas Teesdale Jr. obit).