Tragic end to TransAmerica tour for California cyclist

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Sad news from Kentucky where a 71-year-old touring bicyclist from Chico, California, died from injuries he suffered when he fell off his bike.

Oliver 'Ollie' Scheideman Jr.

Retired Yuba City dentist Oliver “Ollie” Scheideman Jr. was fulfilling his dream to complete a TransAmerica bicycle tour. An earlier attempt in 2009 ended when he crashed soon after the start of a fund-raising cross-country bike tour in 2009.

Riding with a bicycle tour group supported by Adventure Cycling Association, Scheideman set off from Yorktown, Va., on May 20 and was heading for an early August finish in Florence, Oregon.

According to a medical examiner interviewed by the, the bicyclist apparently suffered a heart attack on Monday (June 4) when he sped ahead of some others to climb a hill on Kentucky 3445 near Gray Hawk, about 25 miles east of Berea. He fell, injuring two vertebrae at the base of his neck.

Scheideman was taken to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington where he never regained consciousness until he died on Thursday.

It’s bittersweet to read the recent entries at his blog — Ollie’s Wild Ride. You can tell early on that he was living this bike tour to the fullest. Two days into the tour, he writes:

We stopped for lunch at a very small country store. And I stopped at each and every one of the history sites and tried to take it all in. Like I said “EFI”! Every Fantastic Inch!

On the sixth day of the tour, he stopped in Afton, Va., to visit with June Curry, the famous “Cookie Lady” of the TransAmerica Bicycle Route.

June has been entertaining bicyclists since the original Bi-Centennial ride in 1976. She offers free water and cookies to all who stop by her house. At 91 years of age, she was still very pleased that we stopped by to talk and fill our water bottles. Mike, one our riders, was on that original 1976 bicycle ride and had a photo of himself and June taken when he was on that original ride. She was very excited to get the photo. Her house is a collectors dream/nightmare…take your pick. She has bicycle related stuff everywhere! As I stood there talking to her, I half expected a TV crew to show up and start filming.

In his last blog entry filed from the mountainous coal country of eastern Kentucky last Saturday, Scheideman remarks about the tough summits and how he was told that he was the oldest cyclist ever arrive at that night’s lodging without stopping.

Our condolences to his family and friends.

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1 comment

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    • Paul Trégouët on June 12, 2012 at 9:36 am
    • Reply

    I admire his spirit. And he died doing something he really liked.
    It reminds me of a line from a film: Every man dies, but not every man really lives.

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