The bicycle world lost one of its biggest fans this week when Robin Williams was found hanged in an apparent suicide on Monday.
Last year, Williams wrote at a Reddit Ask Me Anything:
“My favorite thing to do is ride a bicycle. I ride road bikes. And for me, it’s mobile meditation.”
His love for bikes and biking became well-known when he was often seen riding with his friend, Lance Armstrong. Williams showed up on talk shows in bike gear.
But bike shop owners in coastal towns of Northern California knew of Williams’ bike addiction for years. The Hollywood Reporter sent a staff writer there to find out about Williams as a bicyclist. Soo Youn learned that Williams supported all the bike shops.
“One of the world’s funniest men rode through these small towns on customized ultra-light bikes, his infamous body hair contrasting with the shaved legs of other serious road cyclists, giving away his identity. … So Williams would bike through these towns, completing an informal loop of bike shops, coffee houses and book stores.”
One bike shop worker said Williams had started as a mountain bike fanatic, but his agents got him to switch because they thought it was too dangerous.
The Bicycling website promoted a piece written in 2003 by Dan Koeppel — “Robin Williams: I’m lucky to have bikes in my life.” At that time, Williams stored at least 50 exotic bikes in a garage in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood.
“Williams says he draws creative inspiration from all that gear: ‘When I see a beautiful bike, I know a guy worked really hard to make those welds, to make it not just functional. And I think it’s the same [with acting.] It’s the details, the sense of a craftsman at work, getting it right.’ “
From what I’ve been reading, Williams didn’t collect bikes just to own them. He loved riding them. And although he sometimes participated in group rides like Ride for the Roses in Austin, he mostly rode to enjoy the scenery.
Williams once told Wall Street Journal reporter Jason Gay that cycling was “the closest you can get to flying.”
He will be missed. He talked about bicycling on the Daily Show last year.