Update: Popular Pasadena bike racer killed in Rancho Dominguez

More bad news.

Word is slowly spreading that local rider Christopher Cono was killed while racing in the Carson area Sunday afternoon.

Other reports, including one from Michael Wagner of CLR Effect, identify him as Christopher Contreras of Velo Pasadena; he says the death occurred at the CBR Memorial Day Criterium in Dominguez Hills.

No word yet on why the discrepancy in identifying the victim; condolence messages are appearing under both names.

According Wagner, Contreras was injured when he hit a light standard at full speed in the pro race, and died after being transported to a hospital.

Sadly, H&S Bicycles reports Cono/Contreras leaves behind a wife and small child.

There is always an assumed risk in racing; we hope the worst will never happen, while knowing it can at any time. It is the chance we all take when we push the limits, and the loved ones we leave behind who pay the price.

So far, there has been no report of the death in the media.

Once confirmed, this will be the 29th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, over half of which have occurred in L.A. County.

My prayers and sympathy for Christopher (Cono) Contretras and all his family and loved ones.

Update: The confusion over the victim’s name has been cleared up; Christopher Contreras went by the name Cono. The H&S Facebook page reports he raced for Gruppo Velo, where he served as Race Director; plans are in the works for a ride to benefit his family. 

In addition, Michael Wagner has added more to his post, writing movingly about a fallen racer he did not know, but who was a member of the local racing family; he also identifies him as the founder of the popular Fortune 700 stage race.

Unless someone captured him during the race, this photo of Contreras and his son, along with L.A. Olympic legend Nelson Vails, may have been among the last ever taken of him.

Photo by Lynn Ingram, via Facebook

Photo by Lynn Ingram, via Facebook

Update 2: Kryxtanicole offers a touching tribute to a rider who touched her life, if only briefly, and inspired her to ride without fear.

I remember the night we met; when my first impression of him was that he was intense, in a good way. When you live with conviction it’s infectious, and that’s how he was. Cycling was not just a big part of his own life, it was something he was passionate about sharing with others.

It’s definitely worth clicking on the link and reading the full piece; thanks to H&S Bicycles for the link.

While I didn’t know Chris, his death hit me hard, as it clearly has many others. And the more I learn about him, the harder it hits.

By all accounts, we lost a very good man yesterday.

Update 3: Writing on the Wolfpack Hustle blog, L.A. cycling icon Roadblock describes watching the ambulance slowly round the final turn, not knowing his friend was inside. And the lesson learned to make time for the people and things that really matter in life.

Make time to ride with your friends and with future friends. You never know when someone will no longer be here especially with a sport as dangerous as competitive cycling. I feel like a pillar of LA cycling has collapsed. It’s just not real… it’s like looking at the familiar downtown skyline and seeing one of the skyscrapers now gone.

And Christy Nicholson writes on SoCalCycling that there will be a Memorial Service for Contreras next week, and that a previously scheduled criterium will be turned into a benefit for his family.

Memorial Service
There will be a Memorial Service for Chris at Cabot & Sons Mortuary in Pasadena on June 7th at 6pm.

Cabot & Sons Mortuary
300 Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA

3rd Annual Kool ‘N Fit Criterium Benefit Race
On June 9th, the 3rd Annual Kool ‘N Fit Criterium will donate all proceeds to benefit the Chris Contreras family. This is a great opportunity for the SoCal Cycling Community to come together and lend their support and help Chris’ family during this sad time. Race Flyer >

Update 4: A fund has been established to raise money for Contreras’ family.

31 comments

  1. JD says:

    Our sincerest heartfelt prayers go up for the family and friends of Mr. Contreras.

  2. Lorachristine Ramsey says:

    My husband was racing with Chris yesterday and I took pictures of the race. I have four pictures with Chris in them and one would be his final lap. I do NOT have pictures of the crash. His wife went into shock and there was a group of about 5 people standing around her child (about 1 years old). Very sad day and may Chris be resting in peace and my whole heart goes out to his family.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thank you for that. My heart goes out to his wife and children; I can only imagine how hard that must have been for everyone involved.

      If you would like to share any of the pictures, I’ll share them with my readers. It would be nice to see Chris doing what he loved, and remember him that way.

    • Hi… I am Chris’s aunt and would be interested in the pictures you have of my nephew.. Could you send them to me..?? Also do you know of any other people that might have taken..??

  3. Lora Ramsey says:

    How do I send you the pics?

  4. Blanca Villareal says:

    Cono is my friend. He left behind his wife (also my friend) and his 2 sons. His youngest is my child’s friend whom are born the same week in 2011.
    :(

  5. Lora Ramsey says:

    So sorry for your loss Blanca. Reports said he had one son and I’m so glad you clarified for us. I was at the race and near his wife when she started going into shock and passed out. A lot of people helped and took care of her child that was in a stoller. My heart truly breaks for his family and may Chris be resting in peace.

  6. Doug Kane says:

    I grew up with Chris. We have been brothers for 30 years. One of the toughest days in a long time!

    • ValleyBall1 says:

      It’s always so scary thinking that someday someone close to you will pass. I’m sorry you experienced that day Doug. Praying for those that knew him, as well as his family. RIP Chris.

  7. ValleyBall1 says:

    This is such terrible news to hear! RIP Chris. May God give his wife, kids, friends, and extended family the strength during this terrible time. I’ll keep them all in my prayers.

    I’ve been contemplating joining the Cat 5 racing ranks but, with two very young kids, this story is a very sad reminder that I just can’t risk leaving my wife and family. I’ll just continue to hammer on fast group rides.

    • bikinginla says:

      I know what you mean. I’ve never been a racer, but I used to go all out when I ride, pushing my limits until they broke. But then I got married, and realized there was someone who needed me to come home again after a ride.

      I still ride hard, but a lot more carefully these days. I don’t ever want to see that look on my wife’s face when she picks me up at the ER again.

  8. John Smoke says:

    So will his wife and family sue the city? and if they win, us taxpayers will end up footing the bills for raising this family? I hope not! You race, you die, all fine and cool. But now you leave behind your loved ones who depend on you for money. Don’t forget to get a good life insurance.

    • Brian says:

      You are an ass!

      • bikinginla says:

        John, I don’t have many rules for commenting on here, but this comes very close to breaking my rule against showing disrespect for the dead.

        I’m going to leave this comment up. But it says a lot more about your callousness than it does about anything you’ve said.

        And normally, I’d remove Brian’s comment since I don’t allow personal attacks. But if I leave yours, it’s only fair that I leave his, as well.

        • Patti R says:

          I didn’t know Mr. Conteras, but as a cyclist and a human being, I would gladly ‘pick up the tab’ to help raise his two young children. Shame on you Mr. Smoke for being so cold. Karma has a way of dealing with that kind of heart.

    • Judith says:

      What a nasty, self-centered person you must be. You make me want to gag! I’m appalled by your lack of sensitivity. How do you live with yourself? Go crawl back under the rock you live in.

    • Bob says:

      Such a random string of non sequiturs! What exactly is fine and cool? I met his wife at the Kool n’Fit Crit that became a fund raiser. Likely an immigrant (Japan?), she was amazed at the outpouring of support. She is going to maintain the group of friends that Chris developed in cycling. His team had a fundraiser with jerseys from Bobke (Bob Roll) and a 2012 World Champion.

  9. Lora says:

    You are a loser “John Smoke.”

  10. appie says:

    This particular race was open to racers of category Pro, 1, 2, and 3.

    I believe it was somewhat irresponsible of the race promoter to combine racers of such wide categories.

    A Pro/1 race, even when combined with cat2, is typically extremely fast & raced aggressively by young men in their 20s and 30s.

    Mr. Contreras was a category 3 racer in his late 40s.

    To my mind, it’s like putting a weekend car race enthusiast (even a very good one) into a Nascar race. I hope in the future, the race promoter reconsiders.

    • Racin T says:

      CAT 123 are all very similar in speed and experiance.. the above statement is irresponsible. Racing accidents happen. Most event promotors do thier best to create a safe as possible venue..but when we sign the waiver.. we know its our responsibility to ride within our limits.

    • Terrible analogy, and your analysis is not very good either.

      Cat 3 racers are plenty fast and experienced. You add nothing to the discussion by trying to blame the promoter.

      RIP, Cono…

    • Bob says:

      masters 35+ cat 1//2/3/4 is nearly as fast as a pro/1/2/3 race with cat 4′s in the mix. many masters 35+ cat 1/2/3 also race the pro/1/2/3 later in the day.

  11. Matthew Fabiano says:

    A fund has been set up that goes directly to help Chris’ family. The link is:

    http://www.gofundme.com/32wvko

    Please help in anyway you can.

  12. Paul Sez says:

    Here’s a video of the crit course from the Cat 4 race: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MobA5Npcays

    Not a technical course by any stretch, but as you can see from the video, lots of hazards off to the sides (fire hydrants, light poles, trees).

    This is a good reminder for race organizers everywhere that barriers are important even for the most basic of courses. I would point to the folks who organize the Dana Point Grand Prix as a good example to follow. They do a great job of keeping the course safe for the racers.

    Prayers for Chris’ friends and family.

  13. We put up hay bales in front of hazards at a criterium course I helped setup. It may, or may not have helped. If you’re going 30+mph, hitting a hay bale with your head or body is going to hurt like hell, and it won’t prevent someones neck from snapping either.

  14. […] death comes less than a month after Chris Cono was killed during a criterium in Rancho Dominguez, leaving the tight knit racing community doubly […]

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