Two weeks into the new year, two cycling deaths

Evidently, Kevin Unck wasn’t the first cyclist killed in Southern California this year after all.

On January 4th, I’d linked to a story about a Ventura cyclist who was injured after losing control of his bike while rounding a curve at 30 mph — oddly similar to what happened with the popular masters racer Unck, who lost control after hitting a patch of gravel and mud, and slid into the path of an oncoming car.

In this case, though, there wasn’t another vehicle involved. Forty-eight year old Joseph Powers was riding on Highway 150 on the morning of January 3rd, when he lost control near the intersection with Gobernador Canyon Road in the Carpenteria Valley and was airlifted to the hospital.

After that, there was no follow-up story in the news, which wasn’t really surprising. There was no indication that Powers injuries were life threatening, and today’s modern emergency care can quickly stabilize most accident victims. And most news outlets don’t usually run stories on people who survive their injuries.

Powers wasn’t so lucky.

Word broke today that he was pronounced dead on January 6th at the Ventura County Medical Center. According to the Ventura County Star, he died of blunt force chest injuries, his death was ruled an accident.

According to an obituary in the Star, Powers, a native of Ventura County, was an employee of the Ventura Unified School District, and was passionate about his friends, cycling, baking and his dogs. Messages left online suggest he was well liked; services will be held tomorrow at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

My condolences to his family and loved ones.

We may never know what caused an experienced cyclist like Powers to lose control. However, it may very well have been something similar to the bad road conditions that took Unck’s life; the heavy rains over the holidays could have easily left mud and debris on the roadway.

Let their deaths be a reminder that while the bright California sunshine following a storm can call us out onto the roads, it’s best to assume that bad weather will leave behind bad road conditions.

And ride accordingly.


There will be a memorial ride for Kevin Unck on Saturday, January 22nd; check back with the Cycling Connection IE for more information.


  1. The Trickster says:

    I’ve been caught out by that before today although luckily it was fairly low speed.

    Turned into a 25k hairpin at 30k on a dry day about 2 days after a heavy rain storm and must’ve hit some grit or something as the front end just washed out from under me and sent me sliding across the road.

    So yeah, its very easy to do unfortunately.

    • bikinginla says:

      Yeah, I’ve been there myself. I once slid across six lanes of traffic, somehow weaving my way through passing cars, because I missed — or more precisely didn’t miss — a puddle right in front of me.

      And don’t get me started on loose gravel patches on high speed descents.

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