Video by Daniel Kopald, via Tubulocity.
When news that Val Kleitz passed away hit the city yesterday, reactions immediately began pouring in from all over Seattle. It seems just about everyone has a Val story. He rode his custom cargo bicycle everywhere to accomplish what he needed to get done, and in doing so he inspired a generation of Seattle’s utilitarian bike riders.
Here is a sample of Val memories from Seattle bicycling writers around the city. Feel free to share your own stories in the comments.
Aaron’s Bicycle shop has a bio of Val on their website. Val’s bike shop was called Bikesmith. He also worked at Seattle Bicycle Supply. Aaron wrote about Val, and the Labor Day cargo bike ride will be dedicated in his honor:
It is with great sadness in my heart that I bring this news to you.
My dear, dear friend Val Kleitz died yesterday, August 10th, 2011.
He was 51 years young. He was born on June 8th, 1960. He worked for years on Sundays at my shop and turned one corner into The Bikesmith, his old shop in Wallingford.
He died of cancer. As many of you know, he was battling it. The end was peaceful for him. He was surrounded by his family.
There will be a wake soon and I will let ya’ll know time and place.
I am dedicating the next (and all following) Cargo Bike Ride(s) to Val. He and I started the first Seattle Cargo Bike ride during Bike Summer 2005. In that time Val only missed a couple of rides and most just recently. Val loved the utility aspect of bicycles.
The next Cargo Ride is this Labor Day, September 5th. Meet at 20/20 Cycles on Capitol Hill.
Car Free Days writes about the inspiration Val gave them, helping to start their family down the family biking road:
But that didn’t stop him from causing serious damage to pacelines full of those same Lycra-clad, one-day STP riders later that summer. I’m sure they (we!) wondered what the hell was going on when that same jeans/boot/hat-wearing, 3-speed-pedaling anomaly rode right up to us, said a cheerful hello, and kept motoring right on past the group. We didn’t see him again until a later pit stop. We were gulping Gatorload energy drink; he was coolly smoking a cigarette in the shade!
I’d totally forgotten (repressed) that for years until our first visit to the Holiday Cargo Bike rides — I believe it was the 2007 Buy Nothing Day Ride. We’d been blogging and riding our Xtracycle longtails for a few months; we felt like we had it all figured out. And then we showed up at the ride and were just blown away by the savant cargo collective. These were people doing stuff and carrying things in all weather and all conditions, and had been for years. Especially that guy over there in the jeans … and boots…. and cowboy hat.
Kent’s Bike Blog wrote of a particularly wonderful interaction with Val at Bike Works a few years back.
Val was often seen with a camera. He documented his life on two wheels on Flickr. Here’s a slideshow of our city from Val’s point of view: