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Seattle biking legend Jerry Baker passes away

Photo from Cascade Bicycle Club.
Photo from Cascade Bicycle Club.

In just about every way, Jerry Baker won the Seattle-to-Portland forever.

He won the STP in 1979, the first year of the now-legendary annual ride and the only year it was actually a race.

A few months ago, Baker completed his 36th STP, more times than anyone else.

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But Baker’s impact on cycling in the Seattle region goes far beyond those 200 miles. In fact, it’s absolutely incredible how many vital cycling institutions in the area he helped create and grow.

“Surrounded by loving family, Jerry Baker passed away early on September 10th after the sudden onset of acute leukemia,” says a note from family members.

Notes from people he impacted and organizations he helped start are pouring out from all over. Cycling in the area today would be unrecognizable without Baker.

He was a founder of Cascade Bicycle Club, which has grown into a rare bicycling institution that funds advocacy and education work with financial support from a long season of large rides.

Baker also helped create Marymoor Velodrome in Redmond, a rare gem for track racing. Not every city has access to a velodrome, an incredible asset for both aspiring and amateur racers.

In the late 80s, Baker helped found the Bicycle Federation of Washington, an organization with a goal of improving bicycling statewide. You now know that organization as Washington Bikes.

He also helped found the Washington Student Cycling League, which referred to him in a post today as the “Godfather.”

As Robert Freeman (former co-owner of Elliott Bay Bicycles) writes on Bike Hugger, Baker also had a hand in the bicycle industry in Seattle in the 60s and 70s, selling bikes made by people including a young Bill Davidson.

Our condolences to his family and many, many friends.

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13 responses to “Seattle biking legend Jerry Baker passes away”

  1. Jim

    Pedal on Jerry. You will be missed. Seattle is a much better place because you were in it.
    My condolences to all who knew him.

  2. Brian

    Sounds like a phenomenal person! I like what looks to be an AARP water bottle in the photo. :)

  3. Marco

    Jerry was a gem, and an original. His work in the Puget Sound region and beyond was HUGE. He will be sorely missed in the cycling community.

    Tailwinds, Jerry — not that you ever needed them.

  4. John

    His Sunday rides were required riding off-racing season. Baleno was the first to bring in fur-lined winter shoes and sweet Santini wool jerseys. He was a plenty spirited rider when the situation arose. I’ll miss him for sure.

  5. Patty Lyman

    I often sat and talked to Jerry at Perts in Madrona when stopping for coffee on a bike ride. What a special man. Ride onward, Jerry with the wind at your back!

  6. Bill and Trisha Stevenson

    Jerry is a friend that we and the Northwest Cycling Community will dearly miss.

  7. Kathy Duden-Daviess

    Jerry was a giant in the early days of Seattle bicycling. He was a pioneer and advocate. I remember that he would bicycle with his son to school. His wife started designing and making bicycle clothing for him. This started a new bicycle industry.

  8. Erik Solberg

    God bless Jerry, you were the best!

  9. Sarah graham

    Jerry was an important part of our family. We respected him, admired him and we’ll miss him.

  10. David Gackenbach

    I met Jerry while in college in PA and we bought our team jerseys from Baleno. When I moved to Seattle after college, he met me and gave me the low down on cycling in Seattle. We rode past each other countless times. 20 years later, he’s getting my kid on the Velodrome to do his first Kiddie Kilo race. His generosity and dedication to all of us riders and future riders is truly wonderful.

  11. Demian

    Very sad day for Seattle cycling! Everyone who rides a bike around Seattle owes a debt of thanks!

    They should name the STP after Jerry!

  12. Dave

    It will be hard to pull one of my remaining Baleno jersies on with dry eyes for a while.

  13. Sandra Wright Sutherland

    “Handsling: The Sequel to Breaking Away” is dedicated to Jerry. He served to “Handsling” so many bicyclists into the sport. It was an honor to know him.

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