Steve Tilford, 57, the first US mountain bike national champion in 1983 and hall of fame inductee, was killed early Wednesday in a traffic accident in eastern Utah. Vincent Davis, who was a passenger in the van that Tilford was driving, confirmed the death to Cyclingnews.
The pair were driving back to Davis' home in Denver, Colorado in I-70 East when their van collided with a tractor trailer carrying boxes of goods that had tipped over across the highway.
"Steve was driving, and I was in the passenger seat dozing when something woke me up – I looked up and thought we were running into a wall," Davis told Cyclingnews. "We hit the side of the truck and went through the trailer and out the top. It was only carrying boxes, so we were hurt but OK.
"I walked up the road to a pick-up truck that had stopped and was sitting inside making calls because it was cold out, and then I heard screaming – another semi had plowed into the van, and Steve was back there."
Tilford's partner Trudi, a soigneur with BMC Racing, was in Europe at the time. His friends are currently looking for his dog Tucker, who ran away from the first wreck.
Tilford kept a popular blog at stevetilford.com. Having started racing at age 14, and across road, cyclo-cross and mountain bike, he had a wealth of knowledge and opinion on all facets of the sport, backed up by four national titles in 'cross, multiple masters world championships and numerous other accolades.
Still an active racer, Tilford was on his way home from a training camp in San Diego when the fatal crash occurred.
Cyclingnews extends our deepest condolences to all of his family, friends and fans.