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US cyclo-cross legend Laurence Malone dies in traffic crash

The start line, '70s style, in Golden Gate Park. Five-time national champ Laurence Malone is on the far left.
The start line, '70s style, in Golden Gate Park with five-time national champ Laurence Malone on the far left. (Image credit: Ray Stafford)

Laurence Malone, a US Bicycling Hall of Famer who made a mark for his country in cyclo-cross in the 1970s, has died in a traffic incident near Lancaster, California on Monday.

Malone won five US cyclo-cross championships in a row between 1975 and 1979 - a run that no male 'cross racer has matched since.

He also raced in Europe and was the first to bunny-hop barriers, earning the moniker 'Der Springer' in an era where Switzerland was the main hub for cyclo-cross.

After retiring from racing in 1980, Malone coached and shared his knowledge as a writer for Velonews and Bicycling magazine, inspiring the next generation of 'cross racers.

A free spirit, Malone retired early, favouring fun and honing skills over long, brutal hours in the saddle. He lived a frugal life, salvaging bicycles from junkyards, rehabilitating them and selling or donating them to disadvantaged children, and still enjoyed riding fully rigid bikes off road. 

According to Cyclocross magazine, Malone was driving home to Chimayo, New Mexico after riding in Ojai, California and suffered a head-on collision with a truck on Highway 138 west of Lancaster, California.

Malone is survived by his eight-year-old son who lives in Mexico.

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