The Davis Enterprise: October 23, 2009
Davis Bicycles! column #30
Author: Lydia Delis-Schlosser
Steve Larsen, left, and Lydia Delis-Schlosser, second from left, are joined by other members of the Mad Cow Racing Team at the 2002 Ironman Triathlon on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Passion, commitment, dedication, loving father, devoted husband and friend. These words define what Steve Larsen was and will always be.
Raised in Davis and a 1988 Davis High School graduate, Steve was the greatest cyclist to come from our town and the most versatile professional cyclist of our time. He died suddenly in May of coronary artery disease at the age of 39, leaving behind his wife Carrie, and their five children.
Steve and Carrie moved back to Davis in 2000 and purchased Wheelworks. I had been pursuing triathlons for a few years and was having success in the shorter distances, but I was interested in exploring the more challenging events of half and full Ironman triathlons.
I met Steve through Wheelworks and other triathletes. I was eager to succeed in the sport. I was also a 44-year-old mother of two boys and a professional designer. Steve was generous and inspiring. He was a pro; I was a much older triathlete, semi-content with my current success.
Steve didn’t consider my age and he respected my commitments to family and career. He mentored me and recognized my ability to excel. Steve encouraged me to ride Saturday morning training rides and participate in workouts with local triathletes. My confidence and strength grew. Over time, I elevated my performance in each discipline, especially in cycling.
Many of us who were motivated by Steve’s passion for the sport went on to compete and claim podium spots in races all over the country, including the coveted Hawaii Ironman World Championships. As for me, I qualified for the world championships in Hawaii my last six seasons. Each year I have placed in the top four, in 2004 I was world champion in my age group, and in 2003, at age 46, I had the fastest amateur women’s bike split of all divisions and that was all about Steve.
Steve Larsen is the only American to compete in world championships in five different disciplines: road, mountain bike, track, cyclocross and triathlon. His cycling rsum included many junior and professional cycling and mountain biking championships, racing for Motorola in Europe with Lance Armstrong, and shattering course records in both road triathlon and XTERRA mountain bike triathlons.
Steve’s Davis contributions were different from his stellar national accomplishments. What resonates in the memory of many here is not his individual victories, but rather how he encouraged and inspired countless others.
As a Davisite and shop owner, Steve’s passion for mentoring shined through. He motivated cyclists and triathletes regardless of age or ability. If an athlete had the desire to improve, Steve was the first to offer encouragement and advice. Steve’s humble assistance transcended his business associates and friends. Steve made Davis still more of a community.
Steve’s passion for life and competition, his love of his family and community, and his desire to encourage active healthy lifestyles inspired me to honor his memory through my participation in this year’s Hawaii Ironman two Saturdays ago.
What went through my mind as I competed in the most challenging race a 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile cycle across windswept lava fields and then a marathon under the blazing Kona sun? Once out of the water, I took off on the bike course with the goal of leading the field after 112 miles. Thoughts of Steve and his words of wisdom ran through my mind, especially in the tough sections.
Uplifted and motivated, I led my division off the bike and after the 26.2-mile marathon I had finished in fourth place, grateful for the experience and the amazing pride and joy one feels when completing the Hawaii Ironman.
Thank you, Steve, for your inspiration and encouragement. You will forever be part of my athletic soul.
Together with the DHS Blue & White Foundation, Janus Ironman Fundraising program, Davis Bicycles! and other cycling groups in town, our goal is to raise $100,000 for the Steve Larsen Memorial Plaza (with great bike parking!) at the entrance to the newly renovated DHS stadium.
We want Steve’s community and national accomplishments to inspire others. We’ll be taking our efforts very public at the DB! Film Festival Saturday night. Meet me there to hear more about Steve, join our efforts and to enjoy an evening with Davis’ great community.
Lydia Delis-Schlosser is a 30-year Davis resident, UC Davis graduate, mother of two, triathlete, design consultant and project coordinator. She loves spending time with her kids, sports and taking on new challenges.