RIP Steve Tilford: Mountain Biking's First National Champion

Apr 5, 2017
by Richard Cunningham  
The first NORBA National Champion, Steve Tilford, borrowed a mountain bike from Moots, a Colorado bike maker, and rode it to victory, earning him a place in the history books and a new career as a fat tire competitor, in addition to an already successful stint as a pro road racer and cyclocross competitor.

On April 5, Tilford was driving cross country in his Sprinter van with a friend, Vincent Davis, when they collided with the trailer of an overturned semi-truck on I-70. Reportedly, the Sprinter punched through the semi-trailer, and the two walked away from the massive impact relatively unscathed. The accident, which occurred near midnight, was not visible from oncoming traffic (which was why Tilford hit the trailer in the first place), and a second tractor trailer rig then slammed into the accident scene, killing Tilford, who was unfortunately standing behind the wreckage. Davis was elsewhere and was not struck. The 57-year-old Kansas native will be sorely missed by the mountain bike community, especially so, by those who were lucky enough to be his friend.

More information at KSL.com

Learn more about Steve Tilford
Steve Tilford
Steve Tilford - Selfie at Moab.




Posted In:
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31 Comments

  • 27 0
 I have read Steve's blog on and off - it's a really interesting look at what it is to be a hardcore semi-privateer bike pro in the US. A really cool and opinionated guy.

If you can find them, I remember being fascinated by Steve's post on recovery from collarbone injuries in the 1980s vs present day, and especially on doping scandals. It's easy to write off doping as part of professional sports when you're only a spectator, but it takes a different meaning when coming from someone whose career, and the careers of his friends, was impacted by these people and doping programs. Check it out - Steve didn't hold back.

stevetilford.com/2014/02/17/my-call-with-lance
  • 4 0
 Wow, that's a heavy blog entry. Thanks for linking! RIP Steve Tilford.
  • 23 1
 RIP Mr. Steve Legend Tilford.

#NeverForget
  • 17 0
 This really hit me, I had to take a 5min break when I read this. I used to look up to him as a jr, then as a pro rider I really hated him because he was retired but still mixing it up at 45 years old in the front of pro/am criteriums with his sharp f*cking elbows that were old as shit and ashy looking, always pretty much in the way and dive bombing you with 5 laps to go for tenth wheel knowing he can't break the top 10 in the spirit... I chilled out about him after I had a great chit chat with him and his lady before a race once, just a super cool dude with a real joy in his heart for riding bikes. Then I started to read his blog and that's when I really understood that this guy was a real motherf*cking bike racer to the core. He is the perfect example for anyone who just wants to get on the bike, rock out, and never quit. RIP
  • 13 0
 Getting into mountain biking late in life, I love the evolution and history of the sport, and bikes. So when I read about the death of a pioneer of the sport I feel sad, but also guilty because I just didn't know about them yet. Strange how you can have that kind of emotion for someone you never met.
  • 13 0
 Legend. R.I.P. 2017, you're not acting much better than that rat b@$tard 2016 when it comes to the biking world.
  • 8 0
 So sad, thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. Rest in Peace.
  • 7 0
 Ugh. I70 is so sketch. I feel like I narrowly avoid death every time I take a trip over the mountains.
  • 4 0
 I think Adam Myerson, retired cyclocross and road racer put it best (on FB):

"Steve had nine lives. But still, only nine.

We should all hope to live the kind of life that prompts so many people to tell stories about how they knew you, and with so much fondness."
  • 5 0
 Tilford was a class act and super interesting guy. Lost a good one. RIP.
  • 4 0
 Condolences to Steve's family and friends. I remember the days when he was champ.
  • 4 0
 I saw this guy whoop everyone's ass in the Sea Otter Fatboy crit in Santa Cruz like 15 years ago. He was already a legend.
  • 1 0
 These kind of riders are inspiring. The guy was a legend. He could take his XC race bike and outrun you on the trickiest most gnarly downhill, and of course beat you up that gut punch climb. And he was still going strong at almost 60! Goals. RIP
  • 1 0
 reading this news is making me very sad for all of us who admired the man throughout the decades giving us inspiration. I never met the man but feel like I have rode with him as there were so many times watching him ride to the podium when I was itching to ride like him. RIP rider......a true legend.
  • 4 1
 What a bizarre incident. Condolences and positive thoughts to those that knew him.
  • 14 2
 its not bizarre sadly. its very common for people to get hit after the accident because of standing around and not being in a vehicle. It's not always preventable Frown

that said, always check traffic noticed you/has stopped before you exit the vehicle and always get completely out of the way (far)

RIP
  • 5 1
 I hope they found Tucker...
  • 6 0
 They did. Tucker is safe.
  • 2 0
 A Gladiator on wheels. Rode with him a few times with the Moots crew and then Eriksen Cycles. Mountain, Road and Cyclocross a true triple threat. Ride in Peace Steve.
  • 3 0
 Such a sad loss of a Hall of Fame Legend. R.I.P.
  • 2 0
 I swear this is the third person in the past 2 weeks for the MTB world..... RIP steve????????
  • 2 0
 RIP Tilly ! The community will forever remember your racing prowess and ferocious attacks:: Steve Tilford God speed//
  • 3 0
 Wow. Rest in peace.
  • 2 0
 I read this on a news site. Just horrible. RIP
  • 2 0
 Wow, talk about bad luck! RIP.
  • 1 0
 Another bad year for cycling deaths. I read a few of his blog posts, seemed like a genuine guy.
  • 1 0
 "If it has two wheels and pedals, I'll race it!" -Steve Tilford

Race in peace bud, race in peace...
  • 2 0
 Sucks. R.I.P.
  • 2 0
 R.I.P Steve.
  • 2 0
 Sad news.

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