Austin King passed away on March 21, 2013. It was untimely in the most awful of circumstances since he was a victim of crime. It remains a shock, tragedy and everlasting question of "why." Austin was best described by Sally who said he was an anchor. She meant that in every physical and metaphorical sense of the word. Blair commented that Austin, in his quiet and polite manner, understood his fellow cyclists more than the rest of us understand each other. These observations about Austin are reflected in the poem below.
It's a poem constructed to be read aloud as it was during a dedication ride July 7, 2013. It's also directed to an audience that knows where Austin would position himself during a group ride--at the back, as an anchor. He served as the guy who placed himself between the pack and any cyclist who dangled off the back, struggling to hang on. If necessary, he'd fall back to pull that person back to the group.
On the July ride, about 80 cyclists gathered at Conte's in Virginia Beach to ride out to the Creeds store and back as a dedication ride. 55 miles is a long dedication ride. However, it was Austin's routine on Sunday to do this loop, so it seemed best to honor him this way. Also, he had purchased a bike rack for the store a couple of years before since the store marked a common layover for cyclists riding in the rural part of Virginia Beach. He made the purchase and paid for the installation without any big announcements.
Austin contributed in other selfless ways to the cycling community. It is common in cycling to help with the promotion of bike races IF a person is a racer. However, Austin helped with races for no other reason but to support the racers on the team since he did not race himself. He worked behind the scenes at about 40 Tripower-sponsored road events dating back to the mid-90's. He hauled and set up hay bales, cones, extension cords, and caution tape for races held in Downtown Norfolk, at Little Creek Amphibious base, at Mt. Trashmore, and even a few in Smithfield.
The July dedication included the installation of 3 benches: 2 at the Creeds store and 1 at Conte's. Numerous contributors made this happen. We gathered there at Creeds with Austin's wonderful family. His wife Melanie spoke to us and said so eloquently how much Austin enjoyed the rides and the people. I felt strange hearing how much he enjoyed us when I had always viewed Austin as one we relied so heavily upon rather than the other way around. It made me think about how much we all really need each other.
Summer came slowly