On Saturday July 29th, in the early hours of the fifth running of the Transcontinental Race, we lost one of our own, Frank Simons.
Frank’s death is a tragedy that has affected the cycling community deeply. It was important to all involved with the Transcontinental Race to celebrate his life and recognise his many and varied cycling achievements.
Frank was born in the Netherlands on October 19th 1945 and from a young age he developed a passion for sports and the great outdoors. As a student he rowed competitively, was an avid swimmer and loved to hike and camp with his family in the backcountry of Scandinavia and Scotland.
In his late 50’s he discovered cycling and it quickly developed from a hobby to passion. In 2004 he joined local cycling associations “De Paaschberg” and “De Vuttersgroep”. Frank never missed a club ride, even if he had been out riding all weekend. He would ride from his home to an audax, do the audax and ride back home again covering several 100kms in the weekend and still make sure he was ready for the Monday morning club ride. Despite enjoying riding alone, within these clubs he found camaraderie and sense of belonging.
Amongst those who knew him well Frank had a reputation not only for his qualities as a rider, but for being an entertaining cyclist, one who loved extremes. As such, he participated in a number of highly respected events including: The Frisian Elf Cities; Paris-Brest-Paris (2007/ 2011); The Merselo - Verona 1200km Audax; The Miglia Italia and Santiago de Compostela, 2800 km in 12 days, a classic route for many Dutch touring cyclists.
Frank was absolutely in love with the freedom and challenge inherent with randonneuring, with long distance cycling. The Transcontinental Race was set to be his biggest race, one which he hoped to finish in 15 days, having put in the training to do so. His preparation would see him riding to Belgium and back over a weekend, with a break in the middle to participate in a local race; Frank was clearly both skilled and prepared for this race. Frank and his wife Catherine had an agreement, on the TCR he would take his credit card and not his tent, there would be no sleeping in bus shelters for Frank. Catherine knew her husband was skilled and well prepared for this event but naturally, she wanted him to take good care of himself.
Frank was characterized by his wife, family and friends as a loving, warm hearted and amiable man, perspicacious, intelligent, mysterious yet authentic, big hearted, responsible and one who knew the value of hard work, both off and on the bike. A family man, solitary at times, who loved a good read; he was fascinated by his family's history and he dared to be bold regardless of his age, with the appetite of a young man who wanted to conquer the world, hungry for adventure. Above all else he was a husband, father, grandfather and friend with time for everybody; whether it was for a weekly ride, a listening ear, or dancing practice in the kitchen with the love of his life.
The loss of Frank is the loss of one of our own, a loss that weighs on the whole cycling community. It is also a reminder to us to live our lives with grace and with passion, to strive for that which challenges us – whatever age we may be - and embrace that which forces us to grow, cherishing those moments with family, with friends, and with the solitude that long-distance riding brings. Our thoughts are with his wife Catherine, his children, grandchildren, family and friends. We wish them the strength to continue without him and eventually, find comfort in his memory.
With special thanks to Frank's son Job, his wife Catherine and to his friends for letting us learn more about Frank, and to Laura Scott for kindly putting together this post for us.