Not Forgotten: Jon Lennard, aka @itburns

Not Forgotten: Jon Lennard, aka @itburns

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I bought a Road ID the day I learned of Jon Lennard’s death on August 12, 2013. Someone in the posts of the original announcement of his passing (below) mentioned he was identified by his Road ID. Of course he had a Road ID. What I knew of him made that perfect. So responsible and sensible.

The nature of this community is a strange thing; we don’t know each other by name, just by the handle we use. We are as anonymous as we choose to be. I only knew Jon’s real name because we’d emailed each other and he’d sent me a copy of Merckx 525 for Christmas. We were, without knowing each other formally, friends. At Velominati, I was always happy to see his crazy Avatar show up, that ridiculous image of Gollum in a Giro helmet. Who thinks of this stuff? Only @itburns. He and his spirit helped shape this community, like many others have. His voice stood out in the for his good nature, willingness to stir things up in a fun way, and always fostering a collegial atmosphere in the midst of controversy.

He was living La Vie Velominatus, throttle wide open. He was Rule #43 embodied .

Someone told me he was wearing his V-Kit; I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but the idea that he was wearing it at the time of his death chills my blood. I am honored beyond words that he wore it into his last moment but I’m ashamed that we weren’t strong enough to better protect him. The first death in V-Kit. It is a horrible thing that words can’t describe.

We all risk so much when we ride; we are at the mercy of the traffic around us, one moment’s inattention and it’s over. Jon’s death didn’t stop me riding, but it has me thinking of him every time I swing my leg over a top tube. This could be my last ride. Either make sure it isn’t, or make sure it’s worth it.

I miss you @itburns; I’m happy every time I see one of your old posts pop up in the archives. I will ride my bike tomorrow, on August 12, the anniversary of your passing, and I will think of you again. I’ll never forget you, my friend.

When you ride today, remember that this could be your last ride. Either make sure it isn’t, or make sure it’s worth it.

Vive la Vie Velominatus, and go with Merckx, my brothers and sisters.

He also has a Facebook Group set up by his friends that gets regular updates on friends reminding us of how awesome he was. Check it out: Shuttle’s Velominati Hall of Fame.

Each of us throw a leg over our top tubes and submit ourselves to the open road in recognition of the risks involved. These risks include those of a puncture, crash, damaged equipment, disability, and – ultimately – death. We try to be vigilant, we ride assertively yet defensively, and we hope for the best. We take every reasonable precaution to ensure we return home to ride again another day.

Longstanding community member Jon Lennard, known here as @itburns, will sadly not have that opportunity. Jon lost his life on August 12, 2013 at approximately 7:30pm while riding his bike in Houston, Texas. As of this writing, details are sparse, but the Houston Chronicle reports that he was hit in an intersection by a vehicle, and thrown violently from his bicycle.

People say online interactions lack a personal connection, and for the most part, they are right. But Velominati somehow seems to bridge that gap. We rarely meet one another, but somehow we bond, and we become what can only be characterized as friends. The loss I feel – and that I know Brett, Gianni, and Marko each felt as the news spread amongst the Keepers – suggests that this bond of friendship truly exists. We have lost not only a community member and Velominatus, but a friend.

Jon was what we characterize as a Pedalwan. He was relatively new to Cycling, and lapped up the knowledge, wisdom, and lessons that this community has become so good at providing. He asked questions, gave advice, and always delivered everything he said with a fantastic sense of humor. He was the picture-perfect example of living La Vie Velominatus. I am proud that our community appealed to him because he was exactly the kind of person we want to appeal to.

A few additional words:

@Bretto:

Although I never met Jon, he was a huge part of our community and this news has left me feeling sick to the stomach. I can’t begin to imagine how devastated his friends and family are at this time.

Jon, under his moniker @itburns, always seemed upbeat and positive with valuable input to any and every topic he participated in. He was a true Velominatus and will be genuinely missed around here. When I look at his palmares, the similarities between Jon and myself are many, which makes me think we would’ve gotten on famously; it also reminds me how very mortal each and every one of us are.

My condolences go out to his loved ones, and while this is a tragedy of terrible proportions, it is some small consolation that he died doing what he loved. RIP, VLVV Jon.

@Gianni:

This is sad and strange. We have lost a fellow Velominatus. He died in the saddle. We all have made friends on the site, most we have never met. How is that possible? We have conversations and arguments about bikes, cycling and life yet we don’t ever see each others faces, but we are still friends. If any of us had ever been stranded in Houston, @itburns, Jon Lennard, would have helped us out. To us he will always be known as a friend and Velominatus. Rest in peace. VLVV.

@Marko:

If I were to rattle off the first five or so community members that spring to mind, @itburns (Jon as we’ve come to know him now) would most likely be one of them. He’s an old timer around here and has been posting long enough to have become part of the ether of Velominati. His contributions were thoughtful, pleasant, supportive, and always furthered our discussion. I wish his untimely death wasn’t the impetus for us to learn more about him. Turns out he and I would have surely had other fun discussions about guitars, Metal, and kayaking as well. Maybe Jon’s passing will encourage us all to appreciate each other a bit more and know that there’s much more than cycling than we all have in common. Go with Merckx, brother, and thank you.

His childhood friend, Ron Willis, who kindly made us aware of the news:

Jon was smart as fuck and wasn’t kidding about the OCD… dude had his way (the only way) of doing things! Used to laugh my ass off watching him dick with his snowboard bindings EVERY day for half an hour on our ski trips. Can’t imagine what that bike went through.

Our biggest argument about things cycling – he thought “Dutch hill” work was the same as hill work (gravity bitch!)

Our second biggest argument – buy some fucking Zipps you cheap bastard!

Really gonna miss him.

Our deepest, heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and loved ones. We have marked the date of his death on the Velominati Cogal Calendar. Let us take a breath and acknowledge it could just as well have been us. Be safe, and always come home to ride another day.

We’ll miss you, Jon.

Jonathan King Lennard

Dec 24, 1965 – Aug 12, 2013

Single, no kids

BS Aerospace Engineering, Texas, 1988

Part owner of Software company that does contract work for Shell Oil.

Musician (bass and guitar)

Walking encyclopedia of all things rock ‘n roll

Avid reader (a lot of science fiction, Asimov, etc)

Beer/Spirits/Coffee – no expense spared for the best.

Early on: skate, surf, kayak

Later: cycling and snowboarding

Update: Some community members have been sharing photos. We’ll keep updating this as we get more.

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// General // Kermis // La Vie Velominatus

  1. I happened to be in Houston on business when the news about John came thru last year. What a kick in the gut. Never met him in person but what a sense of humor. I suspect no one will touch he number of plus one badges he earned. Roll in peace brother.

  2. @Nate

    I happened to be in Houston on business when the news about John came thru last year. What a kick in the gut. Never met him in person but what a sense of humor. I suspect no one will touch he number of plus one badges he earned. Roll in peace brother.

    Great point about the +1 badge.  Perhaps it should be the @itburns badge, no?

  3. @Buck Rogers

    @Nate

    I happened to be in Houston on business when the news about John came thru last year. What a kick in the gut. Never met him in person but what a sense of humor. I suspect no one will touch he number of plus one badges he earned. Roll in peace brother.

    Great point about the +1 badge. Perhaps it should be the @itburns badge, no?

    um, +1?

  4. Awwww jeeeze, a year has gone by? And he was wearing his V-kit, I don’t think I realized that. Fuck. I’m no wiser a year later about his death, it’s still a terrible thing but we are all lucky more of us haven’t had fatal meetings with cars. Cars are assholes. And maybe I curse too much, oh well, too late now.

    @ChrisO

    It is a uniquely companionable, shareable and inclusive sport. It brings people together and it establishes bonds between unlikely connections. To me that’s what @itburns reminds me of.

    Nice. 

  5. @Frank – thoughtful tribute.  This morning’s ride was solemn and introspective.  The headwind may have had something to do with it.  Roll with care.

  6. @Xyverz

    Seeing this post makes me realize just how lucky I am to be alive after my incident with the motorhome in the 2nd Annual Bay Area Cogal.

    Definitely gone but not forgotten. I didn’t know him, but I’ll miss @itburns nonetheless.

    Mate, I went on my honorary @itburns ride today and had more near-misses than I can recall.

    We have to be careful, every moment we’re out there. It can happen to any one of us. Cars are clueless and even the best of them are likely distracted by a phone, passenger, or Big Mac they need to crush RIGHT THAT SECOND.

    Scary business, this. But also the most beautiful sport.

  7. @Buck Rogers

    @Nate

    I happened to be in Houston on business when the news about John came thru last year. What a kick in the gut. Never met him in person but what a sense of humor. I suspect no one will touch he number of plus one badges he earned. Roll in peace brother.

    Great point about the +1 badge. Perhaps it should be the @itburns badge, no?

    Maybe we could make him a special one; I did already on the day of his passing dive into the code to do some hard-wiring to make sure his status didn’t fade away (its tied to recent activity, an unfair ask under the circumstances).

    I wish I knew more about him; I feel like from what I know, keeping his status would be what he wants – that giving him some additional badge feel weird to him. But I’ll let those who knew him better advise me on that.

  8. @Chris

    Every now and then, surfing through old articles, I come across one of Jon’s posts. Sometimes there’s a kick in the guts followed by a chuckle or wry smile as I realise I’ve come across one of his post before I’ve read it but more often than not the chuckle and smile come first: the kick doesn’t come until I’ve thought “great post, who wrote that?” and spot his nasty little helmeted head.

    He won’t be forgotten. Roll on @itburns.

    This is really just spot on. Sad reality is that I don’t venture into the archives too much except when I’m clearing out spam (fuck you spambots) and the fact is, whenever I see his posts as a result, I’m a bit thankful that spam filters aren’t perfect.

    Some day, this site will die down and I’ll have nothing to do but peruse the archives; I’ll enjoy seeing that idiotic avatar of his every time.

  9. @frank  Jon was everything the community appreciates him for – incisive, thoughtful, observant, precise and a shit ton of  fun. he started cycling with us then fell profoundly in love. I thought I was dedicated, but compared to him, my love of cycling was a mere grade school crush.  He was all about he road too…no mountain biking (or tris…sacrilege!). He would be quietly thrilled to know what an appreciated presence he was among   the velominatus. he was stellar.

  10. Just realized that August 12th is Laurent Fignon’s birthday.

    One mighty cycling came into the world, one might cyclist departed this world.

  11. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    @Nate

    I happened to be in Houston on business when the news about John came thru last year. What a kick in the gut. Never met him in person but what a sense of humor. I suspect no one will touch he number of plus one badges he earned. Roll in peace brother.

    Great point about the +1 badge. Perhaps it should be the @itburns badge, no?

    Maybe we could make him a special one; I did already on the day of his passing dive into the code to do some hard-wiring to make sure his status didn’t fade away (its tied to recent activity, an unfair ask under the circumstances).

    I wish I knew more about him; I feel like from what I know, keeping his status would be what he wants – that giving him some additional badge feel weird to him. But I’ll let those who knew him better advise me on that.

    Just a thought, don’t know if it is a good one but  perhaps we could call the +1 badge the “it burns memorial +1…”

  12. @Ron

    Just realized that August 12th is Laurent Fignon’s birthday.

    One mighty cycling came into the world, one might cyclist departed this world.

    Both of them should be eternally celebrated by us.  Both left the party far far too early.

  13. Got to Memorial park a bit late last night (5.30) due to traffic, hammered the Picnic loop until 6.05 in honor of Jon (he was on his way there one year ago…). Had a beer in the Ho parking lot (where, after his ride, Jon always hooked up with the gang who ran the mountain bike trails every Thursday).
    I know everyone worked through their grief yesterday in their own way. This was mine.
    I put an “In Memory” card up in the Picnic Loop notice board (and photoed with Jon’s Cycling Bible: how many times did he yell at me “Rule 5″ on rides!)

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  14. @HHHeartache I know it sounds like a short ride, but I had to go on and meet more friends for  Hash run (hashing was another of Jon’s pleasures)….. we raised more glasses before, during and after the run…

  15. Ciclismo a un glorioso strada. AMerckx

  16. Couldn’t get out yesterday so took some time out today.  Cruising along and thinking of @itburns and another cycling buddy I lost recently (through natural but unexpected causes) and suddenly this raincloud appeared and it dumped huge raindrops for a short(ish) period.  @itburns and my buddy must have been up there reminding me not to be just a fair weather rider!

    Some things you don’t miss till they are gone.  Along with another mate we had converted my buddy from the dark side in the bushes to encompass the way and the road.  Once or twice a week he would ping me on skpe to see if I was working from home and if I was he’d call and we would just talk bikes for an hour or so.  I miss those calls.

  17. Haven’t been on the site in… a couple of years. Logged on to find this. May he rest in peace, and I hope that somehow, in some way, he’s aware of the community of riders that still thinks of him.

    I’ve been feeling a little vulnerable on the bike lately, and this is certainly not going to help.

  18. Easy metric century in the rain and the wind yesterday, sempre con noi.

  19. I’ve always been struck by the tightness of the bond cyclists have with one another. It may be from the interdependence we have in each other in our collective safety while on a ride but I suspect it is much more. That bond is evident here and in the previous posts.

    I came to this party after Jon left, and certainly regret that. Yesterday though, I had a great but short ride with a friend I see only twice a year. Perfect for the circumstances.

  20. A year ago, having read Jon’s story on this forum, I decided to name one of our toughest mid week, pre work training rides in his honour.  Kicking off at 5.15am on a Tuesday and Thursday come hell or high water, and at 50k and 1300m it’s a short, sharp, fast session of tough hill repeats with beautiful Sydney harbour views and a decent coffee before work.

    The Cani Pazzi itburns ride has a small but dedicated following and a growing reputation locally. Any velominatus in Sydney who fancy joining us are welcome – just drop me a line.

    Course profile : https://www.strava.com/activities/169109606

    Respectfully in memoriam , Jon.

  21. Nicely done tribute. I wonder on nearly every ride if it will be my last. I consider if it is really worth the risk to me, my friends, and mostly to my family.  I don’t have an answer in my head yet, but I keep swinging my leg over the top tube anyway.

  22. @Mike_P

    @Ron

    Just realized that August 12th is Laurent Fignon’s birthday.

    One mighty cycling came into the world, one might cyclist departed this world.

    Both of them should be eternally celebrated by us. Both left the party far far too early.

    How true. I didn’t even think of that. Both gone too soon. And my apologies for the mistype(s)…”One mighty cyclist came into the world, one mighty cyclist departed this world.”

    Let us all get busy livin’, life if short.

    VLVV.

  23. Thanks Frank for this thoughtful piece.

  24. A-Merckx. A year on, this article and the posts in response provide a fine tribute to itburns and a testament to the community. Marcus Aurelius comes to mind:  “Perfection of character possesses this: to live each day as if the last, to be neither feverish nor apathetic, and not to act a part.”  In modern parlance, “Go hard out but keep your head and keep it real.” RIP  itburns. Be safe, all.

  25. Such a respectful tribute and appreciate that it graced your front pages for a day or two. Nice work Keepers. I think of @itburns every time I wrap my road Id to my wrist, the one and the same that was ordered the same day I read of Jon’s accident.

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