Remembering Jeff Archer

Remembering Jeff Archer

My friend Jeff Archer was killed by a drunk driver last night. Archer had just stepped into a crosswalk in Mooresville, North Carolina, when Claydon Laural Turner, 30, stuck him. Jeff was pronounced dead at the scene and Turner was arrested for DWI.

Jeff is best known as the owner of First Flight Bicycles in Statesville, North Carolina, a shop that was recognized repeatedly as one of the 50 best bike shops in the U.S. He perhaps gained more widespread recognition as the curator of MOMBAT—the Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology—which is perhaps the single most exhaustive collection of mountain bikes and assorted ephemera (the collection includes more than 250 bikes) on the planet. His collection also included a stunningly rich digitization of old mountain bike magazines and assorted articles that have served as source material for countless recent pieces about the sport.

Jeff working

As if that wasn’t enough to keep the guy busy, he was also the owner of Mountain Goat Cycles, which he had purchased from early mountain bike pioneer Jeff Lindsay. More recently, he purchased the remaining assets of Hi-E, a component brand out of Nashville.

I got to know Jeff when he was suggested as a judge for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show the year the show was in Charlotte. He was a terrific addition. It’s hard to reconcile the gentle, soft-spoken and agreeable man I knew with the accomplished business man to which his resume attests. How can anyone so relaxed an affable get that much done? I’ll never know. He was a charmer without being charismatic. The trio he, Nick Legan and I formed for judging the NAHBS Awards (with help from Andrew Yee and Maurice Tierney) has been one of the more rewarding experiences of my life. He was knowledgeable but modest, curious but relaxed and friendly yet quiet. He was the sort of guy anyone would be proud to call a friend.

Jeff with Seth and SamWith sons Sam (left) and Seth.

As a result of his trip to help judge the NAHBS Awards this year, he and his wife took advantage of the opportunity to tour California, his first trip to the promised land. Only yesterday I was editing his piece about the trip in which he visted Lindsay, Jeremy Sycip, Ross Shafer, Steve Potts and others. At the time of the trip, when I saw a Facebook post that he and Sycip went to Russian River Brewery for lunch I’ll admit that I was bummed I didn’t have the chance to join them.

Just weeks ago we had discussed making sure that he’d be available for judging the awards again, this time in Salt Lake City. Such is life. We figure we’ll have more time with our friends, more time to do the things we love.

Jeff at Jeremy'sVisiting Jeremy Sycip’s shop in Santa Rosa.

For all that our cycling family has lost, I now think of his wife, Julie and his sons Sam and Seth. Whatever we imagine our loss to be, it can’t compare to theirs. I wish them whatever peace is possible at an impossible transition.

R.I.P. Jeff.

 

Images pilfered from Jeff’s Facebook page.

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23 comments

  1. Denis

    I had the pleasure of meeting him at First Flight last year. After reading an article (I think by you), about his shop I decided to stop in to see the museum on a work trip. What a great shop, fabulous museum, and from the handful of minutes we talked I could tell he would be a great guy to talk with over a pint or two. Never fun to lose a friend way to soon. Take care.

  2. Les.B.

    Man, this is really tragic. Condolences to you and his family. He looks like a truly great guy.
    I assume those are his 2 boys?
    That this cyclist is another in the long line of those killed by drunks is unfathomable to me.
    It’s obvious to me that DWI will not go away and will continue to be a major killer on the American roads, until self-driving cars take over.

  3. Julie

    Jeremy. Thank u for the kind words. Jeff though the world of you too. Words can begin to describe my pain. But your words help. Thank you.

  4. Velociraptor

    > It’s obvious to me that DWI will not go away

    Thanks in part to defeatist attitudes such as yours.

    Drunk driving in Japan has all but been eliminated because of Japan’s zero tolerance policy. It wasn’t always that way. Drunk driving used to be a terrible problem in Japan, but people took a stand.

    1. Les.B.

      Even here in the US, Asian-Americans have much lower incidence of DWI than other groups.
      If tougher laws is all it would take to keep other Jeffs from being killed, I’m all for it.

  5. Jeff Lindsay

    Oh Man. It is so hard to get my hear around this. I moved from Mt. Goat and was so thrilled to see Jeff pick it up.
    We had so many great conversations about the smallest things within the world of Goats. Oh, I will miss him.

  6. Curtis Whatley

    I met Jeff at NAHBS Louisville. One of those people you are instantly best friends with. This year at NAHBS he caught me in the middle of one of my most spectacular sleep deprived manic moments and asked me who was making the best bikes at the show, He was laughing at my gobsmacked reaction and said “You had one job..” I gathered my wits about me and told him Rob English. I’ll miss him.

  7. tc

    What a great tribute to his beautiful family!!! Thank you for sharing your story. The road ahead will be tough, but it is paved with friends wanting to serve them and make sure they get what they need, friends like you!

  8. Kevin

    Patrick you nailed it. Everything Jeff was is embodied in his love for family and friends. Cycling was his passion but family was his life. My thoughts to Julie and the boys. They are the salt of the earth. RIP Jeff You will be missed.

  9. Charlotte

    I am so sorry for your loss. I knew Jeff when he lived in Kansas City. My❤️Goes out to you your son’s.

  10. Paul Fisher

    I was shocked to hear this, such a sad needless loss to friends family and the local and wider community.

    Condolences to all.

    MountainGoat WTR owner since 91

  11. Marlene Yarger

    In life, you come in contact with people who are attached to you in some way. Some are the ones who stick and they fill out your life photo. Jeff came early in my son’s life, Mike Erickson. They were school mates, college roomies, and continued to be great friends as time and life moved forward. When a great friend like Jeff is taken out of the picture….there is a huge vacancy that cannot be replaced. I knew him through Mike and not personally but I can tell you, he will be sorely missed by all those who did know him, either personally or just in passing. My heart breaks for Julie and her sons!
    (Mike’s Mom)

  12. Evan St.Clair

    I have known Jeff for years, Worked for him back in the 90’s. He always had some old bike project that he was working on.That’s who he was and I think his shop and MOMBAT shows how dedicated he was to the cycling industry. Thanks for all you gave to the sport we all love. God speed Jeff Archer.

  13. Blair Israel

    Jeff, you did so much for this region, particularly for its cyclists and pedestrians. With wisdom and enthusiasm, you served in countless ways to help establish facilities that would help make walking and biking safer in our communities, in multiple counties. The Carolina Thread Trail, the Lake Norman Bicycle Route, mountain biking routes; it is a poignant tragedy that you would lose your life – and that we would lose you – in such a way: just crossing a street. This region and all of its people, is richer because of you. We have greenways, bike routes, mountain bike loops, and safer streets because you were willing to play an active role and work hard to make it happen. You rallied the troops, you encouraged an army of builders, you reasoned with the top brass, all in order to get things built that would serve the generations to come. We owe you, Jeff Archer. The region owes you. May we remember you in ways that honor your legacy and further the causes you labored and fought for. You will be missed.

  14. Deb Cline

    “Such is life. We figure we’ll have more time with our friends, more time to do the things we love.”

    So true. RIP Mr. Archer.

  15. Dr. Mike Heinen

    I was fortunate as many of you to know Jeff and the great soul he had and his unique outlook. Seems like we go back so so far….long enough that some of the original bike I bought and that he upgraded…that they became classics he later added back to his collection.
    …was last by his shop a week ago…so full of life and a life so full…although ended much too soon. All of our hearts are heavy for our loss but even more so for his family….prayers of healing for all he touched .

  16. Galena

    Wow. Extremely tough news to hear.

    Wishing all the best for you and for Jeff’s family. This is, without a doubt, a massive loss for bicyclists everywhere.

  17. Hank Iglesias

    Awesome piece about an amazing man. I had the pleasure to work with Jeff starting in 1985. He is directly responsible for changing the course of my life by introducing me to mountain bikes– his pure enthusiasm was contagious. Years later he had a shop in North Carolina and I had a shop in California , I was at Cycle Fantasy painters in Orange– saw his name on a frame box-inside was a restored Raleigh Edge frame–my furst mountain bike– that I had named EDGE Cyclesports after. Jeff godspeed and see you in heaven, I was proud to call you my friend.

  18. Brenda Zienta

    How does a person even begin to be able to wrap their head around such a horrific accident. My heart is so very heavy for Julie, a nurse who has attended to many people’s need, a person who is there to help people, then there are two sons, Seth who is attending college and now is without his father & Sam, still in high school and now without his father. Then there is his father and step mother who had just spent time with him minutes before his death. His sister Michelle is now without her brother and her children Oliva & Alex are without their Uncle. There just are not any words that will ever explain how you can lose such an exceptional man that touched the lives of so many. I just pray that God will give Julie comfort and strength during this sad time and that God will give her the strength to be the shoulder for her sons to lean on! I Pray that God will give Uncle Butch & Aunt Sharon comfort and strength to get through day by day and I pray that God will comfort Michelle Gabi Olivia & Alex. We all will miss Jeff’s contagious smile and everything about Jeff! One thing for certain, Jeff has touched so many lives that he will never be forgotten! I love you Jeff, RIP (cousin, Brenda in Ohio)

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