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.
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.
With 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.
Visiting 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.
Images pilfered from Jeff’s Facebook page.