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Originally published June 23, 2013 at 8:57 PM | Page modified June 24, 2013 at 11:53 AM

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Cyclist in fatal crash was a 65-year-old competitive rider

Jerry Shafer, the cyclist who died in an accident near Woodinville on Saturday, was a 65-year-old competitive rider who held several track records in his age group.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The man who died Saturday in a bicycle-car accident near Woodinville was Jerry Shafer, 65, a well-known competitive cyclist who held several track records in his age group and hardly ever missed a race or even a workout.

Last year, he organized a fundraising event during which he set a national record (since broken) for the fastest 100 miles on a track for men ages 60-69, and netted $17,398 for a group that fights retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer that afflicted his grandson when the boy was a toddler.

Shafer’s death has not been officially confirmed by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office, but news of his death spread quickly among his friends and Seattle-area cyclists.

Shafer was riding down a hill on 240th Street Southeast at about 10:45 a.m. when, according to authorities, he struck an oncoming vehicle while attempting to pass other cyclists.

Speed and alcohol did not appear to be factors in the crash, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and deputies did not anticipate that the driver would face charges. Shafer died at the scene.

His teammates and cycling friends remember Shafer as an outgoing, friendly and dedicated cyclist who pushed himself hard and spent a lot of time at the Marymoor Velodrome, the 400-meter track where he held his fundraiser, participated in weekly races and served on the board of the Velodrome Association.

“Jerry never missed a training session; he never missed a race,” said Christina Callaghan Solheim, of Marysville, a friend and fellow racer who helped organize last year’s fundraiser.

“He was a fixture,” she said. “If you were at the track, Jerry was there.”

And while Shafer could be extremely determined to meet his goals, with other competitors, he was always gracious, she said. “He was always the first to say congratulations.”

When Shafer wasn’t cycling, he worked as an accountant alongside his brother John Shafer in Seattle. He also was a Vietnam veteran who received two Purple Hearts and a graduate of Mississippi State University. He had two grown sons — Hunter Shafer, of Long Beach, Calif., and Shafer Shafer, of Seattle.

According to the website for the fundraiser, Shafer started running and cycling in the early 1970s, and got serious about cycling in the early ’80s. He did a lot of road racing, friends say, but then, a few years ago, focused instead on endurance track racing.

He had been a member of several Seattle-area bike teams, and currently was a member of Slalom Consulting Racing.

On Saturday, he was participating in a team ride as part of his training to regain his 100-mile record for his age group for the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association. He also was planning to try to set the record for the fastest 200 miles and maybe the most miles in 12 hours.

He had planned to try for all three of those records last year, but rain kept him from completing the second two.

As part of his record attempt, he also planned to again raise funds for Retinoblastoma International, a nonprofit that fights the kind of eye cancer that afflicted his grandson. Lance Shafer lost one eye to the disease but has since been cancer free.

On his website, Shafer said he wanted to raise money and awareness so that other children “have the second chance at life that Lance has been given.”

With his death, fellow cyclists such as Solheim and Annette and Kenny Williams say they will hold the fundraiser anyway this coming Labor Day as a 24-hour relay. They are also planning a moment of silence in Shafer’s honor on Wednesday at the Velodrome.

Before his team ride on Saturday, Shafer had ridden from his home in Kent to a coffee shop in Kenmore where his team met. Annette Williams wasn’t there, but she heard that Shafer reportedly bragged to one of the coffee-shop staff that he had set his personal best getting up there.

Jessica Cutler, 33, a professional bicycle racer who used to cycle with Shafer when she was an amateur, said Shafer may have been in his 60s, but he was fast and full of energy, and very supportive of other riders.

“He was a good guy and really funny,” she said. “A lot of bike racers take themselves really seriously. He was always just having fun.”

Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or lshaw@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @LShawST

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