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New York's GLBT Cycling Club

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  • John Chapman Memorial

    In Memory of John Chapman

    John Chapman, 1944-2011

    John K. Chapman, a longtime ride leader for the Fast and Fabulous Cycling Club, textbook writer and father of two daughters, was struck and killed May 28 by an erratically-driven pickup truck as he stood at the side of the road consulting the cue sheet that John and 15 other cyclists were using to bicycle from Newark, N.J., to Quakertown, Pa. John would be the only member of the LGBT club not to finish the ride.

    The accident took place about a half-mile north of Carversville Road on the northbound side of Durham Road, Route 413, in Plumstead Township, about 4:30 p.m. on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. John was taken by ambulance and helicopter to Doylestown Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:22 p.m., according to Plumstead police, as reported on Phillyburbs.com. Police were looking for a 2000 to 2006 Chevy or GMC pickup that was likely missing a passenger side mirror, since one was found at the scene. They requested anyone with information to call 215-766-8741 or 215-766-8740.

    John, 66, wrote textbooks and other course materials for use in teaching English as a second language. He had lived in Forest Hills, Queens, for the last seven years, according to his good friend and fellow cyclist, David Roycroft. He had previously lived with his wife, Laura Bloom, and two daughters, Sarah and Rebecca, for many years in Teaneck, N.J. Sarah graduated from Northwestern University last year and works in retail in New York City. Rebecca graduated from Wesleyan University and is in a graduate program in clinical psychology in Chicago.

    David and another rider, Joe Desmond, were riding behind John and saw the accident. John was off his bicycle, looking at the Newark to Quakertown cue sheet and was standing on the shoulder of Durham Road. “I said to myself, my god, if that pickup truck doesn’t move, it’s going to hit him,” David said. “And it did.” John was in open view and could have been seen from any direction, David said. Several motorists, including a volunteer firefighter, stopped and placed calls to 911 for assistance.

    The cyclists who accompanied John on the ride, called the New Hope Ride, organized an impromptu memorial service May 29 at the Church of Illumination in Quakertown. John’s niece was handling funeral arrangements and a family memorial service. John was a member of the Uposatha Observance Club, a Buddhist study group.

    John and Friends after a Ride

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    For media coverage and the cycling community’s response to John’s death, please click here, here, and here.

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    I am distressed over the death of cyclist John Chapman, a rider from Queens killed on Saturday by a hit and run driver on Route 413 in Plumstead Township. He was hit just north of Ridge View Road, a road we all use leaving Doylestown heading north into Plumstead, Tinicum, etc.

    I would like to see a reward established to be paid to anyone providing information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the driver. I have emailed all the officers in CBBC encouraging the Bike Club to fund $1,000 toward the reward and to do a blast email to the members soliciting contributions. I would like to see a substantial reward like $5,000. I think an amount like that would attract someone who must know who did this. I have pledged $250 toward this effort.

    My concern is that CBBC will not respond quickly enough and that this investigation will just languish. Therefore, I will be depositing my $250 into a Reward Escrow account here at our firm and will do the same with any other donations I receive. I am requesting that you contribute any amount you are comfortable with–$5, $10, $25, whatever. Just as importantly, I would appreciate you forwarding this email to others you think might contribute. As soon as I can guage the response, I will contact the Plumstead Township Police Department and local newspapers. I just talked with Sergeant Frederick there. He stated “the individual is still at large and no arrest is imminent”. That means to me they don’t have any leads.

    I think we need to help to catch this guy so people don’t think they can get away with senseless acts like this. I also think we need to heighten public awareness of how vulnerable we are out there and how a careless or angry act can result in catastrophic consequences.

    Anything you can do to help will be appreciated.

    Terry

    Terry W. Clemons, Esquire
    Clemons Richter & Reiss, P.C.
    Attorneys at Law
    107 East Oakland Avenue
    Doylestown, PA 18901

     

    John on the P’town Ride, 2010

    John Chapman was a regular at Fast and Fab events, be it rides, dinners, pride brunches or repair sessions. He was someone I unfortunately took for granted, that he would always be there and would always bestow that bearded, beaming smile on us. I recall his riding with me on the New Hope ride a couple of years ago, chasing me all the way to the 50-mile rest stop, and he reminded me of it . . . last Saturday. That day was warm, and John was riding right behind me up until Lambertville. I had an ice cream bar, rested a bit, and was ready to get back on the road. John said he wasn’t feeling well, and I asked whether he’d had any ice cream. He said sweet things weren’t sticking with him too well, but that he would be along in a bit. I didn’t wait for him, and now he is gone. John, the memory of who you were — an amazing, compassionate human being — will inspire me for the rest of my life.

    Bob Nelson

     

    John at Pride 2010

    John,

    I will miss your energy, your stories of life during the Vietnam War as a conscientious objector who served in a better way, until you found out you were still being used then suddenly your passport was “lost”. The story beyond that is book or movie material.

    John was the first leader I met on a F&F ride. Only he would do a ride, I think, in February to the Noguchi Museum. His rides were always amazing as his knowledge of the most minute historical and architectural details was unmatched. Stopping at a home once owned by Lena Horne or the Louis Armstrong house/museum, any ride he led would always lead to conversation with the present owner or a neighbor and John filled in all the details. He encouraged me and we did many distance rides that year. Then he convinced me that I could do the Boston to P town ride, we trained and I did it!

    The last year or so I have not had much time for distance rides but when he invited me to one his rides to the T. Roosevelt House, Sagamore Hill, I would join if possible. I know those of you who have done that ride with him will never forget the “pit” stop at the bamboo. I could no longer keep up with him and I would end up apologizing for holding him back. His response always was “there is no one I would rather ride with”. (I am sure he has used that line many times.) You to dear John, “there is no one I would rather ride with”!

    We spoke of his loss of his dear friend Lee Gorman and his own recent health crisis.
    I did not plan on loosing friends in this way after dealing with so many losses during years entrenched in the AIDS crisis.I guess their is no escape from loss.

    John, You will always remain as an example of how to live unselfishly! Oh, and can you please edit this as you have done with my resume and anything I have sent to you?

    Love you,

    Thank you,

    Larry

     

    This is one of my favorite photos of John. It was taken on one of the many times that I, as he called it: “dragged him through the mud” in Prospect Park. Whenever we would make a park plan, it would rain or snow. Sometimes hard. And off we would go regardless, often with me lending him an extra layer. Then we would warm up afterwards at our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in the Slope, the Olive Vine, where he would reminisce that the lentil soup tasted just like the soup he had in Turkey, in the 60’s or 70’s.

    John was one of the most wonderful and special people I have ever been lucky enough to meet and befriend. He was so easy to be with; always calm and open and accepting and receptive to the moment. His feedback to me when I would call him while wigging out on something would almost always set me in a more self-reflective and calm direction. This happened just last week, in what would be my last conversation with him.

    When trying this week to describe John to friends who did not know him; the word that always came into my head was “Equanimitous”. I wasn’t even sure of the exact definition of equanimity (or if “equanimitous” was even a real word- it’s not!), so I looked it up. One definition stated: “Equanimity is a state of mental or emotional stability or composure arising from a deep awareness and acceptance of the present moment”. It further went on to include the concept of equanimity as promoted by various religions and practices, with the Buddhist understanding being: “Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being….without hostility and without ill-will”

    This is John. I have always been and always will be inspired by him. I will miss him immeasurably, but I will feel his presence live on as I try to live my life in the ways that his life inspired mine.

    Anne Goodman

     

    John before the Boston to Provincetown Ride, 2007

    Dear Friends and Family,

    As you can see from this article, a reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the motorist. We are sending this information to you in case you’re interested in contributing to the fund. We didn’t have everyone’s emails, so feel free to forward it to anyone you think might be interested.

    Thank you,
    Laura, Sarah, and Rebecca

    To read an article from Pennsylvania on the reward being offered in John’s hit-and-run, please click here and here.

     

    Gerry and John

     

    John Chapman was the unsuspecting subject of a New York Times photographer covering an exhibition about bicycling in New York City:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/nyregion/09bike.html?_r=1&oref=sloginWhen he learned that he’d been in the paper, he wrote:

    Shit, yes! That handsome devil is me. I had no idea. And they didn’t get my permission. I was there around 5:15 or 5:30 and these guys were running around interviewing people and taking pictures. I think I was reading the crazy responses on the parade permit forms. Then I left because I had to be somewhere else and the whole scene was kind of underwhelming. Wish I’d been wearing my Fast and Fab Jersey.
    –JC

    John and Flags

     

    John was my first friend and became my closest friend in New York. A few months after I moved here in 2005, a relative asked how I was doing and if I’d made any friends. My answer was “All you need is one.” And all anyone would need is one friend, if that friend were John.

    John was my neighbor, the keeper of my keys, the waterer of my plants, my biking buddy, my frequent dinner companion and the reason I expanded my repertoire of vegetarian dishes. I didn’t call John often because I knew he was probably working, but when I did, I usually would ask if he were busy. Often he would answer, “I am, but I always have time to talk to you, David.”  John was a listener. He enjoyed my stores, even the ones that weren’t “cool stories, bro.” He let me ramble.

    John became my confidant, my sounding board, my reality check. After his death I wasn’t able to get the lyrics from Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell out of my head. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” When John’s life was taken; my life, like yours, was diminished. After his death, I felt a little disoriented, but I have regained my balance. And I know what I had and what I lost. Thank you, John.

    – David