Cycle News' Larry Lawrence Says Goodbye To Dane Westby

I was on a family vacation in Florida, when I got the news that Dane Westby had died. At first I saw what looked like a tribute to Dane on Facebook. My wife was sitting next to me and I didn’t even say anything, but she could tell by the expression on my face that something was not right. “What’s wrong?” Jackie asked. I don’t recall my answer. I was frantically looking for more info. At first I tried to think positive thoughts—maybe someone on my Facebook feed was simply a big fan of Dane and posted a slew of photos of him. Then another posting that read: “We’ll miss you my friend.”

It was then that it began to sink in. Oh no.

I still fought it. Maybe there was a mistake, or this was some kind of hoax. There’s no way Dane Westby would die in a street accident I reasoned with myself and my wife. He was a racer who got the need for speed taken care of on the track. He wouldn’t be crazy street riding. How could this happen? Then I had a flashback to Donald Jacks, the uber-talented road racer who also died in a street accident in 1995 in a collision with a bicyclist.

That’s when my phone began ringing and I got my first emails. Had I heard? Dane had died in a streetbike accident. It was real after all. I closed my eyes and what seemed like hundreds of images of Dane flashed by.

When I first began my career as a motorcycle-racing journalist I knew so many of the racers as friends. In the 1980s and early ‘90s I was contemporaries with them. I was close friends with many of them, stayed at their houses and they at mine during travels to races. We shared hotel rooms or carpooled to the events to cut expenses. I got to know many of the riders of that era during their club racing days, I saw them work and claw their way up the ladder.

Fast forward to today—as much as I hate to admit it, I somehow mysteriously find myself as a middle-aged writer covering a young man’s sport. The racers I write about are young enough to be my sons (or daughters). I no longer share rooms with them at the races, don’t travel with them, largely aren’t aware of them until they become pros and don’t have that same close friendship with the riders of today that I did 20 or 30 years ago.

Yet in spite of all this I felt I had a kinship of sorts with Dane. At one point he raced for John Ulrich’s M4 Suzuki squad and I was close to Ulrich and many on his crew, so to me Dane was in the lineage of riders like Jamie James, Thomas Stevens, Mike Harth, Doug Toland and Kurt Hall—guys who were my friends and who all raced for the same team as Dane. Plus, to top it all off, I covered Dane’s dad Tryg when he raced, which gave me even more of an affinity with him.

Read the rest of Larry Lawrence’s column here

I was on a family vacation in Florida, when I got the news that Dane Westby had died. At first I saw what looked like a tribute to Dane on Facebook. My wife was sitting next to me and I didn’t even say anything, but she could tell by the expression on my face that something was not right. “What’s wrong?” Jackie asked. I don’t recall my answer. I was frantically looking for more info. At first I tried to think positive thoughts—maybe someone on my Facebook feed was simply a big fan of Dane and posted a slew of photos of him. Then another posting that read: “We’ll miss you my friend.”

It was then that it began to sink in. Oh no.

I still fought it. Maybe there was a mistake, or this was some kind of hoax. There’s no way Dane Westby would die in a street accident I reasoned with myself and my wife. He was a racer who got the need for speed taken care of on the track. He wouldn’t be crazy street riding. How could this happen? Then I had a flashback to Donald Jacks, the uber-talented road racer who also died in a street accident in 1995 in a collision with a bicyclist.

That’s when my phone began ringing and I got my first emails. Had I heard? Dane had died in a streetbike accident. It was real after all. I closed my eyes and what seemed like hundreds of images of Dane flashed by.

When I first began my career as a motorcycle-racing journalist I knew so many of the racers as friends. In the 1980s and early ‘90s I was contemporaries with them. I was close friends with many of them, stayed at their houses and they at mine during travels to races. We shared hotel rooms or carpooled to the events to cut expenses. I got to know many of the riders of that era during their club racing days, I saw them work and claw their way up the ladder.

Fast forward to today—as much as I hate to admit it, I somehow mysteriously find myself as a middle-aged writer covering a young man’s sport. The racers I write about are young enough to be my sons (or daughters). I no longer share rooms with them at the races, don’t travel with them, largely aren’t aware of them until they become pros and don’t have that same close friendship with the riders of today that I did 20 or 30 years ago.

Yet in spite of all this I felt I had a kinship of sorts with Dane. At one point he raced for John Ulrich’s M4 Suzuki squad and I was close to Ulrich and many on his crew, so to me Dane was in the lineage of riders like Jamie James, Thomas Stevens, Mike Harth, Doug Toland and Kurt Hall—guys who were my friends and who all raced for the same team as Dane. Plus, to top it all off, I covered Dane’s dad Tryg when he raced, which gave me even more of an affinity with him.

Read the rest of Larry Lawrence’s column here

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