Karl Raynor was one of the toughest cyclists, both mentally and physically, and one of the kindest individuals, I've ever known. He was a leading podiatrist in Indianapolis and co-founder of the Wilkes-Raynor Cycling Group (a.k.a., "Team Treachery and Deceit"), which, despite its nickname, is a rare collection of wonderful people who happen to be (present company excluded) excellent cyclists.
Last night, Karl, who was in his mid-50s, died in his sleep apparently from the same heart problem that nearly took his life just a few months ago. In January, he suffered a massive heart attack at the start of a winter (indoor) training session. His life was saved on that occasion thanks to fast work by Dr. Larry Stevens, Dr. Dave Wilkes, and others who were present. At the hospital, Karl had a stent inserted to open up the blocked artery, and he recovered quickly. Within a few weeks, he was back on the bike, riding hard as ever with the group. With more blood flowing to his heart, he said he was feeling better on the bike than he had in a long time. Despite his recent heart scare, he said he had no fear of going too hard. It was the only way he knew how to ride.
I used to joke that when Karl got to the front on a bike ride he would turn off the all but the reptilian part of his brain to conserve energy. He wasn't always the fastest guy in the group, but he nearly always took the most pulls. Things were no different this past weekend, according to those who rode with Karl on Saturday and Sunday. And there was no sign that he was feeling anything but fine when he went to bed last night.
On this very sad day, my thoughts are with his wife and family, whom Karl loved dearly. He left them too soon. But I hope they can find some solace in the few extra months they were able to spend with Karl after his heart attack and the fact that he died peacefully, in his sleep.
I will think of Karl every time I ride.