The SoCal cycling family is mourning the loss of a local legend this week. Christopher Contereras, also known as Chris Cono, was in a severe bicycle crash on Memorial Day and unfortunately did not recover. Cono was participating in the CBR Memorial Criterium in Dominguez Hills, California.
Cono was race director of the Gruppo Velo Cycling Club and Team, but Gruppo Velo was just one of the many ways in which Cono shared his passion for cycling with others. Many local cyclists met him through his Fortune 700 stage race series, or at the Velo Pasadena bike shop, where he was an invaluable resource. Cono’s Fortune 700 races provided a breeding ground for some of L.A.’s most dedicated and accomplished cyclists today.
He touched many lives and inspired countless to pursue their own love of cycling, whether it be recreationally or competitively. I didn’t know him long, but in the time that I did he continued to encourage me to race, simply because I rode a bike. Even though I’d ridden bikes my whole life, I’d always been intimidated by the “serious cyclists.” Last year I raced in the Fortune 700 Chinatown Crit, my second bike race and first crit ever. I learned a lot that night, about racing crits and, more importantly, about letting go of fear and just going for it.
My story is one of many from those whose lives have been touched by Cono. I remember the night we met; when my first impression of him was that he was intense, in a good way. When you live with conviction it’s infectious, and that’s how he was. Cycling was not just a big part of his own life, it was something he was passionate about sharing with others. His weekday morning rides to Long Beach and Huntington Beach always motivated me to put in more miles, even though I never joined him, knowing I could never keep up with the powerhouse rider.
Cono left this world doing what he loved, but before he went he made a huge impact on cycling in L.A. and Southern California during his time with us, and has left behind a legacy in the hearts of so many cyclists who he helped, inspired and trained, who will without a doubt His contributions and energy will be greatly missed as his passing reminds us to make the most of every day we have, because our time here may be short. Cono leaves behind two sons and his wife, Akiyo Kozakaya. Ride in peace Chris.