Roy Wallack, a Cyclist and Longtime Health and Fitness Writer, Dies at 64
Photo credit: Roy Wallack (right) with Gordon Wright during the 2008 TransRockies Run. Courtesy of Gordon Wright
Roy Wallack didn't have the archetypal cyclist body type, but that fit perfectly with the prolific health and fitness writer's views on horse riding. For Roy, it didn't matter how you look or what your background was. He would tell you that bikes were the way to a healthy, adventurous life and so he literally lived to the end.
Wallack died on Saturday, December 19, after a mountain biking accident near Malibu, California. He was 64 years old.
Wallack was a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of the 2005 book Bike for Life. A longtime bicycle author, he and Jacques DeVore wrote one of his best-selling fitness titles, Maximum Overload for Cyclists.
Wallack had a lifelong love affair with bicycles, fitness and outdoor adventures of all kinds. Sociable and apparently always laughing, he was unmistakably present at every meeting on two wheels or in the field. With the squat, powerful build of a wrestler (which he had at Whittier College) and all of them dressed in baggy shorts - rarely Lycra - and his beloved Shimano SPD sandals for rides, Wallack was an elite endurance athlete in disguise. He could easily keep up with supposedly fitter riders and runners while having a stream of awareness conversations about the latest health science discoveries or a story from an adventure.
Memories poured on Facebook and bike pages. “Anyone who's been into outdoor and fitness writing has kept telling themselves, 'Holy crap; I can't believe someone pays me to do this incredibly funny stuff all the time, ”recalls Dan Koeppel - journalist, author, bicycle author and friend of Wallack - in an interview with Bicycling. "Roy was the epitome of that."
Steve Boehmke, a friend of Wallack and inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2001, has a story that captured Wallack's sense of adventure perfectly. As Boehmke told Bicycling, "Somebody was running a" World's Fittest Man "competition  and Roy persuaded a general interest magazine to send it in. It turned out that there was only one guy for entered the contest, so there wasn't one. So Roy signed up and finished second, and for years he told people (1:45) that he was the second strongest man in the world. "
Wallack could - and did - start a conversation with anyone, which made him a great companion and a better journalist. He began writing about motorcycles for California Bicyclist in the early 1980s. He has written for Bicycle Guide, Bicycling, Runner's World, Outside, and other publications. In the early 2000s, he also created, wrote, and edited the "Outdoors" section of the LA Times.
Koeppel pointed out that the LA Times' outdoor section was short-lived, but groundbreaking: For the first time, a major daily newspaper created a separate section for sports without a ball. "Roy understood that the future of sport was participatory and is not audience-related, "said Koeppel. “To find out and convince one of the largest newspapers in the country to start a whole section? There must have been other people [involved], but to me that was Roy's baby. "
On the way he rode and rode his bike to Cuba and Taiwan. He was particularly fond of long-distance runs and rides such as the legendary Paris-Brest-Paris certification, TransRockies Run and the strenuous mountain bike races Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica and BC Bike Race in British Columbia. But he also enjoyed non-competitive events like the AIDS ride in California, which he wrote about for both Bicycling and BikeHugger.
Wallack tended to view mishaps as an adventure. Bicycle journalist Patrick Brady recalled on Facebook that Wallack took a wrong turn at the press camp event in Park City, Utah, on a mountain bike tour for a year and ended up somewhere near the outskirts of Salt Lake City (a solid 20 miles away) ). Unimpressed, he just drove back with a driver and went to dinner late, still in his mud-splattered set, to tell the story with a smile.
But for Wallack, adventure was always at the service of something greater. "Roy was deeply read and thoughtful," wrote longtime friend and PR agency founder Gordon Wright in an email to Bicycling. "In his distracted way, Roy cared deeply for the earth, for the people around him, and for the well-being of all."
If Wallack's writing had a trademark, it was a theme of greeting and accessibility. Cycling, running, or other outdoor and fitness activities were useful and fun for all. The theme of "Better Health Through Fitness" ran through his work, particularly in his 2005 book "Bike for Life", which consisted in equal parts of instructions and manifestos on how cycling can help readers find their way to a happy, healthy 100 year olds.
Unfortunately, Wallack won't reach this milestone, but his legacy lives on in his work and memory. "He really saw it as his mission to lead by example, and that a life of full strength - whether on an Elliptigo or a $ 10,000 Colnago with platform pedals - was the key to happiness and longevity," Wright wrote.
According to the LA Times, Wallack is survived by a father, Norm. former wife Elsa; Brother Marc; two sisters; and his grown son Joey. Cycling extends its heartfelt condolences to them and to Wallack's diverse circle of friends for their loss. Let his memory be a blessing and let it spark adventure.
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