By Tom Held of the Journal Sentinel
Oct. 5, 2010 12:49 p.m.
Local bicycling leader Jeff Littmann died on Tuesday from the injuries he suffered when a car hit him on a training ride in Waukesha County last week, a spokeswoman at Froedtert Hospital confirmed.
The well-respected racer and owner of Attitude Sports in Pewaukee was riding eastbound on Wisconsin Ave. with Lauren Jensen when a car struck both of them from behind. The driver, Kyle Dieringer, 25, of Nashotah, told sheriff’s deputies the bright morning sun blinded him, and he didn’t see the bicyclists until after he hit them.
The crash remains under investigation. The Waukesha County district attorney’s office will consider issuing charges or citations.
Littmann, 56, encouraged and coached dozens of area athletes. He was regarded as a leader and ambassador for the sport, particularly in the Lake Country of Waukesha County. He served as president of the WIsconsin Cycling Association and competed on the Chirpopractic Patners/LAPT team in the road racing series.
In March, Littmann and his wife, Kelly James, opened Attitude Sports. Dozens of cyclists turned out at the shop on Friday night for the grand opening of the fitness area and to console and encourage each other while their friend fought for his life.
Dave Haase, who opened Attitude Sports in Fond du Lac 15 years ago, found Littmann to be an ideal person to expand is business into the Milwaukee area.
“Everyone that knew him liked him and so many people came into the shop, and people would send friends in because they had a good experience with Jeff,” Haase said.
Littmann was both easy-going and competitive. Most importantly, he was willing to share what he had learned riding and racing for more than two decades.
Local rider Jayson Kayzar offered his tribute to Littmann, who he met through the area Vic Tanny shops in the 1990s.
“Jeff taught me about personal accountability and responsibility,” Kayzar wrote. “He was a man of few words; you knew you were doing things right when he didn’t say anything, if he opened his mouth, you were in trouble.
“He was a polarizing person; everyone had an opinion about him, but he was always Jeff. I have met very few people in my 20 years since then that are that true to themselves. Jeff taught me to stand up for my values, and be true to myself.”
Littmann is the eighth bicyclist killed by a motor vehicle in Wisconsin in 2010. The total for 2009 was seven.
The crash involving someone reported to be a skilled and safe rider has prompted a valuable discussion of cycling safety on area roads. Both the State Department of Transportation and the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin have produced safe riding guidelines for bicyclists, and tips for motorists.
Haase, who has raced across America four times, said the crash should remind everyone on the road to be more cautious and commit to being safer.
“Bikers have to be aware of how they’re riding on the road and people in cars need to be aware of what we’re doing,” Haase said. “We’ve come to the world of technology and cell phones and being in a rush and a hurry.
“There’s way more people biking on the roads to stay healthy and they need to be aware of what they’re doing on the road, and drivers need to be aware there’s people on the road.”