Leading cyclist crashes and dies at Concord bike race


Monitor staff

Published: 08-11-2021 7:58 PM

An annual Concord bicycle race ended in tragedy this weekend after a young competitor crashed and died.

On Saturday, Sunapee Racing Team hosted the 40th Annual Concord Criterium, a race that draws cyclists from around New England to compete on a 1-mile course around White Park.

Evan Barr-Beare, a 33-year-old Rhode Island scientist, had broken away from a pack of about 50 other men in the USA Cycling Category 3 and 4, and was leading by 45 seconds at the end of a 21-mile race when he veered off course and crashed.

“Evan was having an incredible race, and for many of us, it would be the race of a lifetime,” race organizers wrote in an email to participants on Monday. “On the last lap, Evan experienced an apparent medical issue which resulted in a traumatic crash and his passing.”

Concord Fire Department units responded to a call just before 2 p.m. for a report of bicyclist who had crashed, Fire Chief Sean Brown said. An emergency medical responder working at the race was performing CPR when Concord Fire arrived. Barr-Beare was transported to Concord Hospital, where he died.

The medical examiner’s office has not yet determined the cause of death. The Concord Police Department is also conducting its own investigation.

After the crash, organizers canceled the remaining races. The first five races had gone smoothly, with participants saying they were glad the event was back after a one-year pandemic hiatus.

Originally from Ohio, Barr-Beare was a staff scientist at the Mouse Transgenic and Gene Targeting Facility at Brown University, where he had worked since 2019. He didn’t own a car, and got around Providence on a bike.

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Brown University Professor Dr. Richard Freiman and Director of the Mouse Transgenic and Gene Targeting Facility Dr. Jinping Luo wrote in an email that Barr-Beare was a friendly and kind coworker.

“He was passionate about further developing his genome editing skills and career and was a dedicated and talented cyclist outside of the lab,” Freiman and Luo said. “He was well on his way to becoming a genome-editing expert and the director of his own mouse transgenic facility.”

Barr-Beare’s hometown of Oxford, Ohio is reeling from the unexpected loss, said Doug Hamilton, owner of BikeWise Oxford, a bike shop where Barr-Beare worked for years as a high school and college student.

The shop will soon have a shrine set up to honor the memory of the former employee everyone called “E-Barr,” Hamilton said, featuring photos and bike parts that he left behind.

One photo shows Barr-Beare looking meditative at a music festival in Yakima, Washington. That photo was dubbed “Yakima space case” – an inside joke for those familiar with the popular brand of car-top storage boxes.

Hamilton said Barr-Beare was a passionate tinkerer and patient teacher with a gift for connecting with people. He loved being able to take apart bikes and put them back together, and the critical-thinking skills he learned at BikeWise Oxford translated well into science. Barr-Beare also had a strong moral compass, Hamilton said.

“He lived with a kind of visceral honesty,” Hamilton said. “He wasn’t somebody who could go along with something that wasn’t right for the sake of appearances.”

In 2014, after Hamilton’s 15-year-old daughter Kathryn died by suicide, Barr-Beare showed up each Saturday morning at 9 a.m. to work at the shop and to be there for Hamilton and his younger son as they grieved. At the time he was living in Columbus, a 2-hour drive away, but he gave up his Saturdays to support the family.

“It was an amazing gift that he was willing to do that,” Hamilton said. “He was the real deal.”

The Concord Criterium race was postponed last year due to COVID and restarted again this summer.