Bob Pongratz Dedication Feb. 2013

Bob was a fellow Friday Rider that you all probably remember and were inspired by his awesome power.  He raced Cat2 50+ and has some impressive stats online.  He won the sprint many times, even after his surgery.  Probably the oldest rider to win the sprint multiple times. From his brother Jim, here is some info about Bob’s passing.

Good Friends, Fellow Cyclists, Inspirations,

After a day of of disbelief, a sleepless night, waking at 2:45 am which is when i need to leave to meet Bobbie to ride w him on his commute to work, it hit me again that i had lost my little brother.

He had been training really hard all last year after having a 10cm bypass of his illiac artery, which had been blocked for about 6 months but did not keep him from riding one-legged. After his surgery he kept increasing his training gradually to the point where now he was back training and racing like his old self (3) races in a day. He had trained hard all week and instead of going to tucson w me to race he was really excited to do bike ranch A group on saturday on tandem with his friend Jackie. She has been improving tremendously and he wanted to show her how strong they would be on the tandem. They had a great 3-4 hr ride and had dropped all in the pack but 4 National team guys and they stayed away. He had pushed really hard saturday but wanted to back it up with doing the tandem again on sunday and wanted to do the 74 mile tour de phx course in under 3 hrs. about the same time we did several years ago to win the TDP. Dick Snyder and i met them and pretty much only held their wheel to Ftn Hills where they dropped us climbing to Pallisades. As we got close to the Beeline i did a 42 mph (downhill) sprint to get in front of them for the first time of the day. Climbing towards Saguaro Lake we finally cried uncle and Dick and i said goodbye and turned around. Bobbie had been having chest pains on really cold rides that would make him let go of the bars and clutch his chest. It happened again couple weeks ago at the 12 hrs of Papago race he did with Bob Laroche. He was riding as strong as ever this day and they had made it up Usury Pass and were heading back on McDowell rd  when he asked Jackie if she was pushing cause he was really feeling it. Shortly after that he just fell over and died. She has a lot of road rash but is ok. We do not know for sure but he may have been having several heart-attaches but is in such great shape that it only made him hesitate for a few seconds then return to being Bubba Power. This one was a big one though and for the first time in my life my brother did not get up from it. I’ve seen him crash as a kid pick up his teeth and bike and walk home, or jog 10-15 miles home after being left at the salt river. Bobbie was the toughest person i know and i cannot believe anything could stop him.

You are receiving this email from me and i must say this is only the people i had addresses for as their are so many more of you out there that i know my little brother had loved, respected, been inspired by, been encouraged and enriched for knowing you and to have so many wonderful memories on the bike. So many of you have helped and supported my brother over the years to stay on the bike, race, be the best he could be no matter what life threw his way. I wanted to personally thank you and remind you of how much he appreciated all of you, your kind words, your competitive spirits, good sportsmanship, your generosity etc.

Often on long rides especially when on the tandem where i was stoker and thus could keep up with him we would talk and your names would come up as he would fondly remember and share so many thoughts and stories of rides with you. Cycling was his life and you were a big part of that.

I encourage you to remember him not in sadness but with a big smile like he always had especially when he was going all out!


60 Replies to “Bob Pongratz Dedication Feb. 2013”

  1. Wow… Just came across Bob’s name by chance, while surfing the web. Really sorry to hear about his untimely death.

    Don’t know if anyone will read this… 6 months later… but I just wanted to say Bob was a good guy. I remember that raspy voice when we were classmates at Navajo School. I think he was one of the guys I used to play basketball with after school.

    Bob went on to Scottsdale HS (I guess he lived south of Camelback) and I went to Saguaro, so I lost touch with him (and many other classmates) after 8th grade. Three years later, I got a job as a busboy at the Safari Hotel coffee shop. Lo and behold there was Bob Pongratz workin there too. Pretty cool. I haven’t seen him since tho, then I left Arizona in 1986. Had no idea he would turn into a world-class bicyclist.

    After Navajo,

  2. When I found out about Bob’s passing today, my heart sank. Bob will be missed by everyone in the peloton. Always positive and always on the attack. Every group ride I did with Bob, he would attack at some point and then repeat. Give up was not in his vocabulary. He was always a gamer and a great guy to talk with at anytime. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his many friends.

  3. Cowboy Bob was what i was told after being out kicked at a Tucson Crit a few years ago some one I asked in awe, who was that guy. Another time after getting to know him some that day i raced in Yuma again with him and couldn’t belieave how strong a ridder and nice of a guy he was. He not even knowing me right away gave incouragement and insight of other racers skills and his own. Such a kindrid soul , the kinda person you just wonted to be around. Sorry for his familly, friends and the biking camunity. ML

  4. I was riding with Bob last summer and we were climbing up 9 mile hill chasing a guy who was riding a tri bike and I commented to Bob something like “Hey Bob why are you in your 53 X 17” and he looked down and said “Yeah you’re right, I’ve got a few more gears?”. He promptly shifted to his 53 x 12 and caught the tri guy dropped him and he was gone. Later, I saw him at the Chevron station at Alma School and Dynamite. I asked how long he climbed in the gear and he told me he did it the whole way. It turned out he was actually in a 54 x 11. What a God on the bike.

  5. Bob was a good friend that I rode many miles with as I broke into road biking in 2002… always a smile, always willing to help out a fellow rider
    (even a newbie), and let me sit on his wheel (even though he could drop me at any time)… great trip to tour de tucson races.. Bob will be missed but his legacy of the number of riders he has touched lives on as proof of such a great person…

  6. I had the friendship of Bob,growing up in the same neighborhood walking to Navajo grade school in the same grade level.Bob started on his bike early the best memory hearing Bob deliver our daily paper every morning,seeing him at the door to collect on sat mornings during Cartoons.The Larkin Family is sad for the loss of our childhood friend.God Bless to all the Family.

  7. Bob’s service is Thursday, February 14th, 2013 @ 2:30 P.M. at the National Memorial Veterans Cemetary located at 23029 N. Cave Creek Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85024. It’s off the 101 & Cave Creek Rd. It’s a large place so come a few minutes early to find that service. There will be a gathering afterwards.

  8. Too many wonderful smiles I and many other’s received from Bob. I was lucky to have met Bob racing for Team One, where he quickly became the guy that always had something really positive to say to me regardless of how my day went at the races, and always something profound to say to me when I was down(and I mean in hay stacks). He had the best hugs, and because of his enthusiasm, and love for the sport, I’m lucky to have had my personal rides with Bob as he would time me up hills, tell me all the things I should care about in cycling, and then say to me “Remember, it’s not about the pain and quitting, it’s about lasting just 1 more second longer than the gal next to you”…I have no doubt he lasted as long as he could. He fought hard for every second he had. I know Bob has left many memories with all of us, and I know he lives on, as he has left a legacy of love with each hand he has touched.

  9. Rest in Peace “Puppy”!
    Who am I kidding?
    You are going to be kicking ass in the big race in the sky!
    My most sincere condolences to your family.

  10. Services for Bob. I spoke with his wife. Bob will be interred at the Veteran’s Cemetery later next week. There may be a gathering of friends and family at a friends home near there. More info will be posted when available.

  11. Bob and I go back 25 or 30 years. We rode together, both sides of the border. Most of you know of him and his intensity riding a bicycle. I had the great good fortune of experiencing that intensity with Bob astride his CR500 with that additional dose of GODZILLA POWER. You all know what a great athlete Bob was and together with that bike, he was magic. On a beautiful crystal clear day, we would set a spotter on the edge of a giant bowl and Bob would ride up and launch off the edge into the bowl, do a big oval and launch again, further each time. Sometimes we would climb down into the bowl and watch Bob sail right over us. I estimate his jumps up to 100 feet horizontal and 70 feet vertical. People could see this from miles around and would flock to watch this awesome spectacle. I never saw him crash. His sheer talent made it look effortless, even majestic. I have not seen anything like it before or since.
    Bob was just as gifted and as special in everything he did. I knew him as a human being, with great strength and character along with human weaknesses. He was my friend. In the end, if we can contribute and love others enough to offset our failings, then we should be OK. I don’t know anyone who set a better example of this than Bob. He was a champion in every way. After not seeing someone for 25 years, damned few people could bring this man to tears at their passing. Bob accomplished that too. Go with God my friend. Go with God.

  12. I raced both with and against Bob. He was always super happy to be out on the bike. He was tough as a competitor. I will miss his face out at races.

  13. Deeply saddened and shocked that Bob has passed. I met Bob racing mountain bikes in the 80’s. Vince and I were just talking about him a couple weekends ago as we were heading home from our mt. bike ride. I started reminiscing about Bob and how I admired him always riding to and from work, rain or shine, and how I needed to step up to the plate. And how I missed not getting the Christmas cards with pictures of the kids because we did not keep in touch with him after we moved to California. I miss him dearly and he will always be in my heart. His family is in my prayers.

  14. I am so sorry, Bob was just awesome and would come up and hug you and just always be so friendly and supportive. When MaryJo and I race tandem he was always there for us. I can’t believe it. I will miss his hugs and the size of those thighs!
    Bye Bob! Alicia

  15. I am in shock and absolutely heartbroken to hear the news. The way I remember Bob is as the front half of the Bob-and-Steve tandem missile — or rocket ship — that I thought of as “The Scottsdale Boys.” Whenever you guys showed up, it meant we were in for an awesome ride. I just loved riding with you both. What a thrill you gave us all. Trying to chase you down (forget it!) or hold you off (almost did on Mining Country!!!) — those are some of the best cycling memories I have. I am agonized that Bob is gone, but my heart goes out to you, Steve, just as much. You two were the best tandem team I’ve ever seen, and you were both so gracious and fun to be around (after all the lashings were over). My deepest love to you both…

  16. I couldn’t believe the news when I was informed by a fellow employee at Honeywell about Bob. If there was one person who I thought would live to 100 years old it would’ve been Bob. We used to have long conversations about working out, basketball, baseball,triathalons and golf and although I never worked out with him I knew he was in amazing condition. You always knew when Bob was around with his distinctive voice. He was always up for a challenge and I am sorry I never got the opportunity to play some golf with him. My deepest condolences to all his family.

  17. My recollections of Bob are fond and memorable from the early day of Mt. racing. I started riding Mt Bikes then racing from 1989 to 1995 I now live in Nor Cal but often think about the fun and sweat of racing. Bob was at all the races and super fast. I remember him tackling the small but challenging trials course at the 1989 Day Lakes State Finals. I think he came out and punished us a couple of time on the weekly Duck Park/Papago Park ride. You will be missed but not forgotten..

  18. So sorry to hear about this, but he died doing what he loved most and he probably would not have wanted it any other way. You will be missed for sure, Bob.

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