Gary Lee Bywaters (1952 – 2016) was born in Washington, PA, lived in Harmon Creek, and graduated from Union High School in 1970. He then graduated from Western Kentucky University in 1974 with a degree in Industrial Arts, which he taught at Burgettstown High School while coaching track and field. Subsequently he worked for over 40 years at the Ambridge Bike Shop (now SweetWater Bicycle Shop), where he rose to the position of Head Sherpa. He was a national-caliber race walker, avid cyclist, and a licensed U. S. Cycling Federation/USA Cycling Official for over 30 years, acquiring the nickname "The Sherrif" for his habit of wearing a tin star. In 1989 he founded the “Month of Mud,” which continues to this day as Western Pennsylvania’s oldest and largest off-road race series. In 2008 he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Allegheny Cycling Association. His love for cycling was surpassed only by his love for his wife, Bobbi Jo Truax Bywaters, whom he married in 2014. Nath November 1998
Jeremy Curtis Grimm (1975 – 2017) started competing in cycling events when he was just 6 years old, following in the pedal strokes of his father, Bob. He excelled, becoming a national-caliber junior, but gravitated toward baseball and football at Orrville High School. During his sophomore year contracted Lyme Disease, he And despite years of pain brought on by Lyme Disease and an accident that resulted in a broken neck, Grimm pushed ahead, becoming an elite cyclist known across the region for his explosive sprinting as well as for his faith. So it comes as some comfort to Grimm’s family that the Orrville High School graduate and father of two was doing what he loved early Friday evening when a collision with a truck at the intersection of Hutton and Friendsville roads north of Wooster ended his life.
The family’s friends, church family and school friends and officials have “surrounded us with love,” said Bob Grimm. “We can be at peace knowing Jeremy is in paradise.” Jeremy Grimm had achieved Category 1 status in cycling, which Ride On Wooster Bicycles owner Bill Buckwalter said is the highest ranking a cyclist can gain, short of turning pro. Grimm had been part of the Ride On team for three years, Buckwalter said, and “was a very strong road rider who spoke openly about his faith in Jesus Christ.” Cyclist and fellow Orrville resident John Lorson agreed. “He was a cut above,” Lorson said. “But he wasn’t afraid to talk to anybody about his faith. No one would ever question Jeremy’s sincerity. He was a just a very, very good, honest guy.” His faith earned him the nickname “The Reverend,” Bob Grimm said. Even so, friends and family agreed he was a fierce competitor who was so successful no one needed to even ask his last name.
And no matter what he tried, he excelled. He could throw a baseball 90 miles an hour and hit a ball a country mile, his father said. “He had quick twitch muscle fiber and a lot of strength,” said Grimm’s brother, Chris, himself a standout baseball player. But when he was a sophomore, Grimm started having pain, mixed with debilitating fatigue. Twenty-six doctors and several hospital stays later, he was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, though Bob Grimm said he still managed to continue participating in sports. After that, Bob Grimm said, his son seemed to have a heightened ability to withstand pain, something he believes helped him excel in cycling. “Cycling is all about how much pain you can endure,” he said. “Your legs feel so heavy; you get so much lactic acid.” Grimm overcame weight gain to get back to cycling, winning multiple state criterium championships and competing with the elite Cleveland Clinic Sports Health team. But there was more to some events than a race. Grimm’s wife, Becky, recalled that one of their favorite events to attend was the McDonald’s Tri-State Criterium in Huntington, West Virginia, because it gave them the chance to visit patients in the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital. The website for that event paid homage to Grimm this week, as did others. Three local cyclists were at an event Saturday in Michigan in which a first, slow lap was taken in Grimm’s memory. And locally, Ride On scheduled a 20-mile slower pace memorial ride for Tuesday (Aug. 22). Grimm also spoke to groups about bicycle safety, more so after an accident a few years ago which resulted in a broken neck and other injuries. Grimm chose to bike back and forth to work near Wadsworth, Bob Grimm said, in part because it allowed him some time to train without taking time away from his family. On his route, he encountered a motorist who seemed intent on not sharing the road. After one especially close call, Grimm reported the driver to the police. Then, his father said, just days later, the driver passed him and slammed on the brakes. Grimm flew off the bike and struck the car. There were no witnesses, Bob Grimm said. The motorist was not cited. “We’ve really been blessed,” Chris Grimm said. “We could have lost him then.” But Grimm recovered and got back on the bike, which Buckwalter, Cebula and Lorson agree is not unusual, even after the worst accidents. “All of us, one of the very first things we do (after an accident), is think about how we’re going to get back on the bike,” said Lorson, who was seriously injured in an accident 11 years ago. Cycling “is how you settle your head and how you face the day. It’s yoga.” Becky Grimm said she would have been fine if her husband would have given up cycling. But she knew he wouldn’t and she never would have asked him to. Early Friday evening, the Buckwalters were leaving their West South Street business and heading to Pennsylvania for a wedding. Given the traffic generated by the downtown cruise-in, they agreed to go east and then circle back to state Route 585. At Hillcrest Drive and Lincoln Way, they saw a cyclist in Ride On gear, waving furiously at them and smiling. It was Grimm. A few other cyclists told Becky Grimm they saw her husband Friday evening riding through the Overton Valley. And when he didn’t arrive home on time, she thought he might have gone to the Orrville Lions Club’s Rib and Music Fest, where he would certainly know and talk to practically everyone. Then she saw the State Highway Patrol car coming down the street. “I just got that gut, ah, sick feeling,” she said. Now, she holds on to two things — the knowledge her husband is in heaven and the one voicemail message from him she has saved on her phone. In it, he goes on about preparations for sending their two daughters back to school and who is going to be where and when. And it ends with, “I love you. I’ll be OK.” There will be many hard days ahead, Grimm’s family agrees. But they take comfort in their memories and in knowing how many lives Jeremy Grimm touched, both on his bike and off. “Only on this side of heaven,” Chris Grimm said, “is it a sad story.”
during a hospital visit at the McDonald's Tri-State Criterium, June 2017