On a stunningly beautiful Autumn evening with the sun setting over Seneca Park, a number of Darryl’s friends and family gathered near the Cannons Lane/Pee Wee Reese intersection for a memorial tree planting. Under the leadership of my friend and teammate, Glenn Homza, a swamp white oak was planted in Darryl’s honor.
Darryl Benefiel was killed by an inattentive motorist. He was riding his bike down a steep hill when a car turned in front of him. In an instant our friend Darryl was gone. This tragedy could happen to any of us, at any time.
Words are not enough, especially from such a novice as I. Here goes…
Darryl was in the “club,” that is, the club of bike racers. Those who turn down brownies at lunch, those who train, who read about training and who live the life of a bike racer. Those who actually show up, pin numbers on, click in, and expose themselves for the thrill of the race. Darryl always showed up. He raced aggressively and selflessly. One of those guys actually working on the front. I recall being in crits in the drops, blurry eyed thinking who is up there doing this? Yes, it was Darryl up there drilling it. Respect.
Far more important though, was Darryl’s spirit. The grin, the warmth, the fun lovingingness all were Darryl. I knew of no one that did not like Darryl. Simply stated, “a good dude.” Darryl was a fixture on the park loop. It was easy to ride with him. You knew he was in a good place and felt comfortable riding along. You got the feeling Darryl was a lover of life.