Kirk Spindelman remembered as competitor, family man
By: TOM PFINGSTEN - Sunday, June 12, 2005 12:00 am t
North San Diego County Times
OCEANSIDE —— Of all the memories Glenna Spindelman has of her late husband, Kirk, a 1980 tandem bicycle trip along the West Coast stands out above the rest.
"We camped out along the way, and had some real special moments on that trip," she said Saturday, adding that the two would have celebrated their 25th anniversary in October.
That trip in 1980, she says, provided at least one good metaphor for their marriage: "We learned you can't ride a tandem bicycle and be having an argument, because the bike won't go straight."
Kirk Spindelman, 55, a long-time Oceanside resident who died last week of cancer, was described by family and friends Saturday as a team player and intensely dedicated to his family. He had beaten stomach cancer several years ago, but the variety invading his brain was too strong for the avid cyclist and massage therapist to overcome.
When he was diagnosed with stomach cancer three years ago, Glenna Spindelman said, her husband put off his first round of surgery until after he had competed in a race in Mazatlan.
"He went through chemo after that, and built back up on his bicycle or the trainer in the house to the point where he was keeping up with the guys again," said Glenna Spindelman.
"The cancer came back last fall," she continued. "It was different this time —— he didn't get his energy back, and he got discouraged. In the meantime, he bought himself a Mini Cooper, and was really having fun with that. The first thing he put on it, of course, was a bike rack."
Before the cancer struck, however, Kirk Spindelman was known as a strong racer with a heart for teamwork.
"He was a team rider, not the kind to say, 'I'm going to go for the glory on my own," Glenna Spindelman said. "He was excited about helping his team to win races."
Kirk Spindelman won the local San Luis Rey Road Race in 1989, and in 2004 contributed to his team's gold medal performance in the 2004 California state championships.
As a massage therapist, Glenna Spindelman said, "His clients ranged from elderly care to world class triathletes and runners, and everyone in between. He had a gift for healing, and he taught people how to take care of their own bodies."
Pete Penseyres, a close riding companion of Kirk Spindelman's, said Saturday that whereas many cyclists are only interested in athletics, Spindelman was a three-dimensional rider.
"Kirk was more than just a bike rider, he was a great friend," said Penseyres. "We'd talk about everything. He was good to everybody, he was a friend to everybody, and he just couldn't do enough for his family."
Thinking back to the time she spent with her husband on a tandem bicycle, Glenna Spindelman said she remembers one downhill stretch in California.
At 50 mph, "It wasn't two people on a bike on a highway —— it was just all one piece," she said. "We were flying."