Pieter Ombregt

Sep 12
2007
Filed in: Non-racing,


Comments (88)

Pieter Ombregt (XXX Racing-AthletiCo) crashed hard racing at Matteson last night. Despite immediate first aid and more than two hours of surgery, Pieter passed away later in the evening at St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields.

It is a devastating loss for his family and the second tragedy to strike XXX Racing-AthletiCo this year.

This is my understanding of the crash, most of which comes from Michael Kelly (South Chicago Wheelmen), who was there: The 27-year-old Belgian was attacking into the wind out of Turn 4, one of many “frisky” attacks of his this night. After looking back to check his gap, he apparently strayed to the right, off the road, and struck industrial piping near the start/finish area. He was going about 30 mph. The force of the crash broke his carotid artery and caused massive bleeding. He never regained consciousness.

Witnesses speculate that he may have been blinded by the setting sun, which at that hour was in riders’ eyes on that section of the course.

This was his second season with XXX Racing-AthletiCo after racing with ABD in 2005. He was a frequent racer at Matteson, and when he visited his family in Belgium he would train and race there. (On Aug. 25 he placed 7th in the Parochianenkoers Hertsberghe.) At Superweek this year he won the Cedarburg 4/5’s and placed 2nd in Whitefish Bay.

He lived in Chicago with his fiancee. His family is en route from Belgium.

I will update this post as information develops. Friends and others are encouraged to share their thoughts and memories in the comments.

This isn’t supposed to happen, ever, and for it to happen twice in one city, to one team, my team, is confounding.




6 p.m.: The Daily Southtown has a story: “Accomplished cyclist crashes in Matteson race, dies.”

 



11 p.m.: I’ve started a photo gallery over at the XXX Racing-AthletiCo site.

 



9/13
9 a.m.: I wasn’t sure at first, but that is our Pieter behind pieterombregt.com. I had no idea he was such a talented photographer. His portraits are amazing. A photographer colleague of Pieter’s has a remembrance.

 



9:30 a.m.: Teammate Bob Willems also has a remembrance: “He brought his heart and guts to the start line of every race. People came to know Pieter by the character of his riding, and I think that’s the highest compliment for a cyclist.”

 



11 a.m.: The South Chicago Wheelmen have canceled the rest of the 2007 Matteson series, an understandable decision. The Daily Southtown story hints at this, but I expect there will be a difficult decision to be made, by both our friends at SCW and our generous hosts at Ace Hardware, about whether the races continue. I for one hope they do. I can’t think of anything in the Chicago area that contributes more to racer safety than these practice criteriums. We are better, safer riders because of them.

 



6 p.m. There will be a viewing this Sunday, Sept. 16, at Drake & Son Funeral Home, 5303 N. Western, Chicago, beginning at 11:30 a.m. A prayer service will follow at 1:30 p.m.

 



9/14
8 a.m.: Here is Pieter’s obituary, and Legacy guestbook.

 



9 a.m.: CyclingNews has a brief item.

 



4 p.m.: A scholarship to honor Pieter has been established. To donate to the Pieter Ombregt Scholarship Fund, direct funds to:
Columbia College Chicago
Attn. Kim Clement
600 S. Michigan Ave., 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60605

His family will be notified of your contribution.

 



9/16
6 p.m.: It was standing room only at Pieter’s prayer service today. Many moving and beautiful things were said in tribute to Pieter. Of relevance to the cyclists reading this are the words from Pieter’s father: “When you are in the peloton and look around and do not see Pieter, do not be sad that he is not there. He is there. He’s just escaped. He is around the corner, and you must go faster to catch up to him.”

 



9/17
12 p.m.: Mark your calendars: On Thursday, Nov. 15, at 5 p.m. a reception will open an exhibition of Pieter’s photography at the City Gallery of Photography at 800 N. Michigan Ave. This is a prestigious location, and the exhibition will run through Feb. 3.

 



9/20
3 p.m.: The Columbia Chronicle has a story: “Tragic cycling accident claims life of Columbia photography student.”

And in Het Volk: “Onze zoon is vredig en gelukkig gestorven.”

Comments

1.

Sep 12
2007

4:03 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This news really hit me hard this afternoon.  I had just gotten to know Pieter better this summer as a friend and teammate—rooming with him at one race and doing a few training rides and races together.  I thought he was one of the nicest guys and a wealth of knowledge about biking and racing (his Belgian heritage really shined).  He was one of those guys you just wanted to race and ride with.  My thoughts go out to his family and fiance and the rest of our XXX team who have 2 tragedies too many this year.  Race and ride safe, and remember life’s too short.  Make the most of it while you can.

2.

Sep 12
2007

4:32 pm

ScottV

I don’t even know what to say. Peter and Beth were in the prime of their lives, well liked, and took care of themselves.  And were taken from us.  While I didn’t know either of them, we are all cut from similar cloth.  All cyclists mourn the loss of these 2 cyclists.

3.

Sep 12
2007

4:46 pm

joe doyle

Damn, my thoughts are with xXx. This is really sad.

4.

Sep 12
2007

4:53 pm

Julian

Often finding myself on impromptu rides along the lakefront with Pieter over the years I knew that whatever plans for a casual evening were to be cast aside in favor of a lively game of one-up-manship.  It never failed that Pieter would query me on the ins and outs of cat 3 racing while I would devour his various stories of racing in Belgium.  Pieter was a formidable opponent on the road and a welcoming face off.  With a heavy heart and lump in my throat I take this moment to quietly remember Pieter.  Surely you will be missed.

5.

Sep 12
2007

5:16 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This is too much…We will mourn those losses with You…We will miss THEM.
Voytek

6.

Sep 12
2007

5:24 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I became friends with Pieter about three years ago when he stopped by my little bike shop on the lake front. He had a flat, no tube, and no money on him. So very Pieter :) I was easily charmed by his friendly nature and I fixed his flat anyway, we became good friends on and off the bike ever since. Pieter had an uncanny way of turning everyone into a friend. He was a gifted rider and loving and generous friend to all that knew him. I send my warmest condolences to Jen, his family, and his friends. He will be missed by all!!

7.

Sep 12
2007

5:35 pm

josh

I am saddened to hear of yet another cyclist lost. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and xXx.

8.

Sep 12
2007

8:21 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am in shock. I can’t put into words the sadness that I feel for all of your firends and family. Pieter my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Carl

9.

Sep 12
2007

8:42 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am speechless.  The last time I spoke to Pieter was the day before he left for Belgium in July.  We had just finished Brewer’s Hill and Pieter led the charge of attacks along with myself and Jeff Wat. 

The man had something you could recognize only as a fellow racer in another….the heart of a champion.  I recently moved to Arizona and have been feeling very much at home here, but after today’s news Arizona feels like I’m a million miles away. 

I miss him in the worst way already and can’t stop thinking about all the races he rode up front with us, pushing us, attacking, and attacking some more. 

When I am 95 years old I will still remember this man and tell the stories of my time with him racing the midwest circuit.

10.

Sep 12
2007

8:55 pm

jeff kao

I’d only spoke to Pieter once, at Matteson.  He gave me some pointers on racing crits and we would chat when we saw each other at meetings & such.  In those brief interactions he made a big impression on me.  My thoughts go out to his family & friends.

11.

Sep 12
2007

8:55 pm

Luke

I got out of work tonight around 6:30, the approximate time of the crash, and headed west to meet friends instead of my usual route up the lake. The sun was indeed blinding. It could make a person dizzy if you came upon it suddenly.

12.

Sep 12
2007

8:58 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

My condolences go out to Pieter’s family, friends, and teammates.  It’s another sad day in the cycling community.

13.

Sep 12
2007

9:22 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I never spoke to Pieter other than a nod of a head and “Nice race” after one or two races, but I was always aware of his presence when I competed against him. Thoughts like “Damn, The Belgian guy’s here.” or “There goes the Belgian! Get his wheel!”

I always wanted to know where he was in the field. “Is the Belgian at the front?” “He’s sitting in, time to rest. He’s moving up, pay attention!”

How could you not? He radiated class, strength, charisma and grace.

I wish I’d spoken to him when I had the chance. I wish I’d extended my hand.

14.

Sep 12
2007

10:10 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am blown away by this tragedy, coupled with the earlier tragedy.
If a memorial fund is established, I would like to be contacted to make
a donation.  My thoughts go out to all those in the “biking community”, especially XXX.

Reed Oliff-WDT

15.

Sep 12
2007

10:38 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am not part of the biking community at all. In fact, I didn’t even know that Pieter raced professionally. Pieter was a photography student of mine at Columbia College Chicago. He had studied with me previously and had decided after many discussions to work with me again. The semester began last Thursday, and Pieter and the other students were due to bring in the first pictures for discussion this week. With that self assured sly look, Pieter told me that he was “going to have something interesting” for me.

He was a fine, intelligent, and engaging man, and I was looking forward to being captivated by his latest photographic efforts, and working with him to make whatever he was doing better. He was not one to shy away from work. His sudden and untimely death is shocking, and a real lose. My heart goes out to his fiance, family, and friends. I will miss his presence in my classroom.

16.

Sep 12
2007

10:51 pm

Luke

It’s funny that you say you didn’t know he raced. I didn’t know he was a photographer—and such a talented one at that. (When I found pieterombregt.com this morning, I assumed it belonged to someone else of the same name.)

I wish I had known. I would have loved to have talked to him about it.

17.

Sep 12
2007

11:09 pm

superrookie

Oh my goodness.

This is just terrible.

I will never forget the first day I met Peiter at a race and they wouldn’t upgrade him from Cat5 and he proceeded to win by 5 min on the road race.

Hearts out to everyone.

18.

Sep 13
2007

12:45 am

Brian Ulrich

I also knew Pieter from the world of photography. Pieter was amazingly gifted at a host of pursuits.
His work was included in one of the first large exhibitions of Chicago photography I curated in 2006. His most recent pictures (that I saw) were combining his fascination with architecture with almost film-noir, dramatic and expressive self portraits.
Pieter will be sadly missed by the many communities he touched.

19.

Sep 13
2007

12:56 am

Brian Morrissey

Once again, I had just begun to race with, and get to know Pieter and he is taken from us, as was Beth K.  One of of my favorite memories of Pieter is watching him race the 4s at Snake Alley this year, cracked and in pain, yet smiling each time up, having the time of his life.  In my short time with this great xXx Family of mine, I never saw another ride harder.  Go well, Pieter.

20.

Sep 13
2007

7:11 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Tuesday was like the hundreds of other nights I’ve raced. We lined up at the line and I was waiting to start and I was looking around to see who was here an Pieter was next to me. I said “Pieter, what’s up?” and he said “I just came down to get a little spinning in.” We both laughed and I said “It’s pretty windy tonight, let’s put the hammer down” and in the second race we did. He hit hard and so did I. I could tell you about the next 10 laps, but my heart just hurts. For Pieter and his family. God Speed.—Jim Marshall

21.

Sep 13
2007

7:34 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones and teammates.

22.

Sep 13
2007

8:05 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I was just thinking the other day, “Gee, I haven’t seen Pieter in a while…”. We would always chat and warm-up together, at Matteson when I would occasionally show up, the Spring Prairie RR, various Superweek crits, etc. The last time I saw him, we were going in opposite directions to/from Highland Park around 3:30pm on a sunny day. I waved, but didn’t stop and turn around so I could chat with him while getting a few more miles in. I’m really wishing I would have now.

23.

Sep 13
2007

8:10 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The last time I saw Pieter was at the end of July, at the Matteson Crits (of all places.)  We were in a couple two-man breaks together and I think we were 1st and 2nd overall on the night.  Per usual, he raced hard with a big grin on his face.  We had some friendly chats not only after each race, but during, too. 

What a terrible loss.  Heartfelt condolences to family and friends.

24.

Sep 13
2007

8:21 am

Luke

For someone so good, you’d have thought he’d have been more cocky.

Often he was the one who would turn around to chat when you intersected on the lakefront path. One day I was doing intervals and apologized that I couldn’t linger with him ... but I found that my fast riding wasn’t much faster than his normal riding, so we got to spend time together anyhow.

25.

Sep 13
2007

9:09 am

BethCrome

I’m so sorry. My thoughts will be with his friends and family.

26.

Sep 13
2007

9:41 am

Hendrik (Belgium)

There are no words. I am realy shocked. We will always remember him as a great leader in the “scouts” in belgium. He was a great man to work with, always ready to have fun always going for it in every thing he did. Pieter we will miss you!

27.

Sep 13
2007

9:45 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Cette nouvelle me désole.
Grâce à la famille Cool, j’ai eu l’occasion de rencontrer et de discuter avec Pieter à de très nombreuses reprises. C’était un homme brillant et généreux. J’ai passé un certain temps avec lui cet été et je ne conserve que des images de sourires.
En cet instant je dirige toutes mes pensées vers sa famille et sa fiancée Jenifer. Je tiens également à rappeler mon soutien à toute la famille Cool.
Les Ombregt sont des personnes fantastiques et je suis de tout coeur avec eux.

28.

Sep 13
2007

9:51 am

Nicholas Pinto

This is a huge loss. Pieter was a very gifted photographer and although I am hurt by his loss tremendously, I take comfort in knowing his images will be etched in my mind until the day I pass. Peace be with you Pieter.

29.

Sep 13
2007

9:57 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am speechless!!  Pieter was one of the most positive and endearing people I have met. He was a kind, intelligent and talented young man.  I will miss seeing his infectious smile, hearing his laugh and seeing his determined look. 
My thoughts and love goes out to Jennifer and Pieter’s family.

30.

Sep 13
2007

10:00 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I too only knew Pieter through his photography, and only a little bit at that.  But my limited interactions with him are memorable because of his quiet generosity and distinctive sense of humor.  I still fondly recall his response to my question about why he wore orange in his self-portrait studies. With a tone of feigned annoyance at the obviusness of such a question, Peiter told me “Because orange is the color of the future!” I’m still not sure what that means, but it stuck with me to this day and still makes me laugh.  The entire Columbia College community that Pieter touched will remember him well.

31.

Sep 13
2007

10:03 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

i met pieter at the digital lab at columbia college. an occasional passing nod gave way to acknowledging smiles, and then eventually to some good conversations in the open lab. to this day, i’m always reminded of him whenever i see a flash of orange. my condolences to his family.

32.

Sep 13
2007

10:10 am

Eric Goodwin

Sandbagger! That’s what I remember thinking in years past as Pieter routinely roared past me at the finish line in Matteson. He would occasionally wear an all-black kit, and when you combined that with the Belgian accent, I think I used find him a little bit intimidating! It is sad and serene to learn about the other sides of his personality and the other facets of his life… his approachable nature, his colorful bike racing heritage and his amazing art. My thoughts are with his friends and family.


It is also unthinkable that this has happened twice to Triple-X in one year. I know there will be mourning and reflection… and I hope on the other side the team is even MORE motivated to soldier on. Like the Matteson races themselves, XXX plays an invaluable role in the Chicagoland cycling community, serving as a guiding force through a complex and (as we have seen all too often) dangerous sport. My thoughts are with the entire team as well. Please let us know if we can help the program in any way during this difficult time.

33.

Sep 13
2007

10:25 am

bob willems

The support of friends, competitors and the broader cycling community means everything to our team as we look for strength. Our thoughts and prayers go first and foremost to his family and fiancee.

After my first race with Pieter all I could think was that I was glad I would be racing with him and not against him. He was a gifted athlete and he brought his heart and soul to the start line of every race.

The comments from his competitors tell it all. To be feared and loved both by the same set of people is a unique accomplishment. The lessons and inspiration gained from riding with him will last for millions of pedal strokes to follow.

34.

Sep 13
2007

10:27 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

They put the hammer down alright.  5 laps into that second race I knew I wasn’t going to last so I watched from the start/finish.  Brian gets a huge 60 second gap on the group with Jim and the Irish Kid in pursuit followed by Ben, Pieter and others.  About 6 to go the group goes by with Pieter sitting right on Ben’s wheel.  Christian says out loud what we all saw “did you see that smile on Pieter’s face, just like a Cheshire Cat.”  He looked like he was about to swallow the canary: licking his chops, ready to pounce.  We laughed.

It’s this image that I’ll save.

Pieter came out of turn 4 riding strong in the face of a massive headwind.  Whatever his plan, he was executing it: perhaps he was going to catch Jim and the Irish Kid then see about chasing down Brian.  Either way, he was in his moment, fully present, full of joy and cunning, endorphins surging through his bloodstream.  Because of the sun, because it happened so fast, I believe these were his final thoughts.

35.

Sep 13
2007

10:43 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This is totally shocking and sad and I still can’t believe it. I worked with Pieter for a short time at the Museum of Contempoary Photography. He was a talented photographer, a really kind person and truly loved cycling. I only had the opportunity to ride with him twice, but the most memorable ride was a chance meeting in the streets. I had just gotten off of work and I was riding my bike over to Columbia College. I happened upon Pieter, who was riding a mountain bike that he probably borrowed from his girlfirend. We decided to race to school and he still beat me despite riding a bke that was way too small for him.

His dedication to cycling even while studying full time and working always impressed me and I know he inspired one of our coworkers to start racing as well. He was so friendly and always had a smile on his face. He will be missed.

36.

Sep 13
2007

11:19 am

Naz Hamid

While all I share with Pieter consists of being on the same team and knowing common teammates, this, as with Beth K, saddens and shocks me completely.

Heartfelt condolences to Pieter’s fiance and family.

37.

Sep 13
2007

11:28 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

We caught up to Pieter about 500 meters before he crashed.  We were in the chase group that night.  As soon as we caught and passed him, he passed us within 10 seconds going about 28-30 MPH.  We had no chance to hang on his wheel.  He looked back to see if any of us were going to try to keep up with him.  None of us made a move and he just smiled and accelerated.
 
I didn’t know him, but I will always remember his smile as he left us on the road that day.  It is always sad to lose someone so young, but he was having a great time before he left us.

Larry Gorey

38.

Sep 13
2007

11:50 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

While I did not know Pieter personally, I recall seeing many of his great results posted on the xXx website and thinking, wow, that Belgian is fast. I remember watching him race at Spring Prairie in 2006 and how excited our temmates were to have him on their side. As I read the posts about Pieter, it is clear that we have lost an amazing person and words cannot express my heartache. As I continue to heal from losing BK, I wonder… where do we go from here?

My deepest sympathy goes to Pieters fiance and family.

Go well Pieter.

39.

Sep 13
2007

12:01 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

What a terrible tragic loss. So many have said it; he was a wonderful, generous person, a talented photographer. Having him in a class always spurred more interesting discussions. He challenged his peers to work just that much harder. He demanded much of himself, and it was always a pleasure to see him in the hallways and the labs. My heart goes out to you Jen, and to Pieter’s family.

40.

Sep 13
2007

12:02 pm

Luke

Bob notes that Pieter was one of those people whose character is revealed through racing. Here’s something Pieter’s racing revealed: He never finished mid-pack. In every race that I know of, he either 1. finished in the top 10; 2. suffered a mishap, such as a flat or getting caught in a crash; or 3. worked himself so hard that he cracked, but not before causing many, many others to crack first.

I fondly remember Snake Alley this year. Snake Alley is one of the most brutal, difficult courses around. It’s a race of attrition that breaks more racers than not. He managed to stay with the lead group for the first few laps, but he couldn’t sustain it—few could—and gradually lost ground. Drained of color and energy he dragged himself up the cobbled hill lap after lap, finishing close to last. Afterward he seemed a little embarrassed, but there was no doubt about it: He’d left every fiber of his being out there on the course. He saved nothing for later. I found that admirable.

Some ride. Pieter raced.

41.

Sep 13
2007

1:12 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Pieter and I did a lot of training together in the late Winter/Spring and loved to attack each other on group rides.  One of us would attack and when the catch happened, the other person would counterattack and make everyone chase again.  We put in a lot of hard rides together and had a lot of fun.

Our favorite trick was towards the end of the ride, when people were starting to save their legs for the sprints, Pieter or I would attack while the other opened a little gap open and then we would bridge across making everyone else chase. Pieter and I would then catch our breath and talk about how much we hurt and would discuss strategy for the upcoming races (we always used to talk about finishing first and second). 

Pieter is going to be with me in spirit every time I’m on the road and my heart goes out to everybody that knew him.

42.

Sep 13
2007

1:25 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Pieter was one rider who I totally looked up to through my last two years of racing.  The one thing however besides his physical ability on the bike that amazed me was his quiet demeanor and humility that he had.  He was a real person who encouraged everyone in his soft spokenness.

Last Saturday, he and I sat in the back of the pack on the way back from Einstein’s before Green Bay road.  We talked about his trip to Belgium and how the weather wasn’t very nice, how and when we will cat up to 3’s next year.  He pointed out his fiance in the group with pride.  I talked to him about riding Cross this season and how he wanted to do it also.

At that point, Green Bay was upon us and we started doing our thing.  Before then, we said good bye and see each other soon. 

I am very lucky and blessed to have that 10-15 minutes of sitting at the back with Pieter to just chat and ride.  I’ll remember that ride for a long long time.

43.

Sep 13
2007

1:43 pm

Ed Kriege

Really, really sad news—so sorry to hear about this. I’ve posted the article via RSS on cycling.web.net to alert others of this tragedy. My condolences go out to Pieter’s family and friends.

44.

Sep 13
2007

1:49 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Team Get A Grip Cycles would like to extend our condolences to Pieter’s family, fiance, friends, and the members of XXX-Athletico.

45.

Sep 13
2007

2:04 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I met Pieter last year, or should I say, felt his presence in the Spring Prairie Race when my lungs nearly burst trying to hold onto his attack. I didn’t succeed. Over the next two seasons I rode and raced with Pieter many times. I truly admired the way he raced. As many others have stated, he put everything he had into every race. Just seeing him up front and working so hard was inspiring, a joy to watch.

I am heartbroken at the loss of Pieter. I didn’t know him well, but I always enjoyed being around him, on or off the bike. He was always at ease, and seemed to always have a smile for you. I am saddened that we didn’t have the opportunity to become closer friends. I only found out yesterday that he was a very talented photographer.

My heartfelt condolences go out to Pieter’s family, friends and fiancee. He will truly be missed.

46.

Sep 13
2007

2:41 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

After logging on unknowingly to the XXX page yesterday and seeing the photo of Pieter’s smiling face and reading the news…
    I instantly felt like my insides suffered a napalm strike…I feel charred,empty…and terribly sad…
            I knew Pieter…He was my friend,
I just rode with him briefly on Saturday…..
    All spring we limped home together after 90 mile torture sessions, Deliriously Sharing food and gigling at stupid jokes…Pieter was extremely open about crafty racing tactics and full of amazing stories..like his car catching on fire and him only worried about saving his bike in the trunk…
    I’d give him crap during races, yelling friendly insults..Pieter always returning them with that grin..The grin of a confident warrior…..
      I did not know Beth…
But…I could feel the pain
that all of you felt
when she was lost…
the intensity of the hurt..
filling the air,it was numbing..
I was filled with sadness and compassion…..
but,now I fully understand….

47.

Sep 13
2007

3:14 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am so sorry for all of our loss. Pieter was a talented, kind man. I was in his final race and I would like to say as he passed me with a smile before that last turn I knew I was in the midst of a champion.

48.

Sep 13
2007

3:18 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Pieter was a dedicated, thoughtful person and one of the most hard-working students I have ever had the pleasure to teach. He allowed his imagination to run wild, thrived on complicated stories with no clear answers, and made artwork that was serious, meticulous, and engaging.  He was in my class last spring, where he worked on a project in which he turned himself into a black caped figure who comes out at night when no one else is around and visits sites of modernist architecture. Like this character, I like to think that Pieter’s spirit will remain close to us here in Chicago for a long time to come.

49.

Sep 13
2007

3:36 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I met Pieter through Columbia, as we were in a few classes together.  His vision of the world was as beautiful as his quiet thoughtfulness towards others.  I will miss the wisdom and kindness he so unselfishly gave to me, and my heart goes out to his family and friends.  May we all treat others as he so greatly did before.

50.

Sep 13
2007

4:47 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Losing someone is always hard, but losing someone like Pieter is even harder. I knew Pieter for only two years. But every time was a fond memory. He was always smiling, no matter what. He always likes to surprise people. Pieter was someone who took pride in anything he did, but the three things I think he was most proud of were his family and friends, his biking and his photography. Pieter touched the lives of many people and it will be harder for some people to let him go. I wish I could comfort his all thtose who knew Pieter, but this is the only way I know how. Goodbye my friend.

51.

Sep 13
2007

5:43 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

A really magical guy, like none other.  I met him in an art history class, and while I complained about the teacher and work, he really elevated the conversation, was such a serious student, making great, challenging work.  Every time I ran into him it was such a nice interaction, just something special about him.  Will really really miss you Peter, you’ll be in my thoughts.

52.

Sep 13
2007

5:51 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

We were never on the same team together but if I was in the pack with him I felt like I had a friend with me.  It was a great comfort to have someone to joke around with while under the stress of racing.  He was selfless and generous as a racer and I’m sure he was the same in his daily life.
I spent some time reading his writings and looking at his photographs and I’m amazed by his insights and gratetful his work will continue to inspire.  My deepest condolences go out to XXX, the photography community, and especially Jen, and his family.     

53.

Sep 13
2007

6:46 pm

Mark Hadfield

Eternal tailwinds, Pieter.  You left us way too soon.

54.

Sep 13
2007

6:49 pm

mokeefe

When I think of Pieter, I’ll always remember this excerpt from Luke’s Spring Prairie blog post from last year:

“Halfway up the hill, I could tell I was going to get caught, but I was startled to see myself get caught in such a blaze of glory: Here was Pieter screaming up the left! He flew up the hill faster than anyone I’ve ever seen climb. Great! A counterattack! The move was brilliant.

Except it wasn’t an attack: Pieter had thought we were on the last lap, and this was his big finish. It was a shame, because nobody could have ever matched his rapid ascent. (Afterward, impressed with his amazing tuck as much as his climbing, I asked him, “Where’d you learn to ride like that?” “Belgium.” But of course.)”

It was the first that I’d heard of this talented rider, and since then I always thought I would soon hear that he would be upgrading to join us on the xXx cat3 squad. Now, I’m just left feeling helpless and sad. Another amazing person lost… when I read about his fiancee and his art, it is just devastating.

55.

Sep 13
2007

7:02 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I have spent all day thinking about what to write as it as always is very frustrating to deal with this kind of loss. I got to know Pieter at Columbia because he was a hardworking student that spent many hours in the lab and because he was a fellow European.

I can’t say that we were very close, nor that we even talked on a regular basis. However, the few times we worked together one summer at the MoCP, we had a few and in part personal conversations. The subject matter mostly revolved around being in the US, and at the same time maintaining the strong connection to our families and friends ‘back home’.

I know the distance is very hard to deal with for those of us here and those at ‘home’, and especially in a situation like this. I wish all the strength to Pieter’s family and friends back home to deal with this loss. I know he cared a lot about you all, due to the excitement he shared every time he was going home to visit. 

My thoughts also go to Jen, as this must be about the worst thing to happen at this time in life. I am not sure what I would do with myself in this situation, but I hope that people you are close with will step forward to support and simply be there for you to get through this time.

Reading through all the previous posts I have seen what a great guy Pieter was, both in terms of talent and a good spirit. Although Pieter is gone, I hope that the spirit will stick around in all of us in part to remember him, and in part to remind us all to live while we can.

Farewell Pieter.

56.

Sep 13
2007

8:58 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I knew Pieter since he started at Matteson in about 2004. I was one of the guys who encouraged him to join the team. Pieter’s thoughtfulness, personality, charm, caring, intelligence is articulated through out these previous thoughts.

I admired Pieter because he had the heart of Flanders lion and he also had the smile of a Cheshire cat.

On Tuesday during the race, I was doing exactly what Pieter had been telling me through out the year. He wanted me to see myself as more than somebody else’s helper, a race day thug.

On Tuesday night I was doing exactly what my fellow priests and brothers trained me to do.

Pieter - thank you for the treasure of your gifts which you gave us so generously.

57.

Sep 13
2007

9:08 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

allez-allez, pieter.

58.

Sep 13
2007

9:30 pm

Curtis Mann

I can’t really understand this right now.  It is a sadness that is weird and impossible to articulate.

I had just talked to Pieter, tapped him on his shoulder as he was wearing his signature wool vest, and he just smiled at me, told me about Belgium, about bikes, about Jen and about the current photograph he was fixing in photoshop. And the next morning he is gone. 

His passing smile will be missed dearly at school and on the path and will be the image of Pieter that I will always keep.
 
My condolences Jen, I am so sorry, so sad.

59.

Sep 13
2007

9:44 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I knew Pieter after working down at Mark’s Shop, he was a good friend and always tried his best to bestow upon me the best cycling knowledge he could. We will all miss him. Godspeed Pieter.

60.

Sep 13
2007

9:45 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I didn’t know Pieter but I watched him win Cedarburg this year and thought “Wow, who is that guy? He’s really good!”  I am truly saddened by this terrible loss.

61.

Sep 14
2007

12:58 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I first met Pieter working on the lake front with Marc Taylor at his shop.  Every second I spent with Pieter, whenever he visited, I adored.  He expressed such passion for not just the sport of cycling, but towards all of life.  Pieter was up beat and genuine all the time even when he wasn’t having the best of days.  I had the great pleasure to hang out with Pieter whether it be grocery shopping, or going for a ride, to maintaining the shop together.  I have talked about Pieter in stories with other people many a time, and I will never forget him.  Pieters spirit was so strong that it will carry on inside all of us forever, and through us he will never leave nor will that smiling face ever fade.

The strength of Pieter lives on through his fiance and family, and though tough times are here - just like Pieter - we will all keep moving, and smile once again.

62.

Sep 14
2007

1:01 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The news of Pieter who passed away following a tragic accident has hit me hard. Pieter’s parents and my parents used to be neighbours in Belgium. I have known Pieter as a child. My thoughts go to his parents and family as this must be about the worst thing to happen in life. I am not sure what I would do with myself in this situation, but I hope that people you are close with will step forward to support and simply be there for you to get through this time.

63.

Sep 14
2007

7:44 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I quickly came to know Pieter as an engaging force as he critically saw circumstances as few others.  He understood light, color, and texture.  His articulation of concepts, both graphically and written are equally compelling.  A gifted guy!  Mattesson wont be the same with a P.O. on the jersey.

64.

Sep 14
2007

7:59 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Sad, sad news.

Our racing community is so small that when something like this happens (again) it hits hard.

I never new Pieter, but that does not make the burden sit any lighter.

65.

Sep 14
2007

8:39 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am very saddened and stunned at Pieter’s passing.  I was fortunate to have known Pieter, he was my student in Darkroom II.  He was passionate, hard working, and had a compassionate nature.  He was also very much in love with Jennifer—I would often ask him about Jennifer and he would have this wide smile on his face when he talked about her. My thoughts and prayers are with Jennifer, Pieter’s family, and friends.  I feel privileged I had the opportunity to know this amazing person. I will miss him.

66.

Sep 14
2007

11:14 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach yesterday as I read about Pieter’s death. He was a special person and talented artist, and I will always remember his particularly warm and thoughtful way of looking straight at you when you spoke to him.  I am one of Pieter’s instructors at Columbia and though we had just started, I was really looking forward to what he was going to do in our class. In fact, we had just had our first discussion of his work the morning before he raced. We will miss him dearly. My heart goes out to Jennifer and his family and friends, I wish you strength during this difficult time.

67.

Sep 14
2007

11:35 am

Rodney Cox

I am so incredibly sorry to hear this horrible news. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Very tragic news.

68.

Sep 14
2007

12:22 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This story was forwarded by a member of the Oregon Bicycle racing Association (OBRA) to the OBRA mailing list. My heartfelt condolences to all of you.

May he always be in the lead break with the wind at his back…

69.

Sep 14
2007

5:00 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I was astonished by hearing of the death of Pieter caused by an accident. I coud not believe it. I can’t find any words to express my feelings. I was a neigbour of Pieter. I knew him since he was born.  For Jennifer, his parents, Ludwig and Vera, his brother, Wout, his family and friends…be a support for each other to get through this time…

70.

Sep 14
2007

6:27 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

i didnt know pieter as well as i would of liked but i did spend time with him and jennifer through out our college years. i will never forget pieter’s interest in everyone’s work, and life, and passion in his own. I am so sorry to hear of such a great loss. jennifer i am so sorry that you have to experience such a great loss. all that i keep thinking is how great of a couple you were. pieter was awesome. he still is. i hope to meet many many people as great as him.

71.

Sep 14
2007

8:28 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I am very stunned to hear of the passing. I really enjoyed riding with Pieter. He was always at the front drilling it making people suffer. I just saw him at Holy Hill during Superweek after he got top 5 I believe in the 4’s and my last words to him were “Let’s ride soon!”. I feel so bad and am very saddened by this. I can’t believe this happened. We will miss you Pieter!

72.

Sep 15
2007

4:43 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Thanks for a fantastic, everlasting memory Pieter! You are a well of inspiration for all of us…love you with all my heart,

Tom

73.

Sep 15
2007

4:58 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Pieter was one of the most important persons in my adolescence, here in Belgium.  His joy of life, his power, his tremendous soft eyes made him a person to love unconditionally as much as he loved life. His death leaves me speechless. The consciousness about this terrible news only will come later, the pain will stay.

74.

Sep 15
2007

2:59 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I only knew Pieter as a former student of mine at Columbia College. He was an insightful, thoughtful and unique. This is shocking to me and am saddened by the loss to the collective consciousness of our world.

75.

Sep 15
2007

4:10 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I will miss you my friend. We will all miss you. Your energy, your caracter, your mind. I will never forget you and cherish the time we spend together.
Vaarwel Pieter

76.

Sep 16
2007

6:26 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Dear cousin, it’s so hard to lose you. We will miss you so much, but you’re not gone. You will always stay in our life, our mind, every day and in a way we all know you.
Pieterke, ‘k zie je gern!
je nichtje

77.

Sep 16
2007

8:08 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Ombi,my friend.
It’s been a long time since we saw each other,but I remember the nice times we shared as if it was yesterday. You were a romantic,a dreamer…but you did everything in your power to make your dreams come true,with your endless energy and enthusiasm! I still cannot believe that you are taken away from us…
Het is niet eerlijk dromer…
We zullen je nooit vergeten!

78.

Sep 17
2007

2:28 am

matt

I am shocked and don’t know what to say…Pieter was a great competitor.  This is a huge loss.

here is a picture of him at whitefish bay:

http://img411.imageshack.us/img411/3655/finishhf6.jpg

79.

Sep 17
2007

10:46 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Everyone in the Columbia College community is shocked and saddened by the loss of Pieter. We extend our deepest sympathies to Jennifer, Pieter’s family, and all his many friends.

The next exhibition at the City Gallery of Photography will be dedicated to the photographs of Pieter Ombregt. The City Gallery is in the Historic Water Tower at 800 N. Michigan Avenue, and is a joint project of the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Photography Department of Columbia College.

The exhibition will open with a Reception the evening of November 15, 2007 (5-7pm) and run through February 3, 2008. The gallery is open 7 days a week. I hope all of Pieter’s many friends will join us at the Opening Reception.

80.

Sep 17
2007

10:56 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Oprechte Christelijke deelneming aan de familie en vrienden van Pieter. Ik hou nog vele goede herinneringen aan hem over in de tijd dat hij intern was op het Sint-Leocollege.
C. Luypaert

81.

Sep 17
2007

2:00 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Onze oprecht christellijke deelneming bij het plotse overlijden van Pieter.
wij voelen met jullie mee…de Kanegemnaars zijn diep geschokt door het tragische ongeval.
Wij wensen jullie heel veel sterkte en hopen dat jullie in Chicago en ook hier bij ons mensen ontmoet die jullie nabij willen zijn in deze moeilijke tijd. Henri en Fabienne en Alexander en Reinaart en Clara De Keyser

82.

Sep 18
2007

9:24 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I won’t forget the day I met Pieter. He was the guy who kicked my butt at Arlington Heights in 2005. After the race I congratulated him to his win, but inside I was furious.

The following Tuesday at Matteson I stuck to his wheel and responded to every move he made. At the end of the night I was extremely pleased to find out I had won a free entry and a Clif bar. We took a few laps together to cool down and agreed to meet for a showdown in Elgin. At race day I could neither find his name in the start list nor did I see him warming up. About five minutes before the race I was relieved to see him in street clothes; he had missed the registration deadline. But instead of being frustrated, he put on his Pieter smile and cheered me on from the side line.

What a cool guy!

Pieter, ich vermisse Dich!

83.

Sep 20
2007

6:53 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Wreed jammer dat zo ne toffe gast ons reeds verlaten heeft.Toch heeft Pieter als kunstfotograaf sublieme momenten vastgelegd waar we hem dankbaar voor mogen zijn.
Aan de ganse familie van Pieter, heel veel sterkte van Jean & Tine Allemeersch

84.

Sep 20
2007

7:14 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I’ve only met Pieter a couple of times, but still he has been a great inspiration for me. He was such a great photographer and cyclist, and I’ve always been impressed by his great commitment to his interests and way of life. It’s a terrible loss, and my deepest sympathy goes to his family and fiancé.

85.

Sep 21
2007

8:11 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Since our graduation at High School in Belgium, I lost contact with Pieter. It’s very sad that he had to leave his friends, his girlfriend and his family so soon. But it’s nice to read that he made a fantastic impresson on everyone he met. His photographs and his determination on a bike will live forever in the US. I remember his smile and his belief in all the good things.

Het ga je goed, Hamlet!

86.

Oct 9
2007

11:17 am

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

A young man with so much benevolence and so much ambition was taken away from us so tragically. Peter was admired and loved by everyone he touched. His presence and his genuine smile brought happiness to our lives. We will miss you dearly Peter. You were truly one of a kind.

Our thoughts go out to Jennifer, his family & friends.

87.

Sep 20
2008

4:32 pm

mokeefe (XXX Racing - AthletiCo)

Today was a wonderful day for a bike ride in Chicago on the lakefront bike path, and eventually, perhaps due to the time of year and climate… I thought about last year and Pieter.  And I did not despair, I just thought that he was ahead of me, just out of sight around the next turn, so I went faster to try to catch him.

88.

Sep 23
2008

8:17 am

Brian Morrissey's avatar

Brian Morrissey (xXx Racing - AthletiCo)

Allez!

 

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