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Though geographically spread wide, the world of cycling journalism is a small one, particularly here in the United States. There are only a handful of faces in the community of journos that you know you’re likely to see at a given bike race. When that community suddenly loses one of its members, it hits hard.
We’ve just lost a great one.
Pat Malach, who spent the better part of the past decade with Cyclingnews, has passed away.
I had the pleasure of working with Pat a few years ago as a co-worker at Cyclingnews, and then, when I started writing for other outlets, I got to know him even better, because working for different publications meant both of us would end up covering the same races together.
Covering bike races for a living is a funny gig. For a few weeks out of the year, you spend a lot of time with a very small group of people. You get to know them surprisingly well in pretty short order, considering how much time you spend traveling in the same van from stage start to finish, chatting up riders at roundtables, or just sitting in the press room.
At any given race, you know you’ll see one of only a handful of folks from Cyclingnews and VeloNews, Het Nieuwsblad and L’Equipe, and so on. If that race took place in the Western Hemisphere, there was a pretty good chance you’d get to spend some quality time with Pat—and I always found that to be a real treat. Covering races together gave me a chance to see a true professional in his element.
Pat was perhaps more connected than anyone to the inner workings of the US road scene. Beyond just the marquee riders, you’d be hard-pressed to find a sports director or race organizer who hasn’t spoken to Pat at some point in the past few years. There may have been no greater advocate for the domestic road scene than Pat, who put as much effort into covering the Sagans and Cavendishes at the Tour of California finishes as he did into chatting with the Jelly Belly and Holowesko riders that cross the line more than a few bike lengths back.
If there was a story worth telling at a bike race that Pat was covering, he’d probably already heard it, and shared it with readers.
At the Tour of Utah a few years ago, I remember hearing an off-beat tale about the Rally Cycling team van being damaged in whacky rock slide incident and thinking, boy, that sounds like a great story worth exploring—but of course Pat had already tossed the story up that morning.
At a different race that year, Pat and I approached a rider (whom I won’t name) and asked for a perfectly normal post-race interview, only to have that rider look us in the eye and ride off without a single word. I was annoyed, of course, but I knew that if said rider wasn’t going to talk to even Pat Malach, well, he probably wasn’t talking to anyone.
And whether it was at the roadside or via text long after the racing season was over, if I ever needed a favor, I knew I could count on Pat to offer to help. It did not matter if it was something as simple as filling me in on what a stage winner said after a race, or if it was putting in a good word with the right person when I was looking for work as a freelancer. Pat was quick to lend a hand without asking for anything in return. Meanwhile, if you did even a tiny favor for Pat, he was incredibly gracious and made you feel like you’d moved mountains for him.
Pat had a talent for sarcasm and was the kind of guy who was not afraid to speak his mind. He cared about things being done the right way. He was an extremely hard worker. He also just plain loved bikes and bike racing.
Covering the sport will not be the same without him.
Our condolences go out to his family and friends, the Cyclingnews team, and the rest of the cycling world, which has suffered a huge loss with his passing.
What a punch in the gut. Absolutely terrible news. Rest easy friend. https://t.co/2uNEQVxCWY
— Alex Howes (@alex_howes) April 21, 2020
I can’t believe we won’t have our talks anymore before or after any races . Pat , you were a kind man with a lot of respect for the sport . A great advocate for domestic cycling but above all a great man. Condolences to his friends and family. RIP Pat https://t.co/cYMn6R26mH
— Axel Merckx (@axelmerckx) April 22, 2020
Always whip smart with a wry smile, I loved Pat Malach. So heartbroken for his people. He was loved and needed, this is crushing. RIP Pat
— Dave Towle (@davedtowle) April 21, 2020
— Peter Stetina (@peterstetina) April 22, 2020
Pat Malach was a monumental part of the cycling media community. His passion for covering domestic American cycling was of the highest level. His loss will be felt for years. Our sincere condolences go out to Pat’s family and friends. https://t.co/ktdebiXDM2
— USA Cycling (@usacycling) April 21, 2020