David Ryan was a talented cyclist, rower and physicist who was tragically killed in 2004 by a speeding motorist whilst out training near his home in upstate New York. His death deprived the world not only of a talented physicist specialising in medical imaging technology, but also one of the most dependable and trustworthy companions anyone could wish to have known.
David was quiet and took a little work to get to know; it is probably fair to say that few of his friends knew his whole character. But the bare bones of his life are that he was born in Yorkshire, where he was a keen junior cyclist and able student. Aged 18, he went up to St. Edmund Hall at Oxford University to read physics, where he excelled, gaining the highest mark in his year as an undergraduate before going on to obtain a doctorate researching high temperature superconductors. Whilst at Oxford, David excelled at rowing – where he rowed for the University Lightweight Eight at Henley – and cycling, picking up numerous medals at British Student championships. Always keen to give anything a try, David rode time trials, road races and the track as well as being a keen hard-riding tourist.
After leaving the University, David carried on his research career, first with Oxford Instruments and then with General Electric in the United States. Despite the pressures of working life, he carried on cycling as hard as ever and even found time to take up triathlon and mountain walking as well. It was whilst in America that he was killed by a speeding teenager driving at more than twice the legal speed limit.
Everyone whose life was touched by David seems to have some anecdote by which they remember him; together they paint a picture of a whole person probably unknown by any single person. Mine was typical of the man: on an 80-mile club run from Oxford to Cirencester and back one winter, we felt the pace steadily rising. Needless to say, it was David on the front, with most of the club lined out behind. Eventually, I summoned enough strength to ride up to him and ask him why he was riding so hard. “I need to be back by three”, he told me, “I’m supposed to be down on the river to go rowing…”
There is more information about David’s life and death, and other anecdotes from his life, at the site set up to commemorate his life by some of his American colleagues.
Circuit of the Cotswolds was run successfully in remembrance of David Ryan for five years, from 2005 until 2009, raising money for Helen & Douglas House, Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Yorkshire Cancer Research. Since 2012 Helen & Douglas House have been proud to host Circuit of the Cotswolds.