Bill Bauer's friends normally meet in Little Neck, Queens, for their weekly bicycle rides. But on Thursday they gathered in Oyster Bay to honor the man they called Bicycle Bill.
About 30 cyclists rode to Bauer's Bayville home to hold a memorial service for Bauer, who died Aug. 21, said Craig Robins, a longtime friend. Bauer was 73.
Robins said Bauer, who had battled cancer for several years, had left explicit instructions not to hold a funeral for him, but his friends felt compelled to mark his passing.
"One of our riders is also a clergyman and he said a few words," said Robins, 56, of Huntington. "It was very touching because we all knew Bill very well. He was very loved in the cycling community and he touched a lot of people."
Bauer's death was confirmed by Oyster Bay Funeral Home. No viewings or funeral services were planned, and information about Bauer's burial or cremation was private, funeral director Melissa Schmidt said.
Bauer had no known survivors, she and Robins said.
Bauer, a retired school bus driver who was profiled in a Nov. 3, 2012, Newsday Act 2 story, was a fixture on the Long Island cycling scene who rode an average 150 miles a week on his titanium bicycle.
Gail Bialostok of Massapequa said Bauer was her cycling coach and friend for 30 years, after they struck up a conversation during a chance meeting.
"He was pound for pound one of the strongest cyclists on Long Island," she said Friday. "If you were riding a bike, he would have some sort of instruction for you."
Introduced to cycling by his father when he grew up in Brooklyn, Bauer won about 1,000 medals and trophies from competitions such as the Empire State Games and 24-hour marathon bike races held in Central Park, the Newsday story said.
The prize for one race was a year's supply of soft drinks, Robins said. "He had cases and cases of Pepsi in his garage for quite some time," he said.
At 50, he won a bronze medal in a prestigious race in New Jersey, the Newsday story said.
"There are no do-overs," he told Newsday. "You've just got to keep doing."
Bauer curtailed his riding when he was stricken with cancer, but purchased an electric bike to continue his hobby, Robins said. He said Bauer often rode in vans to cheer on his fellow cyclists when he was too ill to ride himself.
Bauer, whose lifelong goal had been to pedal 500,000 miles, had reached 494,446 miles when he was profiled in Newsday. Robins said his friend achieved his dream a few months after the story was published.