Jim Krajewski, Reno Gazette Journal Published 6:00 a.m. PT March 15, 2019 | Updated 5:19 p.m. PT March 15, 2019
Bicycle safety tips to help keep everyone safe on the roadways. Wochit
A bright and beautiful human.
That’s how Tate Meintjes is remembered by his friends and family as well as the Reno cycling community.
Meintjes, 19, was hit and killed by a car on Tuesday in Redlands, Calif. He had been pre-riding the Redlands Bicycle Classic time trial course in California when a driver cut him off, according to a report on Cyclingnews.com.
Meintjes, who was a rider with Team California, graduated from Galena in 2017.
Ann Miers, with the Reno Tahoe Junior Cycling team, knew Meintjes well and and said: “such a huge loss. … We are totally at a loss.”
According to the California Highway Patrol, a driver in a Honda Accord attempted to make a U-turn and pulled in front of Meintjes, who had been traveling behind in the same direction.
“The Honda made a U-turn directly into the path of the cyclist and the cyclist crashed into the Honda,” the CHP said in a report. Officers did not say how fast the driver was going.
Meintjes had been previewing the race’s time trial course with his teammates. He was pronounced dead after being transported to a nearby hospital, according to Cyclingnews.com.
Kyle Dixon, his former coach and frequent riding partner, said it is a tragedy.
He said Meintjes was kind, caring and extremely motivated.
“Everything he took on, he was all in,” Dixon said. “Anything he decided to do, he was good at it. He knew what he wanted to do, what he wanted to accomplish. He is one of those rare people at that age who has a clarity about what they wanted to do and he was willing to put in the work and make sacrifices to be successful.”
He said Meintjes was motivated to get better and stronger at cycling and he would often go on 80-90 mile rides by himself.
Dixon said doing well at cycling takes good genetics as well as a desire to train hard along with mental toughness.
“He could have gone as far as he wanted to go,” Dixon said. “Tate had all that.”
He said the Reno cycling community is a tight-knit group and many of the younger riders looked up to Meintjes.
“It’s been a tough few days. The amount of people who cared about him and looked up to him and respected him is large,” Dixon said. “I don’t see any negatives to sharing how great of a kid Tate was and how big a tragedy and how much of an impact he had on people and how much he will be missed.”
Dr. Andy Pasternak put Meintjes through some tests at his Silver Sage sports and fitness lab in Reno. He said Meintjes tested well and and compared well to other professional athletes as far as strength, endurance and lung capacity.
Pasternak was impressed with how driven and motivated Meintjes was and he hired him to promote his facility on social media as well as being a sponsor.
“He was such a smart, bright kid to be around. When he approached me about helping us out I was like, ‘Yeah I want to bring this kid on,'” Pasternak said. “We thought this is a good way to support a young and upcoming, really nice kid.”
He said Meintjes was not only a good athlete, but had an infectious personality.
“When you see kids like Tate, it really gave you some hope that there are a bunch of young kids coming up who are doing fantastic things and are fantastic people,” Pasternak said. “It’s tragic to see us lose someone like him. … For him to be that dedicated, at that age, it’s pretty remarkable. For a 19-year old, it’s amazing how many lives he touched.”
Paul Miers coaches Meintjes with the Reno Tahoe Junior Cycling Club. He said Meintjes was a good mentor to the younger riders.
Meintjes began his racing career as a mountain biker in 2013. He started to excel in 2017 and was selected to represent USA Cycling at the UCI Junior Canadian Cup.
Paul Miers said Meintjes was very motivated.
Miers recalled Meintjes going for training rides for several hours a day.
He said a few years ago Meintjes suffered a broken collar bone and could not ride outside for six weeks. So he rode inside on the training bike for hours every day.
“It’s extremely monotonous,” Miers said of training inside. “But he was that driven to not fall behind everybody else. A lot of the kids just get by and do what you tell them to. He was always looking for more. He was always looking to take the next step.”
Miers said Meintjes always made time to help the younger riders.
Miers said the club hopes to organize a memorial ride for Meintjes this spring.
Meintjes joined California’s Bear Development Team in late 2018 and was in his second year at the University of Nevada, Reno, studying mechanical engineering.
Meintjes took up road racing at the end of last season and joined Team California this year.
He finished third in the Bariani Road Race in Zamora, Calif., last week
“We are heartbroken, devastated, and overwhelmed with emotions,” Bear Development Team wrote in a statement on its website. “Tate was one of the good ones. A young man that always had a smile on his face, went out of his way to touch base with friends, and took time out of his crazy school and racing schedule to teach others about the sport he loved.”
No date for a service or memorial has been set yet.
Jim Krajewski covers high school and youth sports for the Reno Gazette Journal. Follow him on Twitter @RGJPreps. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here.