About a decade ago, Jeff Stephens was bicycling shoulder-to-shoulder with Joseph A. Giampapa when the two witnessed another cyclist get fatally struck by a car right in front of them.
“It was sort of a bond that we had, and I would say it’s a burden that we carried,” Stephens said yesterday. “We were in very close contact for months after that situation.”
On Saturday, Stephens, of Worthington, got a phone call from the scene of another accident — this time, it was Giampapa who had been struck by a minivan and killed while bicycling north of Troy.
Giampapa, 56, of the Northwest Side, was an accomplished long-distance cyclist and corporate attorney for JPMorgan Chase in Columbus. He was a longtime resident of Victorian Village who had moved with his wife, Thelma, into a condominium near Dublin about two years ago.
He was able to ride his bike thousands of miles in short periods of time and covered some of the most difficult terrain in biking, including the same Alpine routes used in the Tour de France, his friends said yesterday.
“He rode many of the famous climbs in the Alps” in both France and Italy, said Greg DuBois, 59, of Worthington, who had traveled with Giampapa on his excursions.
“He could just ride phenomenal distances without stopping and without getting tired.”
Outgoing and gregarious, Giampapa had many interests, including music, food and cooking, DuBois said.
“I think our community has lost a really wonderful person,” he said.
Giampapa and his wife had just celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary, said Ted Meisky, another friend and fellow cyclist. “They’re very metropolitan and liked to travel,” Meisky said.
In 2010, Giampapa participated in a Dispatch feature called “Where I Eat,” in which readers discuss their favorite restaurants.
He said it was the couple’s “personal goal to keep every Short North restaurant in the black.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>
“We don’t have any children, so why not have the fun? If you annualize it over a year, I think we eat out — one way or another — five nights a week,” he said.
Giampapa was biking north on Troy-Sidney Road, near Loy Road, outside of Piqua just after 11 a.m. Saturday when a minivan struck him from behind, Miami County Deputy Todd Tennant said. Giampapa was pronounced dead at the scene.
The minivan driver, Thomas G. Davis, 78, was at fault, Tennant said, but charges haven’t been filed.
Tennant said charges are pending the outcome of a blood toxicology test. But it didn’t appear as though Davis was intoxicated, he added. All of the evidence eventually will be given to a grand jury, Tennant said, but possibly not until May, depending on how long it takes for the blood samples to be processed.
Giampapa’s friends were at a loss about why he was hit.
“It wasn’t a blind turn,” said David Roderick of Athens, who helped organize the 200-kilometer (124.3-mile) event from Springfield to Quincy to Troy and back that Giampapa was participating in.
“It wasn’t on a hill,” Roderick said. “You could see riders for a very long distance.”
By Bill Bush - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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