‘Blind Bobby’ inspired thousands with uplifting spirit, perseverance

Santa Cruz Bicycles shared the following news today:


“It is with heavy hearts that we relay news of the passing of long-time Santa Cruz Bicycles friend and ambassador “Blind” Bobby McMullen who died of cancer and other complications on September 12 at the age of 58.

Bobby and his guide

Bobby rode with the assistance of a guide who would shout out instructions.

“A competitive athlete from a young age, McMullen lost his sight due to complications from Type 1 diabetes at the age of 29 just as he was entering law school. Undeterred, the former collegiate ski racer doubled down and learned to live around his disabilities, pursuing his passion for speed, racing on both skis and mountain bikes. He spent seven years as a member of the U.S. Ski Team, winning two overall disabled national championships, and competing in downhill, super-G, giant slalom, and slalom as part of the 1998 Nagano Paralympic Ski Team. And while Bobby amassed an impressive number of achievements and accolades over the years, they paled in comparison to the joy and inspiration he brought to just about everyone who ever met him.

Bobby McMullen

McMullen was completely blind in his left eye and had 20/1200 vision in his right eye. In a 2006 interview, he told Mountain Bike Action his vision was “like looking at a bad Monet through a rolled-up newspaper with Vaseline smeared over the end.”

“Bobby battled a plethora of health issues over the years including bouts of cancer, kidney failure, years of dialysis, and two kidney/pancreas transplants, most of which he brushed off as if they were the common cold. In 2007 he was featured in a Santa Cruz print ad with copy that described not only those maladies, but the dozens of broken bones and other injuries he suffered from bike crashes. It was as if each setback only strengthened his resolve and desire to ride and achieve more. Chuck Norris has got nothing on Bobby McMullen.

The family riding together - Heidi, Ella and Bobby McMullen

Bobby shares a cherished moment with wife Heidi and daughter Ella.

“For the last decade or so, Bobby’s life has revolved around sharing his story, riding his bike, and spending time with his wife Heidi and daughter Ella, both of whom share his sense of wonderment and optimism, and to whom we all extend our heartfelt love and condolences.


“It has been difficult for those of us who knew and loved Bobby here at Santa Cruz to process his death, and even more difficult to speak about it. Bobby will always be part of the Santa Cruz family, and we’re working on plans to celebrate his legacy in ways that would make him proud.


“For now, the best we can do is to point you toward the 2011 documentary “The Way Bobby Sees It.” It would make Bobby happy to know that even after his passing, he continues to inspire.”

Click the link below to see an incredible video about Bobby McMullen, where you can see him riding and see what riding looks like from his perspective, with one eye completely blind and the other eye offering only 20/1200 vision:

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