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  1. #1
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    Leonard "The Legend" Francies

    The "Legend" unexpectedly passed away yesterday in the middle of a ride on Grand Ridge yesterday whilst accompanied by his close friend Art Tuftee.

    More recent converts to our great sport may know Len from his vigorous and consistent sawing activities. Him and Pete Partel and others spent last winter clearing the route for Predator, and you may have seen his posts recently about all the great work they have been doing on the new Ollalie route. In addition, for the last 5+ years he has been the principal agent in clearing deadfall off many of our favorite backcountry trails each Spring with particular emphasis on Greenwater and the Middle Fork. In the past year he was instrumental in certifying Evergreen members in sawing and standing up an ongoing certification process.

    Enormous contributions to trailwork and access, but the last 5 years only scratches the surface of his part of NW mountain biking.
    Len was an early board member of BBTC. He was one of the first to help construct the first BBTC website. He was deeply involved in saving the Middle Fork and getting Ollalie on the map.

    He was the first person I knew (talking about the early 90's) who was getting out the map and putting together true epic rides - He was the one that introduced us to Goat Mt, Strawberry Ridge, and even much of the Greenwater trails. My other nickname for him was "The Slogfather" because he was the guy who introduced many of us to 6+ hour rides, and campouts, and weekend destination riding - that is, real mountain biking.

    But Len was so much bigger than just his contributions to PNW mountain biking.

    It sounds trite and you often hear people speak well of the dead, but I am telling you now that Len was absolutely the most positive and happy person I ever knew. When you were with him, he made you feel like you were his best friend. I literally never saw him angry, and the closest emotion I could ever ascribe to him like "depressed" would be when he felt a certain frustration over some interpersonal situation. He was a one man ambassador for the sheer joy of mountain biking. Or sawing. By which I mean, life !

    One of my favorite Len stories was a St. Helen's campout in the late 90's. We were on the first day of a multi-day riding trip and slogging up some sandy horse chunder ditch. I was like, "screw this I"m saving my legs for the rest of the week". And Len came plowing by me churning up this crap trail. I was like "whatever, burn yourself out". Then another pitch, and the same thing, Len comes churning by me while I'm walking. The 3rd or 4th time, I'm like screw this, and I start pedalling and chasing him. We spent the whole week challenging each other up EVERY slope and by the end of the week we were unstoppable. To this day I say that is the week when I truly learned to climb and fell in love with that aspect of the sport.

    Regardless of that story, Len was not a competitive guy, he had the same damn grin on his face whether he was leading or lagging.

    It was fortunate the a pre-planned party of many of Len's friends occurred tonight, the same night many of us heard the news, or I would be truly distraught at this moment. I lost a father and a father-in-law in the last year, but Len is the first loss of a contemporary that has made me weep. I bemoan not just the loss today, but the loss of so many future good rides.

    Len is 2nd from the right in the photo below (this is on Noble Knob). I found I only had this one photo of him. If anyone has other photos or memories, please post them up I would like to see them and save off as many as I could.

    Because of his early involvement in PNW mountain biking, because of his contributions to the club and to the trails, and because he touched so many members of the PNW mountain bike community, and because it was alliterative, his nickname was already "The Legend". Now that he has passed he truly has become - The Legend.

    Tomorrow is promised to no one, so enjoy every minute of the worst moment of the worst ride.

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img_1312.jpg

  2. #2
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    I never met Len, but I Positive Rep'd him one time telling him how much I appreciated what he did for the community, and act that now feels grossly inadequate. I was on Grand Ridge yesterday, and stopped to cut back what was left of a downed tree someone had partially cleared. Contributing in that small way is due to the inspiration I have gotten from Len and others I know that contribute. While doing the work, I was thinking about Len and the others that have inspired me. Condolences to those that knew him, and RIP Len.

  3. #3
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    whoa! that is shocking news. never met him, but am aware of his dedication to our sport locally. huge loss
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  4. #4
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    Sad to hear about Len. Awesome guy who represented our sport well. He will be dearly missed.

    Any detail on what happened?

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    Thank you Preston for posting that great story of earlier days with Len. I have a shot here of him doing one of the many things he did best: Sawing. This isn't the impressive stuff of the 410 or anything like that, but represents him getting out and helping clear trails after every windstorm on our local trails. This is out at Tolt on June 2, 2014:Leonard "The Legend" Francies-wp_20140602_18_16_19_pro-1280x721-.jpg
    It must be roughly the same vintage as Preston's photo, as it looks like the same shirt to me!

    Len, you'll be missed, but we'll carry on!

  6. #6
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    God's speed Len

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  7. #7
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    RIP Len. Thanks for everything. You were inspirational.

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-lf.jpg

  8. #8
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    Some of my photos of Len. Note the same grinning face in every single one of these. Truly saddened to hear this.
    Jack

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img_6177.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_7063.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_5369.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_5382.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_6213.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_6825.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_5355.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_5387.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_7035.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_6850.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_7007.jpg
    Last edited by jackd49; 09-13-2016 at 06:40 PM.

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    Len made one feel always welcomed and was fun to be spend time with...his riding, his sawing, and his personality. Len and I rode together just a couple times but he did get me into the chain saw world of trail workings around 2013. Within a couple hours of clearing blowdowns...he had me convinced I could clear anything with a chainsaw. I ended up buying my first chainsaw and gear from him.

    Len...I will miss you. RIP...

    Cheers,
    Mike

  10. #10
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    I'm sad. He did more for our mountain biking community than almost anyone. What a great dude.

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    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-5-15-15-002.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-2013-03-31_2957.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-2013-03-31_2967.jpgSo sad to lose one of the finest people you would ever meet. Since we lived on opposite sides of the Cascade Curtain, I never got the chance to work with him as often as I would have liked, but we stayed in contact and he would always throw out an irresistable invite to a work party that involved sawing big logs or tough situations. Last year we worked together as he was developing the Evergreen Saw Certification Program (which will be his legacy) and he came over and helped me saw lumber for the bridges at Squilchuck State Park. I will never forget the Easter Sunday that a bunch of us headed up Tiger Mountain to buck out some big, tangled blowdown on Silent Swamp. We had a blast clearing the corridor and splashing some rotten snags along the way, what a fun day. Thanks Len for the memories, you won't be forgotten by this old wood rat.

  12. #12
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    This still sickens me. On one of our recent convos, Len and I were discussing (among many different things) the awesome future for I-90 corridor biking. As we drank our beers, we talked about how cool it will be to eventually hook all the way up from Tiger to Hansen Ridge; he said he hoped he'd still be in riding shape to enjoy it 10 years or whatever down the road. I laughed. It was a ridiculous comment. That man was a freight train and I knew full well nothing would ever slow him down. I used laugh everytime we hit Middle Fork for the trip up to Dutch Miller and back; there I'd be with loads of Gu's and bars, sandwhiches and Gatorade, and there he'd be with a snickers and a 24oz bottle. He was built of something most people only dream of.

    Another trip on Len's favorite Middle Fork, we had just reached the top drop in by DM, and there sat two day hikers who had come from Alpental. They'd taken a wrong turn at Goldmeyer and were now 14 miles from their waiting car at the MF trailhead, and late in the afternoon. They asked if we could give their loved ones a call once we got back to coverage and let them know how late they'd be. Well, that didn't sit well with Len at all... He knew they were tired and overextended. He told them to get the few miles down to Dingford and he'd pick them up there. We did the top section of the trail and then Len peeled off out onto the road just so he could get back to his jeep faster, completely foregoing the payout for grinding up all the way up to Dutch Miller. He picked them up and shaved hours off their debacle. That was Len. I've never met a person more kind, or more willing to help you out.

    I have so many more thoughts, but for now, here are some pics of some of the wonderful memories I have with The Legend.













































    RIP Len.
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    I met Len twice at the _same_ spot on the singletrack just above Goldmyer, and once on the opposite side on the road. Once each year, I was going up, and he was coming down clearing the trail. On the road, he showed me a huge tree had come down the ravine and lodged itself into some boulders. I didn't recognize Len that time at first, but he knew immediately who I was. Smiling and cheerful.

    He was an instant kindred spirit and I always wanted to work with him. Maybe later - I was thinking and missed out. Thank you, Preston, for the well-written eulogy, and everyone for your stories and pictures.

    I'll be thinking of Len when I stop to do some trail work on backcountry rides.

  14. #14
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    Len was quite simply the nicest guy I ever had the privilege to ride with. Preston and I were on one of his famous 5-day marathons at St. Helens in the 90s and on numerous mind-numbing climbs the smile never left his face. I did not come equipped for "dry camping" and Len was quick to help me out with the stuff I was missing including cooking me a hamburger for my birthday dinner one night. Just a small example of his endless willingness to give freely and with grace. Rest well, Len.

  15. #15
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    What I would give to spend one more afternoon with Len. Such a mentor and inspiration since meeting him when I first moved to WA.

    As mentioned previously Lenny along with the other BBTC legends taught many of us how to suffer on a mountain bike. This photo was from one of those epic St Helens trips with the crew...Lenny on the right.

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-p8010079groupshot.jpeg

    I will cherish so many good memories...including some good times in Golden CO when we were both there for work. One was how he coaxed me up the trail (and then down) after a rattlesnake had crossed in front of him on the climb.

    Damn...I already miss his infectious smile every time I would bump into him on a trail.

    LEGEND!

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-p8010074.jpeg
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  16. #16
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    I first met "The Legend" about 8 years ago. I was serving on the Evergreen BOD when Len came to a board meeting to talk to the board about some topic that he was passionate about. While the topic of that talk is long forgotten I will never forget Len's passion.

    We shared an enthusiasm for trailwork and it was my privilege to work side-by-side with him at Paradise, the Middle Fork and Ollalie where I experienced his knowledge his passion and his humor. I'll never forget some of our first workparties together - Len generously came out and shared his time and talents with the Paradise Valley trail crew one winter as we rebuilt the Red Alder trail. There was this one corner that was just nasty - wet, mucky and had a weird camber. We fixed it and moved down the trail but Len was just not quite happy with the fix. We kept telling him it was good enough but Len would not let that corner go. Over the next couple of week Len re-built that corner at least three times before he finally called it good. I still smile every time I ride past that spot thinking about Len digging, filling and pushing big rocks around while covered in mud. To me that corner represents all that is good about Len - his generosity, the endless enthusiasm, his passion for doing it right and his tenacity to get the job done.

    This was a good man who made an impact and left a legacy. My condolences to his family. You were taken too soon Len and you'll be missed. I hope to dig with you again in the next place, wherever that is.

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    I never knew who Len was and strangely on a trip to Scotland a few years ago, there was another Washington native in the group. Turns out to be one of the nicest MTBRs I have ever met and so knowledgeable about the local trails. Len was a talented rider and after figuring out who he was, a truly generous person to the local trail community. I was fortunate to spend a week with him and hear some of his amazing stories. He'll be missed.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muttonchops View Post
    What I would give to spend one more afternoon with Len.

    Damn...I already miss his infectious smile every time I would bump into him on a trail.

    LEGEND!
    Absolutely agree. I've never known anyone with such enthusiasm for every activity and such a welcoming and friendly demeanor to everyone he met. I don't think it's really sunk in yet how much we're going to miss him.
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  19. #19
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    Such a giant of mountain biking here in WA. This was before my time, but I'm told he started the Evergreen Boot Camps that became our huge rider education programs. There are hundreds of you out there that were introduced to riding because of him.

    I love the guy, and his infectious smile will never be forgotten by me. I'm glad I had to honor to work with him on various trail related stuff over the last 15 years. From sawing to trail work to land manager meetings to lobby day, he was always there and always a joy to be around.

    I want to see a trail named in his honor.

  20. #20
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    So many things will be his legacy; one of my favorites is Evergreen's commitment to rider education.

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    Great photos and memories.

    We've talked about Len the human being, and Len the contributor.

    But there was also Len the rider.

    In recent years he was totally at peace with aging and had adopted an "aw shucks" gentleman of the sport demeanor, but he was a fierce and devout mountain biker.

    We remember his smile, lit up by the campfire, maps spread out on the picnic table, saying "Oh man that route tomorrow is really gonna put the hurt on us" in the same tone you might say to someone "We're going on a picnic at the beach tomorrow".

    If you ever climb Goat Mt. in St. Helen's its one of the top 5 toughest (tech) climbs in Washington and I can name only 3 people that have cleaned it top to bottom...He was one of them.

    I once saw him break a square taper spindle in half dropping 4 and 5 footers to flat. Mind you he would have been in his mid 40's at this point learning it on the fly.

    Same time period when "freeriding" was the fad, for a few months one summer 10-12 of us would troop over to his house one night a week where we would all try to hurt ourselves in his steeply terraced but typical suburban size backyard where he had setup a whole range of log rides and drops.

    Here is a comment from my old friend JP:
    "Len was the first person I ever saw do a log ride. It blew my mind. I'd never even thought of riding a log before. Thus began my descent into free riding. Remember the little stunt trail he built in his backyard? That guy will always be one of my heroes."

    One day we had been lucky enough to get about 12 of the hardest core BBTC riders all together to repeat the NoName ridge ride we had done the year before. It involved a 45 minute point to point shuttle and was a good 6+ hour push fest already. He just "put it out there" as he would say, that maybe we could shuttle for 15 minutes and then go around Lake Kachess, come up the back side on a dirt road and do the rest of the ride from there. Thus was born the the Thorp Mt. Deathmarch that took 11+ hours and ended in the dark.

    Even at age 50+, I talked him into one last trip to Whistler. I laughed because I brought two bikes, spares, my armor and equipment as did the other participant. He showed up with nothing but a small backpack and just said "I'm going to rent". The other guy was a decent rider in his 20's, and we spent 3 days riding DH and Len was spot on, we waited on the young guy, not the Legend. In fact when I look back on dozens of trips to Whistler with several different crews, that low key weekend with him was my favorite.

  22. #22
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    Did an internet search for Len Francies mountain bike, and these pictures came up. As mentioned above, always smiling.

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-1.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-2.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-3.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-4.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-5.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-6.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-7.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-8.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-10.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-11.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-12.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len-13.jpg

    Apologies if any of these are duplicate postings, or are not him. Can't always tell for sure, but all seem to have the same vibe.

  23. #23
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    Len the builder

    In 2010 we replaced the rickety bridge over Denny Creek in Big Finn Hill Park. Here's one of Len hard at work (unfortunately not facing the camera), and one at the end of the day with his trademark grin (2nd from left). I underestimated how much lumber we'd need for the decking so Len rushed out to Home Depot and got the 2 or 3 boards we needed to finish the job.
    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img_1295.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-img_1326.jpg

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by juice View Post
    I want to see a trail named in his honor.
    This is exactly what I was thinking too. I'd submit that since the Ollalie Trail isn't done yet, that it be renamed in his honor.

    Although I never met Len, I enjoyed his posts here and it's quite clear that he played a large role in building and maintaining the trails that I enjoy.

    Nearly every mountain biker in Western Washington has benefited from his hard work on our trails and should recognize his amazing legacy.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  25. #25
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    Hear, hear. I second the call for a trail (an important one) named after Len. I also think middle fork needs an unofficial tribute name. It's an honor to ride on some of the trails a true innovator helped create.

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    There is also the new climbing trail for Tiger due to be done soon that might be fitting for him.
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  27. #27
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    I'm going to miss Len's infectious smile and endless enthusiasm. You made us all better than we would have been, Len. May you have an eternity of tight singletrack, brown pow and sharp chains.

  28. #28
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    Last time I saw Len was in the Tiger parking lot in the fall...he had either been out sawing or was passing time before heading out for a cold ride.

    He had a thick beanie under a helmet (not on straight), boots, long pants, thick jacket, big gloves......not your traditional looking mountain biker.

    He came up from behind to greet me with a loud hullo and pat on my shoulder....scared the living cr#p out of me
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  29. #29
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    Such a legend. I love seeing these pics and reading these stories.

    We all have Len to thank for his decades of advocacy, trailwork and good cheer. What an ambassador for our sport. Much of the success we're seeing across the state now is due to tenacious efforts by folks like Leonard and a trail named after him seems 100% the right thing to do.

    Thank you, Len, and may you Ride in Peace.

    EB

  30. #30
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    My kids and I worked with Len at quite a few trailwork days. Len was a class act for sure and a great example to my kids. RIP Len.
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    I'm still in shock over this. Len was such an amazing guy. I'll always remember him for so many awesome things. His smile...

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len_img_0673.jpg

    Which was contagious...

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img_0674.jpg

    Only pic I have where he's not smiling -- because it was his day to be certified as a USFS instructor. Such a HUGE day!

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len_cert_winston.jpg

    Such a great leader!

    Thanks for everything Len! You really have made the world a better place.

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    Such a sad start to the New Year. Rest in Peace Leonard!

    We last saw L & J two years ago, and I'm so glad now because it had been years.

    When my husband received the call and told me the holiday weekend ended. Reading these posts has helped...we are not active on FB...

    Everything said about feeling like you were with your best and dearest friend (even if you had not seen him in forever), the grin, the hug and boundless energy & superior intelligence are qualities I can only aspire to.

    For those who learned about trail work or riding from Lenny - you were blessed! And our trails will be a better place if you pass on the techniques and kindness.

    Elisa Oksner Shostak - former BBTC president

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    A movie that I just remembered making - from a Middle Fork WP in 2013. Starring the Legend Himself with the trademark smile.

    https://youtu.be/qfDepRqGtAY

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    woodway! thank you so much for posting!

  35. #35
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    Sad news indeed, I had many good times in the woods with Len. We'll all miss his crazy amount of energy and good cheer. I have pictures of a bridge project that we did on the White River trail at Deep Creek. This was a weekend to remember.
    New Deep Creek Bridge Slideshow by DaveSchult | Photobucket
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  36. #36
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    From Jim Neff -
    I met Len on my very first BBTC ride, on Vashon Island, back in the days when the rides were advertised only in the monthly newsletter. Mailed. To your house. With a phone number to call the ride leader for information. Remember paper communication? Len was not leading that ride, and it was conducted at a fairly easy pace, primarily on doubletrack roads. Toward the end of the ride Len and I were noticing that we kept riding right past enticing bits of twisty singletrack off the road. We eventually looked at each other and dove off the road, chasing each other up the trails until we couldnít breathe, and then rejoining the group. This behavior understandably annoyed the ride leader, but cemented my relationship with Len on our first encounter.
    He soon introduced me to Art and Peter. There soon followed, early in my riding career, the most memorable biking trip I have ever experienced. Len had worked up a Moab trip, driving in his VW van, straight through, 18 hours, riding for five days, and then driving straight back. But I could not get off work on departure day. Most people would have let it go as bad luck, but Len wouldnít. He kept chewing on it, and finally cooked up a scheme to take my bike and gear and pick me up in the Salt Lake City airport on the way through. Art, Len and Peter showed up bleary-eyed, after 14 hours of driving, just as I stepped off the plane. The memories of that Moab trip are seared in my memory, and I have always blessed Len for it.
    That trip marked the first of so many mornings I crawled out of my cold tent to see Len grinning like a Cheshire cat from the captainís chair of his van holding out a pot of fresh coffee, already giddy with anticipation for the dayís adventures.
    Len was Ö just Len.
    Last edited by Art T; 01-05-2016 at 02:21 PM.

  37. #37
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    I've never met you, nor have I ever ridden the trails you've worked on... But thank you for all the hard work you've put into trail work, and rest-in-peace...

  38. #38
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    Great Pictures Dave! Thanks for sharing.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_schuldt View Post
    Sad news indeed, I had many good times in the woods with Len. We'll all miss his crazy amount of energy and good cheer. I have pictures of a bridge project that we did on the White River trail at Deep Creek. This was a weekend to remember.
    New Deep Creek Bridge Slideshow by DaveSchult | Photobucket
    Oh man, I was hoping someone was gonna reprise that set of photos. Beautiful madness!!!
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

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    I still lose sleep and get weepy about it all. I spent a lot of time with him (for me) early on in the early to mid 90's through a year of Boot Camp instruction and being the "Opinion Chair" on the BBTC board when we would argue about how to spend the 180 bucks we had in the bank and then we just had different projects going on which kept us apart. But, Len was one of those guys you would meet at a trailhead or out in the strangest spots in the woods and feel immediately like you saw him yesterday. Someone who you immediately knew had your back in the backcountry. Smart, savvy, and yet completely low key. I feel horrible for Art for losing his friend this way but also dare to say I feel some peace with it as well. Len, it's been said a bunch already. We will miss you.

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    Just heard Len's wife Jenny is planning a service for this
    Saturday. We'll get more details soon from Gonzz.
    Last edited by Art T; 01-05-2016 at 02:15 PM.

  42. #42
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    From Art

    From Art

    *****************

    Preston,

    Great words as always, never known you to walk a climb that might be rideable. Love knowing that's a part of Len in you!

    Finally felt like I could get a post together for Facebook, if anyone wants to throw it up on MTBR cool.

    Mountain biking has brought many incredible blessings into my life, the best and brightest of which was meeting Len Francies just over 20 years ago. It was a wet muddy day at Captol Forest, the trail was a mess, we met on the climb. He with his wife Jenny, me with a few from BBTC. At the top the group decided to call it a day and take the road back. Len's eyes met mine and we knew without a word the ride was just beginning.

    That was the first of countless marvelous adventures, all enlivened by Len's boundless cheerful enthusiasm. Every ride with Len was fun, no matter the conditions. It could be a torrential downpour and Len would be happy, with enough happiness to share all around. One of my best memories is of being lost on a winter night without lights and having to carry our bikes over rocks for what seemed miles. We still had a great time! (My bad for getting us lost in the dark)

    His passion for mountain biking brought friends together for many, many great rides. High country, all-day epics being his favorite. Len had that same passion for trail advocacy, which he pursued with ever greater fervor. His time spent doing trail work must approch that of his riding. Even when riding, his saw was always at the ready to clear a fallen tree Whether it was the hand saw from the scabbard on his bike or a chain saw in his pack.

    His trail CV is book length. Starting with joyful ambassador of mountain biking and including State Parks Volunteer of the Year, founder of Mountin Bike Bootcamp, president and board member of the BBTC, IMBA State Rep, .... and most recently chainsaw certifier for other volunteers.

    New Years Day we had our last ride together. It was such peaceful pleasure to be out on our bikes. Len as always, smiling and greeting all who we met, reveling in the golden glow of the lowering sun, and saying how happy he was to be riding through the woods.

    We parted as we met, on our bikes, on a climb. He to heaven and me to finish a dark, cold and lonely ride using his light to guide me safely home.
    I support EMBA

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    From Evergreen's facebook post:

    It is with great regret that we acknowledge the loss of one of our founding members, former Board officer, and close friend Len Francies, who passed away on New Year's Day while riding Grand Ridge with his close friend, Art Tuftee.

    After a life of enthusiasm and boundless energy for riding, trail building, and serving others, Lenís heart came to rest on one of his favorite trails.

    Lenís enormous contributions to maintaining access and continuing trail work formed the foundation of Evergreen, and set the tone for the volunteer ethic that would come to define our organization.

    ...

    Services Information for Len:
    Saturday, January 9, 2016, at 1 pm
    Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club
    36005 SE Ridge St
    Snoqualmie WA

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    Looking for a ride from Phinney Ridge or I can make it to Issy on the bus.
    Thanks.
    There's a big difference between ripping and skidding. Those who skid don't know how to ride.

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    Len's memorial service

    There will be a memorial service for Len this Saturday Jan 9 at 1 pm
    If you have known, ridden, worked, or been affected by Len's magnificent character, please come join his family in remembering Len

    TPC Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club
    36005 SE Ridge Street
    Snoqualmie, WA 98065

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/TP...486d05ddc5fdd1


    G O N Z

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    Len's passing is such a loss to MtBiking in Washington and to me personally. I truly enjoyed the time spent either trailbuilding or riding with you. It was less than three weeks ago I was out trailbuilding Ollallie in freezing rain and yet your disposition was enough to keep me working on. I am certain that Ollallie trail would never be without your time spent and so I think Ollalie should be renamed the Francies Trail.

    Grant

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    Thanks, Muttonchops, for trans-posting Art's message. I still can't read it without getting all teary-eyed and messed up.

    Although my connection with Len hasn't been nearly as long or close as the friendship between Len and Art, I have also known Len for almost 15 years now. So I had been thinking about what Len meant for me and his biggest impact on my life was since I read Art's post yesterday.

    I finally came to the conclusion that, of all the things Len had taught/shown me over the years, his biggest influence had to be instilling the love of backcountry riding in me. Looking back, what gave me the inspiration to do big epic backcountry rides was reading Len's ride reports, and more importantly seeing his photo from the rides. When Len, Preston and others went on the first Chain of Epic rides back in summer of 200...2? I was still a relative noobie then, and I was amazed and totally inspired by BIG backcountry sceneries that were captured in Len's pictures. I was way too intimidated to sign up for rides with these crazy dudes, but I became determined to be part of these sceneries myself one day.

    Another part of Len's photo journalism that made me admire him as a human being was the fact that Len always made sure to share some of these wonderful experiences with his wife, Jenny. If you go back to BBTC photo archive, there are just as many photos of Jenny riding on singletrack at some wonderful far away destinations, taken of course by Len, as photos of his KORE riding friends from uber epic rides. Not knowing them that well back then, I remember thinking how wonderful it would be if I could be in a relationship like that when I was at their age. To me, these pictures of Jenny spoke more about the person behind the camera than what was in the photos.

    I hope Mike will be able to find one of those photos of Jenny in BBTC photo archive to share at his memorial.

    Love ya, Len.

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    Digging through pictures....

    Orcas Island trailwork, May 2009. Len combining two sports by wearing his wetsuit to canoe a load of tools across the lake to the worksite. Later, he got our dog into a boat, just to see if she'd get in there with him.

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-p1000961.jpg

    Somehow Len managed to snag this camping spot nearly every time we went to Orcas.

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-p1000960.jpg

    I know I have more, will keep digging.

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    G O N Z

  50. #50
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    I am going to ride Grand Ridge on Saturday morning prior to the memorial service. About 9am should give enough time for a slow ride and a stop for a beer. Would be great if others want to join or let me know about any other rides maybe happening.
    I support EMBA

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muttonchops View Post
    I am going to ride Grand Ridge on Saturday morning prior to the memorial service. About 9am should give enough time for a slow ride and a stop for a beer. Would be great if others want to join or let me know about any other rides maybe happening.
    Where will you start the ride from?
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  52. #52
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    High Point (exit 20) I guess...saves a couple minutes getting to the trail which allows for more meandering
    I support EMBA

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by sngltrckmnd0 View Post
    Len's passing is such a loss to MtBiking in Washington and to me personally. I truly enjoyed the time spent either trailbuilding or riding with you. It was less than three weeks ago I was out trailbuilding Ollallie in freezing rain and yet your disposition was enough to keep me working on. I am certain that Ollallie trail would never be without your time spent and so I think Ollalie should be renamed the Francies Trail.

    Grant
    I agree. I think that a monument at the trailhead in honor of Len would be a great idea.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  54. #54
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    Summit of Mt. Constitution on Orcas, mid '90s.

    l-r Jenny, Art, Len
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Leonard "The Legend" Francies-image.jpg  


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    Loving those vintage photos.

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    I've been out of the riding scene for awhile but like many of you I have tons of memories of Len. He opened my mind to the epic ride and all the joy & suffering within. Guy was strong as a horse and I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that he is gone. As great a rider as he was - he was an even better human.

    Here are a couple pics from a great riding weekend - these are near Mt. Hood. This was day 3 of an epic weekend. Day 1 was the full Mckenzie River trail, all 51 miles of it in a day. Day 2 a leisurely 20ish miles in the Phil's complex in Bend. Day 3 was Dog River/Surveyor's/Oak Ridge. Damn those were good times.Leonard "The Legend" Francies-129_2936.jpgLeonard "The Legend" Francies-129_2927.jpg
    Last edited by rdonahe; 01-07-2016 at 10:35 PM.

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    ...and a couple more.

    Devil's Gulch parking lot jam - Len on the left:
    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-mismusic.jpg

    On the way down Devil's Gulch - Len bottom right wearing the red helmet with Jenny standing behind him.
    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-misrgrp.jpg

  58. #58
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    falling video

    G O N Z

  59. #59
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    another feller

    G O N Z

  60. #60
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    I was thinking the exact same thing. I suggest starting at Central Park up in issy Highlands but could start with the climb from Exit 20. That's more Len's style, but Central Park is a little more mellow.

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gonz View Post
    So 21 chainsaw salute on Saturday?
    Epic trails get built in the Northwest by epic people!

    Sustainable quality trails please.

  62. #62
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    Here is Len riding down Driveway butte (on hwy 20) on his steel Curtlo (Sep 2002). Len was leading a BBTC campout and that's where I met him.
    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-dscf0018.jpg
    (looks like the trail is no longer open to bikes, sigh)

  63. #63
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    So awesome! Thanks for sharing Gonz
    I support EMBA

  64. #64
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    Really liking all these pics and especially the videos of the Legend in action.

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    Nice article about Len in the Sunday(1-10-16) Tacoma News Tribune.

    Craig Hill: Len Francies left legendary mark on Northwest mountain bike community | The News Tribune

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    The reporter did a real nice job, great to see Len recognized for the man he was ...of course he wouldn't care.

    One clarification- I met Len for the first time in Capitol Forest. The first time I remember clearing trail together was in Tahuya where we helped out the Single Track Mind club. First time I saw a BOB trailer, and the STM guys had the DNR chainsaw in it.

  67. #67
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    Len in a Middle Fork day

    a most excellent video that Brian Paulter put together, from a Middle Fork rolling work party , features many clips of Lenny, Brian, Glenn Glover

    G O N Z

  68. #68
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    Awesome video!!

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    Let's not forget he did a few WTA work parties on Grand Ridge. He came out a lot for the boardwalk. I think he was the one who supplied the picture of the golden spike.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JXIqY9aqW8

    He also made the Seattle Bike Blog.
    Local mountain bike legend Len Francies passes away ?on one of his favorite trails? | Seattle Bike Blog
    There's a big difference between ripping and skidding. Those who skid don't know how to ride.

  70. #70
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    Some photos from the old BBTC photo gallery below. Very cool! Chime in if you were there.

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img73175.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img97648.jpg

    Love the caption on this one: "Len attained Lil'Debbie Consciousness at the Spokane 24 hr race"...

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img43239.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img91281.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img68855.jpg

  71. #71
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    Thanks for finding the last one, I took that at Grand Ridge. I poured rain all day.
    There's a big difference between ripping and skidding. Those who skid don't know how to ride.

  72. #72
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    No sense in waiting until someone leaves us to say it like it is...
    I've met many of you fine people doing this thing we call mountain biking and I am grateful for all the adventures and memories we have had... you know who you are... Thank you !

    Yet, I must highlight how Lenny inspired in me the hunger for big mountain exploration and the joys of misery by bike, hike or crawl to reach the top... once or twice.
    BONK ! yep, we've all been there. I've bonked twice, and the first time was long ago when the sport was just growing; featuring Lenny on one of his "Man Show" trips, typically in eWA and certainly not for the weak, although he would never say it. "Thanks, buddy, you've officially brought me into big mountain riding", I said as I felt exhaustion creeping in at the top of a climb. He laughed as he spread out a GreenTrails map and described the fruits and wonders of backcountry bicycling. Little did he know the seed he had planted.
    Any of you remember Lenny's "Man Show" throw-downs ?

    Recently, I bumped into him at REI and still have his gentle demeanor and infectious smile cemented in me.

    I lost tons of old photos to a bad drive but did find the attached of Lenny and I during a group ride scouting play options in the vast Utah backcountry.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Leonard "The Legend" Francies-04-slickrock-l-looking-down.jpg  

    "... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - "

  73. #73
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    I forgot to mention how sad I was to have missed his memorial and catch up with folks, as I was away on a family trip. However, I did get my hands on a bike and set out for a solo memorial ride for Lenny.
    I realize it is a road ride and I'm not a roadie, even lesser of a cyclist anymore these days but I wanted to give a nod to Len sooner than later. No better inspiration than grinding up to the sunny top of Mt. Haleakalā at 10,023 ft.

    Shred in peace Lenny !!!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Leonard "The Legend" Francies-haleakala-len-memorial-14-mtbr.jpg  

    "... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - "

  74. #74
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    Bumping this thread back as many of the trails Len has maintained in past years have been getting logged out. Keep an eye out for this on a backcountry trail this summer.Leonard "The Legend" Francies-len.jpg

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    It's been almost 6 months and I don't know if a day has gone by that I haven't thought of Len. Great memories every time I ride up the Olallie trail past hundreds of bucked logs (ditto on Predator, Alpine Baldy and so many other trails), seeing all of the photos of the Middle Fork and 410 clean-up, watching all the new certified sawyers from Darrington to Tacoma get to work clearing trail corridor, and the list goes on. What an impact!!! Thanks again, Len.

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    ^^^^ What Mike said. Thanks for the bump ACree.

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    I pass right by his street riding to the gym 2-3 days a week. Every single time I think about Len, and brief existence, and how good it feels to be riding and how good it was to know him. Whiplash emotions, but overall positive.

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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Leonard "The Legend" Francies-img_1270.jpg  

    G O N Z

  79. #79
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    Just got back from Esmeralda with Preston, the General, and his second in command. I was thinking about all of those trails in the Teanaway that were "mistakenly" listed as closed to bikes in the early 2000's. Len contacted the ranger, and was able to get confirmation that about 50 miles of singletrack were and would remain open to bikes. Not sure, but Esmeralda may have been one of those.

  80. #80
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    True story. The FS prints out little one page photo blurbs for each trailhead. I used to have photocopies of all of them with the hand markings of Len and the Ranger saying which ones were open and closed. Some no bike signs had even started going up before the Legend setup a meeting and clarified their "error".

    Such a kore photo Pete !

  81. #81
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    One of the best compliments I've ever received was from Len, it was short but deep. Still remember to this day! Long Live Len!
    Liberty Lake Wa.

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    Opened Today... The Legend

    Thanks again, Len, for everything you did! Mt Bikers most def would not have what we have now without all your hard work, positive attitude and never-ending enthusiasm!

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-thelegend2.jpg

    Leonard "The Legend" Francies-thelegend1.jpg

  83. #83
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    And a huge thanks to Nick, Jay and Harrison for building most of this trail... by hand... your hands!!! And who led the first work on the trail? Len. Dropped the snags and bucked out the blowdowns before the dirt work began.

  84. #84
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    So psyched to see a trail honoring Len. Thanks, Evergreen!

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwestra2 View Post
    And a huge thanks to Nick, Jay and Harrison for building most of this trail... by hand... your hands!!! And who led the first work on the trail? Len. Dropped the snags and bucked out the blowdowns before the dirt work began.
    Had the pleasure of working with Len and Peter the weekend before Len's passing. The beaming smile he shot me when I came walking up through the woods with my rogue would have warmed anyone up that chilly day. His proclamation of appreciation for the work I was about to do was icing on the cake. If you've ever heard a child laugh in joy in play, that was Len that day as the trees fell and his saw sang.

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    Rode the trail yesterday. Didn't know the guy but heard and read a bunch about him before hand. Super rad trail to honor what seems like a super rad dude, props to the builders!

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    Rode the Legend today. Another kick ass trail on Tiger Mt. Super fun and intense !
    This was my first time on it and I was prepared for a "moment". There were 4 other people hanging out at the trailhead, so I told them Len was a close friend of mine and that I coined his nickname. One of the young guys asked "what was his significance ?" (really, he used that word). I sucked in a big breath like JIm Carrey about to rant in a screwball comedy and said "HewasanearlyboardmemberofBBTCandhelpedbuildourfir stwebsiteandhelpedsavethemiddleforkandollalieandsa vedteanawaytrailsandstartedandnurturedtheeducation programandthesawingprogramandheclearedtimberforOTG predatorollalieandthistrailandwasthefirstonetoshow manyofusepicbackcountryridesand"....and then I ran out of breath but they were suitably impressed. So we all gave Len a salute and ripped it !
    So gratifying ! thanks Evergreen and DNR and trail builders.

  88. #88
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    Agreed! Trail is great! Long live the legend!
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  89. #89
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    Seems like a good day to bump this back to the top.
    If it's not powered solely by you, it's motorized.

    Worshiping at the Church of Singletrack since 1993.

  90. #90
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    Yep. Hard to believe it has been a year already....

  91. #91
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    Any day is a good day to bump Len back to the top......as if he ever left the top.

  92. #92
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    We were talking about Len at our PVCA WP yesterday. I miss digging and sawing with him.

  93. #93
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    Thanks Len!

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    Ditto...Thanks Len!

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    Whenever we're having a roaring good time at the fire on a mtb campout, large or small, I always endeavor to heave a toast to Len.

    The Legend - keeping the party going even from the after life !

  96. #96
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    I feel so fortunate to have met Len when I moved to the Seattle area in 2012. It's difficult for me to even conceive of all that he has done to facilitate trail access and the miles of trails that he's worked on.

    Here's to Len! Cheers!
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  97. #97
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    still miss him this day. one of the more dramatic of his take downs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TESV0lQ4tA
    G O N Z

  98. #98
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    Thanks for that Pete - it was nice to hear his voice !

  99. #99
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    Nice one Gonz! It was a couple seconds into the video before i noticed the leaner and realized what was going to happen...freekin Eh!
    I support EMBA

  100. #100
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    I know in my heart that Len is still smiling and still sawing in the next place

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