Jim Farmer (left) and David Meeks (right) after the Blue Ridge Adventure Race years ago.
The term “Privateer” conjures up images of swashbuckling pirates sailing the high seas and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting ships. Although many pirates served as privateers, the term is used for any private ship of yore that was commissioned by a government for use in war or, well, just to do unsavory things to ships from countries they didn’t much care for.
Privateers were hired guns but, most importantly, maintained their independence.
The Privateer Cycling Team embraces this notion by eschewing sponsorship. You won’t see company names nor icons on our kits (with one glaring exception*). We simply love racing our bikes.
We go to different bike shops in the Chattanooga area for parts and service. We ride different bikes with a variety of components. We wear different helmets, shoes, gloves, etc. But, we simply love bike racing and especially enjoy each other’s company while doing it.
But there’s more to the Privateer name than the concept of autonomy.
Chattanooga was the home of the Privateer Bicycle Company, a small, made-to-order titanium bike manufacturer. Its owner, David Meek, was the pied piper of sorts in the local cycling community and former president of the Chattanooga Bicycle Club.
More importantly, David was one of the best human beings to grace this really big rock circling the sun. His love for cycling was palpable, and he spread his two-wheeled pixie dust throughout the region.
Oh yeah, he knew how to race his bike too. He would often show up to the ‘Tuesday Night World Championships’ with a six-pack of PBR tallboys strapped to the rear rack on his road bike and still crush all comers up the climbs. [Psssstttt!!! Hey, can you keep a secret? The PBRs were empties. He’d drain them from the bottom to make them look like full cans.]
On March 6, 2009, David was riding his commuter bike to work, as he did most days, when a delivery truck sideswiped him, snagging his panniers in the process, and dragging him to his death. The funeral procession stretched for blocks, with hundreds of cyclists paying homage to its de-facto leader by riding their bikes, just as he would have wanted it.
Several of our team members knew David. One considered him one of his closest friends. Collectively though, we all agreed that the Privateer name and, more importantly, the Privateer tradition, was something that we wanted to embrace. With his family’s blessing, the Privateer Cycling Team was created.
David, we believe, would be proud.
*We are sponsored by PFM – look it up in Urban Dictionary.