New nonprofit focusing on youth development through cycling was inspired by local cyclist Steve Tilford

photo by: Contributed Photo

Steve Tilford is pictured in 1986 for the Levi's/Pinarello racing team.

It’s been three years since the death of renowned Kansas cyclist Steve Tilford, but now a local nonprofit will memorialize his name and spirit in its work.

The Steve Tilford Foundation, which announced its launch on Wednesday, will support individuals, programs and events to promote youth cycling throughout the Midwest. Its mission, broadly speaking, is to promote youth development through cycling.

“One of the things that Steve was best known for was helping young riders learn the sport,” said Eric Struckhoff, CEO of the foundation.

Steve Tilford lived in Topeka for most of his life and was well known there and in Lawrence, and well as by cyclists around the world. The foundation was created by his friends and family, many of whom live in Lawrence.

Tilford was a four-time U.S. national cyclo-cross champion, the first U.S. national mountain biking champion and a five-time world champion of the Union Cycliste International (UCI) Mountain Bike Masters, among many other awards. He was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2000. More of Tilford’s accomplishments can be read on his blog,

photo by: Contributed Photo

Steve Tilford, center, is pictured in 1984 at the U.S. National Cyclocross Championships in Santa Cruz, California.

Tilford often competed in local races in Lawrence. In a 2013 Journal-World article, he discussed racing on Massachusetts Street.

“Racing on Mass Street, there’s no better thing than this,” Tilford said. “It’s such a special street. It’s like Pearl Street in Boulder. It’s pretty rare towns nowadays can keep a viable downtown. And Lawrence has done better than that. It’s made it attractive.”

In the press release from the foundation, Tilford’s wife, Trudi Rebsamen, called it an honor to be part of an organization that will share her late husband’s love of cycling and zest for life. Tilford died in a car accident near the Utah-Colorado border in April of 2017. Rebsamen, alongside Tilford’s longtime friends and riding partners Matt Gilhousen and Catherine Walberg, co-founded the nonprofit.

The Steve Tilford Foundation’s racing program is called Steve Tilford Foundation Racing. There is a masters team comprised of Tilford’s former teammates and friends, a professional team and a development squad of young racers.

The foundation will strive to fund and support youth cycling programs, trail and infrastructure development, youth cycling clinics and other events to get kids involved in cycling.

“The Steve Tilford Foundation was created with the ambition that Steve’s legacy, work, and spirit will live on, both on and off the bike,” Struckhoff said in the press release. “That means supporting and mentoring young people as they discover the freedom and thrill of cycling; striving for excellence while helping others along their common path toward that goal; and sharing his stories, his wisdom, and his love of cycling.”

For more information about The Steve Tilford Foundation, go to


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