A Life Worth Remembering

04 Apr 2024

The White Line Foundation honors the memory of Magnus White

By Dell Bleekman  »  Photos by The White Line Foundation

On July 29, 2023, Magnus White left his home in north Boulder for a training ride. While riding southbound, the 17-year-old student and junior cycling star, was struck and killed by a car on CO-119.

A national champion and a member of the United States Junior Men’s National Team, White had been training for the Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, where he would represent his country competing in the sport he so dearly loved. That weekend, the Boulder community, the United States and the world lost a champion.

Life on Two Wheels

Magnus White’s father Michael, involved in competitive cycling for many years, would often bring three-year-old Magnus to races in southern California. After the race wrapped, the streets were still closed to traffic. “I’d take Magnus on the course so he could ride,” White recalls. “He loved bikes from the time he could walk.” Armed with his trusty Strider, Magnus quickly learned to navigate on two wheels. When the family moved to north Boulder in 2010, Magnus continued to ride.

Soon he showed real talent. Magnus reached the podium nationally at age 11, placing second in the 2017 Mountain Bike National Championships. But he also loved other types of riding, too, like dirt jumping and downhill, enduro and cross country, road racing and cyclocross. “Magnus was comfortable on any type of bicycle—it was like an extension of himself because he had been on bikes for so long,” says Michael.

In 2018, the White family toured Europe by bike, making their way to the Italian Alps. Stelvio Pass, with its 48 steep switchbacks and 6,000-foot vertical gain, is a bicyclist’s dream. Michael and Magnus started up. “Magnus dropped [left] me 10 or 12 turns from the top,” Michael recalls. “He asked if he could go ahead—it was all switchbacks and above the tree line, so I could see him—and out of breath I said, ‘just stay to the right!’” Smiling, Magnus greeted his father at the summit, having beaten him by four minutes in 10 turns. “To do that with your son who loves the sport—it was such an amazing time,” Michael says.

While Magnus attended Boulder High School his first two years, his cycling career necessitated a change to the online school Boulder Universal as he raced in countries like Belgium, Ireland and England. 

He won the Cyclocross National Championship as a first-year junior in the 2021-22 season. Then, in 2023, Magnus earned two second-place finishes in two national championship events in mountain biking and cyclocross, and he was one of four junior cyclists selected to represent Team USA in the World Championships taking place in Scotland in August 2023.

Despite traveling extensively for races across the country and around the globe, he found equal joy in simply riding with friends at Valmont Bike Park. His positivity and love of the sport made others smile. 

“People loved him,” Michael says simply.

Pain and Promise

After Magnus’ death, Michael and his wife Jill retreated into their grief. At the time, a friend handled media requests and Magnus’ coach served as the family spokesperson. 

Media and news outlets were calling, and in the first two weeks more than 2,000 articles around the world featured Magnus’ story. Hundreds of cyclists gathered in Boulder for an impromptu ride shortly after the accident to honor him. Many more attended his memorial. 

“So many of his friends said Magnus was their best friend,” Michael says, “He was just so loved as a person.”

Amidst the overwhelming focus on his passing, Michael and Jill discerned an opportunity to effect change, leading to the inception of The White Line Foundation. This initiative will center on junior cycling, a pursuit close to Magnus’s heart. Additionally, it will champion advocacy efforts for cyclists, prioritizing immediate enhancements such as the installation of rumble strips on high-traffic routes. The foundation is also unveiling a film series titled “Lives Worth Remembering,” honoring fallen cyclists initially and eventually extending tribute to all vulnerable road users.

Fittingly, the name comes from Magnus himself. Weeks after the accident, Michael found himself in Magnus’s bedroom, where he regularly visits and reflects. “I was reading one of his creative writing journals from a few years ago, just reading him, learning more about him,” Michael recalls. He came across a writing prompt—What do you want to be remembered for?. “Magnus wrote that he wanted to have a life worth remembering,” Michael says. 

His parents are steadfastly upholding this commitment, a sentiment echoed by extended family, numerous friends and an abundance of others impacted by his loss. United, they pledge to preserve Magnus White’s memory, ensuring that he remains indelibly etched in the hearts and minds of all who knew him. For his was a life truly worth remembering. 

To learn more about Magnus White and The White Line, visit thewhiteline.org

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