A Tribute to Our Friend, John Pilkington

How do you measure a life? Many would say it’s by how you love and treat people, by leaving people better off than how you found them. On Friday, December 15, 2023, we lost a dear member of our community, John Pilkington, to ALS. JP, as he was lovingly called, was one of the original members of the ElliptiGO community and to many of us a friend. He certainly left so many people feeling a little more cared for, a little more joyful and a lot more loved. 

JP was one of the first ElliptiGO customers. He purchased his first bike, a black 8S, in 2010, but he sold it shortly after that and bought a Founder’s Edition 8S. Over the years, his passion for ElliptiGO riding increased and so did his stable of bikes, as he purchased almost every model. He also became an investor in the company. 

JP first began riding after he was forced to stop running due to degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. Looking for a way to maintain his fitness, he discovered ElliptiGO online and promptly signed up for a test ride, paid a deposit and secured one of the first ElliptiGO bikes. Throughout the years JP participated in many long-distance rides, including the California Coast Classic (CCC). One year he penned several blog articles for us about his CCC journey, including this three-part article

From the very beginning, JP was a bright light in the community. He would show up to all the events, eager to bond with other riders and share in the love of riding. He often stopped by ElliptiGO Headquarters to talk to the team. He would threaten to leave—but then getting sidetracked by another story he wanted to share. We loved JP’s visits. 

On January 27, 2024, 18 ElliptiGO riders met in Solana Beach to ride the coast in honor of JP. Everyone swapped JP stories, including lots of laughs about the pranks JP would pull on friends. ElliptiGO CEO Bryan Pate shared, “I’ll also never forget the time he showed up at the rally with a seat made out of PVC piping on his ElliptiGO. Mostly he did it just to get a rise out of us, but it was a pretty involved effort and it was funny!”

The weather was a bit gray and windy to start, but as the riders journeyed up the coast, the sun began to peek out and the Pacific Ocean sparkled. There was little doubt that JP was lifting the group’s spirits as it turned into a beautiful day. “I could almost hear his voice and laugh, followed by that characteristic ‘Whhhaaaat?’ faux-innocent plea he was fond of saying,” said ElliptiGO Service Manager, Keri Cleeremans. 

Keri, who was JP’s friend and riding partner, also shared, “JP was the guy who motivated people and encouraged new riders. On group rides he would make sure to check on those in the back to ensure they were okay, and he often rode with them to help them complete the ride. He helped to start the Global ElliptiGO Riders Club (GERC) and was instrumental in getting new people to join and participate. His enthusiasm for the GO never waned.” 

Bryan added, “The thing I most remember about JP is his overwhelmingly obvious love for his ‘4 Girls,’ Anita, Caitlyn, Haley and Hannah. Talking about them brought a gleam to his eye that I truly have never seen from another person talking about their family. He was such a proud father and husband.”

The January ride was organized not only to share stories and memories of JP but also to leave mementos along the route. Rick Benias created custom 3D-printed silhouette ornaments of JP riding his ElliptiGO, with a 19 for his century club member number. These were left in places that remind us of JP.  

The first stop was in Oceanside at a three-way stop. Jorge and Eric shared the tale of how several years ago at this stop, JP, Jorge and Eric were pulled over by a motorcycle officer for running the stop sign. Somehow only JP managed to wiggle his way out of a ticket and fine. Here, Bryce Whiting and Bill Pinell shared heartfelt tributes as well.

Chief Enthusiast Bryce Whiting shared, “John always loved my title. He embodied it in so many ways, spreading the ElliptiGO word to anyone and everyone. He brought so many amazing ElliptiGO customers into the mix. And he loved it when we used a photo of him for an ad in Runner’s World!”

The ride then turned back south, where the second stop was the site along the coast highway dubbed the “Christmas Tree.” JP and Bill Pinnel often stopped at this spot to admire various decorations that locals have hung from an old, wizened tree that stands out from the chaparral on the bluff. Here, the group stopped to place the ornament and to snap a group photo.

The final stop was at JP’s favorite overlook above Carlsbad State Beach. The riders made a toast with non-alcoholic beers provided by Bill and had a moment of silence. This was the most emotional of the stops because everyone had a chance to take a breath and just appreciate their friendships with JP and each other. 

The ride wrapped up back in Solana Beach where several stayed and had lunch. Overall, the sense that JP was there in the group was strong. He would have loved all the attention. It was an emotional day, but a great day.

At ElliptiGO we wanted to do something special to honor JP’s legacy, so we have created the John Pilkington Spirit Award. This award will be given annually to a rider who embodies the spirit of our dear friend, JP. We will look for enthusiastic riders who demonstrate camaraderie and encouragement to fellow ElliptiGO riders, locally and globally. This rider will be active online in the Facebook group and Strava and a member of GERC. Someone who participates in various events or takes the initiative to host their own event for the community would be an ideal candidate. 

This award will be given out every year at the annual ElliptiGO World Championships and Rally weekend. We are looking forward to memorializing JP and sharing more stories of this great man.

For a gallery of images and videos from the memorial ride, please visit this Google album. Thank you to Bill Pinnel for recording and sharing memories of the day. 



7 Responses

  1. Erin Sterenson says:

    I never met JP but he was obviously instrumental in making our community what it is today. The ride and award sound like beautiful ways to honor his legacy.

  2. Carl Yee says:

    He really was a great guy and this write-up does a great job of capturing that.

  3. Loretta says:

    This story was heartwarming. I never met JP but I supported a friend through her own ALS journey from late 2020 until December 2024. I have first hand experience with this disease and I’m sure The family of JP is grateful he is being remembered as a strong able bodied rider.

  4. Katie Jo Blau says:

    What a great tribute to JP. The John Pilkington Spirit Award is a great idea!

  5. Donna Pilkington Becker says:

    I love this so much. I know my brother loved all of you. He talked about this community all the time. Thank you for commemorating John (I can’t call him JP, that was for your group only) with this special award. His legacy will live on through this Spirit Award.

  6. Susan Pilkington Morin says:

    What a beautiful tribute to my brother John! Other than his girls John was most proud of his friendships and activities with the ElliptiGo Community. Thank you all for sharing your wonderful words. Susan

  7. Joanna Gegan says:

    What a beautiful tribute to John. The article and memories of him are so true. I have known John for many years ( married the love of his life- Anita ) who is my best friend. He was funny, witty, spiritual , intelligent and always kind. I will miss his teasing and his warm hearted smile. He was devoted to all his girls – Anita, Caitlyn, Hannah and Hayley and will be missed by all but especially the girls and his siblings. He loved ElliptiGO and all the friendships he developed. John was an athlete and it gave him an opportunity to stay active , meet new people and mentor those new to the sport. Thank you for all that you have done as a group and especially Bill Pinnell for organizing so much and all the great pictures and videos.
    My favorite Irish blessing for John🍀
    “May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    May the rains fall softly upon your fields.
    Until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the hollow of his Hand . 🍀
    I love you John ❤️

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