Raj is our very special, beloved and talented son. He was just 18 and had all of life’s possibilities in front of him, but on 30th July 2012 he suffered a severe head injury when he came off his road bike whilst out on a routine ride in Bristol. There were no witnesses to the accident and we will never know why such an experienced cyclist who knew his own bike inside out, and had cycled the road hundreds of times before, suddenly crashed, but Raj died as a result of his injury on the 2nd August, and a beautiful shining light, a force for good, went out of the world.
Raj was an extremely talented road cyclist and had been racing since the age of 11. Having just finished his A levels he was preparing to give all he could to make it into the world of professional cycling, and many people in the sport believed he had the talent to do it. Raj competed initially at Castle Combe Race Circuit starting in the Under 12’s category; he won his very first race and achieved a podium place every week throughout the season for the next few years. Raj also raced further afield and won the Youth Tour of Wales in 2008. Raj was a ‘climber’ in cycling terms, superfit and built like Contador - no one in the Bristol cycling fraternity had beaten him up Cheddar Gorge in recent times (hence the Hill Climb Challenges - see events), and ultimately he had his sights on the Tour de France - we think he would have made it happen.
For Raj, mountains were there to be cycled up and most of our holidays were based around riding up the iconic Cols and Mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees, and cycling the Pro’s training routes in Majorca. Amongst many others he rode up Mt Ventoux - two days in succession - when he was 12: Alpe d’Huez a number of times in a pretty impressive time; Col de La Croix Fer in snow - more than once; the Tourmalet in 34 degrees as part of the Etap du Tour even though he was only 15 and you had to be 18 to take part; the L’Angliru (which many Pro’s have almost refused to cycle up in Pro races because it’s so brutal); a 100 mile stage of the Tour of Britain two years running, raising money for prostate cancer- we could go on!
Raj was a talented sportsman all round. Apart from his cycling achievements, he was taken into the Bristol City Football Academy at quite a young age and was a very skilful and intelligent footballer - he chose to leave the Academy eventually so he could concentrate on cycling; he was an LTA Performance Tennis Player at one time; he ran for both QEH and Bristol Cathedral School in the Schools Cross Country Championships at the drop of a hat and always came in the top three; he was given two scholarships to play Real Tennis for Bristol Real Tennis Club; and he still holds the bleep test record at Bristol Cathedral School (and probably a pretty high one at Bath University Sports Village).
Raj also loved his music and was able to play the electric guitar; he could also listen to some music he loved and the next minute had taught himself how to play it on his keyboard.
It’s alright for us to slightly(!) show off his talents because we are his parents, but Raj was very quiet about himself and many people probably don’t know half the things about him. He was certainly a chilled guy who took ‘calm and cool’ to another level!
His friends just loved him because he was such a good friend; because he was fun and he made them feel happy when they were around him; because he cared and was there for them; because he always saw the best in people and never judged them, and of course because he knew how to have a good night out!