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Garrett Lai, longtime industry writer, dies at 54

Published October 2, 2020

(BRAIN) — Longtime industry writer Garrett Lai passed away suddenly early this week, due to natural causes.

He began magazine work straight out of college, as a staffer for Road & Track magazine. In 1993, he turned his writing and editing skills to another one of his passions and was hired by Bicycle Guide magazine. He rose to become editor-in-chief of the publication.

In 1999, he moved to Bicycling magazine as technical editor, heading up the West Coast editorial office for the title. After leaving Bicycling, he put his skills in editorial and audience engagement to new use: as a partner forming an advertising agency, Perfect Pitch Creative, which worked with numerous companies in the bike industry. Lai also contributed freelance writing to Outside and Men’s Health, was a ghostwriter for famed car designer Carroll Shelby, and provided marketing and communications services to major automakers like Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.

Naturally, Lai was an avid cyclist and competed on the road and in the velodrome. A regular on Orange County’s Food Park rides in the 1990s and 2000s, he was a formidable sprinter. He went on near-daily rides from his home in Southern California, with a selection of classic handmade steel road bikes including a treasured custom Serotta. Since the COVID outbreak, he did much of his riding indoors on the rollers, saying he didn’t want to risk a crash on the road and possibly use up medical resources.

He is remembered by friends as a lover of machines both new and antique: bicycles, cars (especially a prized vintage Porsche 911), airplanes, and more. Several years ago, Lai achieved a lifelong goal by becoming a licensed pilot with instrument rating. In recent years, he was drawn to the esoteric world of vintage typewriters, where his mechanical aptitude and curiosity allowed him to refurbish machines that seem obsolete to most people. He attended trade gatherings for print and typewriter enthusiasts, and even reluctantly entered into social media for the cause – something he otherwise eschewed.

With constraints on gatherings due to COVID, there are no immediate plans for a memorial service. The cause of death is still being determined by the coroner.

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