Ray Porter, 56, raced the Tour Divide

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Gina and Ray Porter at the finish of the Tour Divide in 2011

Ray Porter, an accomplished endurance mountain bike racer who appeared in the August 2010 Advocate for his athletic achievements, has died. He was 56.

Porter completed the Tour Divide, a 2,700-mile mountain bike race from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, N.M., in 2011. Porter also was a regular at the Trans North Georgia Mountain Bike Adventure. He completed that 350-mile race this past August in two days, 14 hours, a personal record.

Rich Szecsy raced with Porter for 10 years, including in the 2008 World 24 Hour Solo Mountain Bike Championship. The two friends competed so hard against one another that it sometimes made Porter’s wife, Gina, nervous to see Szecsy show up at a race because she knew her husband would push himself to no limit, he says.

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Szecsy says the only time he ever beat Porter was in a 24-hour race in June 2009. At the finish, Szecsy nearly fell off his bike, and his body had to be packed in ice because he was so overheated that he could’ve died.

“I had to put myself in such a state because Ray never quit,” Szecsy says.

1463691_675612972478571_76645953_nPorter inspired other riders with his work ethic and race sensibility. In a sport filled with huge egos and almost vicious competition, Porter’s humility stood out.

“Ray was a man of few words, but when he said something, it meant something,” Szecsy says. “And when he did something, it meant something.”

Porter helped provide hundreds of children with bicycles through Spokes for Folks. He bought several truckloads of bikes every year on Craigslist and fixed them up for the Dallas-based nonprofit. He also served on the board of the Dallas Off Road Bike Association, worked on mountain bike trails, gave cycling clinics and and helped with races.

Porter raced for two teams, Oak Cliff Bicycle Co. and Big Pig Racing. The latter has renamed its annual Race Against Cancer, which is Feb. 8, in honor of Porter, who was diagnosed with late-stage cancer about seven weeks ago. The race raised $7,000 for cancer charities last year.

Ray is survived by his wife, Gina; his parents, Steve and Marianne Porter of Fort Worth; two brothers, Harald and Steve; and two adult daughters, Robyn and Rachel.

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A memorial service is planned 3 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Kessler Theater. The family requests memorial donations in lieu of flowers to the Big Pig Cancer Foundation.

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