Santa Cruz Motorcycle Guru Dies in Solo Crash

The "go-to-guy" at Central Coast Cycles motorcycle repair shop, Harry Cournoyer, died Friday night after crashing his bike into a power pole.

According to the Monterey County California Highway Patrol, Cournoyer, 56, was riding his motorcycle east on San Juan Road when he apparently lost control at a curve approaching Murphy Road and slammed into the power pole. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The fatality was the first of two on San Juan Road over the weekend.

Cournoyer had been the mechanic for the Central Coast Cycles in Santa Cruz since the shop opened in 2001, according to close friend Skip Howland. He appeared on numerous television shows sharing his years of experience with motorcycles, including "Chopper Nations" and the Discovery Channel's "Biker Build-Off."

"Harry had more stories than a sailor who has been around the world 20 times," Howland said.

Howland said Cournoyer was working on a bike project for himself before the crash after spending years building bikes for others.

"He was an experienced rider," Howland said. "It didn't make any sense. Quite frankly I think somebody came off Murphy Road and he had to go off the road and unfortunately met the telephone pole."

Central Coast Cycles' Derol Frye said that Cournoyer taught him 90 percent of what he knows about motorcycles, and that his death is a great loss to the shop and the motorcycle world.

"He was a part of a rare breed of guys that were a part of the motorcycle revolution in the '50s," Frye said. "He was one of the guys there, really doing it, and it kinda sucks that he's gone. I'm sure he had a big grin on his face flying down the highway."

Scott Long, owner of Central Coast Cycles, said Cournoyer, who had been involved with motorcycles since he was 15, was a jack-of-all-trades.

"He was a major force in everything to come out of this shop," Long said. "He had that biker spirit in him and was always wanting to help people out from all walks of life. He had a heart of gold."

Cournoyer is survived by son Cody and daughter Katie. Services have not been announced.

Alia Wilson
Santa Cruz Sentinel

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