Steven Thomas Gordon, 38, had been out riding his bicycle only 45 minutes Saturday when he was hit and killed by a car that police say was driven by a man under the influence of drugs.
A father of two, Gordon was an avid cyclist who logged as many as 60 miles every day. He worked as a magnetic resonance imaging operator and bred green tree pythons in his spare time.
About 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Gordon, of White Plains, was westbound on Hawthorne Road (Route 225). He was just east of Arlough Place opposite the Myrtle Grove Wildlife Management Area when a car driven by Don Steven Pittman Jr., 30, of Pomfret veered onto the right shoulder and struck Gordon's racing bicycle from behind.
Tammy Gordon said Tuesday that her husband picked that stretch of road particularly because of its wide shoulder, which made his daily rides safer.
"He's been riding for 15 years," she said. "Some days he would go up a sprint hill, come back and do it again. Some days it was the endurance, the long rides of four hours."
On special trips, Gordon would ride the length of Skyline Drive above the Shenandoah Valley and along part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Tammy Gordon said. His outing Saturday was part of his training for a cycling trip to France that had been his dream for years. In September, he and a friend had planned to cover some of the same mountainous route as the Tour de France.
"Cycling isn't always easy. It's not like you go out there and say, 'Oh, this is so much fun,' " Tammy Gordon said. "He liked it because it was pushing yourself, and it strengthened you."
In addition to his family -- which includes daughter Jessica Michelle Gordon, 12, and son Thomas William Gordon, 8 -- and his cycling, Gordon was devoted to his green tree pythons. He dedicated a special room in his house to raising several adult snakes -- his wife said she lost track of how many -- and four baby snakes.
"When his snakes were having babies, it was like he was having another child," she said. "He knew exactly when they were going to hatch. He would come running home to watch them hatch and make sure they were going to be okay."
His sister, Donna Burr, remembers that even as a boy, Gordon used to be fascinated by reptiles.
"When he was a little kid, he would catch them, bring them home and put them in his toy box," Burr recalled. "He would put a note on the door warning Mom: 'Snakes are in the room, don't come in.' "
The last time she saw her brother, except for a brief encounter at a niece's graduation, was when he helped remove a six-foot-long snake that had invaded her Calvert County home.
"He bagged it up and took it home and put it in the woods," she said. "As he put it, he rescued the snake from his sister."
Steven and Tammy Gordon met when they were sophomores at Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf, and the two had been together ever since. "It may sound corny, but we were our class's class couple," Tammy Gordon said. Nov. 9 would have been their 21st wedding anniversary.
Gordon earned a degree in nuclear medicine from Prince George's Community College and went on to work in magnetic resonance imaging. He was director of the Fairfax MRI Center, where he oversaw a staff of about 40 employees, said Bill Allison, general manager of Fairfax Radiological Consultants, of which the MRI center is a part.
Recently, Gordon had taken up karate -- a sport his children enjoyed -- so that he could spend more time with them and better understand what they were doing, his wife said.
"One of the first things my son asked me [when he heard about the accident] was, 'Who is going to play catch with me?' "
Pittman, the driver of the car, was charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance, said Detective Sgt. Ronald Best, assistant commander of the Maryland State Police in La Plata.
Pittman has been released from custody. His father said no one from the family would comment.
Douglas Gordon, who worked for his younger brother at the MRI center, said the two of them often rode side by side on the stretch of Hawthorne Road where Steven Gordon was struck. The shoulder was wide enough so they could talk to each other as they cycled.
"It's tragic that it happened, but he certainly went out doing something that he wanted to do," Douglas said. "If the roof had collapsed on him when he was watching TV, he wouldn't have wanted to go like that, but this way -- pushing the miles -- that was what he wanted to do."
The funeral for Steven Gordon is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the First Baptist Church of Waldorf. Donations may be made to the church in Gordon's name.