MAX BRINDLE was a husky 20-year-old athlete, 6-2, 210 pounds, but he had the heart of a little boy.

He loved to ride his bicycle fast, feeling the thrill of speed and the wind in his hair, said his mother, Gari Brindle.

She imagines that he was pedaling swiftly along without a care on the bright spring morning of June 18 on Bloomingdale Avenue in Wayne, when his bike rammed the back of a parked car.

He was rushed to Bryn Mawr Hospital, where he was pronounced dead of a neck injury a short time later. He was on his way to his home in Wayne from a cousin's house.

Max was a freshman in the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University, where he played football and lacrosse, was a high academic achiever and a young man with the world at his feet.

"He was a great kid," said his mother, former promotions manager for the Inquirer and Daily News. "He was larger than life. He could light up a room."

Maxwell Knickerbocker Brindle was a standout athlete at Radnor High School, which he left in 10th grade to attend the Salisbury School in Salisbury, Conn.

There he was named all-New England in lacrosse, in which he played the long-pole position. He went to Drexel on a scholarship.

"He had tremendous intellectual curiosity," said his mother, who left the newspapers last August to become vice president of marketing for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania. "He was interested in so many things."

Among them were animals. He loved all animals, but especially the three little family dogs, two silky terriers, Paris and Wally, and a border terrier, Badger.

"He would come home and throw balls at the dogs," his mother said. "He would get down on the floor and wrestle with them. They loved to see him come home."

Another interest - passion might be a better word - was music. He was a big fan of the Doors, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and newer groups as well.

He would compose music on the computer, using a software program. He sent one piece to his uncle, Tom Lieb, who used it as background music while working out.

Another cousin, Nicky Lieb, is in Prague playing with the United States women's lacrosse team in international competition.

"She was devastated to hear that Max had died," Gari said. "She was thinking of coming home, but she decided to dedicate the games to him. She sewed his name in an armband, and wears his picture in a locket around her neck."

Fellow students at Drexel were shocked by Max's death, and the university offered counseling services for the bereaved.

Besides his mother, he is survived by his father, Peter, and a sister, Alexandra.

"Max loved fireworks," his mother said, so a memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on the Fourth of July at the Willows in Villanova, 490 Darby-Paoli Road.

"We want it to be a celebration of his life," his mother said.