25 June 2010

The Great Divide Race

The Great Divide Race - sad event!

In Memoriam

Dave Blumenthal

The remainder of this year’s Tour Divide is dedicated to the memory of Dave Blumenthal. Dave lost his life on the GDMBR on 6/24/10. He was an avid outdoorsmen, dedicated father, and friend to many in the endurance community. He will be sorely missed. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his memory to the Green Mountain Club.

Tragedy struck the Tour Divide Mountain Bike Race on Thursday when competitor Dave Blumenthal died from injuries he suffered in a collision with a pickup truck the day before in northern Colorado.

Blumenthal, 37, was pronounced dead at a Denver hospital. He leaves behind his wife, Lexi, and 4-year-old daughter Linnaea.

The outdoorsman from Vermont was competing in his first Tour Divide, which started June 11 in Banff, Alberta. After crossing the Wyoming-Colorado border, he had spent Tuesday night at the Brush Mountain Lodge near Slater and was heading toward Steamboat Springs when the crash occurred.

A Colorado State Patrol trooper told a Vermont newspaper (ArgusTimes.com) that Blumenthal and the pickup driver were heading in opposite directions:

"What happened was they were on a narrow mountain dirt road, and he was riding in the opposite lane and collided with the side of a pickup that was coming in the opposite direction on a curve." ... [Police] determined Blumenthal was riding in the opposite lane based on where the bicycle, Blumenthal and the truck came to rest.

A ranger from the nearby Steamboat Lake State Park arrived within 10 minutes and an ambulance arrived within 20 or 30 minutes.

Continue race

Another Tour Divide cyclist, Forest Baker, had spent some time with Blumenthal the day before the crash. He spoke with troopers and called in [podcast] from Steamboat Springs to say that Blumenthal was heading downhill from a pass when the collision occurred. He suffered severe head trauma.

News of the collision and fatal injuries shocked other cyclists and cast a pall over the race.

Five-time winner Matthew Lee of Carrboro, North Carolina, phoned in to say that he would complete the race in Dave Blumenthal's memory. His podcast says in part:

"I sit here in the Skyline Lodge feeling a huge sense of loss that pervades the Tour Divide community. At once I have a desire to stop riding now and grieve as well as carry on to Antelope Wells for Dave Blumenthal in Dave's name. .... In my heart of hearts, I believe Dave would have wanted us to see this through. ... "

Race route

The Tour Divide is a grueling mountain bike race along the Rocky Mountains on gravel roads and dirt tracks from 2,745 miles. The racers started in Banff, Alberta, on June 11 bound for the finish line in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Severe weather prompted some of the 48 mountain bikers to call it quits early on.

The race follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route created by Adventure Cycling Association. In contrast to most other bicycle races, there are no teams and competitors are required to remain self-sufficient the length of the course.

Wildfires forced closure of part of the route between Abiquiu and Cuba, New Mexico, earlier this week; the mountain bicyclists were offered a detour path to finish the race.

Blumenthal's blog

At his blog -- Type 2 Fun -- Blumenthal wrote about how he was drawn to the race after reading Adventure Cyclist magazines to get some guidance about replacing his mid-'90s Rockhopper mountain bike a few years ago. His last post, entitled "Tour Divide: Why?", he answers some questions about why he undertook the challenge and writes about his daughter and a recent outing they had together.

The last podcast from Blumenthal, called in from Brush Mountain Lodge , is posted at the Tour Divide website. He talks about some of the remote stores he has visited and the natural wonders he's seen.

"Going across the basin was just surreal. I mean, holy cow, there's a lot of nothing out there... and you ride your bicycle across it ."

An avid outdoorsman, Blumenthal had hiked Vermont's Long Trail in 2000 and, with his wife, the Pacific Crest Trail in 2004.

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Dave Blumenthal's name to the Green Mountain Club.

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