Local riders feel tragedy | SummitDaily.com

Local riders feel tragedy

KEYSTONE – A moment of silence broke the pre-race buzz Wednesday before the start of Summit Mountain Challenge race No. 2 at the county landfill.

Race organizer Jeff Westcott announced that Vail cyclist Brett Malin had been killed late Tuesday while competing in the Race Across America (see story, page A15), and about 300 riders paused to pay tribute.

Few knew Malin – most had never heard of him – but everyone recognized his death as a loss for Colorado’s cycling community.

“It affects everybody, whether you know him or not,” Breckenridge racer Bill Hoffman said as rain began to fall at the start area. “It’s just a shame.”

For longtime Summit cyclists, the news that Malin had been hit by an 18-wheel trailer on a New Mexico road brought back memories of Chris Ethridge’s cycling death on a road near Berthoud 19 months ago.

“People who have that level of dedication usually serve as inspiration to the rest of us, so they leave a big void when they’re gone,” said Summit Mountain Challenge organizer Mike McCormack. “I didn’t know him personally, but I bet the community of Vail is in serious mourning right now.”

Adam Plummer is a riding partner of Malin’s from Vail. He found out about the accident shortly before competing in Wednesday’s Summit Mountain Challenge race.

“I raced with him; I was friends with him,” Plummer said. “I just saw him last Wednesday – we went out after one of the local races and had a pretty good time, so it’s hard to take.

“I don’t know what we’ll do for sure, but I’m sure he’ll be remembered one way or another. I’m sure there will be a few memorials for him.”

For McCormack, who puts on regular local races as a co-owner of Maverick Sports, Malin’s death reaffirms the importance of race-day precautions.

“Our primary concern at every race is safety,” he said. “It’s an inherently dangerous sport, whether you’re on the road or on the dirt. But there are factors that we can completely eliminate.”

In the Race Across America, riders travel 3,000 miles on open road from San Diego, Calif., to Atlantic City, N.J. McCormack guessed that ensuring safety at a race of that magnitude is an enormous challenge. However, Malin’s death was the first fatality in the event’s 21-year history.

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