Thousands cross line of Courage in Leadville
LEADVILLE – Many cyclists who rode 160-plus miles over thousands of feet of elevation in the 2003 Courage Classic were feeling it in their legs when they crossed the finish line in Leadville Monday. So they could only imagine how Ashley Hovey’s arms must have felt.
Hovey, 21, was the only hand cyclist riding on Team Courage, which consists of members and former members of the Children’s Hospital Handicapped Sports program. Hovey, who lives in Conifer, was born with spina bifida – a birth defect that’s confined her to a wheelchair all her life and made her a regular patient at Children’s Hospital in Denver, which benefits from the Courage Classic.
“Basically, Children’s Hospital is my second home,” she said. “I’ve been at Children’s since I was born, and I just heard about this ride through other people and thought it was great way to support Children’s Hospital and to support others.”
Hovey began hand cycling less than two years ago and was in Breckenridge last month for an adaptive cycling program with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center. She has started competing in criterium races but said nothing poses a challenge like pedaling over Vail Pass, Fremont Pass and Tennessee Pass. The tour began in Leadville Saturday, went around Turquoise Lake and on to Copper Mountain. Saturday’s ride went from Copper to Breckenridge, around Lake Dillon and to Loveland Pass, and Sunday’s ride went from Copper up Vail Pass, through Minturn and finished at Lake County High School in Leadville.
“It’s definitely challenging, especially going up and down mountain passes,” she said. “But my teammates gave me lots of encouragement. Everyone was giving me lots of encouragement – people I’d never met. They’d go by me saying, “Hi Ashley,’ “Good job, Ashley,’ “You can do it …’ then I was energized. It was awesome. I guess the best part is just being here, seeing some of my friends and meeting new people and realizing how many people really care and want to donate their time and money to help Children’s Hospital and (its) patients.”
Seth Philpott is another patient of Children’s who rode for Team Courage. The 12-year-old has multiple sclerosis and has had many surgeries at the hospital over the years. He and his dad, John, were riding in their fourth Courage Classic.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a wonderful cause,” the elder Philpott said. Father and son shared a tandem bike for the ride and completed about 80 miles of the course. “We paced ourselves differently so we’d have more for the third day. It’s been a good experience. The people that support the ride are absolutely phenomenal. (Seth) always pushes me. He cheers when we have to go uphill and boos when there’s a descent. He cheers when there’s a headwind. It keeps us going.”
Individuals who have been involved in the Courage Classic all 14 years of its existence say the highlight of the event is always watching the kids surmount the challenges and hardships of the tour.
“If something goes wrong, they’re always the ones that keep you going,” said Team Courage veteran Rick Kloss, who now lives in Boise, Idaho, but still travels to Colorado to participate in the Courage Classic. “If there’s rain, they want to keep going. If there’s a hill, they want to keep going. They don’t ever want to sag.”
“Even if you don’t want to continue, they keep you on the right track,” added Team Courage co-captain Bob Walters. “It was beautiful this year. We lucked out on the weather, and the ride was great.”
For more information on the Courage Classic, visit http://www.couragetours.com.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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