Death on the Tour Divide: Investigation in order?

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It seems the unlikeliest place of all for a car-bike accident: A days-long, 2,745-mile mountain bike race along the Great Divide on trails, fire roads and rugged back country.

But that’s what happened, and a husband and father is dead.

Dave Blumenthal
Dave Blumenthal of Montpelier VT died June 24th of injuries suffered when he collided with a pickup truck on a remote dirt road. Police say the driver was not at fault, but police usually say that. It remains, and may always remain, a mystery as to how the noise and commotion of an approaching pickup truck would not be enough to warn an experienced cyclist of danger. We would encourage race organizers or a cycling advocacy organization to investigate the circumstances further if warranted — it’s difficult from press accounts to mentally reconstruct this accident.

In the meantime, our thoughts are with Blumenthal’s family. More from the Tour of the Great Divide Web site, and a moving account of Dave’s final days on his own blog.

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6 thoughts on “Death on the Tour Divide: Investigation in order?”

  1. Paul,
    Sorry for this, but I can’t seem to find a more legitimate way to contact you. My name’s Abe Aboraya, I’m a freelance writer. I’m working on a story for the Real Estate section of the Seattle Times about bicycle friendly communities in and around Seattle to live in. I’d really love to talk to you about that. If you’re interested, shoot me an e-mail (AbeAboraya@gmail.com) and we’ll set up a time to talk when you’re free.
    Also, since this is a public reply, anyone in the comments section interested in being interviewed for the same article, feel free to drop me a line. We’re looking for avid bikers in the Seattle area who framed a home purchase, apartment choice, living arrangement, etc., on proximity to bike trails, downtown — pretty much anything.
    Anyhow, no real way to prove legitimacy on here, but here’s a link to the only Times story I’ve had published so far (just moved to Seattle about a month ago).

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/realestate/2012126334_realneighborhood20.html

    Abe

  2. Paul, before you start trying to make things bigger than they may be, I’d kindly advise you to ride continuously for a few days on minimal sleep, get up early, and descend the steep, winding road Dave Blumenthal was negotiating when this unfortunate accident happened. The wind in your ears while traveling at 30 mph (sleepiness, fatigue, and thoughts of a hot meal not too many more miles down the road aside) are enough to drown out the sound of any truck coming uphill around a blind turn. Tragic accidents happen, and from everything the park rangers and state patrol have shared based on tire tracks in the dirt, this really sounds like it was an accident. Please, this is tough enough for everyone involved already. Don’t go asking for further investigation since you’re clearly rather distant from all of this.

  3. I’m not trying to “make things bigger,” just searching for a fully detailed account of what happened that makes sense. You’re right in the respect that I’m too far removed. If I were in a position to do so I would be publishing relevant details such as how fast the pickup was traveling, what kind of (specifically) surface was involved, how fast the rider was going, and a diagrammatic re-creation of the incident. In other words, the process that would be required if two cars were involved in a fatal accident — which, if that were the case, would never be investigated, reported and wrapped up in a neat little package, all in a few hours’ time. If the family and others close to the situation believe that Dave was at fault as authorities suggest, case closed, then so be it.

  4. a very sad story, indeed. one that i may not have heard about if i didn’t see it on bike intelligencer. i read a little bit about the rider and he seems to be very passionate, educated, warm and just an overall great guy. my condolences goes out to his friends and family. given how hard these riders push themselves with lack of sleep, cold weather and exhaustion, i think that even the most experienced riders are bound to make mistakes. i’m just not sure if there could be anything put in place to prevent this accident from happening.

  5. As to making this bigger than it needs to be, how can you make it bigger than death? As to the term “just an accident”, accidents usually involve the carelessness of at least one party and often many factors which combine to contribute to causing the incident. If a racer has to draw on every fibre of his or her being to participate in this challenging ride/race, why have the organizers of the ride allowed motor vehicles on the course when the bicyclists are supposed to be there? Were the riders so strung out over such a long distance that traffic control was impossible?

  6. Claude, it’s my understanding that due to the scale of this “course”, the organizers cannot and should not attempt to hold hostage that much back country roads etc for the small number of riders involved…as well, this aspect of the race is part of the challenge, not an overlooked risk. Such “accidents” happen all the time, and while one can always say that someone was asleep at the wheel (or on the handlebars…), it may be counterproductive to cast blame in such situations. I don’t ride my bike expecting the whole world to stop and make room for me, despite the law of the road that was written to enhance my safety…the world’s a dangerous place…you and I approach it LOOKING for risk at times…so, enough…you get my point. If real negligence or bad intent was at work here…it’s hard to know or move forward from such realities…I’m glad I’m not the driver of that truck who will spend the rest of his or her life with this memory. ride safe, Bill

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