Man to ride, climb Colorado’s 14ers for cause |

Man to ride, climb Colorado’s 14ers for cause

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, COlorado ” Tossing and turning and unable to sleep one night, obnoxious byproducts of the bad mood that ailed him, Andy Henrichs tried mightily to brainstorm something positive.

“I was thinking of camping trips I could take, and then the thought occurred to me to bike to all the fourteeners and climb them,” the popular Roaring Fork High School athletic trainer said.

Given the feat’s intense physical strain, biking across Colorado and summiting 54 of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks is not something many would consider a positive thing. But Henrichs’ affinity with the outdoors ” he’s already tackled 20 fourteeners ” and the fact he’ll use the trip to raise money for a worthy cause, should make for a dream summer journey.

“I was about to dismiss the thought, and then thought I could raise money for an organization,” said the 27-year-old Henrichs. “That idea stuck and grew rapidly.”

After a little research, Henrichs decided World Bicycle Relief would be the beneficiary of his tour, which he plans to start on May 31. The organization raises funds primarily to provide bikes to volunteer caregivers treating HIV and AIDS victims in Zambia. Some bikes also go to vulnerable households, in which one or both parents have died.

“I looked at the developing countries and what a huge step up it is for many people in these countries (to get bikes),” Henrichs said. “I settled on World Bicycle Relief because I liked the transparency of where all the money goes, where each bike goes.”

A month and a half remains before Henrichs begins what he hopes will be about a 50-day journey, and he’s already raised nearly $4,000, mainly from friends and family. Several strangers have also wandered onto his Web site and contributed.

It costs $109 for World Bicycle Relief to purchase and deliver each bike, and Henrichs wants to raise two bikes for each peak he conquers. To make that happen, he needs to raise about $12,000.

Some of the money will, of course, be needed for his mission. Food is the biggest expense, and some of the funds raised will go toward equipment.

“So many calories are burned each day,” he said. “It’s hard to replace all those. I’ll buy some new equipment, but I already have most of the pieces. I might update some components on my bike.”

Henrichs’ lodging will be his tent. He said he might stay in a hotel occasionally, “just for a break or if there’s no forest service in the area.”

He plans to begin by heading west toward Minturn. From there, he’ll travel south down the Sawatch Range, then up through Breckenridge and on to peaks along the Front Range. He’ll then turn south to the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range before traveling through Alamosa and the San Juan Mountains. Henrichs plans to finish with the Elk Range.

All is subject to change, of course.

Henrichs said it was difficult to develop a route. Everything, from weather to difficulty, had to be considered.

“First I had to decide whether to go clockwise or counterclockwise,” he said. “I spent a lot of time going over maps, figuring out which routes would be shortest, but not too grueling. I’ve been fine-tuning it all the time. I decided to finish up with San Juan coming through, because they get so much snow.”

Henrichs hopes to climb at least a peak a day for 50 days. Whenever possible, he hopes to conquer two peaks in one day.

Sometimes he’ll have company.

“A lot of friends have offered to hike or bike with me for a day or so,” he said, “but most of the trip will be solo.”

The flexibility of his job as Roaring Fork High School’s athletic trainer allows Henrichs to make the journey. His two-day-a-week physical therapy shift at Valley View Hospital will be handled by a student while he’s gone.

Henrichs, a Wisconsin native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, moved to Colorado five years ago. He’s spent four years in the Roaring Fork Valley, which suits his love for recreation and the outdoors.

Carbondalers are accustomed to seeing Henrichs pedaling around town on his mountain bike, which is what he’ll use during his excursion.

Those who know him, like Valley View Hospital Director of Rehabilitation Services Ross Peterson, aren’t surprised by the soft-spoken Henrichs’ mission.

“Andy is a very outgoing person, as far as his physical activities, anyway,” said Peterson, whose department staffs athletic trainers for both Roaring Fork and Glenwood Springs high schools. “He’s been doing fourteeners as long as I’ve known him here. … For him, he found a cause he really believed in, and it fit well with what he wanted to do.”

Peterson hired Henrichs four years ago, and he’s thrilled with the decision.

“I’m very pleased with everything he’s done,” Peterson lauded. “He’s been a great addition to the department. Each sports season I have the coaches do evaluations of Andy on a scale of one to five, and I always give Andy a hard time that he’s paying the coaches to do this. It’s always a five. He’s so well respected for what he does.”

It’s clear Henrichs fully dedicates himself to all his endeavors.

“When he puts his mind to doing something, he does it, whether it’s a fourteener or whatever it may be,” Peterson said. He’s a soft-spoken person but once he puts his mind to it, he’s going to do it.”

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