Wife of Frisco cyclist involved in 2022 fatal collision with vehicle looks to set the record straight on crash report
Former Snowy Peaks teacher Greg Bachman was hit by a driver the day before the 2022 UNBOUND Gravel
This is the first story in a three-part series on Greg Bachman, a Frisco cyclist who died after being struck by a vehicle while riding the afternoon before the 2022 UNBOUND Gravel event in Kansas.
Frisco’s Crystal Miller can’t erase the graphic images stored in her mind.
“If I could give you a USB port,” she said. The moment is downloaded into her memory like an encrypted file. Date: June 3, 2022. File size: too large to process.
“I was there and I watched what happened to him,” Miller said. “He died with me in the road.”
Greg Bachman, Miller’s husband of 22 years, was struck by a vehicle doing a shakeout ride the night before the 2022 UNBOUND Gravel. He was using the race to prepare for that year’s Lead Challenge — the completion of five of the six Leadville Race Series events in a single summer — an event tailor-made for the well-known local cyclist.
Nicknamed the “OG of bikepacking,” the analytically-minded Bachman rode the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail before cross-country fastest known times were trendy and was a veteran of many Leadville Race Series events. In 2012, he even attempted the Lead Challenge at 50 years old. After riding the 100-mile mountain bike event on a rigid single-speed — a sufficient indicator of his grassroots gravel grittiness — he suffered a small hernia and pulled out halfway through the subsequent century run.
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“Over and over he said to me, when he turned 60 he was going to go back and finish it,” Miller said.
He never got the chance to try.
‘He was my person’
The Pennsylvania-born Bachman was a lifelong biking fanatic. He tinkered with the frame and components of his hand-built Don McClung bike meticulously. As a high schooler, Bachman etched his European pro-cycling dreams onto his yearbook page — “it was so cute,” Miller said — and later tried out for Team USA during the 1980 Olympic cycle. Those seriously athletic anecdotes only came up, however, when his wife would find an item in the basement capable of spurring conversation.
“That’s not for him a huge point of pride,” Miller said. “I think the coaching of people later is what he would point to as his highlight.”
Bachman became a teacher at Snowy Peaks High School, Summit County’s nontraditional, relationship-based educational option, where he cultivated students’ confidence through various outdoor challenges.
“Greg helped many struggling students through their schooling and had a profound impact on students’ success,” Snowy Peaks principal James Smith stated.
“They were just his joy,” Miller added.
Bachman and Miller themselves met, fittingly, at a bike store. At the time, he was getting his doctorate in physiology and she was in education — both at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Miller spent one summer working part-time at a bike shop while Bachman taught a physical education course. Struggling to convince the ladies in his class to get out of their parked cars at the trailhead lot and actually ride, he walked into the shop one day and asked the owner, “Do you know somebody who would maybe help me get these women on their bikes?”
Miller answered the call. After each class, she and Bachman extended the ride together.
“We took a long time,” Miller said of their romance.
“You have to really appreciate every moment you have with somebody,” Miller said. “You could lose your person, so suddenly, and he’s my person and he’s my only thing. There’s no one else for me but Greg.”
June 3, 2022
A year after the incident, Miller remains broken. Traumatized. Tormented.
The principal at Summit Cove Elementary for over two decades, she stepped down in the spring of 2023 as a result of her post-traumatic stress disorder
“I just couldn’t,” she said. “I have days that suck and days that suck more. The trauma really changes every cell in your body. It’s pretty awful. It’s just been a lot.”
Miller occasionally runs into people around town and finds herself unable to remember who they are. She attends therapy weekly. For the first time, she’s taking medication for depression and insomnia.
“I still can’t sleep without all the horrible images kind of coming to me.”
Her flashback begins with that leisurely northbound shakeout ride on the light-colored gravel of Road F outside Emporia. It was the afternoon before UNBOUND Gravel, one of the world’s largest and most well-known gravel cycling races.
“You might feel like you’re in a field and you’re off the course, but you’re fine,” Crystal recalled Greg calmly saying while they pedaled. “You’re on the course and don’t worry.”
Well aware of his wife’s mechanical insecurity and bad weather nerves, Greg walked Crystal through using a bacon strip to repair a flat one more time as a calm breeze, and clear, sunny sky hovered over the surrounding fields. Crystal said as they sloped down into an upcoming uncontrolled intersection, Greg, always protective of his wife, moved in front. Crystal, going 10 mph — according to her bike GPS data analyzed later in traffic accident reconstructionist expert Ben Railsback’s 23-page report — ducked behind.
According to the initial Kansas Highway Patrol crash report, Emporia local Corey Smith, traveling westbound on 190th Road, approached the intersection around 5 p.m. Railsback’s report estimated Smith’s speed to be somewhere over 55 miles per hour. As the driver descended a slight hill, Miller said she looked right and saw Smith’s white 2021 Chevrolet Silverado through the barbed wire fence lining the right side of Road F and the row of bushes growing along Road 190’s left side. The two-way streets recessed below the adjacent fields; the shoulders of both roadways sloped up.
Smith’s written witness statement read that he was driving home from work.
“As I approached Rd F,” his statement continued. “I saw one bicycle to my left.”
At the same time, Miller remembered Bachman momentarily turning his head, presumably to check on her.
“I think Greg doesn’t see the truck because Greg looked back to see where I was, because we came to this four-way, and ‘when Crystal’s uptight, you know, like, if we don’t go the right way,’ I might like, lose my marbles …or whatever,” Miller said.
“He knows all that about me, like, ‘I wanted to go straight!’ and then can be crabby about it, right?”
Smith, having seen Miller, stated he looked to his right to see if there was any traffic he needed to yield to from that direction. There wasn’t. He turned back to verify Miller’s location.
“And right in the middle of the road was one (biker) that I had not seen,” Smith’s witness statement continued.
Railsback’s reconstruction determined that Bachman entered the crossroads approximately two seconds before Smith, and going just over 10 mph, had already traveled 16 feet, 3 inches across the 24-foot, 4-inch intersection. Miller remembers braking hard and screaming at her husband. She arrested herself less than 10 feet from the truck, which rammed over Bachman seven-tenths of a second after entering the intersection, according to Railsback’s report.
The KHP crash report shows Smith’s brake marks several feet after the area of impact, which moved Greg 92 feet west — perpendicular to the direction he was traveling. His hand-built bike was dragged 73 feet, according to the report, and mauled to an unrecognizable pulp.
When the Kansas Highway Patrol arrived, Miller said the officers did not handle the situation properly, adding that officer J.D. Phillips’ behavior was particularly insensitive.
“He was so cruel to me,” she said. “He said to me things like, ‘Well ma’am, you know the driver is really upset so I don’t know why you want me to give him a ticket.'”
“The Kansas Highway Patrol – they kind of destroyed the scene to be pretty honest. So again, a little bit of a cover-up,” Miller alleges. “They parked their cars on top of our tire tracks … it was just so crummy.”
The crash report said that 15 minutes after the incident, at 5:15 p.m., Phillips handed Miller a death notification.
In a June 12, 2023 email from Lieutenant Andrew Schippers to Miller, Schippers said Miller’s allegations about Trooper Phillips’ lack of professionalism were documented and that the “allegations will be addressed by his local command.”
In a Sept. 7 email to the Vail Daily, Schippers stated that there would be no public comments from the Kansas Highway Patrol on the case per the advice of his legal department.
MIller’s attorney, Brian Weiss, who had consulted Railsback to piece the physics of the event together, said other evidence of a perceived “anti-cycling bias” in the investigation existed. He noted the 52-year-old’s cellphone was not analyzed and said police initially told Miller she would not need to provide a witness statement (she eventually did provide one). Additionally, the KHP did not examine her bike GPS, filled with vital factual evidence for reconstructing the events, Weiss said.
“I follow crashes of bikes mostly and motorcycles all over the state, and the main source you have for investigating — obviously after the physical evidence — are the witnesses who were there on the scene,” Weiss said. “To disregard her like they did was just heartless.”
Who hit whom?
In its initial report, KHP stated in its synopsis that Smith was westbound on Road 190 “when for an unknown reason, the bicyclist (vehicle one) entered the intersection on road F and struck the Chevy (vehicle two) on the front driver’s side corner. The bicyclist separated from the bike and came to rest in the center of Road 190 west of road F.”
In other words, it concluded Smith had arrived first and Bachman hit the driver.
“If the bicyclist pulled out in front of that truck, there probably won’t be any citations issued,” Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Rick Wingate was quoted saying in a July 7 Emporia Gazette story informing the public that charges would not likely be filed.
“If Vehicle One is listed, that’s usually the person who’s at fault,” Wingate said. “Who are you going to write the ticket to?”
Miller said the event organizers promised to honor Bachman — in some fashion, at some point — during the Life Time Grand Prix series, which included both UNBOUND and the Leadville 100. As the six-race summer off-road series strolled from stop to stop, nothing happened. Miller said she lashed out at the Life Time race series organizers. Miller said they responded with a solution.
In honor of Greg’s plan to race the Lead Challenge, they suggested forming a team of five to race each event in 2023, she said.
“It was pretty easy to find people who wanted to be that,” Miller said.
Meanwhile, she needed to take care of her own unfinished business: setting the record straight on what really happened on June 3, 2022.
Part two of this series will be available on VailDaily.com and in Thursday’s print edition.