Courage Classic lends perspective to pedaling
COPPER MOUNTAIN –Life perspective and pedaling don’t always go hand in hand, but they do on this ride. Courage is the toughest element to conjure up for any cyclist embarking on an 162-mile ride, but for many riders in the 14th annual Courage Classic that will be headquartered in Copper Mountain July 19-21, courage is second nature.
The Courage Classic is a three-day bike tour beginning July 19 in Leadville that benefits the Children’s Hospital in Denver. Although 2,000 individuals typically participate in the tour – which summits Fremont Pass, Tennessee Pass and Vail Pass over three days – the most noteworthy group of riders is Team Courage. Team Courage consists of patients and former patients of Children’s Hospital who have overcome various life-threatening conditions.
“It’s amazing when you see those kids,” said Eagle County resident Kevin Foley, who has participated in all but one of the Courage Classic tours. “These are kids that might have one leg or Down Syndrome, but you see them out there plugging away. It gives you goose bumps. If you’re ever feeling high and mighty, go to Children’s Hospital for a couple hours. They’re just kids and they might not know too well what nature’s thrown them, but they come up here and they’re out there pedalling.”
Foley’s 6-year-old nephew, Jacob, was treated at Children’s for a blood vessel inflammation when he was a toddler, and Foley has henceforth felt emotionally indebted to the hospital. Frisco residents Jo-Anne and Dwight Tyson feel similarly about Children’s Hospital, since their 4-year-old son, Spencer, underwent two surgeries there.
“I couldn’t believe the amount of love and attention they give the children and the parents at the hospital,” said Jo-Anne, who will be participating in her fourth Courage Classic and is also riding in today’s Triple Bypass tour.
“They’re miracle children out there pedaling the 150 miles,” she said of the Courage Classic. “There are some awesome stories –from heart transplants to kidney transplants to dialysis patients. It tells you a lot about their will for life and the fight they’ve already put up to live. One of the most moving things I’ve seen in the four years I’ve ridden is the parents with pictures of their children on their backs. It’s a very humbling experience. It puts things into perspective.”
The first day of the Courage Classic tour takes cyclists from Leadville up and around Turquoise Lake, then over Fremont Pass and down to Copper. On day No. 2, cyclists ride from Copper to Breckenridge and around the Dillon Reservoir. For the final day, the entourage will ride over Vail Pass, through Minturn and will cross the finish line in Leadville.
“It’s not a ride you hop on your bike to do,” said Courage Classic executive director John Eddy. “A lot of these kids have been training since April. It’s really something for their self-esteem. This year we have an amputee (riding on Team Courage), kids that are blind and kids that have just finished chemo. You go through a major illness like that and you begin to wonder, “Why me?’ Then you go to an event like this and say, “Yeah, I can overcome this. I can do these things.’ This ride is one of the largest fundraisers the hospital does. In the 13 years we’ve done this, we’ve raised $10.3 million for the hospital.”
Every registered cyclist in the Courage Classic must raise $200 in pledges to participate in the event. Registration is still open to anyone interested in riding. Foley is one of the top fundraisers for the event and typically raises about $1,200.
David Sherman of Denver is another long-time, stalwart participant in the Courage Classic. The 30-year-old is one of the founders of Team Courage. He was born with Williams syndrome, which is characterized by severe physical and visual limitations. He has overcome the condition enough to ride in the Classic every year, and has added the Elephant Rock and the Moonlight Classic to his annual cycling repertoire.
“Team Courage is about inspiration, courage and giving back to other people,” Sherman said. “My favorite thing about it all is we’re giving back to others.”
Registration is still open for the 2003 Courage Classic, which takes place July 19-21. Registration costs $100 plus a minimum pledge and includes a T-shirt, post-race barbecue and sag wagon support. Registration is available at http://www.couragetours.com, http://www.active.com, or at Copper Mountain between 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday or at Leadville High School from 7 to 8:30 a.m. before the tour begins. For more information, call (303)456-9704.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.