Sunday, October 29, 2017

Oh Captain, My Captain

Charlie Henderson and Penny Nelson at the conclusion of the 2014 Joe Lookingbill Denver-to-Aspen Classic
With a saddened heart, I report that former RMCC president, Charlie Henderson, has passed away this week after a short, but valiant fight with pancreatic cancer.

Charlie and other founding members of the RMCC decided to separate from the Denver Bicycle Touring Club (DBTC) and form the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club in 1993, allowing members of the newly-formed RMCC to pursue road cycling adventures that were longer, harder, and simply more challenging than the rides that were offered by the DBTC. Charlie was the first to admit that he was never the fastest rider, but he loved the physical and mental challenge of testing his limits, even in his mid-50s when he first started riding seriously! And he always supported those individuals who were passionate about endurance cycling.

The Colorado Brevet Series was borne within the RMCC to help Colorado randonneuring enthusiasts prepare for some of the world's most challenging road cycling adventures, including Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) and Boston-Montreal-Boston (BMB). Within in the club, Charlie and other club members created the Colorado Last Chance, the club's own 1200 km grand brevet. Charlie was also instrumental in creating the Challenge Series during the mid-2000s, allowing members who to push their limits by riding hard, but for shorter distances. Still contested today, the Foothills Climbfest, which traverses through the foothills to the west of Littleton, is the original Challenge Series event.

After dabbling in endurance riding in 2007, I asked Charlie about pursuing our own series of double century events, similar to the California Triple Crown. Charlie told me if I would help organize it, he would help provide volunteer support for the rides. In 2009, we created the Colorado Triple Crown, incorporating three events that the club had been riding since its inception: Denver-to-Aspen, the Grand Loop, and the Colorado Death Ride.  The series has continued to grow and take on new cycling adventures since 2009.

Charlie was a friend and mentor to me and everyone in the club who chose to test his or her limits on the bike. And without Charlie's support, the RMCC, the Challenge Series, and the Colorado Triple Crown would not exist. And I know that all of our lives would be much different, and I suspect much less fulfilled.

Charlie Henderson, oh Captain, my captain, thank you for everything that you accomplished and thank you for bringing us all together! You are a gregarious, story-telling, wine-loving, cowboy cycling superhero to all of us! Rest in peace, my friend...