Cyclist Robert Verhaaren, 42, had competed in the LoToJa race at least twice before. The race, sponsored by USA Cycling, snakes 206 miles through Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. Just eight miles before he reached the finish line, Verhaaren swerved to avoid a pothole on a bridge crossing the Snake River in Wyoming. His bicycle crashed into a guardrail, and he fell over the side of the bridge. The 35-foot fall killed him.
USA Cycling spokesperson David Bern expressed sympathy for the race’s first fatality in its 30-year run.
“It was devastating for us to lose a member of our LoToJa family,” Bern said. “Unfortunately, these things go along with bicycle racing. Cycling is not for the risk averse.”
There were two other bicycle accidents during the race, one near Idaho’s Strawberry Summit and another by Wyoming’s Alpine Junction. Bern said that close to 200 cyclists had flat tires, an unusually high number possibly caused by thorny weeds and small nails.
Cyclists must sign two waivers before competing in the race. However, waivers do not necessarily excuse event planners and property owners from all injuries that occur on the premises.
We are extremely saddened by this tragic death. Cycling is a healthy, liberating activity, and bike races help strengthen the cycling community while rewarding initiative and progress. However, as Bern mentions, there are serious risks involved. If you know someone injured in a Wyoming, Nebraska or Colorado bicycle accident, call us today at (866) 377-3800. We can review your case for no charge. Visit our website for more information about bicycle accidents or premises liability.
Metier Law Firm, LLC – Denver injury attorneys