Jeb Wallace-Brodeur File Photo
David Blumenthal works on a relief map of The Long Trail at his Calais workshop in 2009.
MONTPELIER — A Montpelier resident competing in a long-distance mountain bike race in Colorado died Thursday from injuries he sustained when he collided with an oncoming pickup truck on a remote dirt road.
David Blumenthal, 37, died at 11 a.m. Thursday morning at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, a hospital spokeswoman said.
He was remembered by friends and colleagues as a friend to all, a modern-day renaissance man and one of the most generous and gentle souls around.
Blumenthal, who lived on Tremont Street, was riding in Routt County, Colo., near Steamboat Springs on Wednesday morning when he hit a pick-up truck that was coming in the other direction, according to a Colorado state trooper.
“What happened was they were on a narrow mountain dirt road, and he was riding in the opposite lane and collided with the side of a pickup that was coming in the opposite direction on a curve,” said Matthew Velasquez, the Colorado State Patrol trooper who went to the scene.
Velasquez said he determined Blumenthal was riding in the opposite lane based on where the bicycle, Blumenthal and the truck came to rest.
Velasquez said a ranger from a nearby state park was at the accident scene within 10 minutes of the collision. Ambulance crews made it to the scene within 20 or 30 minutes, said Velasquez.
Velasquez said it appears that the driver of the pickup truck is not at fault in the accident.
Blumenthal was taken to a hospital in Steamboat Springs and then airlifted to Denver, Velasquez said.
The Tour Divide race Blumenthal was competing in runs the length of a 2,745-mile trail that crisscrosses the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains.
It has been described as the toughest mountain bike race in the world.
The Tour Divide website quickly posted a brief write-up about the accident on its website and an audio webcast talks about the crash, noting that Blumenthal sustained a serious head injury.
People from Vermont and elsewhere posted messages on the Tour Divide website wishing Blumenthal and his family the best.
“We're all pulling for you, Dave, and hoping to see you at home in Montpelier soon,” one person wrote.
Blumenthal was well-known in the central Vermont cycling community, as an outdoorsman, hiker, graphic designer and artist. News of the accident and his death spread across the town — and nation — through blogs, e-mails and even webcasts.
Blumenthal was a member of the local cycling team Onion River Racing, according to Nick Petterssen, who is a member of the team and also the director of The Confluence gym in Montpelier.
Petterssen, who was reached before it was clear Blumenthal died, described Blumenthal as an excellent athlete with a range of skills whose company everyone seemed to enjoy.
Known as “Big Dave,” Blumenthal would sew his own sleeping bags and tents and was helpful as The Confluence gym opened last year, according to Petterssen.
“When we were launching the gym here he designed us a climbing gym, and he painted our signs,” said Petterssen.
He was someone with a “lot of hidden talents,” said Petterssen.
Ben Rose, executive director of the Green Mountain Club, was traveling when he heard the heart-breaking news. Last night, he sent an e-mail to GMC members.
“He was an important part of the future of the Green Mountain Club,” he said in a late evening interview. “This is a tremendous loss to the community.”
Blumenthal, a board member, recently was honored by GMC through its President's Award. In a biographical sketch read at the awards ceremony, Blumenthal's many efforts were acknowledged, including: founding the Montpelier Section's Young Adventurers' Club, serving as project manager for the recently published GMC centennial history, as the artist for various guides, signs and a table-sized relief map he built by hand. He had worked with GMC with wife Lexi since around 2000.
“He was a Renaissance man,” Rose said. “He was a Harvard grad, as strong as Paul Bunyan, and his blog site will break your heart.”
Indeed, the site, http://type2fun.wordpress.com, is filled with anecdotes, pictures, video — all demonstrating the true-to-life talents of the young adventurer and steward.
“Dave was gifted, strong and generous,” Rose wrote to his membership.
The Central Vermont Cycling Tour, which is organizing a tour that starts in East Montpelier this Sunday, has now dedicated the event to Blumenthal. “We would like to dedicate this event to Dave Blumenthal … who has been pivotal in helping to make this event happen,” the website says.
He leaves his wife, Lexi Shear, and daughter, Linnaea. He also operated Studio Zoic, custom-designed furniture and exhibits, from his Montpelier home. According to his website, Blumenthal has a master's degree in industrial design from Pratt Institute, and received his bachelor's degree in visual and environmental studies from Harvard University.
According to the Tour Divide blog (tourdivide.org/blog2010), “Dave's family would like to thank the Tour Divide community for their thoughts and support through this tragedy. They ask that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his memory to the Green Mountain Club. Lexi asks that people share their pictures of Dave and memories here. Letters of condolences can be sent to lexi.shear @post.harvard.edu.MORE IN News
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