This past weekend was spent driving through Northern Utah, Idaho and Wyoming to help support Ryan's dad Mike in the LOTOJA bike race. This was our third year helping with the event and it has become something we look forward to and have loved to be a part of. I was hoping to share some photos we took of the gorgeous scenery and write about the fun time we had... but unfortunately the weekend did not go as planned. Tragically, a member of Mike's team experienced a terrible accident and passed away during the course of the race. To read about the events of the day, click HERE.
While we didn't know Rob personally, the impact of his tragic accident has greatly affected Ryan and I. He was a close friend of many people we know and a member of the cycling community in Arizona which both of our families are a part of. We met his beautiful wife Bridget on Saturday morning at the first support stop in Montpelier, ID. She instantly made an impact on me as we introduced ourselves and played the "name game." My heart is heavy as I think about Saturday and what a tough day it was. The day was supposed to end with a big celebration and dinner at the Mangy Moose as it had each year after the racers crossed the finish line. However, things did not go as planned.
Again, my heart is heavy as I think about Bridget and her family. I felt so much sadness that day as we heard the news and spent time at the hospital. Many tears were shed. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of eternal families. I have no doubt that Rob is in a better place and that his sweet wife Bridget will be reunited with him after this life. That is the only thing that kept us going on Saturday night as we tried to figure out what to do next and how to cope. I've never been in a situation like this one and I realized just how precious life is and how mortal we really are. I definitely squeezed Ryan a little tighter, told my family I love them, and realized I just can't sweat the small stuff. Life is really short.
This was the last LOTOJA race Ryan and I will participate in. While we have made many beautiful memories along this route, this one will last much longer. We question whether we will keep riding our bikes or be done with the sport altogether. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this tragic accident, and especially to the Verhaaren family.