Navigate: Top -->The Ogre's Clan -->Sylvia's Last Ride

I just don't know what to say. I write because it helps me cope. I took Sylvia for a ride and she didn't come home. I just don't know what to do so I am doing what I know how to do.

Perhaps some of you think I acted irresponsibly or unnecessarily risked my children and in many ways you are right. Every time I remember that day I look back and think about all the things I could have done differently.

In any case Thank You all for your understanding, thoughts, prayers, and kind words. Doubly thank you to those we encountered on the trail, to the emergency response people, and the other countless individuals who helped us on that day. I can't see how I could ever stop mountain biking when this is by far the best group of people I know.

For those local please feel welcome but not obliged to come to the memorial service on Monday at 7:00 PM at St. Michael's Church in Stockton, CA. (Note: about 300 people showed up to the memorial mass)

Thank You,
Dennis and Char
(Ogre and Fiona)

Program for the Memorial Mass
KSL Article
Salt Lake Tribune Article (Original Article Removed from source site)
Note: Comments have been locked in this thread due to excessive SPAM :(

More Pictures from our Trip -

We had an RV for this vacation and we had planned our most ambitious summer vacation yet. We set out from Stockton on Saturday morning and headed cross country at a fairly easy pace, hoping to get to Green River by Dark Thirty. RV travel was a bit slower than I figured so we fell a bit short and wound up overnighting at a rest stop about an hour shy. So we took it easy that day and stopped at all the Vista Points to enjoy the natural beauty of Utah.

We arrived in Moab around 1 PM and took one of our bikes into Rim Cyclery to have the fork swapped out and then hit the Moab Cafe. Afterwards we did the tourist thing with the kids for a while and picked the bike back up. Sylvia, Char (Fiona), and I decided to do a bit of urban assault to test out the Bomber we had installed on Sylvia's bike. There is a bike path that cuts through Moab and at the one end there is a small park sith some trails, so we cruised around for about an hour or two then headed out to camp.

We lucked into a camp site at Negro Bill camp area which is right at the base of Porcupine-Rim trail, doubly lucky because the shuttle was going to pick us up there so at the end of the ride we would be right there with air conditioning and cold drinks. Sylvia, Vivian, and I did some canoeing in the creek next to our campsite until dark and then we hit the sack.

I knew Porcupine Rim trail would be a challenge to my daughters and I gave them all the choice of going. My oldest daughter Liz opted out because she doesn't care much for rocky trails. Vivian asked about how much climbing there would be and Sylvia "Is there lot's of downhill?"... Sylvia loves downhill riding.

After a good sized breakfast (Couple Pancakes, Eggs, and sausage with OJ) I got all the bikes ready while Sylvia (over)filled the Camel packs with Ice and water. Just before we headed out I also grabbed an extra gatorade for each of us to drink on the way up or on the trail.

We got to the top around 10AM, a bit later than I had hoped but I figured we would be done around 2-3PM and the hottest part of the ride would be on the downhill part so it wouldn't be so bad. The climb was a bit tougher than I remembered so the girls and Char wound up hiking a bit more than I figured they would. I helped as much as I could by riding up and then walking back down to them and either riding their bikes up the tough sections or carrying their bikes while they walked. I tried not to push the girls too much but we did try to keep moving because it was already getting hot as we neared the top.

When we got to the rim we stopped for a bit mostly for Char and the girls to rest while I snapped a few pictures. Everyone had an Energy Bar or two and drank some Gatorade and/or Propel or just water. Then we did the last half mile or so of climbing and started the downhill.

Right around 5 miles into the ride I was back a bit with Sylvia when I heard Char calling me. Vivian had stacked it pretty bad. In her words she grabbed too much front brake on a rocky section. Her front tire washed out and she tore open her chin which was bleeding a lot along with some huge trail rash on the insides of her elbows, one knee, and stomach. We spent some time calming her down and cleaning her up as best we could (and also used some of our water in this effort as well) and then set out.

At first Vivian didn't even want to get on her bike but I knew there was no way we could hike out in a reasonable amount of time. So after a little more delay we were back rolling.

After Vivian's mishap things went pretty smoothly for some time. We were rolling along at a good clip and all 3 of my girls (Char included) were doing excellent on the ride. We stopped every so often in the shade and tried to cool down a bit but the heat was really starting to turn up. We hit the singletrack and everyone was still riding exceptionally well until we took a break just before the singletrack turns to parallel the freeway.

At this point the heat just hit all three of them really hard, Char said her balance and judgement was off and didn't want to ride. We could see the highway and almost see to the end of the trail and the girls were feeling about the same so we got off the bikes and hiked. I helped as much as I could by helping them with their bikes and I know I shared some of my water with my daughters but at the last stop I ran out of water.

Then I noticed Sylvia was being a bit reckless and while she was pushing her bike her pedals were hitting her ankles. I also noticed she was a bit bloated looking. I took her bike and then asked her to stop in the next shady spot but she kept walking. Then she said "I'm going to get Liz, Liz can bring help" (her older sister) and finally "I see Liz" and I knew something was seriously wrong. I kept walking for a minute then, when she kept going out of site around a corner I dropped her bike and rode up to catch her.

When I came around the corner Sylvia was lying on the ground in the middle of the trail and her leg was kicking a bit and her breathing heavy and raspy. Sylvia had fallen next to a small tree so I made an effort to move her into the shade. I couldn't get her to drink at all so I poured the little liquid I had over her head hoping to bring her temperature down a bit. Char showed up shortly and I left to get help.

There was only about a mile of trail left and I covered it fairly quickly and rode out into the street. I flagged down several cars that were coming down the road and at least one of them called 911 and then perhaps 30 seconds later I flagged down a highway patrol officer as well.

While I was getting help Char was trying to help Sylvia as best she could and a group of mountain bikers showed up and offered to do everything they could to help her, including giving her all of their remaining water. Including one of them, Alex I think, rode down to the bottom and found me. He filled a camel pack with some water I had brought up and ran back up the trail to Sylvia.

Shortly after I got down (Perhaps 5 minutes?) an ambulence with paramedics showed up and they set out up the trail. Then Search and Rescue showed up and I followed them back up the trail.

The whole way back up I couldn't think of anything except...

I don't know what to do.

I don't know what to do.

I don't know what to do.

I don't know what to do.

I don't know what to do.

I don't know what to do.

By the time I got back up to them Sylvia was gone.

This is my last picture of Sylvia.

Goodby Sylvia, you were loved by everyone you met.