Have you ever stopped to think about what is actually in a name? Bike races especially use the words “memorial” a lot, but do you know who they were? Most bike races are fundraisers to support a great cause, and Mike Neilds Bannock Street Criterium was no exception. Our team was lucky enough to partner with the Front Rangers Junior Cycling program to help at-risk youth with the memory of Mike Neilds. Roberta has a personal connection. Here’s her story.
The Naked Women’s Racing Team recently hosted the Mike Nields Memorial Bannnock Street Criterium. This prompted our team to find out just who Mike Nields was. We found out that Mike had his life turned around by cycling but died tragically in a hang gliding accident. None of us on the team knew Mike but I did know Grayson. The Pro’s part of this race is dedicated to Grayson Pointer. Grayson had married my friend Lauren on top of Mount Evans. Racin’ Grayson was a terrific cyclist, an ambassador for the environment and always a super fun guy to be around.
Tragically, after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Grayson died due to complications he had as a result of a scooter accident in downtown Denver. His funeral was at the same time that Lauren and he were going to be wed again in a larger ceremony. I am sure there are many in the cycling community that can tell a story about Grayson and remember his good witted spirit. I will never forget in 2007, it was shortly after Grayson died and his ashes released on Mt. Evans that I raced the Bob Cook Memorial Hill Climb for the first time. The story of Bob Cook can be found here but Bob was another great cyclist in the history of Colorado who tragically lost his battle with cancer. I was racing hard that day but was struggling to finish and reach the top. My mental drive to finish had left me, I was hot and I wanted to give up. It was just then with those tight switchbacks at the top that I felt something start to push me up the hill. There was no mistaking this was Grayson. He was pushing me to the finish. A sense of calm came over me and I knew that he was OK. I debated calling Lauren that day as not to upset her, but I had to let her know. When I was getting my things into the car after the race I called her to say that Grayson is doing fine and he helped me finish my race.
Now I don’t have a personal connection with all of the people whom our races are dedicated to but I do think that in our small racing community we should learn something about whom many of these races are dedicated to. These were cyclists just like us. A part of a community that finds cycling as an outlet. Whether we are out there to turn ourselves around, to achieve our personal goals, or even excel to the professional level, we are all cyclists. These races are dedicated to all who loved the sport in some way. We should recognize their families, many of whom offer the prize money and ongoing support of the races, and the lives that the memorialized cyclists lived. It is tragic that we have lost so many good friends but the best we can do is take the time to honor them and remember them for all their contributions to life.