By Robert Fry and Dave Parker
As everyone knows by now, David Holmes, director of Iowa Ultra Events, was killed while out cycling on July 14, 2004 (see August 2004 American Randonneur). Dave had been a tireless volunteer for the sport of ultra-marathon cycling. He was a former RBA for International Randon-neurs and later for Randonneurs USA, the organizer of the UMCA 24-hour Championship for the last 15 years, and also the organizer of the Firecracker 500 RAAM qualifier.
Cedar Valley Cyclists decided to honor his memory with a special brevet, to give all of us in the cycling community who knew Dave, either personally or by reputation, the opportunity to pay our respects to him in a way that he would surely have appreciated. We decided to hold the ride in the spring to enable us to list it in the calendar as an official ACP brevet. This also gave us time to design and procure commemorative lapel pins for participants. The ride was planned to start in Dave's hometown of Eldridge, just outside the Quad Cities, and follow the old 200km route that he used until retiring as an RBA in 2003.
As May 7 approached, it looked like Dave must have had some pull with the weather gods! After a couple of decidedly chilly weeks, the Saturday forecast finally came up trumps, with temperatures expected in the high 70s, and the threat of thunderstorms receding. The weather blessed us with a good number of day-of-ride registrations. We had to scramble to copy extra cue sheets and brevet cards for the final few. Riders were mainly from the tri-state area as expected, but one or two came from further afield, notably RUSA member Robert Rich, who traveled up from Cincinnati, OH, to be with us for the day. Dave's wife, Tami, his children, Brittni, Courtney and Bryce, and his parents, Donald and Deanna Holmes, were there to greet riders at the start.
After a few words of tribute to Dave, highlighting the pivotal role he played in establishing endurance cycling in the region, a field of 45 riders set off on what for many was a familiar route from years past. Dave Parker of Big Dogs Endurance Cycling was one of them, and he offered the following memories of the ride:
"There were quite a few faces I knew from past years—Merry Vander Linden and Claudio Vacas, Tom Buckley and Paul Pierce, Jeff and Lynn Pierce, Bob Breedlove, Lisa Paulos, Johnny O Thier, Father Tom and the Pretty Dog (Joe Jamison)—to say nothing of the many riders whom I did not recognize or knew only by sight. In fact, I spotted a few riders with Big Dogs jerseys whom I did not know!
"As we rode through McCausland and north into the hills that make up much of the middle section of the 200K, the sun appeared and the prospects of getting soaked decreased. By the time I neared Bellevue, the turnaround, the field had spread out. I met Bob Breedlove—first one on the way back—Landon Beachy and Joe Camp, and several others who waved as they made their way back to Eldridge.
"In Bellevue a group from the Des Moines cycling club—six or more who had earlier passed us in a double line—milled around the control, talking to the Bellevueans and each other. The sun was definitely staying out now, and the wind had been growing in strength as the day progressed, but at this point it seemed that it was coming from the east, which raised hopes that we might get something of a tailwind on the return.
"But by the time I got back to Miles it became obvious that was not to be. In fact the wind had picked up and was coming from the southwest. This was a bit of a disappointment, but that is the prevailing wind direction in the area, and may have been a factor in Dave's plotting of the 200 K. Hills, heat and headwinds—what more could you ask for?
"Back at the hotel, a few lingered in the checkout taking advantage of the soda, sandwiches and cookies that Dave's family had graciously provided for the riders. Talk of the day's ride, past rides and rides yet to come were the main topic, along with memories of Dave Holmes. In the parking lot a few riders were still pulling in while vans were loaded for the ride home.
"It was a fitting memorial...."
Overall, 35 riders finished successfully. I thought it quite a tribute to Dave that most of the DNF riders had come along to remember him anyway, even though they could plan to spend only part of the day with us. Our commiserations go to Joe Mann, who DNFed because he broke a spoke near the turnaround at Bellevue, and chose to shortcut the return leg to minimize his risk of being stranded. Joe still rode more than 200km as the full route was quite a bit over distance.
We did not plan this ride as a charity event. However, some friends and riders made extra donations, and the brevet itself made a modest surplus, which we thought would be appropriate to give to a worthy cause. After consulting with Tami Holmes on the best recipient, I am pleased to report that CVC has donated $320 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
We offer our thanks to all who helped make this brevet a special one:
• First and foremost, to the Holmes family, thank you for agreeing to let us hold this event, for supporting us with your presence, and for your generous contribution of refreshments for the riders. Our thoughts remain with you all.
• A special thank you to Dr. Bob Breedlove, who donated t-shirts to all the riders.
• Thanks to the folks at OS Performance Nutrition for sachets of OS Endurance, OS Pre-load and OS Re-load.
• Thank you to everyone who showed up to support the ride, whether you finished or not.
• And finally of course, we cannot end without saying a heartfelt thank you to the man himself:
"Thank you, David Holmes, for everything you accomplished for our great sport!"