The comeback story of Rick Petersen is one for the ages- actually all ages.
And of course it did not hurt to have Colorado cycling legend Bob Shaver in his corner since Rick was serious about excelling in competition after a challenge that, by all rights, should have ended his cycling career and might have ended his life.
Rick was cycling in Chatfield State Park five days before he was to compete in the Bob Cook/Mount Evans Hill Climb in July of 2009. He was hit head-on by a drunk driver. Rick had five fractures of his femur and two broken bones in his arm. His injuries put him in a wheelchair for three months. Even though full recovery would take an extended period of time, Rick got back on the bicycle saddle as soon as he possibly could. He was back on his bike almost as soon as he deserted the wheelchair.
TEN MONTHS after his life threatening accident, he took fifth place in the Sunshine Mountain Hill Climb. In the next few years Bob marveled at how Rick would ride past him on a training ride, turning the crank with only his injured leg, doing his best to strengthen the limb that had been so severely weakened.
To quote Bob, ” One thing that I have learned about cycling, especially racing, is, if you put your mind to it, dedicate yourself and stay persistent, you will experience better-than-expected results. And then….someone like Rick comes along. This happens so infrequently that I use the term “Freak of Nature”. He is one of those riders who, no matter what type of training program you would throw at him, he would excel. He stuck with my interval program and in relatively short order, his results showed that he was going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Then in 2013 with Bob encouraging him as his coach and riding partner, Rick rode the races of his life. Having led by more than two minutes in the Bob Cook race, he was clipped at the line by 0.08 seconds and finished second in his category. At the Lookout Mountain race he turned the tables, battling all the way to the finish to catch the rider who had been leading up to that point in the last few hundred yards and this time WINNING by less than a second.
Bob has even more compliments for Rick as a nationally recognized architect (Rick did his graduate work at the Harvard School of Design for Architecture) , a watercolorist, a cook and a ‘prodigious gardener’, but the admiration that these two cyclists personally have for each other can serve to inspire many athletes who lean on each other’s knowledge and encouragement to recover from serious life challenges.
Thank you both for offering the myriad of inspiring details for this story. I only wish that there had been videos of both the finishes mentioned above. I think many pro riders would have been impressed with the overwhelming determination displayed by Rick over a period of years.