Loveland Pass is the Muddy Angels’ highest climb. On Thursday, as the group biked up to the 11,991-foot summit, many of them had to stop and take a breather. They pulled out the dog tags around …
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Loveland Pass is the Muddy Angels’ highest climb.
On Thursday, as the group biked up to the 11,991-foot summit, many of them had to stop and take a breather. They pulled out the dog tags around their necks and looked at the names engraved upon them — deceased friends and colleagues in emergency medical services.
When the support team stopped and asked the cyclists if they wanted to be picked up, they said they were going to keep riding.
The Colorado National EMS Memorial Bike Ride returned to Clear Creek and Jefferson counties last week, biking from Frisco to Idaho Springs Thursday. On Friday, the 19 cyclists went up Highway 103, down into Evergreen and concluded in Morrison.
There were five in-person EMS memorial bike rides across the country last week, as well as a virtual one. The five-day Colorado one started in Snowmass on Sept. 20 and concluded Friday with a service at Morrison Historic Church.
All funds raised go to the Fallen Angel Fund, which supports the families of medical personnel who have died.
Over the past several years, the ride has grown from a one-day event to five days and the cyclists — called the Muddy Angels — have gone through the mountain area before, including in 2018. The Clear Creek EMS station near Idaho Springs hosted the cyclists for breakfast Friday, and Evergreen Fire/Rescue provided them with lunch.
Typically, the Colorado ride is in the middle of summer; but this year, all the rides countrywide were in September, organizers described. Many of the cyclists on this year’s Colorado ride were from out of state, and most were medical personnel themselves.
Denver’s Eric Lucas, who works for the state EMS office, said he was riding for many of his colleagues who’ve died from cancer, other medical conditions and suicide. He said the past year-plus has taken a toll on medical personnel’s mental health, and he wanted the ride to raise awareness of that.
Lucas participated in the Colorado ride two years ago but only rode two of the five days. This year, he said, he wanted to do the entire thing.
When faced with a difficult climb, Lucas described how one of the things that kept him going was knowing that people, such as Clear Creek EMS and Evergreen Fire/Rescue personnel, were waiting at the next stop. He appreciated their support, saying he loves stopping at the local stations and visiting with his fellow EMS workers.
Along with the beautiful route, Lucas said his favorite part of the ride was the camaraderie.
Likewise, Ryan Heck, a flight nurse from Flagstaff, Arizona, said the ride in general and the dog tags specifically serve as a reminder “of the community we’re a part of with EMS.”
Heck said he looked up the individuals who are on the dog tags he was wearing, so he knew exactly who he was riding for. While some honorees have died in the line of duty, others have died from various causes but left an impact in their neighborhoods or the EMS community at large.
Like Lucas, Heck said he really enjoyed the descent from Loveland Pass into Georgetown. The fall colors were especially fun to see, he described.
Heck thanked all the emergency personnel and others, including the Clear Creek County Veterans Coalition, who hosted him and his fellow cyclists last week.
Clear Creek EMS Capt. Aaron Crawley said he and his colleagues appreciate the Muddy Angels and the cause they ride for. It’s great to meet fellow EMS workers from all over the country, and Crawley and his team hope to host them every year.
For information on the memorial ride or the Fallen Angel Fund, visit www.muddyangels.org.
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