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Stonewall Century Ride is huge success

by Bob Reece

LA Veta – The 2010 Stonewall Century Ride is in the books with 370 registered riders competing against their personal best in the event last Saturday.

    This is the eighth year for the ride, which takes cyclists from the La Veta Town Park, up the scenic Highway of Legends over Cucharas Pass to the town of Segundo 51 miles away in Las Animas County.  Riders enjoy a lunch break before returning over the same route back to La Veta.

    The Stonewall Century raised over $8,000 with more coming in for a number of organizations including the Spanish Peaks Red Cross, the Stonewall Fire Protection District, La Veta Rotary and the La Veta High School Cheerleaders Scholarship Fund.  In return, these local groups provide volunteers along the route, with the La Veta Rotary cooking up the barbeque.   Music from Ken Sajdak, door prizes and a massage to soothe tired muscles provided a fitting end to a long ride.

    Two riders stood out from the crowd on Saturday, pushing themselves with extraordinary skill and abilities.  Fifty year-old David Hackett of Colorado Springs, Colorado, a 23 year cancer survivor and extreme sports enthusiast chose to make the trip over Cucharas pass twice, leaving La Veta for the first leg at 1:30 Saturday morning.  After reaching Segundo at 4:42 am, he arrived back in La Veta around 7 am, before many other riders had even left the park.  Hackett re-mounted his bike for the second leg, this time turning around at the top of Cucharas Pass.  Ultimately, Hackett logged 136 miles, burned 7,578 calories and ascended a total of 11,151 feet in elevation during his ride.

    So what motivates Hackett to go the distance? He explained, “It′s about maintaining personal excellence… a matter of finishing what I start and going further… to be precise in everything I do.”  Hackett is a machinist by trade and must be exact in everything he builds.  It is a trait that pushes him to the limit in cycling and other extreme sports.

    For 75 year-old Mitch Pickens, the Stonewall Century was a homecoming of sorts.  Pickens was born and raised in La Veta and now spends his days traveling in his RV throughout the southwestern United States.

    Getting into cycling 20 years ago, Pickens was a long distance runner until knee replacement surgery took that away in 2004.  Cycling had always been a part of his training, and he naturally became more active in the sport after surgery.

    The remarkable thing about Pickens is that he is in the race at all.  Three years ago, while riding in an event in New Mexico, he was cresting the top of a long hill when everything went dark.  He woke up in the hospital with a new pacemaker installed in his chest.  Fourteen days after leaving the hospital, Pickens was on his bike again, this time competing in a 200 kilometer cycling event.    Sue Wyman, who created the Stonewall Century Ride and was director of the event up until last year, chose instead to participate in this year’s ride, handing the reins over to Anne Renaud-Wilkinson. “This was a great ride today,” Pickens commented, “Very well organized.  All the volunteers did a great job!”