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December 16, 2017

Cycling: Recent incidents a reminder of perils of riding

Cycling offers the opportunity to enjoy so many wonderful moments; however, like so many sports, danger abounds on the bike.

In the last two weeks, two area cyclists suffered horrible tragedies.

Andrew J. Langlois, 25, of Gardner, died Aug. 29 from injuries suffered in a mountain bike crash in Waterbury, Vermont, three days earlier.

Joan Rougemont, 66, of Sturbridge, was seriously injured when she was struck by a teenage driver allegedly using a cellphone on Route 15 in Sturbridge on Aug. 25.

Langlois was riding alone at an area of Putnam State Forest in Vermont known as Perry Hill when he crashed on Aug. 26. Langlois, who was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, was taken to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, where he was treated for head and neck injuries. He died from the injuries Aug. 29, state police said.

Jay Provencher, former president of Stowe Mountain Bike Club, said those mountain bike trails, which are situated across the street from his office, are very popular.

Provencher said Langlois was apparently descending a technical trail when the accident occurred. He said a group of local riders found him and called 911.

“They’re very challenging trails where this young man crashed. It’s just bad luck. I understand he was a good rider, but, unfortunately, sometimes bad things happen to good riders,” Provencher said.

“It’s tragic. It’s very, very sad. It’s awful, 25 years old. I feel horrible for his family,” Provencher said.

The riding area is state land, Provencher said, but area riders want to mark the spot in memory of the 25-year-old mountain biker. He said they may contact the family.

“We want to memorialize him somehow. We want to put something up there. We want to do something,” Provencher said.

According to his obituary, Langlois was a carpenter employed by Sisler Builders of Stowe, Vermont. A graduate of Gardner High School in 2007, Langlois graduated magna cum laude from Fitchburg State University.

“Andy lived life to the fullest. He loved the mountains, and was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding and loved to play golf,” according to the obit. Funeral services were held Saturday.

In Sturbridge, Rougemont was riding north on Route 15 in the wide breakdown lane when she was struck by a 17-year-old driver traveling in the same direction who told authorities that he was looking down at his cellphone when the crash occurred, police said.

Rougemont was flown to UMass Memorial Medical Center — University Campus in Worcester after the accident. She was moved four days later to Harrington Healthcare System’s Transitional Care Unit in Webster. She suffered head, neck and back injuries as well as a severe lower leg injury that could require four surgeries, according to her lawyer, Darin Colucci of Boston. He said medical personnel suspect that leg may have gone under the wheel of the car when she was struck. Rougemont is not able to walk and is looking at a long rehabilitation, he said.

“There is no greater scourge right now for cyclists than drivers using cellphones,” Colucci said. “It’s become prolific. It’s sad as can be. It’s quickly becoming the most apparent reason drivers are diverting their attention from the road.”

According to police, the driver was 3 feet into the breakdown lane when the collision occurred.

“It is a fairly wide breakdown lane,” Sturbridge Police Lt. Earl Dessert said last week. “It would be considered a great road to bicycle down because it is a wide breakdown lane. And it is not heavily traveled.”

Dessert said the teen driver will be summoned to court on charges of use of a cellphone while driving under the age of 18, marked lane violation and driving negligently causing bodily injury.

“The amount of time it takes to look down at your phone takes several seconds and the amount you can travel in that time makes it very dangerous,” Dessert said.

Colucci said Rougemont remembers very little of the accident, only that she was riding along the side of the road in the breakdown lane and she heard a sound, and nothing else.

He said the prognosis is difficult to assess until she has several surgical procedures, and he doesn’t know if she will ever return to “pre-accident functionality,” and cycling. He said it will depend on two things, fear of riding and physical capability in the future.

Ride for brain cancer patient

Eight years ago, Ed “Zo” Nowak and fellow Wachusett Mountain ski instructor Rick Scarpignato decided to plan an annual ride with some of their cycling friends.

They mapped out a 78-mile route around the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The loop has spectacular views and about 5,000 feet of climbing.

Five out of the seven riders that started the ride the first year completed the challenging route. The cycling event became known as the Rizo Ride, named after Rick and “Zo.” The ride has grown over the years, topping out at about 15 to 20 cyclists, most of them affiliated with the ski area.

But this year, Nowak said, the recreational ride has taken on a special meaning.

The Rizo Ride will be a fundraiser for Patty Benz of Leominster, a former ski instructor battling brain cancer. It will be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 13 in Bartlett, New Hampshire.

Benz, described by Nowak as an athletic, energetic and vivacious 56-year-old woman who cooks great Italian meals, has been undergoing treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Nowak, a Charlton resident, said Benz is a cyclist and participated in the ride one year, but she will not be able to do the ride this year.

“She’s a fighter,” Nowak said. “We’re just trying to help her in any way we can.”

The ride begins at the Covered Bridge Bed and Breakfast in Bartlett. Cyclists will ride west on Route 302 past Attitash Mountain, ascend Crawford Notch then descend past Bretton Woods and the Presidential Hotel. The loop heads to Twin Mountain and stays on Route 3 for 2 miles before heading northeast on Route 115, here cyclists can view the Green Mountains in Vermont. The ride then heads east on Route 2 into Gorham, with views of Mounts Adams, Jefferson and Washington. Next up on the ride is an 8-mile climb to Pinkham Notch before a long descent back to Route 302 and the bed and breakfast.

“It’s challenging, but very scenic, very rewarding. You’ll know it when you’ve done the ride,” Nowak said. “The camaraderie is great. It’s a communal ride.”

Nowak said he is hoping to raise $2,000 in the ride. Anyone interested in participating can visit www.rizoride.org or contact Nowak at zojmn@verizon.net“>zojmn@verizon.net.

In addition, donations are being accepted through a charitable account established at Southbridge Savings Bank in Southbridge. Anyone interested can also purchase a shirt, with proceeds going to the fund.

Calendar

Today — Landmine Classic Mountain and Marathon Bike Race, Wompatuck State Park, Hingham. Root 66 Northeast XC Race Series. Information: www.root66raceseries.com.


10 a.m. Saturday — Seven Hills Wheelmen and Charles River Wheelmen 33-, 46- or 58-mile road ride. Meet at the Mount Wachusett Community College parking lot in Devens. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.

10 a.m. Sept. 14 — Seven Hills Wheelmen 24-mile road ride. Meet at Dudley District Court, Route 197 and Lyons Road, Dudley. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.


Sept. 20 — BikeFest Tour of the Valley, Look Park Northampton. Ride options of 8, 25, 43, 72 and 104 miles. Information: bikefest.nohobikeclub.org.


Sept. 20, 21 — Pain in the Mass Tour. One-day ride options on Sept. 20 of 32, 53 and 100 miles. Two-day, 170-mile ride includes Mount Wachusett and Mount Greylock. Rides start Sept. 20 at The International Golf Club in Bolton. Information: www.paininthemass.org.

10 a.m. Sept. 21 — Seven Hills Wheelmen 24-mile road ride. Meet at Dudley District Court, Route 197 and Lyons Road, Dudley. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.


10 a.m. Sept. 28 — Seven Hills Wheelmen 24-mile road ride. Meet at Dudley District Court, Route 197 and Lyons Road, Dudley. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.


Oct. 5 — Major Taylor Century with ride options of 25, 62 and 100 miles, presented by e Seven Hills Wheelmen and 10th Gear/Venture Crew 1010. Hills Wheelmen 24-mile road ride. Starts at River Bend Farm (Visitors Center for Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park), 287 Oak St., Uxbridge. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.

6 p.m. every Monday
— Seven Hills Wheelmen 15-mile road ride. Meet at Barney’s Bicycle, 582 Park Ave., Worcester. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.


6 p.m. every Monday
— Seven Hills Wheelmen 18-mile road ride. Meet at Southbridge Bicycles, 100 Central St., Southbridge. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.

Selected Saturdays or Sundays
— Seven Hills Wheelmen Easy C Rider road rides. Moderately paced bicycle rides, typically 15 to 35 miles, on relatively gentle terrain, on selected Saturdays and Sundays in the Worcester area. Starting times and locations are posted each week at www.easycrider.com. RSVP to Dick Goodman at leader@easycrider.com“>leader@easycrider.com.

www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.

6 p.m. every Wednesday — Seven Hills Wheelmen a “Show ‘n’ Go” road ride. Meet at the Old Stone Church, Route 12 and Beaman Street, West Boylston. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.

6 p.m. every Friday
— Seven Hills Wheelmen 30-mile road ride. Meet at Southbridge Bicycles, 100 Central St., Southbridge. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.

9 a.m. every Saturday
— Southbridge Bicycles road ride. Meet at Southbridge Bicycles, 100 Central St., Southbridge. Information: call (508) 764-3657 or visit www.southbridgebicycles.net.

Submit bike listings to mconti@telegram.com; Mark Conti, Telegram & Gazette, P.O. Box 15012, Worcester, MA 01615-0012; or fax attention to Mark Conti at (508) 793-9363.Contact Mark Conti at mark.conti@telegram.com.

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Cycling: Recent incidents a reminder of perils of riding