Mountain biker suffers head gash

Trail ride lands resident in the emergency room

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— Steve Elkins has looked in a mirror he knows he doesn't look his best this week, but he consented to be photographed for the newspaper anyway. Elkins wants to send a message to people using the Springs Creek Trail slow down and watch out for other people.

Elkins, a Steamboat native, took his brand new mountain bike out for a little spin on July 18 and wound up in the emergency room at Yampa Valley Medical Center with a nasty gash on his forehead the result of a collision with another cyclist.

"I was out for a nice little ride," Elkins said. "You shouldn't have to fear death when you go out for an evening ride. I'm not like an animal mountain biker."

Spring Creek Trail has been the subject of intense scrutiny by the city of Steamboat Springs, the U.S. Forest Service and Routt County for a decade. Many hours of committee meetings have been devoted to an attempt to sort out the desires of the various types of trail users and the rights of property owners who use segments to access their land. The city has a subcommittee devoted to working on the issues. The safety concerns are well documented.

Elkins said he was riding uphill about 8:30 p.m. on a section of singletrack trail about 1.5 miles above the parking area adjacent to Maple Street.

He was riding in tall native grasses, approaching a blind corner when the accident happened. He wasn't wearing a helmet.

He didn't really hear the three other bicycles approaching around the corner.

"I just heard a little bit of noise," and then a shouted epithet, Elkins said. The next thing he knew, he was confronted by an airborne man and his machine.

The cyclist was apparently traveling at a high rate of speed and locked up his front brakes when he saw Elkins in his path.

The result was that the bike went airborne and flipped.

"He was upside down when he went by," Elkins said. "Something on his bike caught me."

Elkins found himself on the ground with blood gushing into his eyes.

A large flap of skin and tissue had been scraped away from his forehead he was cut to the bone.

Elkins said the three other cyclists stopped to help him.

"I was asking, 'Can anyone give me a shirt or something?'" to help staunch the bleeding.

However, he declined offers to get help to bring him down the trail. Instead, he got up and rode his own bike away.

The bicycle of the other man involved in the collision was crumpled, although he was relatively uninjured, Elkins said.

Elkins made it back to the vicinity of Steamboat Springs High School before an acquaintance in a pickup truck stopped and insisted on driving him to the hospital.

An emergency room physician and a plastic surgeon irrigated his wound and stitched him up, Elkins said.

The plastic surgeon said he didn't think the wound would result in a bad scar. The cyclist who collided with Elkins visited him in the emergency room and expressed his concern.

"I'd be angrier if he'd been a jerk," Elkins said.

"The point I'd like to make," Elkins said, "is if there is going to be continued use of the trial by cyclists, hikers and horseback riders, there's a need for tighter regulations and enforcement on the trail.

Elkins observed that signage at the bottom of the trail cautions users and asks downhill cyclists to yield to people traveling uphill.

"They've go to get some regulations in order or close it to mountain bikes going down hill," Elkins said.

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