Rob Morris quickly recovers from Berthoud Pass wreck
BERTHOUD PASS – Rob Morris is a ball of fire.
You might also use the term “eccentric” to describe the 76-year old antique store owner and bike-riding enthusiast. He bubbles with energy and excitement; necessary traits for the man.
He has ridden his bicycle from his home in Empire up and over Berthoud Pass 1,300 times over the past 27 years; a total of 33,800 miles according to Morris. He makes the trip around 48 times each year.
You might have seen him pedaling up the mountain pass over the years. Morris doesn’t wear a traditional cyclist jersey and shorts. Instead he is recognizable from the unique bicycle helmet he wears, a standard cycling safety helmet covered in multi-colored feathers.
When he stopped into the Sky-Hi News offices for an interview last week he strode through the office at a brisk pace.
There was a slight, but noticeable, limp in his gait. Not surprising, though, considering Rob was in a serious bicycle accident on Berthoud Pass on Aug. 8.
“I take full responsibility.” Morris explained. “I made a mistake. It was right at the top of Berthoud.”
He chuckled as he noted the State Patrol wrote him a ticket for running a stop sign.
All the same, it is amazing Morris is able to walk, especially just weeks after the incident.
He received four broken ribs and serious damage to his leg and hip in the accident. His calf was still covered in a dark contusion, though the swelling was nearly gone.
When Morris and the car collided it broke the side mirror off the drivers vehicle. Morris was taken out of Grand County on a flight-for-life helicopter. He spent eight days in the hospital.
Injuries notwithstanding he is ready to get back out and start riding his custom made bike.
Morris is a shorter man and had significant difficulty finding a bike that met his needs.
“At 5 foot, 4 inches I couldn’t buy a machine that fit,” Morris said.
Then in 1987 Jerry Sigel of Mountain and Road in Idaho Springs built a custom bike for him and his riding really took off.
“When I took my Schwinn in he laughed at me. He said, ‘You’re too short for that bike.”
Morris rides six to seven months a year, depending on the weather, and attempts to make the trip to the top of Berthoud Pass and back home two or three times each week during warmer months.
He is ready to get back to riding but it still waiting on the go-ahead from his doctor. He’s already back out hiking the mountain trails.
This isn’t the first time Morris has overcome a sudden health problem to get back to riding.
It was just about one full year ago that he had a heart attack, but it didn’t slow him down much.
“I was back on my bike in a week.” He said. “The doctor said it was an anomaly.”
Despite his recent accident Morris has no anger toward vehicles on the road, and discouraged the typical animosity that often defines the paradigm between cyclists and drivers.
“We all have preconditioned ideas. If you never ride a bike ‘those bike riders are in my way.’ If you ride a bike forever, ‘those cars are irresponsible.’ In 27 years I have found very few instances where I really got angry about car drivers. In 1,300 rides, 30,000 miles, I have seen a million cars and have not had many problems.”
Morris hopes to keep riding for many years to come. He said, “All in all it has been a wonderful experience and I don’t want to stop.”
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