Elephant Rock unforgettable


Dave Pilot claims the timing was perfect for the Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival.

Pilot is training for his second-ever Ironman competition, which will be held Sept. 9 in Madison, Wis., and the 49-year-old Denver resident is also grooming himself for the July 13-14 Triple Bypass Ride near Avon, Colo.

He was one of close to 7,000 riders to participate in the annual Elephant Rock event, which began May 31 with the Optic Nerve 24 hours of ERock mountain bike race and concluded with several different rides June 2. The rides started and finished at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock.

“It was early enough in the season and I will use it for training,” said Pilot. “It was my second long ride of the season so it's kind of a base builder. The Elephant ride is well situated to train and get some miles in for that ride (Triple Bypass) as well.

“It's a good long distance, it's rolling hills and challenging for the legs. It's fairly similar to the course I'll ride in Wisconsin in September.”

Pilot rode the 100-mile course, which included a 38-mile loop through the Black Forest and traverses the high plains between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs.

Russ Cupps, a West Metro firefighter who lives in Castle Pines North, participated this year in the 24 hours of ERock along with nearly 70 relay or solo teams on the 8.2-mile Rolling Thunder trail at the Greenland Open Space.

“It was a long, tough day,” said Cupps. “We had a really good time. It was tough. Just 24 hours of digging out what's inside to make it work.

“There were eight of us. Each person would do a lap or two and hand off to the next person and go from there. It was a good time. We tried to both sleep and rest. We obviously had laps during the p.m. hours so we rested the best we could. The only thing we were missing was a hammock.”

Cupps' wife Angela and brother Randy got him into bike riding five years ago, and Elephant Rock has become an annual ride. It was a few years ago that Cupps, an eventual kidney donor, noticed the American Transplant Tent and started asking questions.

“My question to the gal (Katie Cierchi) was, `You can really donate something and still be alive?' She said yeah,” he said. “It was her face and everything that kind of put the ball rolling. I looked into it. I asked at work, `Do I have to have two kidneys to work here?' They're like, `I don't know.' So we checked into the national standards and everything was good to go.”

Cupps donated his kidney Sept. 28, 2010, to 22-year-old Justin Smith of Colorado Springs, and last year Cupps and Smith rode together in the 32-mile Elephant Rock ride.

“It was the first ride he had ever done and it was neat to see him accomplish something like that,” said Cupps.

Since his donation, Cupps has helped lay the groundwork for the West Metro firefighters to shortcut the timeline of getting donations to recipients. When there is a death at a scene and the victim has indicated he or she is a donor, by the time EMTs, police and a local coroner do their jobs it pushes the 12-hour limit for donations.

“The heart on your driver's license does not always mean you are going to be an organ donor if it's not acted upon by the right people,” explained Cupps. “West Metro is the first fire and EMS agency in the nation where we can shortcut the timeline. If we are on a cardiac arrest that doesn't make it or a DOA, we will actually call Colorado Donor Alliance from the field to notify them of the decedent so they can get the processes started a little bit sooner. Time is of the essence in something like that.”

Four months ago, Robyn Leone donated a kidney to her husband, Jeff, and on June 2 they rode together on the 32-mile Elephant Run course. They crossed the finish line holding hands.

“It was great to be out there,” said Jeff. “The first goal after the transplant was to ride in the Elephant Run. She (Robyn) allowed me to be an active participant. We really are a team now.”

“Riding together was really fun,” said Robyn.

For results, go to www.24hoursoferock.com/results/.


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