PARK COUNTY, Colo. — An ultra endurance cyclist from Idaho aiming to break the record for biking from Canada to the Mexico border while raising money for charity was seriously injured in Colorado after a driver struck him on Sunday.
Jay Petervary, 51, from Victor, Idaho, set off on the 3,080-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in mid-August, with the intention of accomplishing a years-long mission to set the fastest known time for the route as it winds from Jasper in Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells in New Mexico. He was riding on behalf of the Be Good Foundations, with a goal of raising $20,000 in donations for the nonprofit's bikepack scholarships to fuel others' adventures. He was tackling the route solo and unsupported.
It was a project Petervary dubbed the Great Divide Ride Unearthed, and a route had ridden several times before.
Petervary has a lengthy history with long-distance racing. The sponsored athlete has competed for 25 years, exploring new routes and races. But he also loves providing experiences and opportunities for others, he wrote on his website. He has adopted the mantra "Ride Forward" in not only his athletic endeavors, but in his business, relationships, friendships and more.
"It also meant to not have regrets or get bogged down in the past but also reflect and learn to move forward more fluidly," he wrote online.
That mantra is certainly bouncing around his head now, as he begins an unexpected journey toward healing.
The crash on Aug. 27 was initially reported at 3:26 p.m. on Park County Road 53 around milepost 12, close to Hartsel, said Troy Kessler, spokesperson with Colorado State Patrol (CSP). Responding troopers determined that both Petervary and a 16-year-old boy behind the wheel of a Jeep Cherokee had been traveling south on the road at that time.
As the Jeep driver approached Petervary, he attempted to pass but hit the back of the bike, ejecting Petervary from his seat, Kessler said.
"The collision occurred in a remote area about 10 miles outside of Hartsel, CO in daylight hours while Jay was traveling straight on a wide, open road with no trees or obstructions," Petervary's website reads.
The teenage driver, of Colorado Springs, stayed at the scene, Kessler said. His name has not been released.
An ambulance brought Petervary, who was seriously injured, to a hospital. Petervary's website recap of the crash said he skidded on his face on the dirt road, but never lost consciousness. He estimated that his bike, with "nothing left of the wheels," was about 20 yards from where he landed.
He was about 2,000 miles into his ride, according to his website.
Kessler said the crash remains under investigation and excessive speed is being considered as a factor. Any charges will be referred to the district attorney's office, he said.
At the hospital, doctors explained Petervary's injuries to him: a shattered left wrist, with surgery required. A right humerus break, also with surgery required. A lumbar spinal fracture requiring a back brace for six to eight weeks. Multiple facial and body lacerations and bruises.
"He was riding so strong and doing something unbelievably bold," the Be Good Foundation wrote in a Facebook post. "We know the biggest pain right now is in his heart not being able to finish this incredible ride. He's setting the bar for what is humanly possible and inspiring people worldwide to explore on their bikes and to #RideForward and #BeGood. This is so painful for him, his family, his friends, and cyclists everywhere."
He is now focusing on his recovery while his wife organizes his transport back home to Idaho, his future care and the legal repercussions. Donations are still being accepted for the Be Good Foundation. As of Thursday morning, he had raised about $9,500 of the $20,000 goal.
"While Jay is broken he’s not done," his website reads. "His strength and resilience built over decades of extremely challenging riding has strengthened his mind and body like no other. He continues to inspire us with his mantra of 'Ride Forward' and his parting words on our call today were 'I’m not done with this ride yet.'"
According to Petervary's website, witnesses stopped to help him, take photos of the scene and write down names, however they have not connected with investigators. Those witnesses are asked to contact the Park County Sheriff's Deputy Darrion at 719-836-4121 option #5 or CSP at 303-239-4500 or 303-239-4501.