Colorado Man Passes Away While Riding Whistler's Comfortably Numb Trail

Oct 28, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  
The rain may have stoped but it was cold foggy and plenty wet all day long

A 54-year-old man has died while riding Comfortably Numb near Wedgemount on Sunday, October 27th, police have confirmed.

Whistler RCMP, Whistler Search and Rescue, and Emergency Health Services all responded to a call of a male suffering a cardiac arrest on Comfortably Numb at around 3:30pm. The man had also sustained an injury but it is not known if this is what triggered the arrest.

WSAR manager Brad Sills told Pique Magazine: "I can't really say whether the two are connected. I wasn't on the scene, but it was called in as a cardiac arrest." The man was attended by witnesses and first responders but passed away shortly after.

Comfortably Numb is a 19km, technical XC trail with 1,000m of climbing and descending. It is an IMBA Epic Ride and is described as a "classic, must-do, epic cross country ride in Whistler."

The man's death now marks the third in a tragic month for mountain bikers in the Sea to Sky corridor, following the passing of ski-cross racer Mikayla Martin in Squamish on the 2nd and then an as-yet-unnamed man on A-Line on the 16th.

This year marks the first time summer calls have outpaced winter calls for WSAR. Mountain biking was also responsible for 9 callouts between March 2018 and March 2019, making it the third most cited activity behind hiking (16 callouts), and out-of-bounds skiers (11).

Sills said: "In the past three years, it certainly is an increasing cause of our callouts, so something is happening when you look at the growth of the sport over that same period of time."

Our thoughts go out to the rider and his family and friends in this difficult time.

Posted In:
Industry News



107 Comments

  • 113 0
 He was an absolute legend. By far the fittest and youngest 54 years old I have ever met. Long blond curly hair, he would have seduced your chick in two seconds as he looked like a pro surfer. He rode like a champ, new what he was doing. Made me incredibly sad to hear the news yesterday. You won't be forgotten buddy.
  • 23 0
 Good description Remy, I'd call him Sammy Hagar to bust his balls about his hair. Badass rider. Was just texting with him friday during rampage. Gonna miss my buddy.
  • 10 0
 He was the best. I hope I still can ride like him when I’m 54. Can’t believe this happened, going to miss the guy immensely.
  • 7 0
 After these descriptions, I realized that my wife and just I met him last month; he was hanging with Yoann. We were able to confirm it's him. We're really sorry to those who knew and loved him. RIP, Brother.
  • 4 1
 My friend here in NC knew him well and spoke highly of him. His word is all I need to know we lost a great guy. Prayers and love to his wife.
  • 4 0
 I'm not positive the name of the rider but by connecting the dots (and the fact that he's not answering my text) I think it's the man who sold me my first DH bike. When he showed up for a test ride he did slow, controlled wheelies circling around me, changing directions multiple times. I could tell he was a ripper.

We kept in contact over the years. Whenever I was in the market for a truck or bike I would take stock in his inventory, because he always had the best stuff, fair prices, and we shared similar tastes.

When I rode in Whistler for the first time he towed me into Clown Shoes, Canadian DH, all the goodies. I couldn't believe how fast he was for his age (fast for any age, but damn!). Those were some of the best runs of my life.
  • 113 0
 It could be a lonely way to die but we make our decisions to live how we live and then we go.
  • 90 0
 Don't know for sure but seems way, way better than dying in a sick bed under a zillion in medical debt. RIP
  • 29 8
 Well, at least in Canada he wouldn't have had the medical debt. RIP
  • 5 5
 @LaXcarp: Median wealth per Adult

Canada 107,000 USD
USA 65,000 USD

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_wealth_per_adult
  • 5 4
 I regret posting that as I'm not trying to be insensitive to the subject of this article, but is your data to just suggest that Canadians despite their massive wealth are just fiscally irresponsible which is causing their debt? I lived in Vancouver for 1 year so I'm aware of the vast cost of living between the US and Canada as well.
  • 2 3
 @LaXcarp: no. Someone made a comment on medical debt and you switched the subject to other forms of debt.

Again at least no one is going bankrupt over cancer.

How do you feel about that(medical debt) and try to stay on subject this time.
  • 23 0
 I’m 47. Too fat, like way too fat. Been riding for years and pushing cardio limits to the max. I know I’ll go on the trail, probably during a steep climb. That being said, I’ve seen two people die of heart attacks this year at the factory I work at. I’ll take the trail.
  • 6 0
 you're probably better off because you ride, there's lots of skinny people out there that have not exercised their heart like you have, pedal on!
  • 26 4
 As sad as this is, mountain biking is a RAPIDLY growing sport and we'll likely - unfortunately- see more injuries/deaths as more people participate in an activity that is inherently strenuous/dangerous. It's easy to forget the fragility of your own existence, but exerting yourself like crazy at altitude or wrapping your torso around a tree at 30mph isn't exactly friendly on the body.

And not to make any assumptions regarding this particular case, but I've seen way too many people just huck themselves off of features without any regard for their safety. Progressing in skill is always going to involve taking risks, but they don't have to be stupid risks.
  • 9 26
flag yakimonti (Oct 29, 2019 at 8:49) (Below Threshold)
 @Landonop define "rapidly" growing and please point out data sources. Most if not all data provided by industry publications is that MTB business is flat, to declining.
  • 7 1
 @yakimonti: arent ebikes sales going up?
  • 20 0
 You ask for sources but don't cite any yourself. It's been my personal experience- living in a mountain biking Mecca- that business involving mountain biking and mountain biking related tourism has absolutely exploded in the last few years. Rentals, shuttles, gear, it's all gone crazy. I live in a once ski-centric town that used to see 80% of its business between November and April. It's now a solid 50/50 between winter and summer with all sorts of mountain biking events being held all over the place.

I also think it's difficult to gauge the sport's popularity based off sales or analytics because A) bikes are built to insanely high standards now and are prohibitively expensive- people are holding onto older bikes longer B) overall "wow" factor has dropped off as the sport has become more common over the last 20 years. As an example (no matter how bad of an example it is) look at YouTube channels like GMBN, Seth's Bike Hacks, or Skills With Phil, they've all blown up.
  • 9 2
 I think there is another factor: significant fraction of new cyclists are people who got a mountain bicycle after 30: that is someone who as a teenager has never played with street-riding, dirt jumping, flatland - basically never really exercised anything else related to bike handling/reflexes/balance.
  • 28 2
 Guys...just stop. Empathy for his wife, who I believe was with him on the ride is all that's needed here. That is all. Stop it.
  • 14 0
 Most of these deaths are not new riders. Equating being new, skill, or fitness level with any of this is a false narrative. Look at Jordie... had more skills than anyone in this comments section and he lost his life on a cross country ride. The fact is, accidents happen, undiagnosed heart conditions happen (a guy died on an xc race in CO recently due to one).. As far as we know, his cardiac arrest may have be completely unrelated to where he was riding or his ability level. Given he was from colorado and riding in B.C., altitude was certainly not a factor. Given his age and the comment above from Remy, i really doubt his experience level came into play here at all. Shit happens. We can mourn a fallen rider without trying to pin the blame on something.
  • 4 0
 Condolences and much love and respect to his friends and family.

@bizutch: I couldn't agree more regarding the predictable interweb Monday morning QB discussions whenever tragedy strikes, biking, skiing, backcountry or anything else.

I understand people are curious to learn how to play smart and stay safe in the mountains. I get that. But it's silly to engage in self deception and rationalization ... X Y or Z probably can't happen to me because blah blah blah. Experienced passionate individuals with the highest levels of skill, fitness, knowledge and preparation, have more exposure because they spend more time doing and living. Everyone knows it can happen, even when you do everything right. Respect.
  • 16 0
 RIP rider. My heart goes out to your loved ones.

That said, when my time comes, this is how I would like to leave this life, and enter the next one. To steal the beautiful words of another avid biker following the untimely death of Jerry Myers (aka Travis Bickle and Legbacon) in Cumberland this past summer in similar circumstances:

“It seems strange to miss someone you never really met doesn’t it? But miss him I will. My condolences to his family and friends. I will say, and I’ve said it many times, if I die riding my bike, it’s ok to miss me, but don’t be sad because I died. I’ve watched too many relatives suffer long drawn out deaths in hospital beds. I can only hope all of his family and friends got the same speech from him, and that it’s some comfort to them.”

Yet another grim reminder that I need to read/listen to "Haywire Heart". I don't know if this Colorado fallen soul falls into this category or not but the death of super fit 50+ year olds from cardiac arrests following a life of intense cardio training, seems to be on the rise. For those of us on our bikes daily, best to learn sooner rather than later, how to take precautions from falling into this downward spiral.
  • 1 0
 Thank you for this. I just bought book.
  • 15 0
 I'm 52, been riding MTB since 1989 and I usually ride 3-4x/week often by myself because of my job. Couple months ago wound up in the ER with SVT, my HR was over 205 for more than 30minutes and luckily was able to make it to an ER. Scariest thing that ever happened and I had a heart operation to fix the SVT less than 2 weeks after my ER visit. 2 weeks ago i did one of the most strenuous rides I've done in more than 10 years, close to 10k in climbing and 15k in descending in 8 hours. If i go, it's going to be doing something I love doing. RIP rider, truly hope there's an afterlife and you're still ripping.
  • 2 0
 If you don't mind me asking, what was it ultimately attributed to? Diet? Other health concerns? over-exertion?
  • 3 0
 @ChrisNJ: birth defect, no other contributing factors, just the way my heart was formed.
  • 12 0
 Die living. RIP to the homies that go out on top. Trailforks has a 911 GPS location in it FYI
  • 5 0
 I just learned of this today. I rode with him and his whole crew back in the late 90s/early 2000's both in Moto and DH. I was never close friends with him but we always talked for a few whenever we crossed paths. We've not spoken in person for a few years but have messaged a few times via social media. I know that he was a very skilled rider and active person so this does come as a bit of a shock. While I'm not even going to imagine what his family is going through, I know that his friends are morning his passing but celebrating his life. While I haven't shared trail or track with him in a very long time, I will morn the lost opportunity to do so again, but I am cherishing some very fond memories of racing against him and sitting by a group in a makeshift CO race camp telling shred stories the day. My very next ride will be dedicated to you brother and I will do my very best to live a little more in the moment in honor of all our fallen brothers and sisters in shred.
  • 6 2
 May he ride in peace in Valhalla. You NEVER know what will take you out, the worst crashes and worst injuries are when you're not focused and just not ready. CN is a long trail and no joke on the cardio, certainly not how I'd want to go but its a place that if I had to go, I'd be at peace with it.
  • 4 0
 My condolences to his family and friends. I had a heart attack 5 weeks ago while riding by myself in a somewhat remote area. It took a while for me to accept what was actually happening but I took some aspirin that I have been carrying for a couple years...just in case. I am 58 and have been riding since 1983...no warning signs...in fact I had been feeling great. 100% blockage in one coronary artery and 80% in another. I was lucky and will ride again.
  • 15 12
 I don't see how dying on a mtb ride is tragic. Sure it is a bummer for family and friends who will miss mourn them, but at least they are doing what they want, masters of their own destinies. Death is part of life that everyone experiences. theres no reason to sob that life is about reaching an old age. A gruelling protracted death over months from unchosen carcinogen exposure or getting plowed by a car is more like a tragedy, unlike dying doing what you love. Our species death rate should match or outpace our birth rate for the ongoing welfare of the planet. Go huck yourself!
  • 10 19
flag Jaguar83 (Oct 29, 2019 at 10:00) (Below Threshold)
 Seriously? WTF - a dude just died... Get TF over yourself.
  • 22 0
 Had a crash a few years ago in which I blacked out and lost a few minutes of memory leading up to it. Looking back, I find it comforting (and funny) that there was no 'oh shit' moment, and even if there was, I don't remember it. Had I not come back, I would have passed painlessly into the void.
  • 2 1
 Well said
  • 1 0
 @cyclecuse: Me too. I didn't find it funny looking back, but it sure was an eye-opener, or maybe eye closer. One moment fully cognizant and aware, next moment gone. No recollection of any of it. The pain came in rehabilitating my dislocated shoulder, weeks after the event.

That said. RIP to the athlete and my condolences to family. Hard to take, I am sure.
  • 4 0
 Sad news! earlier thsi year somebody allready died in Bikepark Winterberg on the roadgap
  • 15 0
 Also: This Sunday, October 27th a 13 year old boy has passed away after a crash in Bikepark Beerfelden (GER). R.I.P. little guy.
  • 4 0
 @colincolin: My God, that's terrible news. May he rest in peace.
Stay safe out there guys.
  • 4 0
 @colincolin: Yikes, both 54 & 13 are waaay too young to die... RIP
  • 1 0
 Damn that's horrible to hear... That was my local park for 4 years in NL. Not to jump to assumptions about the rider's skill (if nothing else losing Jordie shows that sometimes shit happens) I always thought it was silly to have that feature link off to the side of a beginners trail... I'd prefer to see some sort of "gate keeper" to ensure the skill matches the feature.
  • 1 0
 @colincolin: That's rough
  • 4 0
 "I I I I I I I I have become Comfortably Numb" 54 is young but at least he passed doing what he loved.
  • 4 0
 Sad news indeed. I think the trail forks app can send GPS coordinates too.
  • 3 3
 "It's easy to forget the fragility of your own existence, but exerting yourself like crazy at altitude or wrapping your torso around a tree at 30mph isn't exactly friendly on the body."

Yup, you take risks every day no mater what you are doing. I was shoeing up a mountain this past winter, starting my decent when the branch I was holding onto broke (Very steep) I fell on my as and slid 10 or so feet and hit a tree, smacking my head. Everything went dark for a few seconds (seemed like minutes) and felt very nauseous. Lucky I after a short bit of time I felt ok and got down fine. Also was with my friend (I never shoe alone) so if it was worse he could have gone and got help.

Be smart, take your time. If you do not feel ready do not do it. Always ride with a friend on difficult trails...
  • 2 0
 What is happening? all of a sudden, we're losing mountain biker all of a sudden. my thoughts go out to his family and friends
  • 2 0
 People die everyday; only some of them have names.

Sounds like we lost a strong member of our community.

RIP and pour one out.
  • 3 0
 May you ride in peace on the never-ending colorado trail. Sad news many prayers to his family.
  • 3 0
 True legend around here, rode and raced with him back in the days! R.I.P.
  • 3 2
 at 45 years young, reading about tragic stuff like this has me wondering about heart rate monitors
  • 5 0
 having a direct readout of my heart rate would not enhance my ride...I'd just stay in the car, breathing deep.
  • 1 0
 If you are concerned I would recommend regular physicals with a doctor. Diet and exercise go a long way but it's not always enough, especially for people with a family history of heart conditions. Not sure what a heart rate monitor is going to do for you when you have a heart attack.
  • 2 1
 If one is so concerned about a heart rate at 45 and focused on a HRM then you might want to chew aspirin other meds permitting, before your ride. Or take a strategic look at your lifestyle, health, diet and priorities. At 55, as long as i am hearing mine pounding between my ears while climbing the hills with all the youngsters, then I know I am alive and where I need to be. Never be the last guy in the train, cougars and bears eat those, thats my priorities. Now when do we go down hill, I need a cold brew ha ha!.
  • 1 0
 @jefe: Yep. Everything I've seen around me has tended to be more from family history than other markers.
  • 1 0
 @ChrisNJ: I mean I'm pretty good at the obvious stuff, diet, watching my booze intake, non smoker sometimes a toker, ride regularly since for ever but, with a lot of news of riders suffering heart failure while out on the trail. Even at some shockingly young ages! Would monitoring while riding not give some sort of warning? No history of problems on the maternal side but no knowledge of the paternal.
  • 1 2
 God damn what is happening this month? Why so many deaths in the sport so fast?
  • 3 0
 Statistics mixed with a ton of BC trail marketing (direct and indirect). Plus sometimes things just happen.
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