Monday, October 30, 2017

Charlie Henderson

Last Friday, our friend Charlie Henderson passed away, after battling cancer. We very much miss him. Charlie was a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club in 1993, and its president for 20 years. You can read Mark Lowe's fine profile on his RMCC Colorado Triple Crown blog. Here are details of Charlie's randonneuring side.

Riding ...

Challenge Series and BMB - Charlie had a longtime interest in endurance cycling. He brought the "Challenge Series" to the RMCC at its formation. These are mountain doubles such as Denver-Aspen, and form the basis for today's Colorado Triple Crown.

In 1992, he and a few RMCC riding pals headed up to Boston to ride the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200k, at that time the only Grand Randonnée in the US. He would ride BMB again in 1994 and 1998. After BMB'98 finished, Charlie attended the meeting that created Randonneurs USA, which became the new sanctioning body for US randonneuring. Charlie lent his support to the fledgling organization, and became RUSA #6.

At Mortagne-au-Perche on the rainy PBP'07

Paris Brest Paris - Charlie rode PBP'95, the first PBP after the RMCC began hosting qualifying brevets. He would also ride PBP'99, '03, and '07. For some of these, his son Peter would come over from England to support him. In 2003, Charlie's titanium frame cracked on the first day. An official lent him his racing bike with electronic shifting, and Charlie managed to ride 1000km of the PBP course.

At Byers control on Last Chance 2009

Colorado Last Chance - Charlie rode the second edition of the Last Chance, when it had only a dozen or so riders. He said it was a hot year with ceaseless wind, even in the wee hours of the morning. He rode it again in 2006 - another windy year!

At the Glen Haven Store on the 2005 Flèche

Flèche Team Prairie Dog - Charlie rode the first Colorado flèche in 2002, as part of the only team that year, Team Prairie Dog. As a rancher, he had mixed feelings about prairie dogs, but became fonder of them after riding on this team. He would ride with the Prairie Dogs four more times.

Boston-Montreal-Boston1992, 1994, 1998
Paris Brest Paris1995, 1999, 2003, 2007
Colorado Last Chance2002, 2006
Flèche Team Prairie Dog2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007

Organizing and Mentoring ...

Brevet Series - As the RMCC was forming in 1993, Gary Koenig, who would be RBA from 1993 to 1998, approached the club to host local brevets. Charlie gave the brevets his enthusiasm, and insured important support from the club (and certainly committed, because he was riding them himself!).

At the Atwood, KS control on Last Chance 2004

Colorado Last Chance 1200 - When RAAM veteran Bob Fourney proposed a 1200k heading to Kansas, Charlie latched right on to the idea. That area of eastern Colorado and western Kansas was very familiar to Charlie from his ranching ties. He could describe terrain, crops, towns, and the history of the "Great American Desert" in detail. The "Last Chance highway" - US-36 - was also a road he had traveled in his college days from Dartmouth to go skiing in Colorado.

Charlie arranged the lodging and other logistics, forming long-term relationships with the motel and store owners. Especially in the early years of the event, Charlie was a one-man support team out on the prairie.

Colorado High Country 1200 - Charlie's special contribution to the High Country was the Wyoming Snowy Range. Despite the thought this would be tough on the riders, it turned out to be a pinnacle of the event, and made it a two-state event. And of course he took care of lodging, dropbags, and course monitoring as he'd done for the Last Chance.

Charlie above all was a mentor to riders, and a friend you could count on. He coached more than one PBP aspirant in how to train, how to plan, and how to execute for a successful finish, no matter what the rider's level of ability.

Charlie will be remembered by so many within the randonneuring and ultra communities and everyone within the club he led for two decades, and really by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.