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Well-known cyclist crashes

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By Carol A. Clark

Officials are puzzling over a bizarre bicycle accident that sent a top bicyclist to the hospital with serious injuries Thursday afternoon.

Herb Schon, 79, of Eldorado is an avid cyclist who’s logged thousands of miles including a trip from San Francisco to New Hampshire in 2007.

Schon was traveling east on West Jemez Road near the bottom of Pajarito Ski Hill toward the west guard gate at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He rode his bicycle into a guard arm and hit a gate, said Patrick Sleik, Los Alamos deputy fire chief.

“He flipped over the gate and his helmet split and broke off his head when he hit the ground,” Sleik said.

Schon sustained a severe gash to his forehead and the decision was made at the scene to transport him by ambulance to the heliport at Los Alamos Medical Center, Sleik said.

Schon was transported by a medical helicopter from Santa Fe and airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

“He was conscious at the time he was placed in the helicopter,” Sleik said.

An UNM hospital spokesperson explained this morning that Schon was given a trauma alert name upon arrival to allow medical personnel to begin immediate treatment. The hospital declined to release information about Schon’s condition.

Schon is a member of the Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes (SOBs), a group of road cycling enthusiasts who meet at least once a week, to ride the Santa Fe area.

Trips are about 30 miles long, according to the SOB Web site.

The club has about 80 members.

Sleik said Schon rode alone Thursday.

“Herb is my good friend – I’ve known him for 10 years,” said a friend of Schon’s who asked not to be identified. “He’s one of the finest people I’ve ever known. He’s always been so generous with his knowledge about cycling and is so dedicated and committed to the sport.”

Schon was famous for taking a group cross-country ride from San Francisco to New Hampshire to show the world that “senior” is a state of mind — and often means “wiser, better, stronger,” according to Suite101.com.

Schon was the oldest rider going the full distance on this organized tour conducted by America by Bicycle. Los Alamos National Laboratory spokesman Fred deSousa addressed the accident this morning.

“We were very sorry to hear about the accident and hope he makes a speedy recovery,” deSousa said. “We will continue to help investigators with any information they need.”