The Explainer: Warmest thanks, deepest sympathies and some follow-up

Okay, we probably didn’t all have a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, but you get the point.

Dear Readers,
Happy belated Thanksgiving. I wanted to extend my deepest thanks to all of you, the faithful readers of Red Kite Prayer. I think that RKP has proven to be a terrific home, especially after the events of last year.

My dear wife, Diana, reminded me that yesterday was the one year anniversary of what had to have been the absolute worst day of chemo in the five months I went through all of that mess. It was a rough day, with symptoms too numerous (and too gross) to list. Not to bring it up again, but dang, looking back reminds  how this year is so much better. My appreciation of that fact also serves as a reminder of how kind and supportive many of you were throughout that whole thing. Family, friends and, yes, you too, made the experience tolerable and I just wanted to say that I haven’t forgotten. I do appreciate everything you guys did and continue to do.

I have much for which to be thankful and you guys are near the top of the list.

Thank you.

Now, while this holiday is often devoted to counting our own blessings, it is also an opportunity to think of others – especially friends and family – who may be suffering right now. Our good friend, Padraig, didn’t manage to do his usual Thanksgiving column this year because he was called away from home when his stepfather, Byron Vowell, fell ill. Just a couple of days later, Padraig let us know that Byron passed away on November 18.

As Padraig wrote on November 19, “The measure of any man’s influence can be seen in the way the lives of those he loved change in his absence. Missing you Byron.”

I agree, but with one caveat. That measure can also be seen in the ways he’s changed others’ lives before he leaves.

I didn’t know Byron, but from what Padraig has written of late, I can only assume that theirs was a close relationship and that his stepfather played an important role in helping him become the man he is today. And Padraig is quite the guy. If your stepfather played even a small part in making you the decent, honorable and kind human being you are now, a lot of us owe our thanks to the man.

Patrick, I can only extend my deepest sympathies to you and to your family. I know that the gift your stepfather gave you is one that you now get to pass on to your own children. In that very important way, Byron’s legacy lives on.
– Charles

I am going to use this week’s column to update you on a few items. Again, I encourage all of you to send in comments, complaints and, above all, questions to my personal email address: [email protected]. If you have questions about any cycling-related matter, including legal issues faced by riders, racing strategy and history or just a general question that you’ve never quite been able to answer, feel free to drop me a line. I’ll at least give it a shot.

Update No.1

In last week’s column, a reader sought some help and advice regarding money that was owed him for riding on a small pro team. (see “The Explainer: A gift recommendation and problems with a dead-beat team“)

Well, I’m happy to report that we’ve reached a resolution and Zach has gotten a significant portion of that money and should get the balance within the month.

Zach managed to do this despite the fact that he didn’t have a written contract with the team. He counted on the fact that he was friends with the team manager and that, as a result, his friend would follow through. This time he did.

Still, I would encourage all of you hoping to ride for a team to spend a little time working out a formalized deal with team management, even if the expected compensation is for amounts as small as those owed Zach. Don’t count on a handshake. Employment is more than a “Bro’ Deal,” for both parties involved and you should do your best to get something in writing before you give up your day job, or max out your credit cards on expenses for which you expect to be compensated.

Get it in writing.

Update No.2

Long-time readers of “The Explainer” might remember that case involving the cyclist in Eagle, Colorado, when he was struck by an inattentive driver in a new Mercedes. After striking and nearly killing Dr. Steven Milo, the driver, Martin Erzinger, continued on his merry way and was later arrested while trying to hide damaged body panels from his car in his trunk and calling for a tow truck.

Sadly, the fact that some bonehead hit a guy riding a bike and then took off is not what earned this case a boatload of attention. No, it was the way the District Attorney responsible for the case declined to file felony hit-and-run charges against Hurlbert on the grounds that it would negatively impact the defendant’s career as a top-tier money manager at Morgan Stanley. Instead, the defendant was charged with two misdemeanors and served no jail time, because, as Hurlbert said at the time “felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger’s profession, and that entered into it.”

“Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications ….” Well, d’uh, counselor.

Erzinger drifted off the road and hit the rider from the right.

I won’t rehash the whole thing, but if you haven’t read up on the case, I wrote a ton about it for that other website for which I worked at the time and it might be of interest to you. Here’s a link to that coverage. (Keep in mind that the articles on that list are in reverse chronological order, so start from the bottom and work your way up.)

Anyway, after voters handily defeated Hurlbert’s attempt to overturn his judicial district’s term limit for D.A., his term is about to expire and he has been in the hunt for a new job. Hurlbert recently signed on as an assistant D.A. in Colorado’s 18th judicial district, which covers Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. It’s probably only a coincidence that the district is where Erzinger made his home, but it is, nonetheless, worth pointing out.

Meanwhile, this should serve as a reminder that you need to be careful, alert and ever-vigilant when you’re out on the road (especially, I suppose, in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties in Colorado).

And, in case you’re wondering about Erzinger, he has apparently recovered from his brief period of unemployment after the money guys at Morgan Stanley did a quick cost-benefit analysis and realized he was less asset and more liability and cut the boy loose.

Resurrecting my old habit of checking the BrokerCheck section of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s website, it looks like our man Marty is now working for Sanctuary Securities, LLC, an asset management firm based in San Francisco, with a branch office in Colorado.

Look, I don’t have any assets to speak of. I admit that. If I did? I’d probably think of some other company to manage them, like Marsico Funds, the firm run by Tom Marsico, the father-in-law of the victim in this case.

Update No.3

Way back in August, we had a question from a reader so embarrassed about his situation that he felt compelled to use a nom de plume when seeking advice. (see “The Explainer: BUI can be a BFD”)

Well, for better or for worse, “Suddenly Sober” recently had the charges of operating a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol dropped by the municipal prosecutor.

“My lawyer pointed out that same Oregon ruling you mentioned and the prosecutor reached the same conclusion,” Suddenly wrote. “She decided that the state’s implied consent rules can’t apply to bikes since they don’t require a license and that she didn’t want to fight the suppression motion my lawyer was ready to file.

“I know I was wrong, but I am relieved,” Suddenly added. “Next time, I think I’ll take a cab.”

Good call, Suddenly.
– Charles



  1. LesB

    My doctor served in Viet Nam, which gives you some idea of his life stage and the amount of medical experience he’s racked up. He’s treated a lot of injured cyclists, and he says that >most< motorists who collide with cyclists do run from the scene.

    Another thing he told me is that I have a good chance to live to 100, and that if I don't, the most likely reason will be having been offed by a car while cycling.

    I find both statements rather sobering.

  2. Padraig

    Thanks for that Charles. I’ve been honored to have a chance to run your work. Byron was a big supporter of yours and did much to help me expand RKP’s roster of authors. He’d be really touched by what you wrote (as I was), and he’d agree with you about the before.

  3. P Poppenjay

    “Warmest Thanks’ to you Charles.
    Byron was an exceptional man to his sons and my son, Padraig and my daughter. He practiced ‘guided discovery’ on each of us. He simply showed, explored with us, never telling us.
    He believed in Padraig and RKP was was delighted when you came aboard.

    So happy that this Thanksgiving is a world awy from your last.


  4. John Borstelmann

    Thanks to you, Charles, for sharing your wisdom, humor and insights on the world of cycling and human nature. Glad you are fully recovered from cancer. Hopefully you’re riding lots and feeling strong, not just staring at law books, LexxisNexus and briefs all day…. VeloNews lost a lot of mojo when they dispatched you and Patrick O’Grady, the funniest cartoonist and columnist (calumnist?) I have ever read. All the best, JB

  5. Khal Spencer

    Glad to see you both healthy and writing good stuff, Charles. Thanks, too, that Padraig had the wisdom to snag you and Wilcockson after That Other Website let you go.

    Cycling interests should follow Hurlbert around like gum on a shoe and make his life miserable.

  6. David Peoples

    Today’s headline on Cycling News: “UCI names panel for Armstrong affair commission”. I checked my calendar. Nope, not April 1st. What needs to be done to correct this UCI-engineered farce? Clearly we, the fans and participants, are overwhelmingly unhappy with this force-fed manipulation. To whom can we effectively direct our indignation and suggestions? Is there not anyone of integrity in charge?

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