Business leader hurt in bicycle accident
CRAIG HILL AND KATHLEEN COOPER
A prominent local businessman remained hospitalized Friday after being critically injured during a rigorous bike ride at Mount Rainier.
Steve Albers, president of Tacoma-based insurance company Albers & Co., was injured during the Ramrod, an annual event in which hundreds of riders attempt to make it around the mountain in one day.
Ray Tennison, longtime Tacoma businessman and friend of Albers, said Friday that Albers had “a very serious accident … at 1:30 yesterday afternoon. He had serious trauma to the brain.”
Albers, 60, is at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
In addition to being an athlete and outdoorsman, Albers has served on the boards of Tacoma Goodwill, the Pierce County Library and United Way and belongs to several leadership organizations.
According to Albers’ biography on the company website, he and his wife, Donna, are new grandparents. Tennison said Albers has two adult children from a previous marriage.
The Ramrod, which stands for Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day, is a 152-mile bicycle ride that begins and ends in Enumclaw and winds through Eatonville, Ashford and over Cayuse Pass.
The ride, sponsored by the Redmond Cycling Club, is not a race. It’s held on open roads with riders challenged by 10,000 vertical feet of climbing. The riders face speedy descents on winding roads in Mount Rainier National Park. It is the only organized ride allowed in the park and has been held for almost 30 years.
Chuck Young, chief ranger for Mount Rainier National Park, said the accident took place on the west side of Box Canyon. That’s a downhill section of the ride that follows a rest stop at Paradise.
Park rangers, ride officials and an emergency room doctor and nurse participating in the event responded to the accident. An ambulance, on scene as required by the club’s special-use permit, took Albers to a medical helicopter, which flew him to Seattle.
Young said the park was investigating the accident and will meet with the Redmond Cycling Club to determine “if anything can be done to prevent accidents like this in the future.”
“But we certainly are not talking about canceling the ride,” he said. “I have to compliment the organizers. They always do a good job of preparing the riders, but this happened anyway.”
Club member and ride director George Thornton said Friday that Albers was alone at the time of the accident. It’s unclear what caused it.
Thornton said he knows of only two serious accidents in the history of the ride.
“We are really, really, really concerned for the family,” he said. “We try really hard to make the ride safe, and I don’t know what else we could have done to make it any safer.”