Mountain Mayhem: Bryan Sax Bike Ride
When you have a larger-than-life personality like the late Bryan Sax did, your presence can still be felt long after you’re gone. In December of 2008, Bryan’s tragic passing in a plane crash in Florida left the entire Aspen community devastated, from his family and many friends to ski teammates, fellow pilots, co-workers and virtually every local or visitor who met him. A Facebook group, Friends of Bryan Sax, continues to have frequent posts remembering him and his adventure-filled life.
An accomplished athlete, Bryan excelled in ski racing while growing up in Aspen, racing on the ski team at the University of Colorado at Boulder and competing in events such as the grueling “24 Hours of Aspen” with Pete McBride as his partner.
Bryan also shared a special bond with Richard Rokos, the head coach for the CU ski team since 1990 who has guided Colorado to eight NCAA titles. Rokos and Bryan’s dad, Don Sax, came up with the idea to start a summer tradition in Bryan’s honor. In June of 2010, the first Bryan Sax Bike Ride took place, an unofficial outing with several of Bryan’s friends from childhood, college and ski racing, and members of his family. It initially took place around Basalt, departing (the since closed) Saxy’s coffee shop and riding to Ruedi Reservoir with lunch back at the Saxes’ house. It eventually became an Aspen ride, leaving from the Aspen Recreation Center to ride to the Maroon Bells. This year, everyone met for lunch on the back patio at Home Team BBQ.
“Bryan was really into cycling,” said his wife, Christy Sax. “We live at Aspen Highlands and he used to ride to the Bells practically every day.”
Growing up in Aspen, he also “used to mountain bike on all the trails all around,” said his childhood friend Tyler Williams.
It’s true “Bryan liked to bike,” added Rokos, “but it was always about training for skiing, which is a multi-skill sport.” In addition to cycling, Coach Rokos’ dry-land training for the ski team also included soccer, hockey, in-line skating and “diving for agility.”
Bryan developed a passion for flying at age 30, which led to his becoming a pilot, flight instructor and co-owner of Aspen Aero with his cousin, Gary Kraft. He was a third generation of pilots, which included his grandfather and dad. “He took to it like he took to skiing,” Kraft said. “He latched onto things.” And people latched onto him and his memory, which is still alive and inspiring to so many.