In an ideal world, Bellevue's Whit Henry would be at the starting line of Saturday's Galena Grinder mountain bike race on the scenic Galena Lodge trail system. Henry was passionate about bicycling, as he was about alpine skiing, hunting and life in general.
But tragic accidents happen in the world as we know it, and 2001 Wood River High School graduate Henry was the victim of such an accident July 2, 2003, on U.S. Highway 20 headed toward Fairfield. Only three days before, the 20-year-old had raced in the Ketchum Criterium race.
Two months after Henry's death, the Galena Grinder Whit Henry Memorial was staged for the first time. And the seventh Knobby Tire Series Galena Grinder Whit Henry Memorial is Saturday, July 25, starting at 9 a.m. Race organizer Marc Driver expects 150 to 200 racers for the popular trail event.
"Mountain biking turned out to be Whit's thing," said his mother Gail Henry this week.
Although the pain of his death never really goes away, Whit's parents Mark and Gail have become devoted to the Galena Grinder. Gail obtains raffle prizes and volunteers at the race. The Henrys donate to the race purse and have purchased children's helmets as prizes. One year, Whit's mountain bike was donated at the Grinder. Money raised went to Big Wood Backcountry Trails.
Race organizer Driver has been as devoted as the Henrys in making the Galena Grinder work each year. In this tough economic year, he said he's grateful to have a $800 purse to offer the top Pro class cyclists. Once again, the Galena Grinder will double as the Idaho State Marathon Championships.
Saturday's two-lap, 45-mile cross-country marathon starts at 9 a.m. followed at 10:30 a.m. by 22.5-mile, 17.5-mile and 10-mile courses for Expert, Sport and Beginner racers. Day-of-race registration is accepted. Visit spondoro.com or knobbytireseries.com for details.
For more about Whit Henry, check a column written by Adam Tanous that was published in the Idaho Mountain Express the week after Whit's death in 2003. That column is available on today's Web site.