‘It’s good to be kind to people’
Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn is truly a nice guy.
Ask nearly anyone in law enforcement around here and they’ll tell you. Now one Florida man who recently took a wrong turn on his mountain bike knows it too.
“I’m really impressed with the character of Billy,” said mountain biker Nate Post. “It seemed to be reflective of a lot of the citizens of Aspen.”
Post, 30, is a Santa Fe, New Mexico, native but lives in Orlando, Florida, where he works in the software section of a cancer research laboratory. He also is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of the disease when he was 22 and spent the next two years “really sick” until chemotherapy put him in the clear, he said.
About the time he was declared cancer-free, Post said he hooked up with a charity in the Denver area called First Descents, which provides outdoor adventures for young adults ages 18 to 39 who’ve been impacted by cancer, according to the organization’s website.
Fast forward to the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race earlier this month. First Descents was putting together a team for the race to raise money for the charity, and Post said he volunteered for it. Only thing was, Post isn’t really a mountain-bike racer, he said.
So he he came out to Colorado 10 days early to get some mountain-bike rides under his belt. For one of those rides, Post said he decided to try out the first leg of the race, which goes from Leadville, around Turquoise Lake, then over Sugarloaf Pass and back into Leadville.
He set off from Leadville on Aug. 7, the Sunday before the race, for what he thought was going to be a low-key 15- to 20- mile training ride. Because he didn’t think he’d be gone long, he brought along one bottle of water and no food, he said.
Unfortunately, Post took a wrong turn and ended up at the top of Hagerman Pass. Thinking he was still on the right track, he said he began descending. And descending. And descending.
“I started to get a little concerned,” he said. “If you’ve ever been on that road, you know it never ends.”
As the path changed from mountain bike trail to fire road to pavement and he ran out of water, Post said he began to get really concerned. He finally ran into another person walking along the road at about 7 p.m. and learned he was way off course and about 20 miles from Basalt.
Despite having no water or food, Post said he was confident he could make the 20 mile distance to Basalt, find a hotel and figure out a way back to Leadville in the morning.
“After about 12 miles, I realized I was really bonking,” Post said. “The sun was setting. I was really hurting.”
He was somewhere above Ruedi Reservoir at that point and hadn’t seen a car in quite awhile when he looked over his shoulder and saw a truck coming. Post said he hopped off his bike and flagged down the truck, which was being driven by Linn.
“I was up in Meredith fishing with a friend,” Linn said. “And I was driving home when I saw something I’d never seen before — a bicyclist holding his thumb out. That’s just weird.”
So he stopped and asked if Post was OK.
“He was actually kind of delirious,” Linn said. “He wasn’t making a lot of sense. I’m guessing he was really dehydrated.”
Linn immediately agreed to give Post a ride to Basalt. But as Post calmed down a bit and began to tell Linn about himself and why he was in Colorado, Linn said he just couldn’t simply drop him off in Basalt.
“Honestly, he’s a pretty impressive young man,” Linn said. “There was no way I was going to leave him with a 7-Eleven dinner in Basalt.”
Linn said he also knew getting back to Leadville wasn’t going to be an easy exercise in public transportation navigation.
So instead, Linn drove Post to his family’s home in Aspen, where a dinner of fettuccine Alfredo was on the table. Linn invited Post to sit down with his family, which Post quickly accepted.
“I was devouring it,” Post said. “I think I ate half a pot of pasta.”
Linn offered Post a change of clothes and a shower after dinner, but Post declined, Linn said. They then climbed back into Linn’s truck and headed over Independence Pass to Leadville, arriving about 10 p.m.
A pizza place was still open and Post insisted on buying Linn a slice, so they sat down and ate again, both men said. Afterward, Linn drove back to Aspen, and Post climbed into his truck and drove to Crested Butte, where his friend had been wondering where he was.
Linn said his actions were no big deal and that he felt a bit self-conscious about the story appearing in the newspaper. Still he said he enjoyed the experience and making a new friend.
“I’m a Christian and that’s an important part of my life,” Linn said. “I got more out of it than he did. It’s good to be kind to people.”
Post ended up competing in the Leadville 100, and his team raised $210,000 for the First Descents charity, he said.
“I was totally blown away (by Linn’s actions),” Post said. “I try to do good things and I guess that was my payback or something.”