On September 14th, Tim Watkins, a popular, longstanding member of the southern Colorado mountain bike community, set out to ride one of his hometown trails near the small town of Monument, just north of Colorado Springs. As the day wore on and he didn’t return, concern grew, and he was eventually reported missing. A search ensued, but to no avail. Initial reports noted a single mountain bike shoe had been found on Mt. Herman Road, the first leg in the Limbaugh Canyon route, and a bike had been found nearby as well. As is so often the case, speculation ran wild, with people claiming everything from bear or mountain lion attack, to debilitating crash, to blind corner crash with a motorist, to foul play attributable to the increasingly-aggressive homeless community in the area.

Finally, on the 17th, a hiker–not associated with the formal search effort–discovered a body, apparently meant to be hidden, under a pile of leaves and twigs. The El Paso County Sheriff’s department ultimately released identification, confirming it as Tim Watkins, 61-year-old resident of the area, and longtime fixture in the local mountain bike community.

(photo from family of Tim Watkins via El Paso County Sheriff Department)

Tim had been a bike shop fixture, master wrench, trail advocate, and all-around good guy for decades in southern Colorado. He was the kind of person who makes you his friend the minute you meet him. Through the years I encountered Tim many times, either in the shop, on the trail, or just around town, and even though I was one of thousands of cyclists he encouraged through the years, he always had a warm, genuine smile for me as though I was a special, long-lost friend.  His loss to the community is inestimable.

Typical bit of Mt. Herman Road on the way up to Limbaugh Canyon (photo: Mongwolf)

As if the shock of the loss wasn’t enough, the El Paso County Sheriff has now released one important detail in the case: that Tim was shot. That reduces speculation as to the circumstances, but not enough. The area is popular with target shooters, so this could have been a stray bullet in the woods. But it could have been deliberate, although nobody can think of why, as Tim is the last person anybody would expect to have an enemy. It isn’t even imaginable that he could antagonize anybody out on the trail. The fact that his body was concealed sheds little light on the motivation of the shooter or the circumstances of the shooting.

Although the trails in the area remain open at this time, the El Paso County Sheriff Department is advising people to avoid the area until the investigation generates some answers regarding this horrific and senseless tragedy.

# Comments

  • John Fisch

    Well, that would certainly blow the theory of an accidental shooting out of the water.

  • mongwolf

    Wow, how sad and really unbelievable. Reading a little further online, CBS Channel 4 in Denver reported that the body was found near the junction of Mt Herman Road and Sunburst Dr., very near to where Mad Hatter Trail spills out onto the road leading into the Hotshot base. That is just a mile into the Monument Preserve (from the main THD) on the north end of the preserve. You are still a long climb away from the Limbaugh Canyon THD off of Mt Hermon Road (3.5+ miles) and 3+ miles to where the photo was taken of Mt Herman Road used in article. The intersection of Mt Herman Road and Sunburst Dr. is not a remote area — cars, bikers and hikers go through that area frequently. There are also houses just to the east and to the north. It seems something really had to have gone wrong to reel off several shots to kill somebody in that area. Or someone was out of their mind. Whatever it may be, it is a terrible tragedy for Tim’s wife, family and friends. I hope the killer is found and justice is made for them. I will never ride through that area again without thoughts of Tim and prayers for his family and friends.

  • mongwolf

    I am confused. Within the same news report I read online (Channel 4 Denver) it shows a graphic that the body was found near the junction of Mt Herman Road and Sunburst Dr. But in the text of the same report it says, “his body was found near the Mount Herman Trail.” THE Mount Herman Trail to me would mean the trail coming off of Mount Herman Road leading up to the top of Mount Herman. Those two areas are about 3.5 miles apart. I wonder which is correct.

    • drewwacker

      Living in the area, word I got was that he was found a couple switchbacks down the limbaugh canyon (715) trail, where it starts downhill after climbing up just a ways north of the where 715 crosses mt herman road, and behind mt herman.

      May He Rest In Peace

  • tpak

    Drew is correct. Tim was found near Limbaugh Canyon Trail. Denver news must have marked the location where they were reporting from or something else.

  • tpak

    Friends of Monument Preserve, which Tim was an influential member of, will be organizing a trail building day in early October in Tim’s memory. Please follow us on FB and consider joining us once we announce the details.



    Yeah, I first saw this on mtbr forums. Such a sad story and so strange. It appears at this point there probably won’t be any closure. I used to ride that area and it gives me the chills thinking about it! My condolences to his family and friends.

  • tpak

    dex8425 – there was an arrest made and charges filed with regards to the person menacing MTB and others in the area with a hatchet, as of 10/13 there have been no charges filed in the murder of Tim Watkins. We are all locally hopefull that the suspect in custody will eventually be charged with Tim’s murder but until then it is best to not assume anything. Please do not be complacent if you are riding in the area now or in the future.

    KKTV among other local news outlets has been periodically updating on this.



    Thanks for the update tpak! That guy doesn’t look very menacing in that picture. I sure hope they find closure on this case!

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