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.
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.
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.