Thursday, June 7, 2018

Palmer Lake neighbors, businesses pitch in for memorial to beloved cyclist

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 10:01 AM

click to enlarge Ginger Chase, center, cuts the ribbon at a ceremony marking the opening of her late husband's memorial in the Palmer Lake Library courtyard. - TERRI HAYES
  • Terri Hayes
  • Ginger Chase, center, cuts the ribbon at a ceremony marking the opening of her late husband's memorial in the Palmer Lake Library courtyard.

On a sunny June morning, a group of neighbors gathered outside the Palmer Lake Library in front of four green and brown bike racks.

They were there to honor the life of Tim Watkins, an avid cyclist and beloved community member who was gunned down in September while biking in the Mount Herman area.

His memorial came out of a grassroots effort begun by Palmer Lake resident Samantha Holmes. While Holmes had never met Watkins herself, she was deeply affected by the stories she heard of his kindness and optimism.

“I just saw how everyone was talking about him and I just thought, I’m going to be the one to start it,” Holmes said. “I’m going to put it out there and see what people say.”

Watkins, 60, grew up in Palmer Lake. He had a passion for Mount Herman and worked on or constructed some “60 to 70 percent” of the trails there, his friend Jeff Tessier said in September. He owned Monument’s Balanced Rock Bike and Ski for a time, and worked at Criterium Bicycles and Old Town Bike Shop.

Last fall, Watkins disappeared while biking in that same area — where many riders report hearing gunshots, despite a ban on recreational shooting by the Forest Service. Two days after Watkins disappeared, his shoe and bicycle were found. The day after that, his body was found. He had been shot.

Watkins’ killing, still unsolved, left countless coworkers, neighbors, friends and acquaintances grieving, and when Holmes proposed the memorial, dozens chipped in to help. One of the four bike racks was purchased through donations collected at local businesses, while Ted’s Bicycles, Criterium Bicycles and Old Town Bike Shop donated the other three, Holmes said.

The racks will be engraved with “Tim-isms,” a term Holmes said Watkins’ wife, Ginger Chase, coined to describe her late husband’s favorite “positive and clever” sayings.

Holmes was touched to hear stories from Chase and from Watkins’ friends and neighbors after the ribbon-cutting.

“I think that was the big thing, that he had connections to people,” she said. “There was someone there who went to high school with him. There was someone there that helped him fix a bike when he was on a path and didn’t even know that was him. He just, he touched so many people’s lives.”

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