Booby trap on trail injures local cyclist 

click to enlarge The cord that sent Nard Claar flipping over his bike. - COURTESY ALLEN BEAUCHAMP
  • Courtesy Allen Beauchamp
  • The cord that sent Nard Claar flipping over his bike.
On March 28, Nard Claar met his buddy, Zac Chapman, downtown.

The two avid bicyclists were heading out for a play date — cruising down the Pikes Peak Greenway to the Rock Island Trail, making a U-turn at Powers Boulevard, and heading back. As bike rides go, it doesn’t get a lot tamer than the city’s urban trail network — generally wide, paved paths with good sight-lines designed for non-motorized travel.

Claar, a 69-year-old local artist, and Chapman, the 28-year-old executive director of the Colorado Springs Food Rescue, made it to Powers, and headed back. But at a bridge just past Academy Boulevard, Chapman says he suddenly saw a white line across his path. Claar was just a few feet in front of him.

“I screamed Nard’s name and I hit my brakes and flew over the handlebars, and that’s when I saw Nard on the ground,” Chapman says.

Claar says he was going 15 to 18 miles per hour when he hit the cord, strung across a bridge. His left thumb caught his handlebar and bent back, and he flipped before landing on his right side, head down.

“I lost consciousness,” he says. “Zac tried to talk to me.”

Claar says he was told later that he was breathing heavily, convulsing on the ground. A crowd started to gather. Chapman, who wasn’t seriously injured, called the paramedics — and he also noticed two Caucasian boys, who looked no older than 12, wander out from a culvert. The boys had also been there, Chapman says, when he and Claar passed by the same spot not a half an hour before, though he has no idea what the two might know about the event.

When paramedics arrived, Chapman says they mentioned that such pranks may have happened on the trail before, though there appears to be no record of anyone having been hurt.

Claar, however, most certainly was hurt. He woke up at Memorial Hospital, where he was held overnight. His right clavicle and three ribs are broken, he has numerous cuts, contusions and abrasions, and his helmet is shattered. Doctors plan to check his shoulders, which are crooked, and his thumb is sprained. He’s been told it will take eight to 12 weeks to heal. He can’t even hold a cup.

Allen Beauchamp, engagement chair for the Trails and Open Space Coalition’s Bike Colorado Springs and a friend of the cyclists, says the attack in an area that’s supposed to be safe is discouraging. “To have that safety and that environment shattered by basically malicious behavior, it’s a hard thing to stomach,” he says.

Colorado Springs Police spokesperson Lt. Howard Black says police are taking the case seriously. “Somebody could have been killed,” he says.

Anyone with tips should call 444-7000. Police recommend cyclists tell people where they’re going, carry a phone, and take a buddy with them when possible.

As for Claar, he says that he’ll be back on a bike as soon as he can. But the attack shook him — booby traps, he says, are supposed to be in war zones, not on cycling paths.

“It would be one type of thing if it was an accident and I went down and crashed,” he says. “That happens. I’ve done that before ... This was an intentional plot of evil, premeditated action, that someone said ‘I want to really hurt or kill someone.’ And to me, that’s evil personified.”

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