Cyclist Plunges to Death in Bike Race
Dad of 3 falls off bridge as he veers to avoid pothole
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Sep 10, 2012 12:31 AM CDT
Updated Sep 10, 2012 1:01 AM CDT
Robert Verhaaren (far right) poses with pals in a 2009 bike race. He was killed Saturday when he plunged off a bridge in the LoToJa race in Arizona.   (facebook)

(Newser) – An Arizona father of three plunged to his death from a bridge during a 206-mile bike race Saturday. Robert Verhaaren, 42, veered to avoid a pothole and catapulted over a guardrail over the Snake River in Wyoming, falling 35 feet into shallow water just eight miles from the finish line in the LoToJa race, reports the Cache Valley Daily. It was the first death in the history of the 30-year-old race. "it's the worst thing that can happen," a member of the race support team told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “It’s always our greatest fear.”

It "was devastating for us to lose a member of our LoToJa family," said race spokesman Dave Bern. "Unfortunately, these things go along with bicycle racing. Cycling is not for the risk averse." To date, "we've been fortunate," he told the Deseret News. "People have been careful, motorists have been careful." The contest, the longest single-day bike race in the country, starts in Logan, Utah, and ends in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Two other racers ended up in the hospital after serious accidents in Idaho and Wyoming.