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Local cyclist embarks on a ride that almost killed him one year ago

Posted: December 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Cyclist Dan Aldrich (right) takes a photo with Kevin Korenthal (center in orange) before Sunday's bike tour as some of the more than 120 cyclists look on. Signal photo by Jim Holt.

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More than 120 bicyclists surprised local cyclist Kevin Korenthal Sunday when they rallied around him on the one-year anniversary of an accident that almost killed him.

The cyclists from three local bike clubs joined Korenthal in the parking lot of Bicycle John’s as he prepared to tackle the mountain that cut short his bike tour a year ago and sent him to the hospital with serious injuries.

Korenthal planned to complete the ride he began Dec. 22, 2012, with a handful of friends who braved the nippy temperatures to be with him. Instead, he found scores of Santa Clarita Valley cyclists show up at the last minute.

“I still get overwhelmed whenever I see people respond to things I do,” Korenthal told a crowd of more than 120 cyclists gathered in the parking lot on Valley Center Drive, near Soledad Canyon Road.

“If I wasn’t here today it would be a memorial ride,” he told them. “And I’m just thankful it’s not.

“We’re going to climb that hill today,” he said. “So let’s get out there and do it.”

At that point the cluster of cyclists pedaled south on Golden Valley Road, headed for the Camp 9 in the Angeles National Forest.

While responding to the call to show support for Korenthal, cyclists wanted “to bring awareness to the importance of sharing the road,” Korenthal’s wife Christine said.

On Dec. 22, Korenthal was involved in a head-on collision with a car while riding his bicycle near Little Tujunga Road, off Sand Canyon Road.

He underwent hours of surgery, having suffered several broken bones and damage to two vertebrae. Korenthal, a partial leg amputee, had already earned himself a local reputation as a dedicated cyclist and symbol for fortitude and determination.

Korenthal is active locally in both the cycling and the political and education community. He is a co-founder of the Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users — a group that advocates equal access for bicycles on local trails — and has also run for a spot on the board of the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

One of those inspired by Korenthal’s example is Dan Aldrich, who suffers paralysis in his left arm, and who helped organize Sunday’s surprise cyclist turnout. On Sunday, he set 240 wheels in motion when he put out the call in support of Korenthal’s personal mission to re-tackle the mountain.

“I contacted another cyclist and we called all the other bike clubs. He doesn’t have a clue,” Aldrich said just minutes before the surprise cyclists arrived.

Dave Smith, of the Santa Clarita Velo cycling club, showed up with more than 100 cyclists.

“We came over with the Newhall Bike Club,” he said. “We just wanted to come out here and show our support for Kevin.”

Cyclist Cathi Franklin made a point to walk her bike over to Korenthal before the bike tour. She said she had to meet him.

“What touches me about this is that he shows the tenacity of some people,” she said. “He shows me what people can do with adversity.”

Korenthal and the group reached Camp 9 at about noon Sunday, without problem, said his proud wife, Christine.
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