Cyclists were going 47 mph near Huntington when 'their wheels disintegrated from impact'

Terry and Lynn Rueter. They are pictured at left riding a tandem bicycle.
Terry and Lynn Rueter. They are pictured at left riding a tandem bicycle.

Terry and Lynn Rueter are known as experienced and strong cyclists, but while out riding near Huntington Lake on Saturday, something went terribly wrong.

They were descending from Kaiser Pass to Highway 168 on a tandem bicycle, a bike powered by two people, when they came upon a large pothole, said friend and fellow cyclist Steve Grusis.

"They were going 47 miles per hour," Grusis said Monday. "Their wheels disintegrated from impact and they believe, based on the road rash, that they came down on the right side of the bike. Lynn was knocked unconscious."

Lynn, who rides in the back of the tandem bike, suffered serious injuries from the crash around 11 a.m. and was airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

Grusis said she remained hospitalized as of Monday with a concussion and broken collarbone but was no longer in the intensive care unit. Terry Rueter seriously injured a hand but was released from the hospital.

Both were signed up to participate in the Tollhouse Century next month. It's one of three rides offered in the Climb to Kaiser cycling event July 7. The 95-mile ride to Shaver Lake is less strenuous than the 155-mile Climb to Kaiser above Huntington Lake, which they've successfully completed numerous times in the past.

Ride director Dennis Ball shared a word of caution for riders participating in the Climb to Kaiser, now in its 42nd year.

"That stretch of roadway can be dangerous if you're not careful," Ball said. "You have to really watch your speed and watch the road carefully."

Ball said motorists in the Shaver Lake area July 7 should expect to share the road with most cyclists between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The route starts at Clovis East High School.

The Rueters are members of Off The Front racing team, part of a Fresno nonprofit that provides bicycles and training for children.

"As a tandem team, they are one of the strongest in the Valley," said Grusis, Off the Front's team director.

The Rueters work at Emerald Bay Software in Fresno, according to their Facebook pages. Terry Rueter's page also identifies him as a Fresno State and Clovis High School graduate.

Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge