Carl Sorensen's Kawasaki left the road near the 14,115-foot summit.
Probably all you needed to know about Carl Sorensen, 39, is in the first and last photo on his blog. The first is his fists, which have RACE PACE tattooed above his knuckles. The last is of Sorensen standing next to his number 217 Kawasaki ZX10R, in front of his ancient, faded red Chevrolet van. He is at a Motorcycle Roadracing Association event, and he’s holding up a small trophy, and he’s signaling number 1 with his left index finger.
And he’s grinning. That’s likely how most of his fellow motorcycle racers from Colorado will remember the 39-year-old family fan from Centennial, who died this morning practicing for the 93rd annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, after his Ducati left the road, plunging down a cliff past Devil’s Playground, near the 14,115-foot summit.
Practice was halted. It was almost parenthetical news that six people were also struck by lightning on the mountain, but all appear to have survived and will recover. It was a grim reminder of 2014, when biker Bobby Goodin, seen above, was killed seconds after the photo was taken.
This is a joint statement from Sorensen’s family – brother Chris is also a racer – and the Hill Climb board of directors:
“The collective hearts of the Colorado Springs community and the Board of Directors of The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, share the grief and pain of Carl Sorensen's family, friends and fans over his untimely death.
“Throughout the 92 years that this unique race has been conducted on America's Mountain, we have experienced the ultimate joy in triumph, the disappointment of failure and now, the unexpected heartbreak of the loss of a competitor, whose love of the race brought him to Pikes Peak. We mourn the tragic death of Carlton and he will be in all of our hearts this Sunday for the 93rd Race to the Clouds.
“He will be remembered as a loving husband, father, son, brother, and friend with a tremendous sense of humor and a passion for racing.
“He left our lives while doing something that he loved, and it is the only thing that has the ability to deal with the reality of life, the acceptance of the competitors of the dangers in the race, and the heart and soul of a great man.
“With our deepest condolences,
“The Family of Carl Sorensen and Board of Directors of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.”
Second in two years
It is the second year in a row that a biker has died on the mountain during the climb. Texas rider Bobby Goodin died last year after he had successfully completed his run up the mountain, but lost control just past the finish line.
Sorensen is no stranger to the risk of racing, having broken his pelvis last year during a Motorcycle Roadracing Association event when, in his words, “I got impatient,” and tried a pass he shouldn’t have, taking him off-track and into the dirt. He recovered well enough to race at Pikes Peak in 2014, and as recently as last May 31, was again racing with the MRA at High Plains Raceway, a 2.55-mile track in Deer Trail, Colorado.
Clearly, he is not a man who took himself too seriously. From his biography on his blog: "My name is Carl Sorensen, I live in Centennial, Colorado. I work at the Denver shit plant and I race motorcycles." Especially prophetic, though, was the opening comment on his Instagram account: “THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
Last year, Carlton Sorensen was 10th fastest in the Pikes Peak Open class on his 2013 Kawasaki. Bobby Goodin was fourth in the Middlewight class on his Triumph 675R. Though they were in different classes, they were together in the results, with Sorensen’s time of 11 minutes, 4.9 seconds, and Goodin right behind with 11:07.1, 16th and 17th fastest overall.
RIP, Carl and Bobby.