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Cyclists Remember Friend Killed One Year Ago by Drunk Driver

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MADRID, Iowa - A year ago Sunday, the Des Moines biking community lost one of its own - and no one knew Wade Franck like Jessica Rundlett.

"I was Wade Franck's girlfriend, and I was his partner on the Urban Assault Ride - he was right in front of me when he got killed," she said. "Instead of ending up on the winner's podium that day, we ended up at the hospital, which is a place where no bike ride should end up."

Sunday marks the 2016 Urban Assault Bike Challenge in Des Moines - a bike ride throughout Des Moines with various obstacle courses throughout. It's a somber weekend for these cyclists, who remember losing Franck one year ago when a drunk driver struck him during the ride.

"It was pretty much the most terrible thing you could imagine," Rundlett said.

A memorial ride in Franck's honor along the High Trestle Trail in Madrid Saturday night is how these riders remember their friend.

"Your heart just dropped, right there in that moment," Brian Cole, a friend, said. "And everyday you ride - and I ride now - if I commute to work, there's a moment that passes, and you think about him. And what he gave to cycling in general was amazing."

The ride is also raising funds to connect an unpaved, nine-mile stretch between the High Trestle and Raccoon River Valley Trails; the route was one Rundlett says Franck would have taken had he survived to see it completed.

"We're bettering the bike community by working to connect a trail that Wade would have used," she said.

Franck's killer was served the maximum sentence of 34 years, but these cyclists say Franck's death highlights the issue of drivers ignoring bikes on the road. A safe passage law never made it out of the Statehouse last session, and these riders want to see that changed.

"We host the world's oldest, longest, and largest bicycle tour, but you can kill a cyclist in this state with very little consequences, and that's a damn shame," Rundlett said.

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