Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 | 6:47 p.m.
Brent Thomson was a no-brakes kind of guy.
He threw himself head-first into work, art and downhill mountain biking, taking everyone else speeding with him.
Thomson's focus, imagination, positivity and tenacity are what built more than 35 miles of biking trails at Bootleg Canyon, making it a popular destination for adventurous cyclists worldwide and leaving a dusty legacy for the Boulder City resident.
Robert Brent Thomson died Feb. 18 at St. Rose Dominican Hospital-Siena Campus after quadruple bypass surgery last month. He was 56.
Thomson was born in Calgary, Canada, and moved to Las Vegas as a child.
He began mountain biking for exercise after a heart attack in 1994. He and friends rode around the outskirts of town until they took pick-axes to Bootleg Canyon to carve lines in the mountain.
The rule was whoever wanted to ride trails needed to help Thomson build the trails, friends said.
Jack Breslin, who knew Thomson since they were 14, said Thomson always pushed himself and his friends to their limit. Breslin recalled when Thomson took him skiing for the first time once they were adults. Thomson found a line to follow and took it, speeding away with Breslin following, he said.
Breslin would not have repeated the experience with him at Bootleg Canyon, he said.
"I wouldn't have done that here," Breslin said. "I wouldn't have survived."
Danita Walker, Thomson's youngest sister, said when they were children, Thomson always watched over her. He made her a skateboard when she was 10, took her to rodeos, and saved her life after an accident when she was a toddler.
Her brother was always positive, even in his last days, Walker said.
"There was nothing he couldn't do," she said. "If I was half as strong as he was, I'd get so far."
Onnoleigh Sweetman credits Thomson and his "go for it" attitude for making her the person she is now.
They met about 10 years ago, when she needed a change. He put her on her first mountain bike at Brianhead, Utah, and pushed her down a hill, following behind her in a car at what felt like 50 mph, honking the horn, screaming "Lay off the brakes!"
After, he named a trail after her at Bootleg Canyon— "Onalee," because he found her spelling too complicated.
"He was such a happy person and it caused such a ripple effect," she said. "I can still hear him laughing."
Thomson is survived by his son, Barret, of Boulder City; and three sisters. Services were pending.
Cassie Tomlin can be reached at 948-2073 or [email protected].