Posted by: fizzhogg | May 29, 2011

Ride of Silence

On Wednesday, May 18th, I joined with thousands of other cyclists across the world in the RIDE OF SILENCE – an annual “Awareness Ride” to honor those cyclists that have been killed by motorists in the past 12 months.

RIDE OF SILENCE

Cities all over the country and across the pond hold the Ride of Silence every May 18th. It is free, it is short (8 to 10 miles) and it is something that I believe, as cyclists, is our duty to participate in.

I rode in the Thousands Oaks, CA Ride. Last year they had 155 riders. This year I was one of 287. I snapped this picture just before we rolled off. This is looking behind me. And note – there were probably close to a hundred riders in front of me…

Though this ride was only 10 miles and was more or less silent – not a lot of chatting during the ride – it was one of my favorite rides I’ve ever done, solo or with a group. You could feel the love and camaraderie in the air. It started off with several speakers, including a woman who had just lost her fiance five weeks prior – when he was hit and killed by someone texting while they were driving. The couple had just moved to Cycling Mecca and were both avid riders.

You know me – my eyes were swimming pools by the end of the speakers.

One of the coolest things that happened that evening was the ride organizer announced that unlike the year before – we would not have the local Sheriff’s Department providing rolling traffic breaks. Last year the 150+riders had four Sheriff’s cars and three motorcycle cops stopping traffic at all lights. But due to budget cuts within the Sheriff’s dept, they could not give us the amount of officers and cars we needed.

So the announcer was saying all 287 of us were going to have to stop at all red lights and just be extra careful, especially since we were riding during “rush hour.” We had one Sheriff’s officer on a motorcycle, and one other on a Sheriff’s Dept Mtn bicycle. When the ride organizer made his announcement the officer on the bicycle said, “Not so fast, Bruce. We’re working on it.”

And with that, here came not one, not two, but four more officers on their bicycles – in full uniform – followed by another motorcycle officer. They were here on their own time, of their own accord, and were going to do their best to help out these 287 riders.

And they did. The officers on their Mtn bikes killed themselves for us. You’ve all seen how large a pro peloton is in the TDF or Giro. Well, that’s maybe 150 riders going 30-40 mph. We had 287 riders going 12mph. Take a second and think about how long that line was. And these bicycle officers would ride to an upcoming traffic light, stop all traffic, wait for the ENTIRE group to roll by, then ride their guts out to get back in front of the group and do it again. For ten miles. It was truly a sight to see.

I tip my hat to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and all their officers. Thank you.

It felt amazing to be part of this massive group, rolling through city streets, with motorists and pedestrians everywhere stopping and staring. At the front of the group was a guy carrying a large flag that told what we were and why we were there, and anytime anyone asked, we explained we were honoring the memories of the fallen cyclists.

After the ride we all shook hands and hugged and talked about how much fun it will be the day when we ride to celebrate no cyclists being killed in a year – talk about a party!

I encourage all of you to seek out your local Ride of Silence for next May… or organize one yourself.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

RIP 108

 

 

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

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