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Athletes On Track

Reality Check

Posted By on January 18, 2012 in Cycling, Life, Training |

For some good info on how to set up your bike computer to maximize it’s usefulness, surf over to my Training Pages blog post. I’ve got something a little less nuts-and-bolts, but much more important, to talk about today.

Recently, the cycling community in my area lost a popular athlete to a bike-car collision. More recently, I watched the Olympic Marathon Trials with a heavy heart, since a friend of mine, who was favored for a spot in London, wasn’t racing. She died in a bike-car collision last year while cross training.

Many of you may not know that I was struck by a hit-and-run driver in 1999. Though hospitalized, I was fortunate to escape with nothing more permanent or disabling than scars. A friend’s dad was struck the same day, just a few miles away, and he spent 9 months in the hospital.

Reading Facebook posts after the recent tragedy, I couldn’t help but think to myself that many of the people posting had not been at the Ride of Silence. The Ride of Silence is a yearly event, held around the world, to memorialize cyclists killed in collisions with cars. It is a very small gesture against a very serious problem, but if you ride bikes, you should be there. Don’t just post on Facebook – do something.

There is a weekend group ride that I do in Dallas. I do the ride since I can roll from my house – no driving required. Frequently on this ride, the group will be across the yellow line into the oncoming lane. Two of the spots where this often happens are blind – a hard left curve and a hill. Some of the people who do this ride were posting on Facebook. Actions speak louder.

I’ve heard from multiple sources that a well-known racer and team owner has been doing a local shop ride recently without a helmet. I’m amazed at this level of sheer stupidity on the part of the rider. He’s a top-ranked MotoGP driver, so he should know better. I’m also a bit shocked that the shop owner seems not to have taken action, at least not publicly. Perhaps he’s talked to the rider privately. We can only hope.

We should exercise caution and common sense when driving across train tracks. A train will always win. We should exercise caution and common sense when riding. Cars are bigger than us.

We should be responsible drivers, and encourage those around us to do the same – a car is a lethal weapon and a huge responsibility, whether or not our society chooses to treat them as such. Cars have killed more people in America than all our wars combined. How is that possible?

Finally, cars are not the only hazard we face while riding. A spot of oil, gravel in a turn, or debris in the road can hospitalize or kill the same as an auto. Ride with safe groups who take all hazards seriously. The life you save could be your own.