Saturday, September 19, 2015
This road we travel...
The 2015 edition of the Silver State 508 starts in a couple of hours for Team Hellhound, and all the other relay teams. It's been a long and interesting journey just to get to the starting line, and I couldn't be more ready to get going.
On the evening that we arrived in Reno, as we were setting up our bikes at Corrine's house, I got word that 5 cyclists were hit by a pickup truck as they were riding down Snowville Rd, in Brecksville. One of them, Matthew Billings, died at the scene. 3 others are in serious or critical condition. One was released from the hospital, and I don't know his condition.
It was the Akron Bike Club's regular Thursday night ride. I know all these people, and have ridden with most of them. And, of course, Snowville is one of my favorite climbs in the Cuyahoga Valley, although my relationship with this hill will likely be changed forever.
We do what we do because we love to do it. We know that there are risks involved, but we justify them because of the benefits of our sport. We always expect that the ride will end, we look forward to that hot shower and cold beer, and the satisfaction of a good ride. We plan on doing it again tomorrow.
I rode around Reno yesterday, a short test ride for bike and legs. I was keenly aware of traffic and the behavior of motorists. I was keenly aware of my own behavior, because we always have to ride with eyes wide open. We need to be able to react as best we can when the situation requires it.
This 508 race is challenging on so many levels that I often forget (or try to forget) that I'm on a highway, with other fast-moving traffic. My job is to stay alert, stay safe, and live to tell about the journey. But I also know that sometimes I really don't know the road I'm travelling.
Please keep the Billings family, and those fellow cyclists still fighting for their lives, in your thoughts. I'm sure I will be thinking of all of them over the next couple of days during my long rides on 'The Loneliest Highway in America.'