10 years ago, I was a newbie triathlete training with a group of cyclists who were much better than I was. Getting dropped was a regular part of my group ride experience, I would ride as hard as I could for as long as I could, but eventually I would run out of gas and spend the last part of the ride as a "group of one," riding along the lovely Gurnee countryside.
On one particular ride, I held on until the last few miles along Hunt Club Road, heading back South from the Wisconsin border towards Gurnee. As we hit a hill, I started to fall behind, as I watched the guy ahead of me disappear up the hill, I concentrated on being positive and soaked myself in the early morning scenery.
Then "it" happened. That all too familiar feeling of a car behind me, a little too close, I felt my grip on my handle bars tighten, my heart rate speed up as the car (pick up in this case) approached from behind, horn blaring.
In most cases that's the end of the tale, a hot rush of air, a burst of wind and it's all over. This day was different, the pick up swerved into me, slowing down, with the passenger window rolled down, the driver was yelling the typical "get off the road" nonsense, forcing me off the shoulder into the gravel along the road. If you are ever on Hunt Club Road on a Saturday morning at 7:00, there's plenty of room for everyone.
Having been in a few high speed car chases (my other blog), despite my heart pounding, I had my wits together enough to slam on my breaks and slide to a stop, losing the pick up, now in front of me.
I came to a complete stop, so did the pick up. I gave the driver the "salute" said a few choice words and began to pedal again. At first the pick up didn't move, forcing me to pass him on the driver side, or middle of the road.
As I started to pass the pick up, he accelerated to keep pace with me, as I slowed, he slowed, I tried to pass him, he sped up. I was in trouble. I was riding the middle line and a car was now approaching from the other direction, as I looked over at the guy in the pick up, he yelled "goodbye a$$hole" and slammed his truck into the side of my bike, sending me sliding out of control into the oncoming car.
Luckily the driver of the oncoming car saw what was happening and slowed down, I fell off my bike rolling across the other lane, into the ditch. Bloody and bruised, I survived the hit from the car and am alive today to write about it.
Other cyclists and runners aren't as lucky. The Ride of Silence is a world wide movement started by endurance athlete and friend Chris Phelan as a way to remember those who have been killed or injured while riding and running.
In its tenth year, this grass roots movement with the simple message of remembering our fallen friends and safety for everyone on the road is a 10 mile ride of complete silence. There are no finishers medals, bonuses for time, winners, losers or cool t-shirts. Just groups of riders gathering to ride in peace.
The Ride of Silence in the Chicago area is scheduled for Wednesday, May 16th. There are several events planned around in our area, click here for all the details. If you can't make it to the "official" rides, take 10 miles out of your next group ride, check the egos at the door and honor those who can't do what we all love to do so very much.
To give you an idea of what it's like, check out the video below of a cyclist who was riding with a camera attached to his bike, when he was hit by a car. He was lucky to walk away, so many others are not.