A Ride to Remember

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Green Valley’s fifth “Ride of Silence” on Wednesday had an added level of poignancy.

Since last year’s ride, one local rider died on the road in September, while another suffered serious injuries in an April 17 crash.

Jerome Featherman was struck by a car Sept. 3 on Desert Bell Road and died on his way to the hospital. A little more than seven months later, long-time Green Valley resident Jack Spafford crashed his mountain bike on Forest Service Road 62 near Highway 83. He was knocked unconscious and suffered broken bones. He is now in a rehabilitation center in Tucson and is expected to return to Green Valley in early June.

Featherman and Spafford were on everyone’s minds as nearly 120 cyclists gathered at the East Center parking lot just before 6 p.m. to embark on the seven-mile ride.

The event brings together tens of thousands of cyclists in more than 300 locations in 20 countries to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured on the road.

“This is a really important event for Green Valley,” said GVCCC President Stan Riddle. “We have a very active cycling community, and they’re dedicated to making things as safe as possible for anyone on a bike.”

Cyclists ride past the
East Social Center during the fifth annual
“Ride of Silence” on Wednesday.
Scott A. Taras | Special to the Green Valley News

Nearly 120 cyclists took part in the fifth annual “Ride of Silence” last Wednesday. Nick Prevenas, Sahuarita Sun

In fact, the Santa Cruz Bicycle Advocacy Committee has been key in helping Green Valley achieve a gold safety rating from the League of American Bicyclists. But even with all of the safety measures in place, accidents do happen.

“You could put bike lanes everywhere, and you still wouldn’t reach 100 percent safety,” said SCBVAC chairman Jim Jordan. “There are no guarantees in this life.”

But events like the “Ride of Silence” help spread the word.

Green Valley’s first ride took place in 2006, after the cycling community was rocked by the death of Fred Hettig. The ride has grown in popularity each year, reaching an all-time high in participation this week, including Sahuarita Mayor Lynne Skelton.

“We just want to let people know we’re out here and we’re here to share the road,” said event organizer Chuck Hill.

nprevenas@gvnews.com | 547-9747