'Ride of Silence' raises safety awareness

May 24, 2009
 

By Nick Prevenas, www.gvnews.com

The conditions were perfect for a bike ride.

It was a slightly overcast Wednesday evening, with some ominous storm clouds lingering in the distance. Those clouds never made good on the threat of precipitation, but they did provide a stark, beautiful backdrop for a bittersweet, cathartic event.

More than five dozen cyclists took part in the Ride of Silence, pedaling along the seven-mile loop in reverence and tranquility. And, unlike the last two years, Mother Nature didn’t get in the way.

“I was told that last year was quite windy, and the year before was rainy, so I’m glad the weather finally cooperat ed,” said event organizer Chuck Hill. “This year, we’ll finally get a ride in.”

Hill helped to put together the last three Ride of Silence events, as well, but spent the last three months of May in his native Wisconsin. This year, Hill stuck around Green Valley to take part in the event with his fellow cycling enthusiasts, paying tribute to those riders who have been injured or killed on the roadways.
 

Green Valley News Event organizer Chuck Hill reads a list of
friends and neighbors who have been injured or killed while
riding their bicycles prior to the Ride of Silence at East Center on Wednesday evening.

 


Hill helped to put together the last three Ride of Silence events, as well, but spent the last three months of May in his native Wisconsin. This year, Hill stuck around Green Valley to take part in the event with his fellow cycling enthusiasts, paying tribute to those riders who have been injured or killed on the roadways.  Police escorts led the group out of the East Social Center parking lot shortly after 6 p.m. The riders — some wearing black arm bands, all wearing helmets — pedaled at a casual pace in single file.
 
GVCCC president Stan Riddle came to show his support for this tight-knit and active cycling community. Green Valley was one of more than 300 locations worldwide to take part in the ride, which began in 2003 in Dallas when Chris Phelan organized this event to honor his friend, Larry Schwartz.  Green Valley Recreation event coordinator Karen Rans took part in her first Ride of Silence this year, given the personal connection she shared with the event.

Her friend, Kelly Vollmer, is a former Southern Arizona resident who rode her bicycle nearly everywhere. Now living in North Carolina, Vollmer was struck by a vehicle and left on the side of the road. Vollmer fully recovered from the accident, but Rans said she felt it was “only right” for her to get involved in this year’s Ride of Silence.  “She bought me the bike I’m riding, actually,” Rans said.

Prior to the ride, Hill read from a list of friends and neighbors who have also been injured or killed.  “It’s up to everyone, cyclists and motorists, to make sure the roads are safe for everyone,” Hill said. “The Ride of Silence is aimed to raise awareness of these issues.”

For a YouTube presentation from the 2008 Ride of Silence in the Santa Cruz Valley Area, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De90s3Mki1c.

For more information on the international Ride of Silence event go to www.rideofsilence.org, or visit the Santa Cruz Valley Bicycle Advocate Committee at scvbac.org.

nprevenas@gvnews.com | 547-9747