A ride to remember: Fallen cyclists honored in nationwide event

Sunday, May 13, 2012

By Kevin Duke

Riders in the 2011 Ride of Silence
John Weakly Photo

They’ll be riding all across the country to remember their fellow cyclists.  The 10th annual Ride of Silence will hit the road in Green Valley on Wednesday, along with 322 other locations around the United States and all over the world.  The ride has taken place since 2003, when Chris Phelan, a cyclist out of Dallas, Texas, organized the first one to honor his friend who was killed when hit by the mirror of a passing bus.  The ride has special meaning for local cyclists Chuck Hill and Bill Adamson, who work with the Santa Cruz Valley Bicycle Advocates Committee (SCVBAC) and organize the Green Valley ride every year.



"We started this about seven years ago when a friend of ours was killed by a collision with a car on Nogales Highway," Adamson said. "We were so impressed that first year with the ride, in total silence ... it was like a funeral procession."  The free ride will be at a slow pace in absolute silence, with the purpose of "honoring those who have been injured or killed, raising awareness that we are here and asking that we all share the road."  "We’ll be gathering at 5:30 at the East Social Center, and the ride will start at 6 p.m.," Hill said. "We’re hoping for more than 100 people."

Riders will have a full police escort for the duration of the ride, which will proceed west on Esparanza, north on La Canada, east on Duval Mine Road and back south on Abrego.  "The sheriff’s department does a great job with it," Adamson said. "It’s really become a great experience for all of us, we’re very proud to do it."  "It’s very comforting to honor people who‘ve been injured or killed on the highways," Hill said. "Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of accidents in the Green Valley area."

"There are a lot of bicyclists on the road, which we like to see, and the drivers are very courteous."  Unfortunately, there have been a couple of incidents over the last three years.  Jerome Featherman was killed in 2009 riding in Green Valley, when struck from behind by a car that drifted into the bike lane.  More recently in January, Marsha Schoenberg and riding partner Kathy Wong were involved in a collision when a motorist rolled through a stop sign and struck Schoenberg, leaving her with serious fractures of her pelvis.  "She’s almost totally recovered now, is back on the bike and will be at the ride," Hill said. "We’ll recognize her and she’ll be riding up at the front."

Hill and Adamson are surprised every year with the level of participation in the ride.  "We get a lot of people every year that we don’t know," Adamson said. "Riders tend to stick with people of their own ability, so a lot of the riders we don’t get to know until they come out for the ride."  "We really encourage people to come and participate no matter what their ability. We want them to be a part of a really good event."

The two cyclist spend a lot of time promoting the event through a number of different publications in the area, including the Green Valley News, the Sahuarita Sun and several others.  "We also have an email list of about 400 people that we contact and information is available on our website," Hill said.

Those interested can go to www.scvbac.org for more information.