Monday, May 23, 2011

Ride of Silence - Post-Ride Post

I and about 100 of my cycling pals met downtown during Bike Week for the Ride of Silence. The idea is that around the country communities all over have a Ride of Silence, during which riders are silent and respectful of traffic laws, to honor the cyclists who have died in bike/car accidents and to draw the attention of motorists to our plight as moving targets for their steel death machines.

The Ride of Silence was organized by Jeanna Hofmeister with the support of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitor's Bureau. It is organized in conjunction with Bike Spokane or Spokane Bikes or Bikes for Spokane People or The Peoples Front of Spokane Bikes or whatever Bike to Work Spokane is now called. It brought out many of Spokane's highest profile wheelsters including Woman of 24/7 Social Media Barb Chamberlain, Bike Event Organizer to the Stars Bill Bender and Resident Two Wheel Transit Bon Vivant Tomas Lynch. Seeing the three of them at one bike event is like some extraordinary extraterrestrial alignment of the planets in the heavens (insert your own Stephen Hawking joke here). Or actually, now that I think about it, having them all at one bike event is like another celestial occurrence - the sun coming up, because upon further reflection, they are the three people most likely to show up to support a bike event in the City of Spokane. In any case, it was good to see them.

And speaking of showing up for a bike event, a lot of others did too. I would hazard a guess, however, that almost none of the people who showed up for this group ride had ever done a group ride before. There are some indications of that. For instance, one guy showed up on a three-wheeled recumbent and the equipment alone indicates that he had no friends (or dates) so he wouldn't have had the opportunity to ride in a group. Although I have to confess it does make me want to see a pack race of recumbent bikes. The problem being that recumbent riders would all assume it was a government conspiracy to be invited to one place at one time and none of them would appear. Oh well.

Another indication of the lack of pack riding was the proclivity for hockey stops at the numerous traffic lights. For the uninitiated, a hockey stop is done when the rider brakes and slows in a straight line and then just before coming to a complete stop, you veer to the left or right as you put your foot down. Ideally you want to veer to about a 45 degree angle so that you cut-off the rider next to you or behind you eyeing that free space that previously existed in the lane next to you. Quite effective and I saw it repeated numerous times by different riders.

On the other hand, I don't want to make it sound like I am complaining. I loved this ride. First of all, it was silent, which meant that no one interrupted my stories or tried to top them, so that was good. Also, since there a self-imposed speed limit of 12 mph (that is the widely accepted speed at which you are honoring the deceased), I was able to hang with the group on the uphill sections and frankly, I was able to move through the group with ease, so that I could have taken every prime and easily won the ride on an uncontested breakaway. I'm looking for more rides like that.

The other thing I noticed, however, is that there was a distinct lack of lycra in this crowd. One prominent individual about town and local politics showed up wearing a suit. There was a lot of wool present and more reflective green material than I have ever seen gathered in one place. I was, of course, sporting my Two Wheel Transit jersey and in padded lycra shorts, as I think this is eminently sensible for riding a bike, but when I observed to a fellow rider afterward that I was the only person there not wearing underwear, this was taken as an odd observation. In most of my group rides, it would be considered very odd to show up wearing underwear, so clearly I was out of step with my comrades in Silence.

And, I suppose, it is appropriate to consider my fellow travelers as comrades, because there is a contingent in Spokane that still considers bikes and bike riders some sort of communist plot to destroy all that is good about America. Funny really, when the bike riders think that we are a symbol of all that is good about America, but there you have it.

Final analysis - If you want to ride your bike and also wear underwear, grow facial hair without regard to gender, easily win a bunch non-sprint and simultaneously draw attention to the real and significant danger of drivers failing to pay attention to cyclists on the road - then this group ride is for you. If, on the other hand, you want to ride your bike and also are used to shaving both your face and legs, struggle to keep up with people who pretended to be friends at the start of the ride, and occasionally "test your legs" with a race number attached, then honestly this ride is also for you, because this is an area where we should all stand together.

Even the recumbents, I guess.
Rider Three

Blog Correction - It has come to my attention that Tomas Lynch was incorrectly identified as the Resident Two Wheel Transit Bon Vivant. In fact, he is the Resident Two Wheel Transit Raconteur. My apologies.

1 comment:

  1. I got a late start and had to catch up with the ride. I met up with them at Howard and Maxwell.There fore I received no "pre-ride" instructions. I was surprized as the 100+ peleton approached in the outside lane. This is where they continued to ride for the duration. At 12mph, this is not the prime nor legal place to occupy the road. Because it was "silent" I was not able to ask why we were riding contrary to RCW 46.61.770 "...riders must ride as far to the right as ssfely practical..." I felt consipicuous, vulnerable and certainly out of place. Though the cop that passed us on Monroe didn't seem unphazed by it. For a while I thought I was in a Critical Mass ride -which I deplore. I hope we try better for next year.