A Good Cause for a Wet Ride

I WAS BACK ON THE TRICROSS SATURDAY MORNING for the “Ride for Amy” event at Island Lake Recreation Area. It was around 40 degrees and overcast, so I took along some rain gear and extra clothes. Good thing.

Despite the less than ideal weather, turnout was good. According to Eva, one of the organizers, around 300 people had registered for the event, and there were many last-minute arrivals. I didn’t see anyone I knew; Saturday morning is a regular PR Fitness run downtown, and I think the word got out rather late that the event was actually a run as well as a ride (I chose to ride). There was no set distance; you could do as little or as much as you liked. The point was you were there supporting Amy.

We heard the very good news from Amy’s sister that Amy’s condition is improving. A candidate for state representative also spoke briefly. He asked how many cyclists in the crowd had ever been hit by a car, and I was surprised by how many people raised their hands. When he then asked how many people were afraid to ride on the roads, most people raised their hands (including me). He told us he supported the complete street program, making roads more accessible to other forms of transportation by adding bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalks. (Of course, “vote for me” was his unspoken but strongly implied message.)

Yep, these days the kids can come along, too.

It began to rain as we headed out, and I was cold from the wait, so I considered stopping at my car and adding another shirt. But something Amy’s sister said stuck in my mind as she thanked us for coming: “Yes, it’s a bit cold out there, but it’s nothing compared to what Amy is going through.” I decided that some minor discomfort during the ride would help me relate to Amy’s struggle and appreciate my own health and fitness that much more. So I rode on.

The ride course took the park’s two-lane road from one end to the other and back, a total distance of just over 10 miles. Given the conditions, I wore my bright yellow jacket and turned on my rear flasher. As a cyclist, there is no such thing as “too visible”. Yet I was surprised and disappointed to see several instances of what I consider a lack of common sense. Some riders wore dark clothing or were not wearing helmets. I also saw people riding more than two abreast, despite cars on the road behind them. Cyclists have a right to the road in Michigan, but they do not own it. Safety on the roads is a shared responsibility; both cyclists and drivers need to do their best to avoid preventable accidents.

I completed one loop and called it quits, deciding I’d done my part and it was time to get dry and warm. I checked out the auction room, full of gift certificates and gear to bid on (all proceeds going to support Amy). Then I checked out the incredible goodies in the food tent while listening to the triathletes discuss the triumphs and challenges of the various Ironman events they’d completed. Only fitting, given that Amy had been training for the biggest Ironman of them all – the World Championship in Hawaii, which took place today.

Everyone in the photo has done at least one Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride, capped off with a marathon).

Given the turn in the weather and Daylight Savings Time ending soon, this may well have been my last bike ride of the year. Not exactly a picturesque fall color tour, but it was for a good cause.

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