New Year's Day Ride... not what I had originally planned, but it seemed to be the appropriate first ride of the year...

I wish I had the time and energy to take a new approach to this post
so much to say
so much to say that it would work better if I offered up several posts
but instead
I deliver this one post... one post that meanders a bit
meanders and wanders

read on... scan on... look at the photos
the choice is yours

stream of consciousness... 
I apologize in advance for my stream of consciousness... 

it is a tough post as it it requires a bit of information and even more emotions
intense emotions... powerful emotions... somewhat conflicting emotions
anger and sadness
it would be easier to just write from the perspective of one emotion
instead I go back and forth between emotions

the emotions are strong
there is much sadness and my anger surrounding this topic
lots of anger and lots of sadness
each emotion fighting to dominate at the surface

New Year's Day Ride!
like so many cyclists I like to start my new year off with a New Year's Day Ride

a mountain bike ride would be my ride of choice
years past have been off-road at the ever buff and flowy Rosaryville State Park
but there have also been years where I did not have the time or the weather did not favor a trail ride then I just take a pedal on the roads in Rock Creek Park

a ride with friends on a local dirt trail
a ride just me and my dog Didg in the woods
either way... even if it is the road bike on pavement
getting on the bike on New Year's Day is a great way for me to start the year
so... this year as New Year's Eve\New Year's Day approached I started to think about my ride options

to consider my ride options I had to access my bike situation
my niner single speed is in the process of being warrantied (broken frame)... my surly single speed is in need of some washers for my Avid BB7 brake calipers (old and crusty)... my road bike has a slow leak in the front and a well worn tire in a the rear (lazy about fixing my bikes)... and my flat bar specialized cyclocross bike has a broken rail on the saddle
a broken rail on the saddle and a recurring issue with the FSA Gossamer crank arm coming loose (need to remove it and use some 242 Locite\Blue)

the road bike and the cross bike are not far from being ridable 
if given the option to hit dirt.. that would be my top choice
even the C&;O Canal would rank higher than pedaling on pavement 
so I start to think if I have a replacement saddle

then there was this...

over the Christmas Holiday there was a tragic "accident" involving a cyclist and a car in Baltimore, Maryland
as in so many of these car versus bike collision... the car and its driver survived with no damage other than to the vehicle while the cyclist and its rider did not fair so well

sorry... I have issue with the term "accident"
accidents involve spilled milk... not the lost of human lives
we need a term to better describe what happened... this was definitely a collision that was more negligence than an action of happenstance

in this "accident" involving a car and bike... the cyclist died
shortly after the accident at the hospital
while the driver of the SUV fled the scene with her windshield decimated by the high speed colision with a man on a bike

the bike and body left on the road side
it is said that the wheels were both knocked off the bike
I am not sure of the list of injuries to the rider

the details of the accident make things more haunting
the "accident" was on a clear day... mid day... daylight... not night
on a wide stretch of road where the there is a bike lane and good lines of sight
a place where car drivers are accustom to the presence of bikes
a place where there is plenty of room for both cars and bike
and then this... a rear end collision with a cyclist
the driver fled the scene after the accident
the driver of the car was an Episcopal minister with a previous history of substance abuse

news reports about the Memorial Ride for Tom Palermo


but a Minister?

apparently the driver fled the scene... a cyclist that witnessed the accident chased down the car
or maybe saw the car at a stop light
the cyclist asked the driver if she was okay... she said she was fine then she continued to drive away
only to return an hour or so later

sorry... those details compound the tragedy

a minister fled the scene?
but... but... but?
I am so confused

how could this person run down another person and then just drive away?

what about the chance that they could assist the victim?

this is not a "lay person"
this is a "person of the cloth"

WHAT THE F__K!?!?!?!

the minister fled the scene?

I would think that a priest\minister\rabbi would have a direct line to their god... it sounds superstitious...  but these people believe in the power of prayer
why did she not lend aid?

why did she not rush to his side?
then last rights...
if this minister is a believer in heaven and hell... why did she not stick around to offer the victim his "last rites"?
now... I am not so sure if I believe in the whole life after death
but the minister... what do Episcopal ministers believe?

I am sorry...
this event works me up
anger... sadness... 
you name it... all the dark emotions stir within me when I think about this incident

there is that big "what if..."
What if Tom could have received medical attention sooner...
What if there is actual value to prayer?
What if... What if... What if...

no... I did not know Tom Palermo
I never met Tom nor will I ever get the chance to meet Tom Palermo
Tom and I will never meet face to face... we will never get to ride bikes together or even talk bikes together
no... I do not know Tom Palermo
but I am Tom Palermo
all of us on the bike are Tom Palermo

Tom was my brother... my brother on the bike
this tragedy first and foremost is a tragedy to Tom and his family and friends
then that tragedy extends beyond that
this is a tragedy within the cycling community

this death was senseless
this death could have been avoided

the thought that a wife loses her life partner
small children lose their daddy
a mother and father have lost their adult son
many people have lost a friend
well... this makes me sad... 

sad and then angry...
the "accident" is inexcusable
fleeing the scene is deplorable
that this driver of this car was an Episcopal minister... well... that only makes the angry side of me more mad

so... after reading a number of articles with details on the accident I heard about this memorial ride for Tom
so... instead of grabbing my mountain bike and my grey dog Didg and heading out to the nearest legal mountain bike trail

I loaded up my car and headed to my old buddy Rob Hardesty's house just outside of Baltimore City
unbeknownst to me... Rob and Tom were neighbors

Mention of Hardesty on the Gwadzilla Blog

Rob is one of my oldest friends...
after high school we had numerous adventures
highlights including riding our Celeste green Bianchi mountain bikes around Europe
visiting Rob on my motorcycle while he was working on a ranch in Wyoming
and random pop ins when Rob called San Francisco his home

and of course biking... road and mountain

so... I drove out to my old buddy Rob's house and suited up to ride a short distance to the Memorial Ride and Vigil for Tom Palermo

Memorial Ride and Vigil for Tom Palermo on Facebook


on the bikes we went a few blocks and linked up with a small cluster of riders
then a half mile later... another cluster of riders joined in... and again... and again
this was not even the memorial ride
this was just a ride to get to the ride
I was already getting a sense that the local cycling community was really responding to this event

the ride to the ride was short
while I pedaled I chatted up strangers... some knew Tom... others were there as support to the family and community just as myself
on this short ride with just a couple of dozen people I run into Bob Compton who I know through my involvement with MORE:Mid Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts 
at the meeting point\staging area I was amazed at the number of people
the people were as diverse as the bikes

the people covered the full spectrum of race, color, age, and ethnicity
there were racers and recumbents 
bmxers and messengers
fixies and cruisers
all sorts of people on a full array of bicycles

I saw a variety of people I knew from DC
everyone there to show their support to Tom's family and to the cycling community as a whole

although it was a somber event
it was also a gathering of familiar faces and friends

I saw too many friends to list...
friends from the race scene... friends from the mountain bike advocacy scene... friends from the urban bike scene... lots of people uniting to lend their support to the Palermo family and to let the world know that TOM's LIFE MATTERS... that CYCLISTS LIVES MATTER... that ALL LIVES MATTER!

after some mixing and mingling at the staging area the mass of bikes left off
it is hard to estimate how many cyclists were in attendance
it was more than a few hundred people

maybe a thousand people
people of all ages... not too many kids... but a wide variety of people of various ages on a variety of bikes

I rode from group to group
caught up with a few friends as I pedaled

it was good to see people I had not seen in a while
lots of people I know from cyclocross but have not seen recently since I stopped racing cross

the mass of bikes all arrived at the location where the accident took place
a ghost bike and a memorial were in place
the gathering was so large that it was hard to hear what was being said
a few family members spoke
some people from BikeMORE spoke
and then there was a moment of silence
a moment of silence then a recording of Amazing Grace on bag pipes
it was a somber moment

again... sadness fought with anger
along the roadside the cyclists passed a line of Episcopal Ministers
at the vigil there were a number of Episcopal ministers
wearing the robe and collar similar to that of the driver who killed Tom Palermo

after the ride and then the vigil people scattered
it was getting dark
it was getting cold
not everyone drove to the event... lots of people had to ride back to the their car
I knew of some people that rode from College Park, some from DC, a large group from Catonsville, and lost of people in the Baltimore area pedaled from home

after the ride I took a tour around the area with my buddy Rob
not being familiar with Baltimore it was nice for me to see the neighborhood... the restaurants, and the street with al the holiday lights
we looped back past the memorial
news agencies were still reporting on the scene
then we went back to Rob's house down the block from Tom Palermo's house

it was good to get together with friends
it was nice to see so many people pull together
to take time out of their lives to show their support for Tom and for the cycling community as a whole
there needs to be change

car drivers need to see cyclists as people
we are in fact people
people just like them
just as Tom was a husband, a father, a friend, and a cyclist

give them their right to space, safety, and life

Rest in Peace Tom Palermo
I am sorry that I never met you
but beyond that
I am sorry that you will not get to live your life as you were meant to be
I am saddened that a woman has lost her loving husband and that your children have lost their dedicated father
this makes me sad

love to you and yours
may they one day find peace in your senseless death

more images to be dropped onto the Gwadzilla Facebook page

the woman above is crying
I had seen her in the group with flowers for the memorial
later I learned that her fiancee was hit and killed while on the bike
or something to that effect

from my buddy Rob's house we looped past a neighbor who was also attending the ride
her husband had recently been a victim of a "hit and run" while he was on the bike
an elite athlete struck down on the bike... just one phase of his triathlon training
this day was an emotional one
more emotional for some than for others

the passing of Tom is symbolizing of everyone who has been hit and killed while on the bike
while also acting as a chilling reminder of the dangers out there
as well as being a shout out to the world to slow down... be more alert... be more careful
and of course
do not drink and drive
do not text and drive

be alert
be considerate
expect and anticipate the factors around you
always weigh in your contribution to the equation
and take measure of all the what ifs and the potential worst case scenario 

Happy New Year!
Love and Luck in the New Year
God Bless the Tom Palermo Family
this has to be a difficult time for them
their future will involve great sadness
along with the sadness there is the reality
Tom was not only a loving husband and father... but a software engineer
their will be bills
consider giving to 


unrelated randomness
search the Gwadzilla page for New Year 

1 comment:

Swamper said...

Nice Post.Need more co-operation between A)cyclists and motor vehicles
B)Cyclists and pedestrians
C)people and people
I feel like we live in very selfish times when I venture anywhere these days!I am not a Bible thumper either but it does have some very important moral codes(just common sense really) that we would all be better off with if they were generally practiced!