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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

keep riding our roads

We had our community KROR (keep riding our roads) ride Saturday and it was better than I could have ever imagined.  I'm guessing we had close to 50 cyclists show up to ride.   We had a perfect day for it, some donated apples and water, and even this beauty from Central Maine Disposal.  Because let's be honest, when it comes right down to it you can pack your own apple but you can't pack your own potty.

Brenda demonstrating the charity toilet

My sister and Brian met us at the start and took the kids to the lake so I could ride.  What a beautiful thing.  It was such a great feeling to send them with their aunt, uncle and cousins without a worry.  If you want to do something for a mom you love, take her kids and act happy about it.  It will do her heart wonders. 
Emilie drove down for the ride and I was so happy to get to ride with her.  My friend Jeanne also showed up at the last minute and there was a former Trek teammate that made the trip for the ride as well.  (It was about an hour from where we live.)
There was a reporter from the Bangor Daily News who interviewed Chris and I and some of the other participants.  It felt like such an honor to welcome this group of dedicated cyclists, most of whom I did not know but felt an immediate kindredness to simply because they had come out to ride.   I was touched to see so many men show up to ride.
We asked people to choose from the three riding groups: a 35 mile faster paced group, a 35 mile slower paced group and a 12 mile group.  Chris's idea was to have a little something for everyone. 
I got to lead the faster group. Luckily there were four cyclists who were very familiar with the roads and were able to take over since the GPS Chris had mounted to my bike stopped working at mile 9 and had no idea where I was.  (The GPS malfunction was no great surprise since I have some trepidation about these devices in general and don't like to rely on a machine.)
I have never ridden the rural back roads of central Maine and was stunned at their beauty.  As I road, I initially felt caught between the gravity of the reason for our ride, and the sheer joy and pleasure that comes from sharing something you love with other people who love it. 
Before I knew it we were at the Whitten Road, the place where the incident occurred, and I was caught off guard by the unassuming simplicity of this country road.  How could such a thing happen here in this tender neck of road? I said a prayer for the people that live there, for the woman who is still suffering and for the world that must absorb so many countless atrocities. 
And then we paved the Whitten Road with all the goodness we could.

As we left the Whitten Road, our group hit its stride.  We were less spread out and had gotten to know each other a bit.  We talked about the police investigation, shared scary bike stories and safety strategies and then moved on to social chatter, wind-in-your-hair good feelings and straight up laughter. We had a group of 19 riders and by the end of 35 miles we felt like a family.

Emilie, looking awesome.

Jeanne, always with a smile on her face.

Chris's partner, Brenda, led the 12 mile group and then played SAG wagon and drove around with a cooler full of cold water.  She even made a stop for pretzels and Pringles at Chris's request.  Here is Chris enjoying her Pringles.  (She also took lots of these pictures which I stole from her.  Thank you Brenda.)

I failed to get a picture of Chris and I but I did get this one of her riding. 
I am proud of us.  We were both so outraged by the incident and were left feeling powerless and angry.  Chris said to me, "We should get a group together and ride."  Then with lots of planning and organizing on her part and some encouraging and high-fiving on my part, we got a group together and did a ride.  We didn't raise money or catch any bad guys but I'd like to think that we raised some awareness and helped soften the blow such an act of violence imparts on a community.  I could see from the smiles and feel in the hugs of gratitude I got at the end of the ride that what we did made a difference to those who came and road.

After all, these are our roads too and we have the right to ride them safely.

Some people say "We should.....".  I love that I have friends who instead of saying "You know, we should..." just go out and do it.   Thanks Chris. Your hard work meant so much to so many.

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