I never participated in a Ride of Silence before. But when I got a call on September 6 asking if I was OK because a cyclist was killed on Spriggs Road, I knew I needed to do something.
I first went looking to see if the Washington Area Bicycling Association or Potomac Pedalers had planned a Ride of Silence. I couldn't find anything. Then I realized that this was something I would have to create. I contacted my friend, Brad Hancock, and asked what he thought, and he said go for it. We picked today's date, put up an event page on Facebook, and posted in the Prince William Cycling Group's Meetup page and on Potomac Pedalers.
We had no idea how many riders to expect. With wheels down at 9:00 a.m. I rode to Forest Park H.S. arriving around 8:40 a.m. I was very surprised what I saw as I pulled in. There was a good turnout.
Walking around was Carol Callahan. She is the widow of the cyclist, Joseph James Callahan, 66, who was struck and killed September 6, 2013 while riding on a bike path next to Spriggs Road. She was so appreciative of every rider who came out to honor her husband. Two of her sons, Jimmy and Josh, rode with us.
At 9:00 a.m. Carol took a group picture. I then went over the rules (no cell phones, no talking, riding 10-12 mph) and had a moment of silence for Joe Callahan.
We took the bike path, single file, along Rte 234 to Hoadly Road. I led the group and kept it mostly around 10 mph. Once we got to Spriggs Rd we rode on the shoulder. As we passed Coles Elementary School I saw Carol outside her car taking pictures of us. Clearly this day meant a lot to their family.
We turned on Spriggs Road. This road is a four lane road, curb to curb with no shoulder. Although there is a bike path next to it, it is the bike bath that Joe Callahan was on when he was killed. We took to the road and rode in twos.
About 250 yards from Hylton I could hear a bagpiper playing. This was a nice touch. We left the street and crossed over to the bike path, pulling up in front of the makeshift memorial at the school. The bagpiper was playing Amazing Grace. When finished, he stood at attention. We were, true to the ride, silent. He played another number. When he was finished we left.
It was only a couple more miles back to Forest Park HS. Even riding down Spriggs we feathered the brakes and kept the speed around 12 mph. Words cannot describe what it's like to ride in silence. Maybe these words can:
The Ride of Silence
Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight's ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride
- Mike Murgas
It was one of the shorter rides I would do and certainly the slowest. But it truly was one of the most meaningful. May God Bless the Callahan family and it is my hope that this day brought a little more healing to their lives.
|Barry, Jimmy, Josh, Brad|