Why I Ride

Whenever I ride, I often think about Anne. I think about when I first met her at Bike & Build orientation. She had a giant pack for such a slender person. She had multiple bike gloves, because “Mom just kept buying them”. She accepted the raincoat I bought in the wrong size and was too lazy to return. She had introduced herself as Animated Anne during an ice breaker and after knowing her for a summer, it made sense.

I think about her when I pump my tires, as she really put her whole body into the effort. I think about her when I don’t finish a meal, because she would finish yours even if she didn’t like it. There was no purpose to letting it go to waste.

I think about Anne when I struggle up a hill, and am brought back to our first ride together. It was the second day of the trip and we had to bike over a drawbridge and though a very hilly Virginia. She trekked up every hill much easier than I could, and she wasn’t even using clipless pedals yet. She gave up on them during training.

When I ride I think about Patrick. I think about Christina and Paige. I think about the 5 cyclists that were killed in Kalamazoo when they were hit by a drunk driver. I heard about this news while on my trip, but still naively thought “that wouldn’t happen to us”. I’m reminded of the group of people I now identify with- the survivors. I think about Bridget and Tricia and Rachel and the 4 other cyclists in Kalamazoo.

I was talking to a friend last week after I went public about my plans to complete my cross country route. I was somewhat baffled that my ride drew so much attention. I told her “I’m just biking! Nothing thousands of people before me haven’t done.”

She responded, “Your ride is important because a driver forced you off a road, but you are going back. Every day people in this country drive neglegently and disregard cyclists because they forget we are people. Your ride fights back on both of these things. By all of us who have been victims to cyclist/driver tragedy riding again, we are asserting our places on the road. We are asserting that we are humans who are entitled to safe transit. And every single person we can tell this to will make an infinitesimally small difference in making our roads safer and preventing more crashes.”

Anne Davis is important. Every cyclist is important. My hope and prayer is that you remember these important people when you get behind the wheel and decide that whatever is taking your eyes and mind off the road is more important.

I ride so that we always can.

Our first ride together