It happens. People die. We’ll all be dead….eventually. Cyclists live a dangerous life. When we ride recreationally, we take risks either with traffic and other road hazards, or with risky moves on trails lined with rocks, trees, cactus, etc.
This week the cycling world lost two good ones. World record holding “professional bikepacker” Mike Hall was killed by a vehicle while he was racing in Down Under. I never met Mike, but I have a lot of friends who did. Friends who actually hung out and traveled with him……not just lining up at a race and seeing him for a brief period of time. He seemed like a great guy…..humble. He pushed the limits and set records causing many others to do the same. I’m bummed I never got to meet him. Not sure if he was into Guinness, but I’m going to drink one this weekend for him. Seems like the right “tip of the hat” for a guy from the UK.
The other one we lost this week was Steve Tilford. Steve was a daily blogger. He delved into the world of doping and seemed to know that our clowns at USAC were quite guilty of keeping that dark culture alive. I actually met Steve. Just casually….a couple of times. Sea Otter and a couple of National XC events. He was a fellow “tall guy”. Rode custom ti bikes like me. He was also a van guy. And he was killed last night on I-70 in one of my favorite places in the country….the border region between Utah and Colorado. You can read about it all here. I can’t write about it and his buddy’s pics that were posted are haunting.
Steve’s death is freaking me out a bit because I lost another friend from my youth in a similar manner. Julie Hamilton was the older sister of a long-time classmate of mine. She was a ridiculously good basketball player and very pretty. I had a pretty solid crush on her, but since she was older, I never knew how to express it and feared rejection. Julie headed off to college on a basketball scholarship. She attended a small college in upstate South Carolina. Early in the season, her team was traveling by van when everything in it cut off. They limped to the shoulder of the freeway. I never heard a timeline, but since they didn’t have any lights, an 18 wheeler drifted onto the shoulder at the wrong time and plowed into them. Julie and a couple other teammates were killed. At the funeral, there were several girls in wheelchairs. It was devastating.
So…. first to the van safety thing….Steve had exited the vehicle with no major injuries and was walking around the scene when another 18 wheeler crashed into him and killed him. Please keep these safety tips in mind. Always have a kit with flares. If you are on the side of the road doing a repair or attending to a crash, make sure those flares are HUNDREDS of meters up the road from the crash. Walking 20 steps behind your vehicle is a joke. Get way back. It takes a LONG time for trucks to stop. Whether Steve and his buddy had time to do that, I’m not sure. They had time to take pics. I would have acted much more quickly to secure the scene first and make sure nobody else wound up in that crash. Get away from the vehicles and move off of the pavement….a long way off. Have a flash light in your kit with extra batteries. Turn it on and point it at oncoming traffic. Our freeways are stupid. While convenient, more people die there than pretty much anywhere else in America…..our freeways.
As for riding in traffic……what can I say. It sucks out there. Make yourself visible as possible. Today’s LED lights are ridiculously bright. Use them. Have people pray for you. Use a camera if you commute in a hostile area. Try to stay off crazy roads at night….like the interstate I rode on a rainy night when I did the Palmetto Trail. That was stupid. Don’t be stupid.
Be safe out there.