Facebook reminded me this week that my husband and I finished our epic cross country bike ride from San Francisco to Portsmouth, New Hampshire 22 years ago.
The same day that memory popped up, we went on a very different bike ride. It was an 8-mile memorial ride for a friend’s 20-year-old son who was hit by a car and killed while riding a bike in Baltimore earlier this summer.
Biking is a huge part of my life. It helped me shed my freshman 15 in college; it’s how I met my husband; and now it’s how I maintain my sanity. But it has become incredibly dangerous.
The other day, an impatient driver sped precariously close to my husband and me as we biked over a narrow bridge. All I could do was hold my breath and hope we didn’t get hit. Despite encounters like this, I continue to ride. With all the texting drivers and road rage, I know I’m taking my life in my hands every time I go out on the road, but I refuse to give up something I love. I just say a prayer and hope my guardian angel is watching over me.
Recently my 16-year-old son started biking, and we took him on the memorial ride with us this week. Along the 4-mile route we passed three ghost bikes — bikes painted white and left at the scene where a biker has been killed. The group of over 100 riders — including the mom and brothers of the 20-year-old who was killed — stopped at each ghost bike along the way to honor the victims, to draw attention to biker safety and to hopefully make a difference.
As my son rode ahead of me, I tried not to think about how I would feel if it was him — if he was the one hit by a driver who didn’t even bother to stop. I’ve been so happy that one of my kids is finally willing to ride with me, but that joy is tainted by fear. When he heads out on his bike, there’s always a little nagging feeling that something could happen. That any given day he might be the one who doesn’t come home.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Life editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 18, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.