23 June 2021

Truck Plows Into Bike Race

He shook hands with, and wished good luck to, a fellow cyclist.

Such a scene is repeated before races all over the world, especially if they are amateur or club races.

Each rider might go home to his or her family or friends after the race.  Or they might share a beer or lunch.

Neither, I reckon, imagined what happened next.

A few minutes after they shook hands, Tony Quinones would witness the other cyclist, whom he had just met, flipped onto the hood of a pickup truck, along with other cyclists and their bikes.

When that truck approached the road on which they were riding, Quinones said he expected the truck to turn toward a nearby parking lot.  Instead, its driver aimed straight for the group of cyclists--and accelerated.

He didn't stop until he hit a utility pole.  Other cyclists pounded on his window, screaming for him to get out.  Instead, he made a U-turn and headed back toward the cyclists.  Quniones feared he'd strike again.  Instead, the driver sped away.

Later, that driver--identified only as a 35-year-old male--was shot by police when he didn't comply with their order to stop.

As many as ten cyclists were hurt, six of them seriously. One is in stable condition.

Photo by Tony Quinones

Authorities in Show Low, Arizona--the site of the incident--haven't ascertained the driver's motives.  About all they know is that he didn't fall asleep or have a heart attack at the wheel.

Call me paranoid, but I can't help but to wonder whether resentment and the hyper-politicized environment of the past year and half had something to do with his motivations.  

As more people cycle, and more bike lanes and infrastructure are built, I sense--and have experienced--more hostility from motorists. Some believe we are taking "their" streets from them. I also sense that some see riding a bicycle the way others (or, perhaps, they themselves) see wearing a mask.  A former colleague of mine lives in an area full of Trump supporters and was, and is, ridiculed, harassed or even threatened for covering her face.  Although she's vaccinated, she continues to protect herself because of underlying medical conditions that aren't readily visible.

And it just so happens that Arizona is one of the states where the election was most contentious.  President Joe Biden was the first Democrat the state elected to the White House in decades, and the Secretary of State has been assigned a security detail because of the death threats she's received in the wake of her refusal to overturn the election results.

Of course, I can't speak of the driver's motivations.  But could he have seen those cyclists, or anyone who wears a mask, as an "enemy?"   

22 June 2021

An Epic And CNN

One of the great things about cycling is that you can get from place to place faster than you can walk, at eye level. And you can stop without having to alert a bus driver so you can hop off.  An example is a ride I took yesterday afternoon. I zigzagged through industrial areas along the Broooklyn-Queens border.  Some of the old factories and warehouses have become studios and shops but, thankfully, there's still a lot to see from the street.

You can even witness an epic battle that doesn't involve gangs.

One piece I saw in Bushwick, however, reminded me of old-school hip hop, when it wasvcalled "the CNN of the ghetto.

Is he warning the neighborhood about something?

The world moves on.  Things change--including ourselves and, in some cases, our bikes.  I just hope that we don't lose the spirit of those graffiti murals--and that I can see them simply by taking an afternoon bike ride!

21 June 2021

The Longest Day

 The Summer Solstice arrives today in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the official first day of summer, and “the longest day.”

Some clubs and individuals have planned “longest day” rides to take advantage of the long stretch of daylight.  I am going to take such a ride later.

In my youth, I did a “longest day” ride that spanned the entire day and state of New Jersey. We began at dawn at High Point, where the states of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania meet, and pedaled just over 200 miles to Cape May, about 50 miles south of Atlantic City.. (No, we didn’t go to AC.)

Honestly, I don’t remember much about the ride.  I hadn’t slept the night before because I was so concerned about missing the meetup—at 3am, if I recall correctly—and van ride to the start point.

The flickering of dawn was about the only sunlight we saw that day.  The good  news was that the sun wasn’t beating down on us on that humid day.  The bad news  was that the humidity fell on us—as showers somewhere around Clinton and in a torrent just south of Prlinceton.

Cape May juts into the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay about 50 miles south of Atlantic City. (No, we didn’t go to AC!) The pizza we ate, in large quantities, wouldn’t have passed muster in my old Brooklyn neighborhood or northern Jersey Shore (Long Branch and Asbury Park) hangouts.  And I have no idea of what kind of beer we drank, pitcher after pitcher.  Few things, though, have ever tasted better—or more earned, at the end of the Longest Day.

P.S.  There is an edited version of Saturday’s post on The Daily Kos.