The evening of Saturday, January 8, 2022, I was inside a big box store talking to a clerk about replacing my over four-year-old cell phone. I had parked Sophie, the Fairdale Weekender Archer, a bicycle who has been my trusty sidekick since I won her in a Bike Austin raffle in 2017, a mere 10 feet away in the small vestibule for shopping carts. Since I was so close and regularly looking right at her, I did not use my u-lock and cable lock — a fatal mistake I’ll never make again. At 6:30 pm, a brazen thief walked into the little lobby, stood there for 20 seconds, then walked out with my bicycle while I wasn’t looking. The next time I looked up, Sophie was gone, and with her, a piece of my soul.
The rain stopped, clouds parted, and the sun came out on a winter Saturday in Austin. Fifty or so bicyclists gathered underneath the Browning Hangar, the first of its kind, a now refurbished WWII era structure built with wooden trusses. A sense of history was fitting for the somber purpose: to celebrate the life and commemorate the death of Merry “Cookie” KatherynDaye. She was the fourth Austin Cyclist to die in 2019 in a crash, in this case a hit-and-run with a truck. We rode slowly and quietly to the crash site and had a gathering, and then returned. It was a fitting event.
The tragedy still hurts for the family members and strangers alike who didn’t know her but felt the pain and loss, even indirectly. This gathering was a step toward healing, community and preventing further senseless deaths. Perhaps, some justice will come out of this. That is why I initiated the idea for this ride and facilitated conversations to make sure it happened. At the end of the day, while the ride was a success due to no incidents and some media coverage, Cookie is gone. And that is just wrong, and it hurts. But her memory lives on.
I’ve titled this sad post the same as the ride for Anthony John Diaz, because it was very similar. A bunch of people show up at a pre-arranged place, they chat, there are some announcements, and the ride begins without people speaking unless needed for safety. The group rides around East Austin with leaders stopping car traffic or the riders as needed, and eventually it arrives at the scene of the victim’s death. There is a bike painted all white: a ghost bike. Somber words are spoken, people reflect, and the ride continues. It then ends at a park after about 10 miles, where people are thanked and more words are spoken. It’s sad, and it’s supposed to be, like a funeral procession. But now what?
Today was to be a book-writing day so only photos for the blog, and maybe a bike ride map and stats from Strava and short map video from Relive. As you might deduce, that didn’t happen. I got my walk and yoga in, but not the writing. Then my doctor’s appointment took three hours instead of one, most of it waiting. I was not a very patient patient. Continue reading →