Today, under smoky skies, in 90-degree heat, I rode (alone) counter-clockwise around the Nicasio reservoir. Eighteen years ago today (Saturday of Labor Day weekend) a habitually drunken driver killed Cece Krone. And I won’t forget how the judge dealt with it all (very low bail). The ‘murderist’ (whose ten year old boy was with her) was sloppily overtaking the weekly hammer ride, and in so doing rode up the stone embankment, crushing Cece and her bike. She’d been standing by her bike inside the white line, waiting for the group.

I stopped riding with that bunch long before this tragic event. Each time I went out with them I’d experience their Peloton-groupthink: if a car was overtaking,  someone, sometimes more than one person,  would yell “CAR BACK!”  and…. nothing would change. No swift re-alignment into echelon (two by two, or even single file). Just…a big blob of spandex clad roadies, owning the whole road.

If we were in Italy, the motorists would indulge. After all, it’s their national pastime, along with futbol.  Here,  most hills are about 3 minute climbs.  Not a long time to wait until the sight line is safe.

Usually I rode on the periphery of the cluster; in the gravel and weeds on the right of the white, or clinging to the yellow double line on the left. I’d call out, “MOVE!” or conversationally suggest we try to ‘skinny up’. This was back when I could talk and climb at a good clip. My suggestions fell on wind-deafened ears. Besides, everyone loves a coach, right? The one of two women in a group of ten or twenty? Right. If I didn’t enjoy riding with them, I was welcome to stop coming, and I did.

Now and then my thoughts turn to statistics. After Cece was killed, a different cyclist lost his life (old, nearly blind motorist plowed into him at the shore of the reservoir), and I began leaving notes on the kitchen table. I’d never been the kind of person to leave notes or be predictable, findable, and expected back, but this felt really bad. A third, life-wrecking crash followed in 2007 when a motorist hit Blake Herod head-on as he rode his Triumph motorcycle on a clockwise tour of the reservoir.
I had to call his widow, Barbara, to verify that yes, there was a peloton…but she adamantly insisted that a) the bikers saved her husband’s life and b)the motorist was solely to blame. “Someone gave me the name of a bigshot lawyer in San Francisco, who advised me to sue the cyclists….because they were the ones with the money! Of course we did nothing of the sort.”

Blake, like Charlie, was a maker, and the total loss of his right arm set him back, but he took up painting and drawing with his left arm. I have not gotten Charlie to feel like doing any artwork, though his impressive drawing of a cluster of oak leaves on the branch gave me so much hope 3 months after the brain bleed.

He doesn’t care to draw, though, and his Stubbornness Chakra was unaffected by the TBI.

Back to the sadniversary… a perusal of today’s Marin paper, the Independent Urinal  shows a slew of crashes, several DUIs, which, along with the hit-and-run of a UC Berkeley lawyer who was standing off the road, checking his phone as he was out on a ride. If you’re like me, you catastrophize.  Never mind that you’ve never actually been in a car wreck (true!) or had a car hit you (my two accidents were cars turning right as I traveled–too fast, because I was late–on a road, and I assume they just ‘didn’t see me’. But the result was, I hit them in the passenger door, so I call that me hitting a car. Lame, but I am so gripped about having a ‘real’ car crash–the kind where you kiss the head-high grill of a Dodge Ram as it slaloms along through traffic. I have a bit of an anti-Dodge ram bias. I doubt many bikers survive when one of them connects with you.

Oh!! OTHER GRIPE!!! Police reports that use Strange Language!  “The car contacted the cyclist in the intersection”….Charlie and I used to re-write news about violent incidents a la  police blotter speak:   “the sheriff’s bullet contacted the victim in the back”, etc..

Despite my cynicism, I have to at least pretend to believe that despite those sad news stories about the rider who was just out on a grocery run, etc etc…. Death By Inattentive Murderist isn’t how I’ll end up. Still, you’ll see on my helmet: “Future Kaiser patient # 146444325”

I need a beer. Or two. A  couple days ago Cece’s ex-boyfriend Larry blew past me coming down White’s hill, and I clung to his wheel. He was going to Gestalt, and I uh…cadged a beer from him, having no gelt on me at the time (which is most of the time).

Going to go to his house RIGHT NOW with a couple of Sierra Nevada pale ales, and a note apologizing for putting him on the spot at that noisy, delightful bastion of bikers hard and soft…I must repent my  Old Jacquie ways.  I must always travel with a tenner in my pocket.

I am quite sure every one of the bikers that were involved in that painful, indelible incident are thinking of her. Every September. Like clockwork.
It does get easier to bear, and riding, unsurprisingly, makes that possible.




~ by jacquiephelan on September 2, 2017.

2 Responses to “Sadniversary”

  1. The sobering nature of the content notwithstanding, it’s always a pleasure to read your writing and be privy to your thoughts and observations. Please persevere and keep writing…

  2. Beautiful writing, sad stories.

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