Ride of Silence

The title of today's posting relates to a special event coming up that you might want to consider participating in. It's the International Ride of Silence and it's slated for Wednesday, May 19.

It's held every year — on the third Wednesday of May — and its purpose is important. The Ride of Silence honors vulnerable road users who have been injured or killed by traffic violence while bicycling. The annual cruise is utilized to help raise awareness that bicyclists have a legal right to use the road and to remind motorists to respectfully share the road with all users.

When I last checked, rides were scheduled in six Maine communities, all beginning at 7 p.m.: Augusta, Lewiston, Portland (which is at capacity), Rockland, Yarmouth, and Saco.

I plan on going to Augusta's Ride of Silence, being hosted by that city's bike and pedestrian group, CAPITAL (Cyclists And Pedestrians Inspiring The Augusta Life). All are welcome; participants should arrive at 6:45 p.m. to complete a release form. Riders will meet at City Center (City Hall) in Augusta and the SLOW pedal will travel through downtown, near the State House, Blaine House, and Edmund S. Muskie Federal Building. Expect a few hills. The rain date is Wednesday, May 26.

Having been the victim of a very serious bike accident in London, England, when I was run over by a truck, I should have taken part in previous Ride of Silence events ... instead of waiting 39 years to do my first one.

Find out if a Ride of Silence is being held where you live — and please go.

My go-to road located near my home in Hallowell.

Mystery man ... no more

Less than a mile from my house is the Smith Road. I put a ton of cycling miles on it. It is a good place to go for various reasons: if my time is limited for a ride; if the weather looks doubtful, I can quickly hightail it for home; and, furthermore, I often use it just to get in shape during the early season. It's convenient, flat, and has relatively little traffic. In fact, I go back and forth so much on the Smith Road, that my so-called friends at the bike shop have accused me of putting ruts in it.

There is a reason I'm bringing up this particular stretch of pavement. For years, easily a dozen or more, there has been this singular car — usually between three and four in the afternoon on the Smith Road — that I always enjoy coming across. It's deep red in color, kind of looks like one of those rally vehicles, and its signature noise when accelerating sounds pretty cool.

But the really neat thing about our encounters is that the dude behind the wheel, without fail, has always waved to me ... as I said, for years. Even if we're going in the same direction, he'll slow down as he passes and make the now familiar gesture. And all this time, we've never exchanged a word — until the other day.

I happened to be stopped along, you guessed it, the Smith Road putting my dropped chain back in place. While performing this annoying chore, I heard the mystery man's car in the distance and then I saw it approaching. And, by gum, he actually pulled over and we greeted each other like old friends.

I commented on how he had waved for years and that it was finally nice to chat with him. He said, "I've watched you race up and down this road for years. That's pretty cool." A few more cheerful words were uttered, then a thumbs up and he was off.

Being on a bicycle often leads to chance happenings. This, indeed, was a pleasant one.

'Thought for the day'

"The first real grip I ever got on things is when I learned the art of pedaling." — Seamus Heaney, Irish poet

From "Words To Ride By ... Thoughts on Bicycling" by Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, 2017)

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