Walking along the southwest shore of White Rock Lake yesterday evening, I heard the mournful notes of "Taps" and wondered what was going on. Up ahead, hundreds of cyclists lined the bike path near a couple of Weeping Willows. They stood by their bikes, heads bowed, while a kilted bagpipes player signaled the close of the 2007 annual Ride of Silence, a slow ride around the lake memorializing cyclists killed on the roadways while pursuing their sport.
The event was held last night in 272 different cities across the country and around the world, but it began here in Dallas.
According to the Ride of Silence Web site, Chris Phelan organized the first Ride of Silence at White Rock Lake in 2003 to honor endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz, who was hit by the mirror of a passing bus and killed. More than 1,000 riders participated that first year -- "through word of mouth and email communication over a period of only ten days," says the site.
Phelan thought the ride was a one-time event, but as other cyclists heard about it, they contacted him with intentions to do the same thing in their own communities.
What caught my attention wasn’t just the silence or the bagpipes, but the absence of the sponsor paraphernalia and brochures that usually accompany such events -- no T-shirts, no energy bars, no pens or key chains or hats with brands emblazoned all over them. Not that there’s anything wrong with sponsorship, necessarily, it just made the ride that much more special. --Megan Feldman
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