Stone Bike Rack

Riding for a Reason

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It’s National Bike Month and Friday May 18th is Bike to Work Day. While others planned their week so they could bike to work on Friday, my plan was to bike to work on Wednesday and to ride the River Trail for the time between work and the Ride of Silence.

Biking to work for me means four short undulating miles to War Memorial Stadium where I pick up my carpool for the rest of my 40 mile commute. When I arrived at work I decided that having company on my ride would be nice so I posted on facebook that I was going to ride the River Trail to the Ride of Silence, does anyone want to jump in with me?

I needed to get through Midtown by bike on a workday, some would say that’s a difficult task. After picking up my bike I had to get across Markham, through Hillcrest and to the River Trail. In the morning I crossed Markham at the Monroe Street stop sign because the traffic is still light at 6:45 a.m. But on the way home at 5:20, the traffic is pretty tough. Unfortunately Van Buren doesn’t have much in the way of shoulder and the sidewalk not only doesn’t go up both sides of the street but has a lot of pedestrians at that time of day. Luckily there is a sidewalk down the south side of Markham to UAMS, where I could use the crosswalk to get across and into Hillcrest. That plan worked great. I was out of traffic, the sidewalk is wide and while I normally wouldn’t ride the sidewalk, in this case it seemed like the best idea. I cut across to Elm and took it to Kavanaugh where I was able to cross into Allsop Park without much trouble at all. I popped out of the park and crossed at the light at Cedar Hill and Cantrell to Old Rebsamen Road where I picked up two friends. We made our way the few blocks to the River Trail and suddenly, the streets and sidewalks were rife with runners, walkers, rollerbladers, and of course cyclists. It’s nice to know that so many are taking advantage of this area. So many that it can seem like a swarming mass of bodies on a pleasant weekend day. Mutual respect is certainly a must on those days when we’re all looking for some outdoor exercise on the trail. We kept a fairly easy pace on the trail to the Big Dam Bridge. On the North Little Rock side of the bridge we picked up our fourth crew member and set out again toward the Clinton Library where the Ride of Silence would be gathering.

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Along the North Little Rock side of the trail we picked up a few more riders, unplanned but more than welcomed. We made it to the gathering spot for the RoS in plenty of time and while the occasion called for much solemnity, the four of us decided that a last moment of revelry in our cyclosisterhood couldn’t hurt so we beelined for Juanita’s Cantina, walked our bikes down to the patio, leaned them against the beautiful stone wall and ordered a round of cold beverages.

Searcy County Waterfall
Stone Bike Rack
Stone Bike Rack

We enjoyed those last moments of laughter and joy, taking photos of our line of bikes, talking about music and travel and things/people we love knowing that we were about to participate in an event meant to be reverent and that during and probably for some time after, we would be thinking of those who are no longer here to enjoy the companionship of good friends, the refreshment of a cold drink on a warm day, or the joy of a spring evening outside. Returning to the starting point of the ride, there are many more cyclists gathered and everyone is pinning a placard bearing the name of a cyclist that has been killed in Arkansas. Mine was a 6 year old girl. As we fell into place, two by two, and started riding through downtown toward the Capitol Building, it was obvious that most people on the street had no idea what was going on. I hope they were able to read the names pinned to our backs and could recognize the procession for what it was. Marilyn Fulper’s Ghost Bike was on the steps when we arrived. There was no sound but the click of bike shoes on the pavement as everyone lined up in front of the steps. Several moments of silence, followed by a short prayer for those lost and for protection of those who continue, ended the ride. As the group quietly dispersed, Marilyn’s ghost bike was left. Haunting. Solitary. Missing its rider.

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Video of the ride:

The Community Bicyclist

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