Well, on the first day of the 50 experiment, I’m going to completely change direction.  It would have been a fabulous first-time experience, but I’ve done it before, so it doesn’t count.

Today in Murfreesboro, as in many cities, there was a bicycle ride staged to memorialize those individuals who have been injured or killed riding bikes.  It was a silent ride, single file, through the city, slow, of about 10 miles in length.  It was moving, and effective.  The Murfreesboro Police Dept supported this event as escorts and the folks we passed were awfully respectful, stopping their cars and conversation as we rolled by.  My pictures are not great, but I’ll post them anyway to give an idea of what it was like.

making a turn on MTSU campus
the line behind me

I want to add another essay I wrote a couple of years ago when I participated in something like this for the first time (it was before I began the blog; I recorded it in Facebook notes).  I still miss my friend Jim, and still care for his lovely wife Sandy and their beautiful daughters.

Jim Benson’s Memorial September 8, 2008
I had the privilege of participating in the bike-riding memorial for Jim Benson today. It was a silent, 10-mile, single-file bike ride from Siegel High School to the location of Jim’s death and back.

When you reach a certain age, there are not many things that are new to you, or that speak to you, or move you. Today was one of those rare times. The ride was exquisite in its simplicity, but profound in its depth. I suppose the newspaper will run a short article detailing the ride and its 100 or so participants, but will be unable to do justice to how overwhelming this experience was.

As we left Siegel High School, the line of bicyclists stretched from the parking lot, down Siegel Road, out onto Thompson Lane. There was complete silence, except for the sound of the chains on sprockets, the shifting of gears. We had two motorcycle police officer escorts, who did a flawless job of directing traffic, and to whom our group is deeply grateful.

Upon arriving at the site of the accident, we came to a stop, where Jim’s lovely wife Sandy stood with her support group close around her, beside the small memorial erected in Jim’s honor. There was not a word spoken, and there was never a more powerful moment. We stayed in this place for perhaps 3 or 4 minutes, before beginning to line up again for the return loop back to the school.

Jim and Sandy’s beautiful daughters participated in the ride, and I hope that they were able to see the tribute in this event. Sandy shared before the ride that Jim had always been involved in athletics in general, being a collegiate swimmer at the University of Georgia, and a cyclist his entire life. Those of us who share his love of cycling reflected on how quickly and suddenly life can turn. These two precious girls have the memory of a spectacular man who was devoted to them and Sandy, and who influenced the lives so many people. Jim and I shared a couple of “UGA conversations” at the MAC, and I was struck in those short moments by what a kind and warm man he was.

What a lovely tribute to a wonderful man. I am so grateful to have been able to participate with my fellow cyclists in honoring this man and his family.

Jim, you are loved, you are missed.

Thank you for reading, and watch for cyclists!