‘We number many, but ride as one’


It all began on May 21, 2003, when about 1,000 cyclists rode in silence around White Rock Lake in north Dallas in memory of fellow cyclist Larry Schwartz, who died on May 4 of that year after being struck by an extended rearview mirror on a schoolbus.
Now the Ride of Silence is a national and global event. It’s being observed this year in all 50 states and at least 23 countries around the world — always on the third Wednesday of May, as was the first ride — in memory of bicyclists killed in accidents with vehicles.
The Fort Worth event on May 18 is being organized by fellow cyclist Scott Strom. Cyclists are asked to gather in Trinity Park at 7 p.m. for a slow-paced, silent ride of nearly nine miles along the Trinity River, through downtown to the Near South Side and back to the starting point in Trinity Park. A map of the route is posted on a Facebook page for the ride.
“Think of it as a funeral procession for our fellow riders who have lost their lives enjoying the sport we enjoy so much,” Scott wrote on the Facebook page. “The ride is to honor their memory and to raise awareness of the need to safely share the road.”
Riders are encouraged to wear armbands — red for those who have been injured or harassed by motorists and black for everyone else.

A "ghost bike," placed in memory of a cyclist who was struck at the spot

Larry Schwartz of Wylie, Texas, the inspiration for the first ride, was a 42-year-old endurance cyclist who had logged more than 26,000 miles in the saddle in 2002, the year before he was killed. A member of the Plano Bicycle Association, he was hit from behind by a schoolbus on FM1461 in Collin County on May 1, 2003. He was unconscious when he was taken to hospital, and died three days after the accident.
Schwartz’s funeral was on May 8, 2003, and one of his friends, Chris Phelan, conceived the idea of a commemorative ride. E-mail communication and word of mouth attracted about 1,000 riders in what was expected to be a one-time event but has evolved into the global Ride of Silence.
A poem by Mike Murgas, on the website of the national Ride of Silence, was set to music and sung by Luis Gomez of Spain in the video below. Here are the lyrics:

Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us,
Friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons.
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow.
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack,
But tonight we ride and no one attacks.
The dark sunglasses cover our tears,
Remembering those we held so dear.
Tonight’s ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share.
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride.

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Filed under Americana, History, Texana, Urban cycling

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