Last week, I told my story of being hit by a car while riding my bike. I don't have the data to statistically prove an epidemic, but it sure seems like one. Naturally, I've now heard all sorts of other stories and just this past week there were two new serious incidents in which cyclists were struck by cars. A lot of the feedback to my article, and others, rants about the Bend Police Department letting the automobile drivers off the hook. Ironically, an off-duty police officer was one of the victims this week, so we'll see if striking close to home has any impact.
Sadly, Bend is becoming a scary place to ride and I'd love to see our city make a real effort to become more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly. I'm jealous when I visit other cities that seem to care so much more about this. In Ketchum this summer, I was impressed by their bike paths. When I lived in Boulder and Palo Alto, I rode the dedicated bike paths all the time. Even little things can make a difference. Can someone tell me why the bike path up to Summit High, one of our rare segments of bike path, does not have a curb cut to allow access? What excuse is there for the lack of a pedestrian crosswalk across Galveston at the south end of Drake Park? That crossing is officially considered part of the River Trail. I'm hoping that we've reached the critical mass of tragedies that makes this issue a priority.
I was shocked, and not shocked at the same time, by Lance Armstrong's recent announcement that he was un-retiring and returning to competitive bike racing with the 2009 Tour de France in his sights. Of course, Lance's victory over testicular cancer, followed by seven Tour wins, is the ultimate comeback tale. In a past article, I discussed working as a sport scientist with Lance when he was a 19-year-old on the 1992 U.S. Olympic Cycling Team. My career crossed paths with Lance a second time when I was developing shoes at Nike. In 1996, I was working on a project with Lance to create a great cycling shoe. Nike had been historically fickle about its commitment to the sport of cycling. Ironically, in the midst of our project, Nike decided to drop its cycling line but, shortly afterward, Lance was diagnosed with cancer and the company upped its commitment to him, even though it would not have a cycling line to sell. Nike stuck with Lance throughout his ordeal and the loyalty on both sides of the relationship remains solid today. Lance's legacy is so perfect as it stands, one has to wonder why he needs to add this chapter. I think he just loves bike racing too much not to do it. No matter what, Lance's latest comeback will certainly be fascinating to follow.
Barb Buchan's story may not be as famous as Lance's, but it is no less inspirational. I had the opportunity to meet Barb, who lives in Bend, and ride with her a couple of times in the past. Just like Lance, Barb has bike racing in her blood. Barb had a horrific crash in a race 26 years ago and suffered serious head trauma, putting her in a coma for two months, followed by five brain surgeries and years of rehab. But she didn't let that stop her from getting back on her bike and dedicating herself to her dream of a gold medal ever since. Barb, competing in her fifth Paralympic Games at the age of 52, finally won gold-two actually. She won both the 3,000-meter pursuit on the track and the individual time trial on the road in the Cerebral Palsy 3 division of the Paralympics in Beijing. Congratulations, Barb, and thank you for being such an inspiration!
Don't forget to check out the XTERRA Trail Running National Championships here in Bend this weekend (www.xterratrailrun.com). There's a run for everybody-the main event half-marathon, a 10K, a stroller-friendly 5K and a kids sprint. And I'll see you at K9 Challenge with Sprocket, the Pocket Rocket. It's my comeback race.