An active member of our Gorge community was killed today. She was riding her bike in the shoulder of I84 heading west when she was struck from behind by a driver who admits to being fatigued.
The driver is at fault. The end. There is no reason why a person should fear for their life riding in a 5 foot shoulder no matter how busy a road or how fast the traffic is going. Unfortunately, our culture seems to think that it’s the cyclist’s fault for riding on that road. That they had no right to be there. Well fuck you if that’s what you think.
Ellen was a spark. She was full of vibrant energy. She changed the room the moment she walked in the door. Now her energy has dispersed back into the universe to morph into something else. Trust me, there was a lot of energy there to morph, I’m sure we’re all going to feel it for a long time.
I had the pleasure of sharing a lane with her at masters swimming and enjoying many a night at tri club. I was a mentor sorts for her, as a triathlete, runner, cyclist and a physical therapist. So earlier this week, when Ellen announced her plan to ride from Rowena crest to Crown point I thought for a moment about discouraging her. I knew that the ride would require her to travel on I84, a busy interstate with a speed limit of 65 mph, for approximately 10 miles. I thought about it and said nothing. I said nothing because I had already hounded her for 90 min or more to not do an aggressive hilly 20 mile hike she had planned. I discouraged her because as a PT I knew without a doubt this would be a problem for a knee injury she had discussed openly in the tri forum. I didn’t have the energy for another head to head battle with the force that was Ellen and I let it go.
This morning on our way to the Kruger Kermesse, we got stuck in stand still traffic on I84 and later passed the scene where we saw crumpled bike wheels at the side of the road. I thought of Ellen and immediately dismissed that thought as paranoid. I was crushed to know that a cyclist was obviously involved in the incident but having a race to get on to, it left my mind quickly. We were late for my start. No big deal, I rode singlespeed and relay only, (I really didn’t want to ride 3 races anyway), and had a great day. It was on our way home that we found out it actually was Ellen.
Ellen, I’m sorry. Perhaps if I had said something about how dangerous I think it is to ride on I84, you would still be here. But somehow I think you would’ve done what ever the hell you wanted anyway, cuz that’s the kind of person you were. May your energy continue to send ripples through the universe the way it always has.