Saturday, August 1, 2015

MY NEIGHBOR, MY COLLEAGUE, MY MENTOR, MY FRIEND

In keeping with the City Daily Photo August 1 'Bicycle' theme day, I offer this extended blogpost that has special meaning to me. I took up road cycling in 1996 as a way to get fit and lose weight. My neighbor down the street and fellow middle school teacher was already a passionate road cyclist, and over time became my cycling mentor. Her enthusiasm and encouragement helped me to traverse the continent on my bike in 1998 as well as ride up and over several of the mountain passes in Washington in addition to Mt. Hood in Oregon, many of which we did together. Sadly, in 2004 she was killed in a senseless and tragic accident while on her bike. I still think of her often and miss seeing her butt riding ahead of me up a hill. This is for you, Ann Weatherill, and the wonderful memories I keep. 


It is summer now, the time when sunflowers grow, and I remember Ann.


We rode our bicycles together, she and I, and this rear wheel was often the view I saw of her as she eased away from me, she being the stronger rider.


We rode up and down mountain passes, across wheat fields, and through pine forests talking about school, kids, and life.


She lived three doors down from me, and this is how I'd see her bike in the vestibule when I'd come in her front door--helmet, gloves and vest always at the ready for a ride.


Now they wait in bronze as a testament to Ann and her love of cycling.


This bronze memorial by artist Robert McNealy is located on the campus of Walla Walla University in College Place, the little town next to Walla Walla. 

As a result of her death, the Ann Law was passed in Washington state which prohibits motorists from passing when oncoming bicyclists, pedestrians or equestrians are approaching.








6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This is a wonderful memoir, and I commend you for it. The sculpture is just outstanding. One instant, I was thinking of the riderless horse in November 1963, the next I was thinking of the empty chair of writer's organisations, like PEN (http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/freedom-gets-a-seat-at-the-table-20100514-v3ma.html). In this case, it is an empty chair at the dinner table.

    I salute the two of you, "Saddlebags" together, forever.

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    1. Thank you, Julie. I appreciate your comment.

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  3. Truly an amazing story, and what a lovely gift your friend gave you. The sculpture is wonderful because it is so representative of your friend and mentor.

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  4. Tragic story, nice memorial, beautiful post.

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  5. A wonderful tribute and memorial to her.

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