By: Eric Marcotte
One of my most cherished times is the early hours as the city is still sleeping. I saddle up and clip into the pedals of my bike and set out on the road. Tunes bumping, heart thumping, legs pumping, the air rushing in and out of my lungs. It is so exhilarating to me. What I really enjoy most is the feeling of being free. As the blood fills the legs and the heart starts pumping, you know it’s going to be an amazing day on the bike.
The speed is addictive to me. Conditioning the body to turn the pedals over and over with power for hours on end. Even as a health care provider I am sometimes amazed at what we are capable of. This time of year as the valley lights up with colors of flowers and trees blooming. The smells are intoxicating, like my favorite, the orange blossom. The sky is so incredibly blue with the occasional wispy white clouds, contrasted by the green cacti and the palo verde trees blooming their yellow flowers. These are what I missed most not being able to ride with my injury. But I’m back in the saddle.
I cannot speak for everyone that rides a bike, but I would estimate that for those of us that are logging the thousands of miles, we have our routes planned. Those routes involve as little traffic and interaction with cars as possible. Living in a city, however, forces those interactions as we first begin the ride, as well as end it. Finishing a 120 mile ride exhausted with the last 5 miles of stop lights and cars, is not always my favorite part, but I do have to return home.
I bring this topic up, as to me it seems there is an increase in accidents happening between cyclists and motorists. Perhaps it may be an increasingly popular sport as people turn to ways to enjoy exercise and their health (or get addicted like me :). It could be the time of the year as the seasons change and more of us are out on the road. Or there could be that increased awareness of. those involved, as the cycling scene it is a small close knit community that cares for each other. We all understand why we do it and share that passion, as well as acknowledge the dangers and risks we face each time on the road. With such a close knit community, information about these accidents is easily passed through sites like this, twitter, email, social media sites, etc. There is so much technology now.
It’s just that, technology, which is essentially information that posses a problem. As someone who has had his fair share of schooling, I too enjoy learning and acquiring new knowledge, regardless the topic. I just like to learn. I’ve long held the belief that it is a conditioned response we have to essentially protect ourselves. Information comes in at all times, trivial things really, but they are essential for our survival instincts. We get information on temperature, if it’s day/night, is there food around, smells, escape routes, etc.
But things have changed regarding our “need” for info, and needing it now! I had read an article in the past about this addiction to information (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=are-we-addicted-to-inform). It confirmed my thoughts. That was years ago. I believe it to be worse now. We are products of our environment, and as our environment is fed with quick sound bites, short videos, 140 characters of text, etc. we are conditioning our nervous system and brains to learn that way. (when was the last time you had a deep intellectual conversation with rational thoughts, critical cognitive thinking that was articulated in a manner that made sense? Without being interrupted by a text, email, phone, etc?)
I have had many great friends and those I race against taken out by the ever increasing population of “inattentive” and “distracted” drivers. It changes their life. It changes ours. The ripple effect. When those injured spend weeks and months in the hospital, at rehab, things are changed at their work, at their home, in their family, in their life. It may change their ability to enjoy an embrace from a loved one. It may change their ability to inspire their child at how great their daddy or mommy is. It may change their self esteem and worth. In any case, there is a change. In any case, it shouldn’t happen.
I’d like them to know that I do not think my life is any more important than theirs. In fact, I feel we are all lights shining, some brighter than others at times. If you can picture darkness, and our light begins to shine, we can shed light on what our experiences and existence here is. I know I’m not done shining, so please respect that I have a mission and work to do here yet.
As I rode today I thought about what would be written. I thought, does it matter what I say? Who out there is TRULY listening? I mean truly, in their heart and soul, connecting with the gravity of the responsibility that we each have here? And if they do, how long does it resonate with them? How would one explain, validate, or rationalize that taking a text is more important than another persons safety? Is this the “place” or forum to address this ( as I’m sure above this post is some kid hitting his nuts on a skateboard crash, and below someones status is now single, before that is a heated discussion on politics, etc.)? What is the best place? Time? The way we are constantly fed information, this post and feeling will be lost in the mix within the next day or so. Yet, those injured, have had their lives changed forever. How can one get these messages to stick with people in the midst of all the nonsense we all can get caught up in?
Sure, as a lot of you that may read this are cyclists and can identify and are scared and fed up. But I really am not writing this for you. I am writing it to those that are behind the wheels of cars and trucks. That we would hope can connect and appreciate another life. Out on the same road, in the same place in the ENTIRE WORLD. At the same time, enjoying their health and ability to do so.
Each day at my office I think of new ways to connect and communicate the importance and gravity of responsibility we each have in our health, and future health. These thoughts written are to connect and communicate the importance and gravity of responsibility we have for each other here. Now. We learn and use our experiences to shape our next moves, learning from failures as well as success. What is it that keeps people from learning this? Is it a sense of entitlement? A lack of understanding? It escapes me to even think of the possibilities.
I ask, what must it feel like to know that you have permanently changed someones life by injuring them, or even worse killing them? Because you just HAD TO HAVE that text message, or that email, or to change that station, or to program that GPS, you are saying that is more important than another life. How would one explain, validate, or rationalize that taking a text is more important than another persons safety? I will promise one thing, in 5 minutes that information will still be there for you to respond to and learn, in 5 hours, in 5 years. But that moment to respect others lives as you get into that car and onto that roadway will not. Please see that life and soul out there, be happy that they may be smiling inside feeling like a kid again recalling the feeling of riding a bike for the first time.
The photo above is of a Kavachaf. It was given as a gift from my brother his past visit here following my injury. It is to help protect from the many dangers which may afflict a human being. I carry it with me everywhere, and especially when I ride. I pray that it protects me from ignorance, inattention, and distraction as well.
Enjoy your holiday everyone. Much love. Be safe.