LARGE numbers of cyclists will gather in Epsom tomorrow morning for a ride with a difference, one where sadness and solemnity rules over the usual jubilation and joy associated with the privilege of riding a bike.
This year’s Ride of Silence is the first since last year’s tragic death of promising cyclist Jason Lowndes, who died from injuries sustained on Friday, December 22, after he was struck by a car while training on the Sedgwick Road, south-east of Bendigo.
The police investigation into Jason’s death is ongoing.
For many in our community, the pain and sadness associated with Jason’s death will always be raw.
Jason was an extraordinary talent, and by all accounts, an even better person, loved by all who were fortunate to know him.
He was widely respected by his peers as a rider with a wonderful future in the sport he loved and enjoyed.
Jason represented Australia at the Road World Championships in Qatar in 2016, finishing sixth in the gruelling under-23 road race, an effort that gave a glimpse of the potential he had to offer, and the dream he was never able to fulfil.
His untimely death reminds all of us of the fragility of the life we are fortunate enough to have, and the Ride of Silence, an annual international bicycle ride to commemorate riders killed and support those injured while riding on public roads, continues to garner support as each year passes.
So our Ride of Silence is also a ride of sadness.
The ride helps raise awareness among motorists, among the public and governments, as well as police and other relevant stakeholders of the ever present dangers cyclists face when they are on the roads.
It’s also a poignant time for cyclists to reflect on their own actions, and to be mindful of the need to obey the laws of the road at all times, and to be equally wary of other road users.
The event has been held internationally since 2003, while in Bendigo, it’s been an important part of the cycling calendar since 2006.
The ride is by no means a celebration; nor is it meant to be.
The Ride of Silence is supported by Victoria Police, and ride organisers have completed all necessary application requirements with VicRoads for the ride, which starts in Epsom from 9am on Saturday.
The ride continues into the heart of the Bendigo CBD at a steady pace, all the way to the fountain, from where riders will disperse.
The event also has in-principle support from the City of Greater Bendigo, and will take about 15 minutes to complete.
There is nothing defiant about a ride such as this and it is also not a protest, but it is a gesture of solidarity and a reminder to us all to exercise caution and extreme care at all times when we are sharing the road.
In a city where cyclists do not always enjoy the support and respect of other road users, Saturday morning’s ride is an opportunity for all road users to reflect on our attitude to others, our adherence to the law, and whether the decisions we make and the behaviour we choose to demonstrate are appropriate, and respectful towards others.