Wednesday, June 04, 2008


A car collides into cyclists participating in a race in Mexico's northern border city of Matamoros on Sunday. One rider died, ten are injured.

This is extreme ugliness, man made ugliness as it always is. How can I write about a such a tragedy in a positive light? The answer is I can’t, but I can at least try.

A man paints a building pristine and white, and along comes a graffiti artist in the night and creates ugliness on one tiny corner of the building.

The owner of the building must go out the very next day and paint over the offending graffiti. If he doesn’t other graffiti artists will come and before long the beauty of the building will be destroyed.

For most reading this, the incident didn’t even happen in our country, so we can’t protest to our government. All we can do is paint over it and not allow it to spoil the beauty of the thing we love, namely cycling.

That doesn’t mean we ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen. The man who has to go out and repaint his building is neither ignoring it, nor pretending it didn’t happen. But he must deal with it, what else can he do?

Those who knew the cyclist that died will suffer the most, along with the people injured and their friends and relatives. Those of us who didn’t know them personally will suffer to a lesser degree, but never-the-less suffer.

Those completely detached from our sport will read the report and look at the sensational picture above and simply remark, “Will you look at that.”

Just as someone detached will drive by a building covered in graffiti and make a similar remark. One block further on they have forgotten about it. Those who care will not forget.

I hope no one comments here that graffiti has a beauty of its own. I am not writing about graffiti, it is just a metaphor. There will no doubt be those who even see beauty in the above picture as the riders and their bikes fly through the air in some grotesque ballet.

That is if they forget at the precise moment the camera froze this moment in time, someone died, and others were experiencing extreme physical pain.

The picture is ugly, the incident was ugly. It is impossible to write about such ugliness and make it pretty, any more than it is possible to write about it and make it go away.


Anonymous said...

How tragic.

southtj said...

I think that is every cyclist nightmare. I debated whether or not to even show that article to my wife for fear it would make her even more nervous about my rides. In the end I did show her. It is hard to stop looking at that picture.

Anonymous said...

Ugly to an extreme. Purely an accident or an avoidable catastrophe?

Typically I'm against legislating responsibility but stories like this one tests tolerance levels. Needed when provided with the privilege to drive a two ton plus vehicle are systems/devices that prevent driving when intoxicated, using cell phones, text messaging and other distractions designed for entertainment. I understand and appreciate that pure accidents can never be eliminated.

Even when cycling in groups or with my children, these events, supposedly random, are a constant fear which lowers the quality of every ride.

Best wishes to the cyclists and their families.

Anonymous said...

In the picture of this tragedy that I saw there was what appeared to be a police car which swerved to the right side. (The race had a police escort). Should escorts be trained not to alter course in situations like this? After all he probably had a seat belt and an airbag. Curious as to your thoughts..


Tim Jackson said...


My friend, there is absolutely no possible way I could have written anything better to talk about this tragedy.

In my humble opinion, this is your best and most eloquent post to date... and you already know I'm a fan.

Thank you for the great words about a terrible tragedy.

Gary Burkholder said...

Dave, Tim,

I agree 100% with your post and comment. It is a truly sad incident and a gruesome reminder to be all the more careful when taking to the road by bicycle or particularly by car.

This isn't the first time even this year that an accident of considerable magnitude has made national news. I think more people need take pause and more thoroughly consider their course of action.

May the rider rest in peace and the injured riders heal. May roadway accidents of all kinds be fewer and farther in between. I consider this incident as a greater opportunity to look at my driving habits than my riding habits (although I need to put focus on those as well).

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dave.

I can't help but wonder if this incident would have generated as much press without that incedible photograph. Sadly, I think not.

Katherine Muschick Schneider said...

How unbelievably sad. Maybe even sadder that the photographer wasn't so focused on the horror of the victims that he felt free to stop to take a picture rather than rush to their aid.

Dave, your wrote about this horrible accident with sensitivity and insight .
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Kk said...

when I first saw this on the Triple Crankset blog I thought I was looking at a photoshop creation... the truth made me cry.

As an artist we ponder the beauty in the grotesque and the ugly as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn explored so eloquently in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich...

I am glad someone had the presence of mind to snap this moment - I'm sure he began running to help immediately after. Hopefully this image will so horrify race organizers that in the future cars will not be able to get anywhere near the course.

The Taoist in me can't help but think, in the end, if the driver has a heart of flesh - which I'm certain he does - he will suffer enormously for he will die a thousand times thinking that he took a life and caused such pain, every day to the end of his days.

The best we can hope for (besides recovery for the survivors and comfort for the grieving) is change.

Anonymous said...

I think Katherine is unjust to the photographer, they were probably just about to take a picture of a perfectly ordinary race when it happend.

In any case, the value of a photograph in effecting change can be greater than the value of physically helping right away.

I also feel we should take great care in increasing legislation based on sensationalist events. Freedoms are easily removed in the name of safety and much harder to return.

Instead, we should let the events encourage a reasonable research into what actually improves a given situation and do that.

Roman Holiday said...


Marrock said...

How come everyone is showing the cropped pic and not the full one that shows the police "escort" swerving out of the drunk driver's way so he has a clear shot at the cyclists?

AMR said...

Thanks for your words.
I had problems dealing with that image. It is ugly, it is tragic, it is sad and it is so close to us.
At the same time, I can't even imagine how those involved are feeling. I hope it can go away, somehow.

Katherine Muschick Schneider said...

HI Dave,
I've been told that a video of this accident has been running on the Comcast homepage news. It seems the race was being filmed by a video crew when the accident occurred- so the still photo apparently was taken from the video.

This makes my earlier comment about the photographer moot. It's sad one of your readers considers this photo "Art".

Anonymous said...

A second cyclist has died. Fourteen injured if I remember correctly.

For the record, it wasn't a race, it was a group ride for families.