I (Greg) don't often interject too much commentary on our family blog, which has morphed from a daily look into our lives in Amsterdam to a travelogue of all the countries we've visited during our time in Europe.
Tonight, however, I just can't think about hitting the pillow. Beside the usual myriad of thoughts pulsing through my brain, something happened this weekend to an acquaintance of mine that has given me pause and made me shudder.
For details on the woman, Barbara Warren, I'll direct you to the homepage of Competitor Magazine at www.competitorsocal.com. Please read Bob Babbitt's brief biography of Barbara there.
I had only met her a few times during my stint as the start and finish line announcer for the Race Across America (RAAM). But something about this special lady has always stuck with me. Along with her twin sister Angelika, Barbara tackled the supreme endurance contest of RAAM just as she had the other athletic challenges in life: With full force. A veteran of many Ironman triathlons, ultrarunning races, adventure races, a fitness model, a public speaker, and much more, Barbara had a spark that is ignited by the passion of a person who grabs life by the tail and swings with all her might.
Unfortunately, I'm writing about Barbara in the past tense. The details of her death are horrible: Last Sunday during a triathlon in Southern California, she crashed on the bike and was paralyzed from the neck down, and lived her last few days in a hospital bed on a ventilator. Her husband, Tom Warren, the winner of the SECOND Hawaiian Ironman triathlon, was by her side.
When we get on our bike for a training ride, a race, or a trip across town for groceries, an accident as tragic as this one is usually the furthest thing from our mind. But a few pounds of metal and rubber are the only thing between us, the road, cars, trucks, buses, and trams.
Somewhere in Barbara's tragic story there lies a message. For the bike riders reading this, it's painfully obvious: Be safe. Be aware. Be thankful that you're healthy and fit enough to enjoy one of the finer pleasures in life, that of riding on two wheels and feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. For those of us that operate a motor vehicle (even though none was involved in Barbara's accident), it's just another reminder of the exposure that cyclists have to the environment around them. Give them space. Slow down. Pass when, and only when, the coast is clear.
But an even more important message, I believe, is simply to remember to love the ones you love. Hug them. Tell them how much they mean to you. And thank them for being a part of your life. I would expect that this is what Barbara would have wanted us all to do.