Anyone who has ever driven Foothill Expressway or climbed the winding narrow roads of the Los Altos Hills has encountered them ---cyclists donning colorful jerseys and aerodynamic helmets traveling in pairs and packs. Among them you will find my husband, the love of my life and the father of our two beautiful children.
Being a cyclist's wife can be a trying experience. I find it infuriating that in this post-9/11 world I have a greater fear of losing my spouse to a reckless driver than to a terrorist attack. After what happened to John Peckham, the Alta Velo bicycling club member mowed down on Old Page Mill Road recently, my fear is heightened. I don't understand, cyclists are not a new phenomenon on our roads around here. So why haven't we learned to share the road with them? John Peckham is not the first rider to meet the fate he did. Distracted and intoxicated drivers have left other cyclists broken in ditches and beside roads in our county. My own husband and several of his friends have had close calls with speeding cars. Why can't drivers fathom that every cyclist they pass has a network of people who want them home for dinner when the ride is done?
Let me tell you what it's like to be part of that network, what it's like to be a cyclist's wife. Each time he leaves on a ride, I'm on edge until he comes home. I manage at times to push these fears aside but then the phone rings and I answer praying it isn't bad news. Then a siren shrills past my house on the way to El Camino Hospital and I pray he's not on a stretcher in the back. Early one morning while my husband was on a ride, a police officer came to our door. Unbeknownst to me one of our kids had accidentally switched on our patio stereo speakers while turning on the TV. I instantly fell apart in the doorway believing the officer was there to tell me my husband had been brought into the emergency room or the morgue. The poor man got a lot more than he bargained for in dealing with a simple noise complaint.
Yet despite the fact that my husband's cycling could give me an ulcer in the coming years, I would never ask him to stop. He is not the one in the wrong. None of those who ride our streets on two wheels are wrong for doing so. It is every driver who takes out their substance abuse issues behind the wheel or searches for their mobile communications device when their eyes should be on the road who is at fault here. I never knew John Peckham but from what I've read, the world was a better place with him in it.
My world and that of my two small children is better with my husband here. He is already passing his love of cycling onto our 5-year-old daughter. I'm certain that soon I will not only be a cyclist's wife but the mother of a cyclist as well. Please be careful out there, one moment of negligence could not only ruin your life forever it could shatter an entire family.