Earlier in the summer, a woman was riding on the Whitten Road in Canaan, Maine, and she was pulled off of her bike by two men and raped. In the middle of the day. You can read the report here.
This hit close to home for me and a lot of women I know. One of the reason we live in Maine is so that we can ride on rural roads alone. It's part of the Maine way. It's the way life should be. We find joy and peace of mind and sanity either running or cycling all over this area.
This bike ride, called Keep Riding Our Roads, was meant to offer support to the assulted woman, and to let people know that we are a strong and committed group. Suzanne, who addressed the group of riders before we set out, said that we were all there to "repave those roads with love and joy." Well said, my friend.
We rode 35 miles through the beautiful countryside, and everyone was so kind and supportive. By the end, we all had new friends and had been laughing and bantering the whole way.
When we got to the road where the assault took place, silence and an eerie, sad feeling came over us.
It just didn't feel like the scene of a violent crime. But it was. I thought a lot about how awful it must have been and how scared she must have felt. I played over what I would do if approached by anyone while out on my bike. We all talked about strategies and safety measures.
We still had such a great time. And it was so much fun to ride with Suzanne, which is much more rare than I wish with our schedules the way they are.
I feel a little defiant about my bike rides, but also about my safety. I just got my package in the mail today with one of these that I'll strap to my bike. God forbid I ever have to un-velcro it from my handle bars.
This morning I was running in City Forest, the perfect little trail run that I love so much. I didn't have my mace yet, and I ran past a man hiking in the woods. As I always do, I geared myself up to run really fast if I had to, if he seemed like a threat to me. When I ran past him, he said: "There is a black bear out there. Be careful."
Good grief. What next?
In OTHER sort of related news, I did something for myself that is so long overdue I don't even know how to explain myself. I finally got fitted for my bike and got myself a new bike seat designed for women. After YEARS of suffering with back pain and other-area pain, I now have a much more comfortable set up. After getting my seat adjusted back and my handlebars adjusted down, a few centimeters each, my body feels a world of difference.
Be safe out there, folks! xo