Charting Our Course

Video Transcription:

Hi, it's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. Welcome to our program.

The cycling community suffered a real tragedy the 30th of October, when four very experienced cyclists were struck down from behind on their regular morning ride down in Venice. I think these kinds of tragedies, many times, make us kinda step back and say is this risk involved in the sport that we love and is it something that really I wanna undertake that risk? I think that it's kind of a common sentiment for us to look at that. I think it's good for all of us to look at our lives and evaluate what we're doing.

Some months ago, Bicycling Magazine had an article by a bicycle lawyer out in Colorado, Megan Hottman. She had been affected similarly by the death of Andrew Tillman. Excuse me, Tilian, who was an editor for Outdoor Magazine.

Andrew had been on a regular ride. He was up in the hills and he was on the side of the road changing a wheel on his bicycle. Had a flat. Two cars collided and one car careened into him and killed him. Took his life while he's off the bike on the side of the road repairing a flat.

Megan knew him and she had to, she sort of went through this same catharsis of thought. This is a sport that I enjoy. I really lost a dear friend. It really wasn't his fault. There was nothing he could have done to have prevented it. How do I address this? What do I do? In her process, as she went through, she sort of came to the position that, I love this sport. I'm gonna rededicate myself to enjoying it and being an advocate for safety, just as I am. She came to the conclusion, and I think she wrote this on a message in her garage, that you live each day like you're going to live forever but live as if you might die tomorrow. I guess it's dream as if you're gonna live forever but live as though you might die tomorrow. I think there's an important message for all of us in that.

In my newsletter, some months ago, I wrote about a guy named Dean Otto, who was a cyclist. He was riding his bike in the morning one day, early. Foggy day, where he lived. Some kid coming behind him in a truck, groping along in the fog, ran into him from the rear. Put Dean in the hospital with a broken back. It's a great story. It's a great story of achievement and recovery.

Dean sort of challenged his orthopedic surgeon that he wanted to run a half marathon again, and if he did, would the doctor run with him? The doctor, of course, didn't even think he'd recover to walk, at the time. But really, a story of attitude, persistence, and belief that he would recover. Dean did recover and he actually had an encounter with the driver, who came to see him, and Dean had an opportunity to forgive the guy, which was astonishing to the driver. And the story ends when the three of them, Dean, the orthopedic surgeon, and the driver, run this half marathon together. Quite a story.

So, I also ran across a story about Anne Davis and Laura Stark, who were riding across the country to raise money for a cause, and somewhere in Idaho a car ran into them. Killed Anne and paralyzed Laura from the chest down. So, what do you do in that situation? How do you respond? Laura spent two years in recovery. Had to come back on a hand trike, and two years after the crash, she went to the spot of the crash and completed the ride to the Pacific in support of what she and her friend had started out to do and in support of the fund-raising effort that they had made. She made a decision to live her life to the fullest and not let this injury, this tragedy, stand in the way of what she enjoyed and wanted to do.

I think that a lot of these stories remind me that what really helps people overcome a tragedy is finding your purpose. What is it that really you enjoy? You look forward to do it. It adds value to your life. And I think that's the way most cyclists look at what we do every day. It seems odd, maybe, to people who don't enjoy the sport but to those of us who ride the bike and enjoy riding the bike, I think it is kinda becomes the essence of who we are, in many ways. I believe that we have to be positive. I believe that we have to look for the best in every circumstance and expect the best to happen. It's that power of belief. I believe that we're called to live fulfilled lives, and different people express that in different ways. But all of us want and seek to live a fulfilled life.

When life throws us a curve, I think we have a choice. One option is to accept what it is. Many times, you can't change the facts, but you need to harvest the good. What is it about this? What's come out of this? What can I do? What can I do more? And then, forgive and try to forget the rest. And that's a very powerful formula for getting on in life, regardless of how we've been affected.

It's interesting when I first began representing cyclists, I was just really stunned by the attitude that every client inevitably had. I joke with my assistant all the time and she said, "These cyclists, they have two questions. "How's my bike and when can I get back "and ride it again?" I think in the personal injury world, that's really stunning and astonishing, because that's not, generally, what we encounter with people. It's one reason I so enjoy working with cyclists as clients. I'm drawn to their attitude. Their incredible perseverance, their incredible positiveness. I think cyclists, as a group, are some of the most positive, energetic people that I've been around. I feed on that energy.

And I think that, thinking back on the tragedy, and even if we're not directly affected, we think about it. People are talking about it across the state. How something like this could happen? I think, really, most cyclists probably get on their bike and continue riding. Others really do deep soul searching. Of all the cycling clients I think I've had, I've only had one tell me that they didn't want to ride again. It changed their life and the desire simply wasn't there. But that's one out of so many other people who simply carry on again.

I think that you have to, obviously, respect everybody's response to something like this. Whether you're directly affected or not. Each of us have to decide on what's important to us. We have to look at our mortality and look at our lives. What we value. What's important. What risks we're willing to take. I certainly respect the decision that some people might make that the sport is dangerous and maybe I don't want to accept the risks of this sport, anymore. I understand that.

There's a great quote that I ran across that, “A ship is safe in harbor but that's not what ships were made to do.” Ships were built to conquer the challenges and, yes, the dangers of the sea. And like I said before, I'm in awe of my fellow cyclists, of their curiosity, their sense of incredible adventure, which compels each of them to ride. I love joining them in the sport, and I think that, regardless of, I can say from my own standpoint, regardless of what the decisions people make, I think you have to be careful that we don't become timid. That we don't become people who want to tiptoe through life simply to make it safely to death. And I can tell you that the cycling community does not do that and I praise them and applaud them for it.

And I applaud all of you for joining me today. I hope this helped kinda address some of the issues that are on our minds. If I can ever be of any help to you in any way, reach out to me. I really enjoy working with cyclists, any way I can. If I can help with anything, call me. That's it for today. That's my thoughts. It's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. Be safe out there.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.