The tragic death of a Bay Area cycling legend reminds fellow cyclist Tom Epstein that the mix of bikes and careless drivers is fraught with danger.
I was saddened by the news that 86-year-old Bay Area cycling icon Joe Shami died in a collision with an SUV in Lafayette last month. Shami had ridden to the top of Mt. Diablo 615 consecutive weeks, a phenomenal feat for a cyclist of any age.
A former marathon runner, Shami began serious biking in his 50s when his knees started hurting. For nearly 12 years, he rode 40 miles round-trip to the 3,800 foot summit of the Bay Area’s highest peak every week, regardless of heat, high winds, rain and even snow.
As a casual cyclist in my late 60s who reached the summit of Mt. Diablo just once, I was amazed to learn of his achievements. One of my regular routes takes me through the traffic circle where he died. A fatal crash for such an accomplished rider was a potent reminder of the risk of cycling among cars and trucks without a metal shell and air bags to protect you.
I’ve had a few recent accidents, one from a large pothole and another when a careless cyclist cut me off. Fortunately, I survived without serious injury, but the fear of another fall has made me more cautious. In the past, I’d run some stop signs and speed downhill. Not any more.