A young rider made known his thoughts about The Ride Of Silence riding in silence, to a local organizer, who in turn passed them on to me. We'll call the rider, "Bill." (Not his real name.)
Bill wrote, "Sorry, great idea, but the part about discouraging conversation just kills it for me, & most people I talk to about it feel the same. You might want to reconsider.
Believe it or not, this is a question that comes up from time to time. So let me explain it to Bill and others about that silence part of the ride.
First, and foremost,…
This is a memorial event, no different than Memorial Day 21 gun salute held in the U.S., or a funeral service. Granted, there is usually a parade involved with Memorial Day , but even then there are moments during the parade where people are silent, solemn, out of respect and introspection.
But Bill and others might not know there are Ride Of Silence locations that have additional things scheduled after the “quiet” ride to allow people to break the ice, open up, or gain closure over loved ones lost.
For example, Colleen Brown in Oakland County, Michigan, has a huge party at the velo-drome immediately after the ride. It all goes off really well. Other locations go to dinner. Point is, Bill and others who ask about the silence part of the ride, are focusing on only one aspect of the ride. It is the part that I happen to feel is the most important: silence.
...Sometimes there's nothing louder than silence. It ceases conversation, raises awareness, and underscores an important point. Simple silence. It asks for nothing anyone, no input, yet is impossible to over look or cover up.
Secondly, The Ride Of Silence is also a protest of sorts. It’s a show of solidarity among ALL cyclists, while also a show of strength, of numbers, of being able to come together showing the general public (motorists, governments – local, state, and national - authorities, and city planners) we are countless, more wide spread than many realize, with the same concern: living. This is an important, dammit!
This is an important event. NO WHERE else, under no other banner, is this opportunity taking place to peacefully assemble on the same day with ALL CYCLISTS, just as cyclists in New York, Florida, Alaska, Argentina, Singapore, etc. are also assembling. Bill and others miss the point by focusing on the silence.
Though I quietly resent Bill’s comment about a lack of conversation and that it “just kills it for me,” I respect his opinion and in turn, ask him to respect us and not come, not join in the procession, the grief or closure, or the empowerment I hear consistently from people after they’ve ridden.
At the start of the ride the first few years The Ride Of Silence began, I told people if they didn’t think they could be quiet during the ride, if they didn’t support in their heart what this was about, to please leave, no questions asked. “Do NOT ride with us, please,” I told the crowd of thousands that came to Dallas' White Rock Lake. If it’s a buzz kill for you, Bill and others, then don’t come. It’s that simple. There is no fee so you're not out any money, and since we don't collect a fee, we're not missing your financial support.
However, I would argue every great solemn event has within it a moment of awe and introspection. And this is nothing if not solemn. (Reference the sentence toward the top of this page where it begins "First, and foremost,...") Sorry, Bill and others, that we’re not chatting meaningless conversation over clinking champagne glasses, listening to a party band with balloons strung about. For you, there’s Applebee’s to mourn those killed.
Not that “most of the people” Bill talks to who “feel the same” aren’t important, but I’m willing to bet any Ride Of Silence organizer hears more feed back than Bill does. I know I see, hear, and read more feedback than most local organizers. Trust me, Bill, people aren’t attending because we are silent. One look at the increase in the number of locations last year can answer that question.
Finally, about Bill saying we "might want to reconsidering,"…in the words of Winston Churchill getting pounded in London daily by rockets during WWII, “Never, never, never.”
Bottom line, “Sorry you missed the point, Bill. Bye.”
Further discussion needed?
80 days left before we ride together, slowly, silently, ...proudly.
Let the silence roar!