Eight cyclists headed out along Choccolocco’s back roads early Friday morning. I can’t speak for the others, but Derek Jensen was on my mind at every turn of the pedal.
Jensen, the director of external affairs at the Center for Domestic Preparedness at McClellan, died Thursday morning
after being hit by a truck while cycling to work, according to the police report. He was 37.
Jensen occasionally joined the group of early morning riders who follow a route designed to stay mostly clear of motor vehicles. He was a strong rider, an extremely fit athlete who never seemed to tire. He was a friendly soul, someone who encouraged slower riders like me. He was a positive person who could always be counted on to put in a good word no matter the subject, something we should all aspire to.
A death in this region’s tight-knit cycling community
has weighed many down with sadness. Friday’s ride was a more somber affair than usual. Eyes and ears were even more attuned to oncoming traffic. The strain of extreme physical exertion brought an odd sort of relief, an hour or so of suffering to briefly distract one’s mind from the death of a friend. It was to me a sort of mourning.
In Judaism, the Kaddish
is a prayer said in mourning the death of a loved one. Religious scholars are quick to point out that the Kaddish is not a prayer for the dead; it’s a prayer for the living.
While Derek’s friends and family remember his life, it’s important to also reflect on those left behind. We all share the same roads
. There should be more awareness that others are using them, whether these travelers are on a bicycle, running or walking on two legs or even driving in another automobile.
Most runners and cyclists assume drivers of automobiles don’t notice them. Many carry flashing backlights to signal vehicles approaching from behind. Those are necessary precautions, yet not always enough. Today’s small hope is that Derek’s tragic passing can serve to raise awareness that the roads are meant for sharing.