Moving, touching, inspiring. You pick the word to describe today's memorial ride for Barrie Conrod, killed last Sunday when he was overtaken and struck from behind by a motorist north of St. Clements, here in Waterloo Region.
Of course, the most moving moment of the afternoon was the placing of a ghost bike near the site of Conrod's death.
Family and friends placed flowers, while hundreds of cyclists, dressed in white T-shirts and jerseys and lining a nearby farm lane and the front and side yard of an adjacent home, watched. There was a moment of silence. And some tears.
Riders began arriving well before the 3 p.m. start time today at the Countryside Mennonite Fellowship Church in Hawkesville. There was a sign-up table for those who wanted to be kept in the loop about future discussions on safe cycling, although many of those who signed up saw this as an opportunity to add encouraging words to Barrie's widow, Heather Caron, and family.
While many arrived by car, easily 100 arrived under their own power, making the memorial ride part of an afternoon circuit. Estimates varied, but something in the order of 500 riders turned out.
While there were many "serious" road cyclists, there were lots of recreational riders and a few families with add-a-bikes and bike buggies. There were riders of all ages.
The media were there, too. CTV turned out with two camerapersons. The Record had a photographer and two writers on the scene, and there were other print and web reporters.
Keeping the supporters organized was a team of cyclists and friends of Conrod and Caron, with Vy Waller keeping the crowd informed by megaphone. I was there as a parking marshall, and my partner Dora joined me in taking some of these photos, and later in the car, as we volunteered to be the "sag wagon" for the event.
Vy Waller (left) and Heather Caron led off the crowd, and how impressive it was, after the first four or five groups had left, to see what looked like an endless stream of white-clad cyclists pedalling along Herrgott Road.
Waterloo Region Police were there -- two patrol cars and two motorcycle units -- to block the road and escort the largest bicycle memorial ride ever seen in Waterloo Region. The event went off virtually without a hitch. Thanks to the generosity of the Countryside Mennonite Fellowship Church, in offering parking and a rallying point, to the family who offered their yards and driveway near the memorial site, and the friends and family who acted as parking marshalls, group leaders and liaison, this mass ride came together in a matter of days with a flat tire the only casualty.
The organizers hoped for a large turnout, but had not been prepared for 500 riders. The original plans were to continue from the memorial site to the St. Clements Community Centre, turn around and head back to the church in Hawkesville, but for the safety of all, the crowd departed directly from the memorial site back to the starting point, and the procession of white riders again lined the road.
Moving. Touching. Inspiring. All three.