Paris, Nov 27, 2017
This blog has an angle: it is an observation of the world, people, places, events, from the saddle of a bike. It is most of the time written during a ride. However, end of November is in France a time where we tend to snuggle at home , remembering past rides and preparing future ones. Most of the times, memories of past rides are pleasant, with lots of pictures, anecdotes, friendship, small curvy roaods, spectacular sceneries, warm weather and happiness across the board.
Such was the case last July 18 , as with the Cavaliers de Lafayette , our Franco American group of forty riders, we were nearing the end of our tour of Alsace, Lorraine and Champagne, having just visited Colombey les deux Églises , the village of late President de Gaulle, and preparing to spend time in the Verdun area, where the famous battle took place in 1916.
With John Snyder , his wife Michele and 4 or 5 other riders, we were riding downhill at about 30 km/h , when suddenly John’s bike stopped as if having crashed in a wall, John and the bike flipping over in a 180 degrees semi circle, to finally crash loudly on the road with all their speed and weight. John fell on his head, breaking his neck instantly. As we shove him on the side of the road, even if he still slightly breathed on the lap of his wife Michele, life had already left his body. John died officially two days later at the hospital in Reims, after his eldest son had had time to fly over from California to see his father.
A stupid accident, and a precious life disappeared in the wink of an eye. A T-shirt loosely attached to the handlebar , dropping down into the front wheel, getting entangled in the spikes, stopping abruptly the bike, and a cherished husband, father, friend , bike companion, colleague, went away forever, leaving behind him a long wake of grief and sorrow.
In the evening and every evening during the rest of the ride, we prayed for John’soul, for Michele, for their family. We finished our ride with heavy hearts , lost in our thoughts, mourning and mulling over the absurdity and cruelty of life.
John was a great man. Why him? Why there, on this little countryside road? Why , why, why ? The big WHY that haunts us endlessly after each accident.
But the show must go on, as they say. Life is always stronger.
We will keep riding. There will be many , many more rides with the Cavaliers de Lafayette. We will stay close to Michele and help her riding again despite the devastating memories of the fatal accident. John remains in our hearts and memories, as alive as on this picture. Our friendship will be stronger than ever .