As a sea of bike racks stormed the Publix shopping center this past Sunday for the 2nd Annual ‘Take Back The Trail for Tina” Ride, the buzz was, what is the ‘BIG’ cycling announcement? Even though the ride time was not until 9am, the parking lot was packed with cyclists by 7:45am.
At 8:30, everyone was directed to go inside the Burger King. Next, I began by saying the announcement was not about ‘cycling in Atlanta’ at all and in just a few minutes, everyone would understand. That followed by a quick recall of what happened to Tina Waddell on the SCT and over the past year, she had expressed her desire to thank as many cyclists who supported/rode on her behalf just a few days after her brutal attack. Well, she got her wish…
I asked everyone to put their hands together for Tina. Man, it felt like the building shook as Tina emerged from a room in back and walked thru the packed out restaurant. I was facing everyone and I only wished I had a video of the shocking facial expressions as Tina came walking out. Priceless…
It meant so much for her to be able to personally thank our cycling community, that she drove over 10 hours to do just that. What an incredible moment in time.
The day before our ride last year, we found out her favorite color was red, so 2 red flags were flown during
the entire 123 miles last year. At the end of the ride, countless riders signed one of the flags….and then we sent them to her. She has expressed many times how much she cherishes that signed flag, so much so that she brought the other flag with her for all of us to sign.
I’m sure you can imagine her being nervous and cautious, as her attacker has never been caught. Because of this, we could not put in any public forum that she would actually be here; it would have put her life in jeopardy. Therefore, the only was to get the cycling community to show up while protecting her safety, was to use the big announcement approach. I can tell you that there was not a single complaint or comment on that; only sheer amazement that Tina was actually there in person and thanking us for supporting her.
While in Atlanta, she sat down with CBS46 and 11Alive to speak publicly for the first time. Wow, I can’t imagine how much guts it took to do that but as we’ve all learned (and literally saw on Sunday) just how strong Tina really is.
Now that she has left Atlanta, we can now share this story, countless pictures to show up on Facebook and her interviews on both stations. She thinks a bunch of us has touched her…but she has no clue how she has touched US!!!!
It was so surreal to actually see Tina in person, standing right before us. Her presence definitely energized us all as we left there, jumped on our bikes and pedaled to Take Back the Trail for Tina.
The whole idea for the ride last year was the brainchild of Kevin Avery, co-host of 104.7 The Fish’s ‘Kevin & Taylor in the Morning‘. He asked me if I would do a ride like that and the rest is history….again.
HUGE Thanks to Mike and Ira, owners of Cycology Bicycles for supporting the group who rode to the state line; we couldn’t have done it without your incredible support. Also, Dave from BikeFriendly Atlanta, came out to help take the reins by leading the metric group; having him there as a leader was a big help, indeed.