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On Sunday afternoon Barrie Conrad was out on a training ride. He was struck by a vehicle from behind and killed. Barrie was a member of my triathlon training group. I did not know him very well. He was a faster runner and a slower swimmer, so we were never in the same group. I remember him sitting on the gym floor  the first day of our group with his wife Heather beside him. He shared that he joined the group to spend time with her. Heather was riding in front of him when he was killed.

On Sunday our Tri Training group did a hard swim/run work out.  We were all unaware of what had happened to Barrie just hours before. It wasn’t unusual for Barrie–or any other individual member–to miss a week; we all have busy lives and scheduling conflicts.  That night I had pushed myself hard in the swim and then did the longest run (with hill repeats) that I had done in a long time. After I biked home from the very intense tri training session on Sunday night, i stretched and fuelled up and got busy prepping for the week. I am sure I made several comments about how this particular training session was intense and how quite fatigued I was from it.

My tri coach sent an email late Sunday night after she found out. Suddenly aches and pains were signs of my presence on this earth; I was still here to feel them. There was regret that it took me a minute to recall Barrie’s face. Fear that he was killed doing something that I too did. He was biking in the same area that I had done a 35km ride on Saturday. So senseless and needless. He was struck from behind by a fellow driving an SUV down a country road.

Now is not the time nor the place to debate cyclist safety or the lack of motorist awareness, but it is very personally sobering and I confess that I am a bit fearful. I am very aware of every car that passes me a bit too close and of the very real danger of hitting a rut and coming off my bike. I ride and run and swim in a effort to make my body stronger and healthier and more resilient, as did Barrie. The reality that this very pursuit could be dangerous and even fatal is incredibly distressing. I don’t really know how to process this. Is cycling a dangerous activity or is this an isolated incident of which I have a connection? I will confess that I am concerned when I ride my bike and am always considering the risks. That is why I ride out in the country, just as Barrie and Heather were doing last Sunday afternoon.

I did not have the opportunity to get to know Barrie very well, but we shared a passion. I regret that I did not know him better. I tend to be a bit intense at during the workout and always I thought that I had all the time in the world to chat “later”. Now i know that for Barrie later will never happen. This is a very sober reminder that one can never take for granted well, anything. We just don’t know what is going to happen next. Barrie went out for a ride as he had done countless times before and I do not know what circumstances made this one different and led to such a tragic accident. It is heartbreaking. I can’t wrap this post up in some pithy observation. There is no proper way to end post that begins with death.

Ride on Barrie. The group will not be the same without you.

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