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Rest in peace – Alex & Greg Bruehler Memorial Bike Ride

October 8, 2009

Greg & Alex – may you rest in peace in God’s loving arms. It was so good to be able to have been a small part of your service. We all saw how moved your family was. It was an honor for each of us to be there.

gregory alexandra photo

To Gary, Carol & all of the family, thank you so much for letting all of us come & be a part of this. Greg & Alex will live in our hearts every day.

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Carol Bruehler, listening to you promising us that you both are going to get active in cycling advocacy so that we  would be safer on the streets was heart-wretching.  Let me promise you that I will, too.  With dim hope that this will be the last time we need to hold a ride like this.

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Gary, we are all so sorry for your family’s loss.  It meant so much to me when you hugged me Tuesday night.  It was so very gracious of you to take the time to personally thank each of us that came to join in honoring Greg & Alex.  Every rider you thanked came away feeling moved.

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Kylie, to you, I don’t know what to say.  I watched you & saw you were distraught & a little confused by so many people.  I hope you saw how much we all care.  How your mom & dad touched so many people, they were very special.  I lost both my parents when I was 4.  I wore a dress similar to yours at their service.  I can’t tell you that there won’t be times when you will miss them greatly.  I will tell you that they will be with you forever, I know this because my mom & dad have been with me forever.  You are surrounded by so many loving people, you will get through this.  You will be ok.

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When we started sending emails on Monday I wasn’t sure if many people would show up for the ride.  It’s in Boerne, people have to work, you can’t miss class in college.  The replies came all day.   I send my condolences, I’m praying for the family, I’ll make a donation instead.    Though I understood, I had to fight off being discouraged.  I couldn’t help thinking that in a way, this was the most important ride of our lives.

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One by one they came.   And they just kept coming.   Some lived in Boerne & rode there.  Others braved the traffic congestion on IH-10 in their cars.  There were literally hundreds of cyclists, it was more than we expected.  There had been a similar ride in Fort Worth last week, only 88 people showed up.  It was a little daunting, wandering through the crowd.  I had to think fast, how do we get this many riders organized safely?  I spoke to the crowd in groups of about 30-40 at a time, hoping everyone could hear my voice.  Hoping they would listen. 

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I carried a picture of Alex & Greg in my hand.  That image will be in my mind every time I ride.  I stood there, slightly stunned, as we prepared to take yet another group of cyclists out in harm’s way.   So many familiar faces, so many of the clubs & teams, everyone with the same somber look.  Everyone with similar thoughts.  The grief over our fellow fallen cyclists and their families.  The unspoken fear, it could have been any one of us.  The frustration, this would not be our last ride like this.   Then it was time.

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 Nolan, a friend of the Bruehler’s, lead us on this Ride Of Silence, a ride to honor the memory of Alex & Greg.  Pulling out of the parking lot & turning left, it was a very long 2 mile ride.  I nervously looked back in my mirror, watching as we proceeded toward the church.  You all made me proud.

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Two by two, we rode.  There were a lot of riders.  We streamed in a very long double paceline, slowly making our way down Blanco Road.

more riders from Katherine

Did I mention there were a lot of riders.  It must have looked impressive, from a distance.

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At moments it was almost surreal.  The sound of the TV news helicopter circling above us,  a TV crew in a white SUV, driving along side us, filming us as we rode.  The faint sound of the traffic around us.  The thoughts of why we were all doing this.

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Arriving at the church, another task.  How do we fit all these people in this one spot, looking orderly.  I remembered an email from earlier in the day.  We want to make sure we do it right.  I rode to the very edge of the church building, starting the line there.  We stood them, side by side, all the way down the street.  There were so many, I ran out of street.  At the end of this line, setting bikes to the side, the rest of the cyclists all grouped up.

at the church

Did I mention there were a lot of cyclists there.  San Antonio’s cycling family out to support the Bruehler family in their time of need.

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The camera lenses weren’t wide enough to capture all of us.  It was incredible how the Bruehler family kept coming across to thank all of us collectively.  You could see it overwhelmed them.  It overwhelmed the riders.

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We stood, helmets to our hearts, listening to the family talk to us about their gratitude.  So many were overcome by emotion, being approached by Gary, Greg’s father.  Several women rider’s, with features similar to Alex, struggled to maintain composure as he mentioned  ‘all these Alexes’.  The family’s grief was palpable. 

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You could not help but be overwhelmed with feelings, watching the family.  It was terribly sad and poignantly beautiful all at the same time.  Softly spoken whispers of how tragic this all was.

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A really touching moment for all of us when the family brought out the guest book… for all of us to sign.  They gave all of us memorial brochures, well, as many as they could.  No one expected this many cyclists to show up.   We read, we cried, we comforted.

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Then it was time to disperse.  The light was fading.  We still had riders signing the guest book.  We brought the book back to the parking lot so each could finish signing.  Darkness had fallen by the time I left.

To the Bruehler family, please know it meant so much to all of us that you wanted us to be there, joining you at such a private moment.   Every cyclist that showed up felt your gratitude & thanks.  We were each so honored by this.  So many will miss Alex and Greg, they touched so many lives.  You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

To the cyclists, thank you.   For coming out, for being patient, for showing your care for this family.  Please be safe.  I know we made a difference to the Bruehler family, we can only hope it will make a difference in the future…

 

[Photos courtesy of  Tom Reed – Express News, Charles Shull – Artisan Portrait Studio and Katherine Fuller – Women’s Cycling Magazine]

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Sansom permalink
    October 19, 2009 1:18 pm

    So unexpected, and before their time. What can one say about such tragedy? I cannot know the grief of their loved ones. The daughter’s life forever changed. My words are inadequate.

    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.
    John Donne

  2. Briann permalink
    March 27, 2010 3:43 am

    Hi Veronica,

    I did not have the privilege of meeting you on this day, but I wanted to THANK YOU for putting such a wonderful tribute together. Alex is my aunt only 7 years older than me…..more like the sister I never had. They had just been out in California visiting that June. I was just in Texas for Kylie’s spring break and spent so much time with her and Alex’s dad and Gary and Carol. Kylie is hanging in there, we are all surrounding her with the love and support she needs. Again, thank you so much for this website. I run in honor of Alex & Greg and wear my bike pin on her visor. I am just overcome….at a loss for words. So thank you again friend. This meant so much to us.

    Briann Ives
    Camarillo, CA

  3. SouthPawBeagle permalink
    October 1, 2010 2:23 pm

    What an unbelievably wonderful tribute you’ve put together here in memory of what sounds like a wonderful couple and from what sounds like a terrifically tragic accident. I didn’t get the jist of the entire story but cycling is a big part of my life as well. We recently had another cyclist hit and killed in the D.C. Metro region….and I’ve had my own near misses.

    Wonderful tribute. Thanks.

    Southpawbeagle

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