Not every fallen cyclist makes the news.
Sometimes riders lose their lives, and no one even notices aside from family and friends. And we may never know we lost a brother, a sister, a friend we never knew, and now never will.
That’s what almost happened here.
A rider died earlier this month, only a few miles from where I live, on an intersection I know well. But the only hint came in a tweet from filmmaker and photographer Danny Gamboa, who posted a photo of the newly installed ghost bike.
And that’s how I learned Josh Michael, aka Monster, had died earlier this month.
The details are still sparse. What I’ve been able to gather from Facebook is that it appears Michael was riding on the weekly Night Owls ride on Tuesday, February 11th (actually the 4th), when he somehow fell at the intersection of Sunset Blvd and Crescent Heights.
Tragically, while he normally rode with a helmet, he’d forgotten it that night, but decided to ride anyway. And he was only planning to join the group for a few miles, just to say hi to his friends.
But something caused his bike to go down, hitting his head on the pavement. He passed away almost two weeks later on Sunday the 16th.
We’ll never know if he would have survived if he’d been wearing his helmet. But this type of solo fall is exactly what bike helmets are designed to protect against.
This is the 18th bicycling fatality this year, and the seventh in Los Angeles County. He’s also the fifth rider to die in the City of Angels already this year.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Josh Michael and all of his loved ones.
Update: Now it makes a little more sense.
According to his friend Huey JD Steven, Michael was riding downhill on Crescent Heights towards Sunset with a group of riders around midnight on Tuesday, February 4th.
He was riding at speed, maybe a little faster than necessary, when he somehow missed the call for a right turn, bumped another rider and fell, landing on his head.
He was taken off life-support on Sunday the 16th.
As Steven put it,
He went out loving what he did.
Did anyone see him go down, or are we just assuming that this was not a hit-and-run because there was no noise? I know sometimes riders just fall, but given the experience of the rider and the lack of anyone noticing anything on the street that would cause the fall the likelihood of just falling over and hitting his head seems rather remote. And yes, I know I’m being (slightly?) paranoid but my distance from the event in both time and space behooves me to ask this question.
He was on a group ride surrounded by friends, so I assume they saw the fall. If not, they would have noticed if a car had been involved.
Damn. I recognized his picture. I’ve seen him out on the streets a few times. Even raced for fun.
Sometimes I saw him with his helmet. Sometimes without. Just a terrible outcome.
I think group rides can be quite dangerous. All you have to do is touch a little bit of your front tire to the rear of the rider in front, and you are down, and the upper body hits first. The helmets need to be worn, but they need to be better too. Some cyclists are traveling at 50 mph now.
This is so true…… Helmets are key….. Its very sad how this happened. Its rare to hear of cyclist on cyclist fatality’s but when you do hear of it, it always hits hard with the reality of how dangerous our “sport” or “transportation” or source of recreation really is. I have been saved from brain injury by a helmet in a crash where my speed was similar to his….. I only hope he is riding in paradise right now. He is very loved and missed by his friends…..
I have to be honest, I sometimes leave my helmet behind when I don’t want to be dealing with the helmet at my destination. I have been driving a patient west across sunset to physical therapy in w hwd every monday wednesday and friday and I am always moved by the sight of the white bicycle. There but for the grace of God go I.
Different issue: As a commercial driver, and a bicyclist I am not impressed by the lighting these guys use on their bikes at night. I cycle well lit up at night. When I am hit and lieing on the ground, IF the driver actually stops and comes over, I want to be able to say “really, you didn’t see me?”