For Md. Cyclist, a Weekend Ride Took a Fatal Turn

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By Christian Davenport and Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, July 23, 2005

At the wheel of her Dodge Durango, Tammy Gordon rounded a bend in rural Hawthorne Road, not far from her Charles County home, and suddenly braked.

Fear crept over her as she stared through the windshield. Down a slope in the road ahead, she saw a cluster of police cars, their emergency lights flashing.

A crash site. Yet as she edged toward it, she saw no wreckage.

She had been driving for about 10 minutes last Saturday, searching for her husband, Steven Gordon, 38, who was late getting home from an afternoon bicycle ride.

She thought about lowering a window to ask an officer if a bicyclist had been involved -- but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Instead, she tried not to worry.

"I'm going to find him," she later recalled thinking. Most likely he had a mechanical problem and nothing more. "He's further along -- he's walking along, carrying the bike." She told herself they would "end up laughing about it."

Her husband, an avid fan of the Tour de France, had begun riding seriously about 15 years ago, well before Lance Armstrong inspired countless people to take up cycling. He and a friend were looking forward to a September trip to France, where they planned to cycle up mountain peaks -- the Mont Ventoux, the Col du Galibier and the Alpe d'Huez -- where some of the Tour's most exciting moments have occurred over the years.

He had been gone on his bike nearly four hours when Tammy Gordon, 38, came upon the police cars near Indian Head Peninsula in the northwest part of the county. His body had been removed by then, and the motorist who hit him had been taken away in handcuffs after police allegedly found marijuana in his car.

She eased the Durango by the burning flares stuck in the pavement, saying nothing to the Maryland state troopers.

"I wanted to keep looking," she said.

When America began its love affair with the automobile generations ago, the idea of an adult on a bicycle grew increasingly foreign -- literally. While thousands of adults bicycled through the streets of Paris, Beijing and other cities around the globe, by the 1950s cycling was generally seen in the United States as child's play.

That notion has been turned on its head over the past 25 years, driven by an increasing desire for adult fitness and helped along by attention paid when a pair of Americans -- Greg LeMond and Armstrong -- triumphed repeatedly in the world's most famous bike race, the Tour de France.


CONTINUED     1           >

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