Tuesday, May 02, 2006


It has taken me a few weeks to be able to write about Laraine Lagattolla.

I lost a dear friend on our Cross Country Southern Tier tour last month. A 52 year-old man was pulling out of a parking lot, in a hurry to get home from work, and hit her. He never saw her. She was alone at the time, about 200 yards from our hotel in Cleveland, TX, more than halfway through the two-month tour. She died instantly.

Laraine was a wonderful person – I knew her from the Finger Lakes tour she did last year with us. I helped convince her that she could do the cross country tour. Her friends tell me that she’d wanted to do it for years. Unfortunately, there was nothing anyone but the driver could have done to prevent the accident.

I rejoined the Southern Tier tour when I heard the awful news and I grieved with the women who had become very close to Laraine during the tour. They tell me she was having a wonderful tour, and had had a great day. Most of her last day, she’d been riding with another woman, and the two of them had saved a puppy trying to cross the road. They’d gone door-to-door until they found the puppy’s owner – in effect, they’d saved the puppy’s life.

I left the tour to attend Laraine’s funeral and meet her family and many long-time friends and co-workers. My heart goes out to all of them for their terrible loss.

At WomanTours, we pride ourselves in helping women be all they can be. We challenge each other and support each other to become stronger -- both physically and emotionally -- than we’ve ever been before. So it makes no sense to me why someone would be taken from us so unfairly. There are times on a bike when I feel unbeatable, free, youthful and exuberant. Certainly there were times on the cross country tour that Laraine felt invincible -- here she is proudly cresting a hill in New Mexico.

But times like these remind me how fleeting our lives are, and how we have to cherish every moment by doing the things we love to do. There is no better time than now and no better way to honor Laraine’s life than to get back on my bike. As painful as that has been in the past few weeks, I ride in memory of Laraine. I will never forget her.


Lesley Anderson said...

As one of the women on the tour during which Laraine was tragically killed, I appreciate Jackie's words above. At the conclusion of our tour in St Augustine, we were part of a moving ceremony at the ocean to commemorate Laraine's life. And we resolved to keep on cycling.

Zora Anaya said...

I am a stranger to your tour but can feel this sad event. I am an avid road cyclist and tour every summer. On the road -deep inside- I know I can get hurt...and even die. There is that risk. Must be difficult to overcome the lost of a tour member. All the best.