Thursday, August 12, 2010

Barbara Minnick

It’s taken me a long time to be able to write about this. We lost a WomanTours bicyclist last month. Barbara Minnick was hit from behind while she was biking on our Northern Tier Western Segment Tour near Minot, North Dakota.

The driver was a 48-year-old man in a pick-up truck. He was on the way to his son’s wedding. It was a 4-lane divided road, straight, with little traffic. It was a warm sunny afternoon with a nice tailwind, and you could see for miles, but he didn't see her until it was too late. She flew off her bike and landed in soft, tall grass.

That's the part I’d like to remember. It was a beautiful resting place, with farmland all around. I want to believe she died instantly and painlessly.

The Meandering Mississippi was Barbara's first tour with us in 2007. She did a tour every year after that, and I saw her on each of them.

I’ll never forget the first time I met her. She told me that we needed to proof our printed material better. It was as if she’d stabbed me, but she was right. I’ve tried to do better ever since, but I always knew I could count on her to point out our itinerary inaccuracies. Every year, she’d go over them at home before the tour and email me so I could fix our mistakes.

I was cycling with her once when her bike got caught on a lip in the pavement and she fell over. She hurt an arm that had been healing from a previous injury.  After a little first aid, she got up and back on her bike. She may have been 70, but she was tough. And she loved that bike and bicycling.

I could also tell that she loved WomanTours as a community more with each year.  We all watched her blossom into the confident, kind, funny, caring and loving person she was on this year’s tour.  My heart goes out to the women who have biked with her and known her through the years with WomanTours. And my heart goes out to her friends and family at home.

She died doing what she loved, so I try to remember that to make the loss easier.

I received an email yesterday from Marissa who is about to do her first tour with us. She’s new to biking and is madly training to get in shape for the tour. I emailed her, “Isn’t the biking fun?” And she replied, “Its more than fun, it's a whole new sense of freedom!”

Sometimes that freedom can be all too fleeting. Be careful out there. Wear bright colors, bike defensively and cherish every moment. I am honored to have known Barbara and to have biked with her. I will miss her.


Melinda Hartman said...

I talked about this with Michelle briefly yesterday. It is a truly horrible thing to have happen for everyone involved.

I understand her sentiments about biking and freedom very well - I wish that I could have met her and my prayers go out to all who love her.

girl rides again said...

That really shook me when some of the women from our Southern Tier passed on this information. I am truly sorry for her family and friends and the women who rode with her on this tour. And for all those that work for Woman Tours, it must have been a horrible shock.

May all vehicles see us as we travel down the road.

Jackie Marchand said...

Thank you for your comments. It WAS a horrible shock. I garner strength from the other women in our WomanTours community. I realize more than ever that there is a WomanTours community. I am so thankful for all the comments, cards, emails and hugs that I have received lately. Thank you.

Carolyn said...

Your post to the memory of Barbara Minnick was heartfelt. It was comforting to see her recognized and honored as a cyclist. I will always remember her feistiness and determination to ride as far and as long as she was able. To me she embodies the spirit of the women who ride with Woman Tours. She will be missed.

Margaret said...

My thoughts are with those who had the honor of riding with her. I know from my experience on the 2006 Southern Tier ride, such a tragedy draws everyone closer.

SanPiet said...

I was riding with Jackie when Barbara had her fall on the bike. She got her glasses reapired that night and helmet replaced as soon as possible.

But what I really remember about her was how helpful she was to me has I rode the Mississippi River tour just 3 months after the sudden unexpected death of my partner of 10 years. Barbara, among others women there, was a great source of comfort.

Anne Cowan said...

Barbara rode with me on the Northwest Loop last August and she was a great and feisty lady. I was always amazed by the many things she did in life, but was never boastful about. She certainly will be missed by all the WT community, and yes, Jackie, we are a community. Or else the large number of people who have shared the grief of her loss would never have occurred. You have joined a large number of people through the many long rides you have offered to the women cycling enthusiasts who participate in your trips. It is through WT that we share in the terrible losses, and also the wonderful happenings. I have made so many good friends through my rides and love keeping up with them. I will miss hearing about Barbara's adventures!

Thanks for your wonderful tribute to Barbara. I am sure she would have appreciated it.

Georgia R said...

A lovely tribute to a wonderful lady. Barbara, on the Mississippi River tour, was the perfect example of a first-time WT rider -- starting off nervous, a stranger, a little timid and excited and then finishing the adventure as a proud, energized, strong rider and a life-long friend to those of us lucky enough to have ridden with her.
With sympathy and love to her family, friends and all in the Woman Tours community.
Georgia; Mississippi River Tour

Stacey said...

I am one of Barbara's great nieces and I wanted to thank you for your kind words about my Aunt Barb. Reading about her informing you of errors in the itinary made me smile because she was a perfectionist with details (a few of us in the family seem to have inherited this). She loved biking and it is comforting to know that she died doing what she loved... and that she didn't have to suffer like so many.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jackie Marchand said...

It's a tragedy for everyone involved.