Memorial bike rides for Kalamazoo bike crash victims

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A series of commemorative bicycle rides honoring the nine bicyclists killed or injured in the horrific June 6 crash in Kalamazoo, Mich., continued today with the appearance of Lance Armstrong.

A larger memorial bike ride is planned for June 26.

Today’s event — “Finish the Ride” — was closed to all but families of the victims, members of the local cycling community, and Armstrong, according to reports. It followed the 29-mile route that members of the Chain Gang had planned to take a week earlier.

That June 6 ride was cut short when a 50-year-old pickup driver slammed into the group from behind, killing five and injuring four. The driver, Charles Pickett of Battle Creek, is in jail awaiting trial on five charges of second degree murder, among other charges.

One of the survivors, Jennifer Johnson, was brought out to the site of the crash on a hospital gurney.

Armstrong wrote at #KalamazooStrong:

“The gang and I will keep their Tuesday evening tradition going and not let this awful tragedy stop us from doing what we love to do and that’s to be out on our bikes. I did not know these people. I had never heard of the Chain Gang Club. But I know that fear. That fear of bike vs motorist.”

As was customary for the Chain Gang, the Tuesday bike ride started at 6:30 p.m. at the Kalamazoo County Health Services on Gull Road.

Although today’s event was limited, the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club is inviting the general public from across Michigan to attend the Kal-Tour on June 26. Proceeds from the 25th annual bike ride will go to the Kalamazoo Strong Organization and benefit the families of the nine bicyclists killed for injured in the crash.

This past Sunday, dozens of bicyclists joined a Peace-Pedal-Pray Ride that also took the Chain Gang’s route, passing five “ghost bikes” set up where the cyclists were killed.

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