When is enough enough?
Again it happened. Another meaningless accident involving a cyclist.
This Monday the 25th of January long distance cyclist, Claudio Clarindo, was hit by a sleeping driver on the road to Santos, close to the city of Bertioga.
What is known about the accident is that Claudio was training together with his friend Jacob Amorin, with support car, and a car coming from the opposite direction hit the two riders – the driver was sleeping behind the wheel.
Help was very quickly on the sight but still before arriving at the hospital Claudio had passed away. Claudio suffered a cardiac arrest. Jacob Amorin broke his leg in several place and was operated upon.
As the main race director for the first Race Across America qualifier in South America, Extra Distance / Brazil Challenge (800 km), 2003, I got to know Claudio Clarindo as a rider. As the Extra Distance/Brazil Challenge was the first race in Brazil of its kind all riders with love for long distance cycling was in the race. Claudio in this first race showed himself as one of the great Brazilian riders. He easily qualified for RAAM.
Even that I wasn’t a close friend with Claudio I have always known him as a friendly and warm person. He was a very dedicated athlete starting in a young age in the sport of triathlon. When the Brazilian RAAM qualifiers started in Brazil Claudio showed that these long distance races were his thing. In the next 12 years from is debut in 2003 Claudio was a 5 times finisher in Race Across America. And today with no hesitation Claudio Clarindo was and probably will be for many years to come the best ever Brazilian long distance athlete.
Claudio Clarindo was 37 years old.
In all respect for Claudio and Jacob I have to make a comment about “when is enough enough” in Brazil. I myself have lived 15 years in Brazil. I have worked with Brazilian cycling for more than 10 years, Clube Team America de Ciclismo, and also was the creator of Brazil Challenge later known as Extra Distance, the first RAAM qualifier in South America. I believe I know Brazilian cycling and how things are in Brazil.
It’s not the first time accidents happen with cyclist. Its happens a lot in fact. And it seems it’s never gets better. Seems that nobody is learning from the experience. Brazil with approximately 200 million people and probably more than 100 million bicycles in the country, as Brazil is one of the biggest producers of bicycles (when we are talking about number of bicycles), the cyclist on the street should be a common fellow Traficant. But it seems that, still, in spite of so many accidents drivers of vehicles still haven’t learned the fact that cyclist is a part of the traffic image and WILL NOT go away.
Somebody should do something about it. I am writing this and thinking that “Federacao Paulista de Ciclismo” (The Sao Paulo state cycling federation) could easily, together with other federations and municipals, make campaigns about how to be a good cyclist vs car. It’s so easy for the Municipals, federations and the cycling organizations to start a discussion about this. Go to your local politicians. Make a friendly demonstration in the city centers. Make fun rides showing Brazil that the cyclists of all ages are part of the daily life.
Maybe even more important go to your local schools and talk to them. Ask the schools to educate children how to ride a bicycle and how to behave in the traffic image. In this way, in the future, all the motorized traffickers will see that cyclist are part and are equal.
I, as an ex-foreigner in Brazil, in the beginning of my Brazilian life saw the bicycle as a transport to and back from the bakery. The bicycle wasn’t a mean of transportation. But I have learned different. You see that the Brazilians love their bicycle and if the cyclist gets the conditions to ride their bicycles Brazil will find thousands of cyclist all over. Today most cyclist is afraid of being robbed. I have had team and club members being robbed. Hold up like a wild western movie. At gun point “give me your bike or you die”.
Today most cyclists are afraid in the traffic. Competitive cyclist and similar are training in special areas because it’s safe and quiet. Or others, like Claudio, training with support car (= safety). It’s not right that Brazil, until today, hasn’t learned that cyclists are a part of life. That cycling or bicycles represents millions of dollars in revenues and jobs. Why doesn’t Brazil learn?
How many like Claudio need to pay the price for drivers lack of morals, education or whatever the right word is. Another thing we need to remember is that the sleeping driver will probably NOT be prosecuted, and if he would be prosecuted it will happen in 2-3-4 years from now. So it’s all a question of education, politicians need to priorities and the justice systems needs to work. A lot of work for Brazil.
Why not start now. The Olympic Games has arrived in Brazil for the first time. Now it’s time for brazil to show that Brazil matters and Brazil deserves.
Let’s hope that Claudio will rest in peace and from wherever he is watching he can see the changes that he also paid for.
My condolences to Claudio’s family and friends