Pam Markley isn’t sure if she will get on a bike Saturday during a memorial ride for her late husband.
“I do not take lightly that I am my kids’ only parent now,” Markley said. “But I want to remind my kids that you can do this. Oct. 21 was a terrible morning for us, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop living.”
It’s been almost six months since Markley learned that her husband Jason, 36, had been hit and killed by a car while cycling along N.C. 751, just west of Cary. The couple have three children together, all under the age of 5.
Markley’s friend Ryan Switzer, whom she knows from her early-morning workouts at their gym, offered to organize a fundraiser for the family almost immediately after the accident. In the fall, it was just too soon, Markley said.
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For the first few months after the accident, she didn’t speak much about her husband’s death or have much desire to make her grief public.
But eventually, Markley agreed to a fundraiser in the spring when cyclists are beginning to return to the road, to remind drivers to keep an eye out. Markley said in recent weeks she’s driven past cyclists and had her 4-year-old son ask, “Is that cyclist just like Daddy?”
“It is hard, and I’ll be honest: Even tomorrow, emotions are going to be very high,” Markley said Friday. “I lost my favorite person, and my kids have lost so much. But one thing that helps motivate me to even do this, to have this conversation, is that if I can prevent anyone from having to live through what we’re living through, I want to do that.”
Jason Markley’s death came days after a driver struck and injured two cyclists in Morrisville, one of them Lori Cove, the town of Cary’s director of transportation and facilities. Cove was critically injured and is still recovering from severe head trauma in a long-term care facility in Charlotte.
“With two major incidents in three days’ time, obviously we have a problem around here,” Markley said.
Markley told Switzer the ride should be a fundraiser for bike safety efforts rather than for her and her kids. They decided to donate the proceeds to the Triangle Spokes Group, which helps expand access to cycling for children in the area.
“About three or four weeks before the accident, my husband taught our oldest how to ride without training wheels,” Markley said. “Jason loved sharing cycling with people, including me. He’s who got me into it. Even this morning I was driving home and thinking about tomorrow and thinking about how it would break his heart for us to quit riding. He would want us to ride to honor him.”
Ramsey Even Capps of Apex was charged with failure to reduce speed and misdemeanor death by motor vehicle after the accident. Markley said she went to Capps’ first court appearance but has not reached out to him since. The investigation is ongoing, she said.
“I have the very difficult task of learning how to live without Jason,” Markley said. “And my kids, they’re taking cues from me. What does dinner look like now that Daddy’s not here to say prayers? What does bedtime look like now that Daddy’s not here to tuck us in? You can choose anger and bitterness, which does creep in – we’re angry and devastated – but we can’t be ruled by it.”
Saturday’s event begins with registration at 7 a.m. at Thomas Brooks Park at 200 Brooks Lane, just off Green Hope School Road. There will be three rides – 12, 20 and 40 miles – beginning at 8:30 a.m., as well as a kids’ ride around the park at 10:30 a.m.
Folks who want to show support but can’t ride for whatever reason are encouraged to sign up as “virtual riders.” Registration costs $15.
All three rides stop at the site of the collision, marked by a “ghost bike,” at the junction of N.C. 751 and Luther Drive.
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan