Riding for Dottie Rice (with photos)

By Erika Mahoney

May 15, 2013 Updated May 15, 2013 at 11:52 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) For 10 years, Southern Tier residents have participated in the international Ride of Silence, an event that honors those injured or killed in cycling accidents.

Until now, the group that gathered was no more than 25 riders.

But on Wednesday evening, nearly eight times that showed up, ready to ride.

For the first time, the event hit close to him.

"Great spirit, great spirit, and sorely missed," said Don Rice, Dottie's husband.

It's been seven months since Dottie Rice, 64, was struck and killed by a car while she was riding her bike in the Town of Owego.

Her family, her friends, and her beloved cycling community are still healing.

On the 10th anniversary of the Ride of Silence, Southern Tier cyclists rode for Dottie.

But they were anything but silent.

"Dottie passed away in October," said Regina Losinger, president of the Southern Tier Bicycle Club. "It's time to talk again, and it's also time to let passers by know exactly what we're up to. It's time to speak about it."

The "Biker's Prayer," read aloud by Don, sent cyclists on their way, into the sunlight and on a five-mile ride.

"What was going on in my mind was our last ride together, which was across the country," Don said. "It was a wonderful experience, we were together 24/7."

The summer before Dottie died, she rode more than 4,000 miles on a three-month trip with her husband, from the coasts of Virginia to Oregon.

Cycling was her passion, and family members say they find comfort in knowing she died doing what she loved.

"I think personally that she always knew there was danger in riding a bike," niece Brienne Schmidt said. "But she did it anyway. And that speaks to me in that we could all spend a lot of time being fearful of things in our lives, but then we're going to stop living."

Schmidt is no stranger to tragedy. Eighteen years ago this Saturday, she had to spend several days in a hospital after a car hit her while bicycling.

"Also, on Jan. 20, we lost my cousin, Brad Murray. Just 30-years-old. He was bicycling home from work and a drunk driver hit him on Upper Court Street."

But Schmidt says through it all, fear shouldn't stop someone from getting on a bike.

It may have taken Don a few months to pedal on, but he knows it's what his wife wants.

As the sun set, the crowd gathered back together after the ride to light candles for Dottie.

The sound of Don reading the "Biker's Pray" rang through the evening: "May we continue biking, even as we grow old, and up until the day we die. And may you allow us to continue biking in heaven forever and ever. Amen."