Forgiving & Moving on While Calling for Accountability

Today marks nearly 4 ½ months since I became a victim of a hit and run bicycle accident Print on my quest to ride across country. As noted in this bizarre story, (see day 3 of my Ride Across America), the driver demanded I pay for the damages to her car commenting that is it is how done in her “country”. While she has been in the US for over 14 years, I found it incomprehensible and appalling to demand that the victim of one’s actions to pay for the damages one causes.

Since the accident I have heard from many friends, family and advocates suggesting I take views which are as diverse as the partisan views in DC between Democrats and Republicans. At times emotional and at times political and anti-immigrant, everyone had their points of view. No one was right or wrong and to be honest, my position vacillated between the extremes.

At the end of the day, I decided I needed to move forward and forgive the driver for her poor judgement and in my view, her lack of morality. While some of my physical injuries may be permanent and the emotional scars long-lasting, I had to take a view what is the greater good for the community. If I were to have taken a hardline approach and objected to her attorney’s plea bargaining with the District Attorney how would I benefit? Conversely opposing her plea to reduce the charges from a class C felony to a class A misdemeanor, I had to ask what would be achieved? To be clear it was an accident and in unintentional, but leaving the scene of an accident was a deliberate action. If she had been found guilty of a felony it would be carried on her back for the rest of her life. This was a hard decision to make and my view was clouded as the driver has yet to exhibit any remorse or offer an apology.

Acting in the best interests of the community, the Court agreed with the plea and sentenced her to a high risk driving course, limited use driving privileges with suspended sentence with the risk of jail, 100 hours of community service and a fine.

The lesson here for us all is the need to take a step back. There is nothing to be gained from treating someone poorly even if they have done the same to you. One of the questions I asked myself, is how would I feel if a family member was in a similar situation? The answer was clear, show compassion!

None of us are perfect, yet if we make a mistake I believe we need to own up to it and be held accountable. The Courts action today represents a step towards closure. I am hopeful as we move forward to the civil penalties and damages phase wrongs can be righted and we can move on with our lives. (Court Coverage)

Below is a copy of my statement provided to the court
On August 20th I embarked on a life-long dream of riding my bicycle cross country.  Being an avid cyclist and bike racer in my earlier years, I was well prepared physically.  Saving for several years this ride was a present to myself for my 60th birthday, but also in memory of my father who died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.  To-date I have raised over $15,000, while working along the trip to raise awareness of the disease and the impact to caregivers. My father was a man of a few words, but one who encouraged my cycling, to set goals and follow my dreams.

The ride was through Trek Travel including 20 other riders, 5 staff and three support vehicles supporting us over 3,800 miles over 47 days. The combined cost exceeded $20,000 per person.  The journey started on August 20th with the dipping of our wheels in the Pacific in Astoria, Oregon and riding through the eclipse into Portland. On the third day of the ride, August 22, my life was forever changed.  Heading east on Route 30, riding in a paceline with our blinking lights for visibility.  Our group was the lead group of riders with 2 other groups following us with support vehicles behind stretched over 2 miles.  Riding smoothly around a slight curve and incline the next thing I knew was I was skidding along the pavement in the middle of the road.  

From the pavement, I saw the back of a white car and parts of a mirror bouncing along the road.  Several riders came to my aid. I was somewhat in shock and in disbelief inspecting the deep wounds on my arm, elbow and hip. The driver, (later identified by the police as Natalya Zakhariya) first identified herself as a nurse offering some saline solution to wash my arm.  The next moment she noticed the damage to her car and took the solution and gauze cloth and attempted to rub a black scrape off the side of her car, (apparently from the handlebars).  She then turned to me stating I needed to pay for the damages to her vehicle, specifically stating $200.  I could not believe this. The damage to my clothing alone was in excess of $200 not be mention the damage to the bike and my physical self. 

By this time other riders came on the scene including an orthopedic surgeon and one of the guides who was also a nurse.  They guided me away from the driver and evaluated me for possible broken bones and concussion.  During this time, I overheard her making a statement to one of the other riders and guides that in her country cyclist pay for car damages.  One guide requested her drivers license and insurance information while others where on the phone with 911.  According to several witnesses she then made a phone call to another party and then slowly got in her car with her passenger and drove off.

The physical impact of the accident alone was significant, but her actions afterwards made it traumatic.  After being evaluated for injuries, I turned around and walked a few feet off of the shoulder of the road, knelling, sobbing and speaking to my father. I apologized for letting him down thinking I could not continue the ride. As strange as it sounds my father gave me the inspiration to continue.

Without the encouragement of my father, family and fellow riders I never would have finished the ride.  Other than an area of road construction forcing us to take a detour in the vans, I was the only qualified and trained rider of the group who did not ride every day and every mile.

Fast forward to today, I still have sensitivity in my hip, soreness and pain in my elbow and numbness in my left hand.  I learned this week I have nerve damage in my left arm, causing me to wake up the majority of nights due to numbness in my left hand. During the day I cannot hold an object in my left hand such as a phone for more than a few minutes without my hand going numb. I now need to wear a brace on my left arm and wrist at night to help the nerve heal versus having to have surgery.

While I am healing physically and the physical scars are permanent, I am still trying to manage the emotional impact.  As family, friends and colleagues will attest I often am unable to share the story without losing my composure. Hearing Ms. Zakhariya’s explanation that she saw riders on the road, but that she was unable to pass since there was a double solid line is just indefensible.  Never did she offer an apology or regret then or through subsequent communications with her attorney. 

To this day I cannot comprehend how anyone be so callous and demand money from another human being they injured.  I do not accept she was scared and confused as she had the composure to call a friend, refuse to provide her driver’s license and then decide to leave the screen of the accident.  Her statement at the scene that demanding payment from other parties was a common practice in Russia is inexcusable.  I remain perplexed how a nurse, mother and wife of minister could be so insensitive. She appeared more focused on the damages to her vehicle then to the injuries to me.

While I do not feel that the crime she was charged with and that she is pleading guilty to is severe enough, I am not opposed to the guilty plea. I accept the misdemeanor due to the effect it would have on her patients and the impact of a felony on her future employability.  It is my hope the Court restricts her driving privileges, requires mandatory driver education and commits her to preforming community service.  I believe one needs to be accountable for their actions and the Court needs to take steps to help prevent future harm to the community.


A Ride With A Purpose: Lessons To Live By & Work By

CraigBAC-3Recently I joined a group of 20 riders on a 3,800-mile bike ride across America, fulfilling a life-long dream while raising over $15,000 for Alzheimer’s research. This adventure exceeded my wildest dreams. I gained a life-time of lessons applicable to both my personal and professional life. Three of the key learnings included: 1) The strength of a team is maximized through diversity and working together; 2) the importance of keeping alert, listening to customers, and adjusting strategies; and, last but not least, 3) one must learn when to sprint, when to change gears, and when to coast.

At the start of the ride I had a healthy sense of doubt and anxiety, not unlike the first day of a job. Could I finish the ride? How would I fit in with the team? And could I maintain my cadence over 47 days? Starting on the coast of Oregon our group sized each other up as we embarked on riding six-to-eight hours a day. Being off the grid with next to no connectivity, we became absorbed in our environment and daily riding “assignments”. While we were from different backgrounds and countries with varied political views, it was incredible was how quickly we became one. The daily tips and words of encouragement was amazing. The strength of the team and their empathy was best illustrated after I got hit by a car and crashed. As they joked it was, “just a flesh wound,” I was able to continue and achieve my goal after some adjustments and through their support and companionship.

Ideally, we receive this same level of support from our co-workers. All too often personal goals and egos take priority and overshadow the group’s overall goal. On our ride, our respective skills and life experiences made us stronger. Riding together in a paceline can be incredibly efficient, shielding each other from the wind and providing team members a chance to preserve our energy. In business, too, we need to work to protect teammates from unanticipated events, while setting a pace and preparing for the road ahead.

Being “Type A,” the ride reminded me of the need to slow down, take notice what of makes life worthwhile and learn from my team mates. One rider reinforced this lesson. He was fit and knowledgeable with the goal to finish first each day. He achieved his goal, but missed out on several experiences. Typically riding alone, he failed to build a rapport with the others, and he missed some of the nuances of each day. Every night he would ask what I thought was the most beautiful part of the ride. Somewhat surprised by what he had missed,he often asked if I had any photos to share. To maximize success, we must make the time to learn from each other and not let individual or shortterm goals overshadow those of the team in biking and in business. By listening and observing the market, we can optimize our strategies and tactics.

As with a successful marketing campaign, cycling takes time and focus. Maintaining stamina and being prepared for the unexpected with contingency plans is essential. While I wanted to be in front of the pack and hammer up the hills, I quickly realized the necessity to pace myself. Conserving energy during the journey afforded me the opportunity to sprint at the end each day and avoid the potholes along the way. In business all too often we sprint for monthly or quarterly goals, losing sight of the big picture. We often feel compelled to do another email blast, failing to consider long-term impact. Results may generate short-term revenue but cannibalize future sales, which drives consumer fatigue, spam complaints, unsubscribes and ad blocking. These are symptoms of marketers neither respecting the user experience, nor appreciating the long-term impact on their brand.

Through teamwork, collaboration and user respect, companies can maximize results, while building trust, and enhancing their reputation. As I learned on my ride, with preparation, training and team support, one can achieve goals and realize many life long experiences that otherwise would never be possible.

Published in Marketing Quarterly December 2017

The Road Ahead To Find A Cure for Alz

Gillette9-5-9-2It has been hard to believe that I have been back a month as it only seems like yesterday when I arrived in Portland Maine finishing my 3,800 mile journey.  As I settle back into my personal and professional life, I wake up every day thinking about the friendships and experiences I gained. Transitioning from my office “on the saddle” to my office in Bellevue Washington, the parallels and lessons learned have been incredible.

Since returning I have kept in touch with fellow riders, (thank you Micky B, Mike D, Andrés M, Dave M, Charlie D, Dan K, Blake and others).  We all agree the ride was not about the bike, it was the impact to our lives, our family and society at large.  We are ready to do it again and planning for 2019 and the road ahead.The_Road_Ahead_(Bill_Gates_book)

For me the ride was not just about my personal accomplishment, but how I could make a difference, raising funds and awareness to Alzheimer’s  As of today combined with corporate matching funds, we have raised over $15,000 well on the way to reach my year-end goal of $20,000.  Thanks to all of my donors, but the real thanks goes to my former “boss” Bill Gates. Yesterday Bill made news with a $50 million donation to help find a cure and treatment Alzheimer’s. 

Today, Alzheimer’s disease the sixth leading cause of death in the US, where a new case is diagnosed every 66 seconds. More than 5 million Americans live with the disease, at a cost of $259 billion a year. Without any treatment, those numbers are projected to explode to 16 million Americans, at a cost of over $1 trillion a year, by 2050.   In 1995 Bill wrote “The Road Ahead” which speaks to what lies ahead of us in many dimensions and the challenges in society including spanning the digital divide.  Today I believe the Road Ahead is about fighting this disease and finding a cure.  As Bill stated in a CNN interview yesterday “Any type or treatment would be a huge advance from where we are today,” but the long-term goal has got to be a cure.”  Both Bill I share a personal connection seeing family members impacted by Alzheimer’s.  Please consider joining me (and Bill) on “The Road Ahead” to find a cure for Alz!   To donate, click here. 

Day 47/48 – Reunion & Recuperate

Support Alzheimer’s Research & Care Givers

Portland, Maine – Yesterday was full of long goodbye’s recapping the funny stories, hard climbs and awkward moments we experienced over the past six weeks. Walking the streets of Portland visiting shops and galleries, we ran into several of the group with hugs and high fives and promises to ride again. The highlight was the reunion at lunch with my mother, (Louise) sister (Patti), brother-in-law (Ken), and wife (Liz).



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As I head back to Seattle tonight I will start to decompress, catch up with friends, paper work and get back to training for my next adventure while recuperating from my injuries.

In reality my consulting practice in cyber-security, privacy and online crime will encompass a great deal of time, re-engaging with clients and law enforcement.  Between the increased levels of state sponsored cyber crime (aka Russia) and data breaches (Equifax) and privacy missteps I will have a full plate.  At the same time I hope to continue support the Alzheimer’s Association, looking to  support caregivers who are on the front line every days supporting nearly 50 million people with Alzheimer’s.

Day 46 – Making it to Maine

Updated 10-6 – To date I have raised over $11,500 for Alzheimer’s.  Help me reach my new goal of $12,500

Portland, Maine – Today was a gentle ride through New Hampshire into Maine where once again I was blessed with beautiful weather reaching close to 80 degrees when we reached the Atlantic Ocean. In total I rode 3,765 miles, climbed 141,265 feet, pedaled over 1.2 million strokes, ate nearly 100 cliff bars, went though 5 tubes of SPF 50 suntan lotion and two tubs of chamois cream!

The experiences and people I met along the way were amazing and will last a lifetime.  It is amazing to think of meeting 20 other riders I would have such a positive experience.  The comradery that developed was hearting considering we came from such diverse backgrounds, political perspectives and personal preferences.  Perhaps if more of the world rode bikes together we would be able to accept more of our difference and make the world a better place. The highlight of the final ride was riding into the arms of my wife (Liz) and giving her a bouquet of roses, (see below).

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Day 45 – The White Mountains of NH

Conway, NH – Leaving Vermont this morning we rolled out from Fairlee in the fog into New Hampshire a short 3 miles from our hotel.  Today was the final hard ride of 84 miles and over 6,500 vertical feet of climbing into the White Mountains.  Unlike previous days of rolling hills, today included 3 LONG climbs of over 10 miles each.  The reward was spectacular views!  Tonight we enjoyed a great dinner, while we reflected on our journey, surprises along the route, our wrong turns, meals and wide range of hotels we stayed in.  Tomorrow a short 64 miles before we return to reality.


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Day 44 – A Taste of Vermont

Ticonderoga, NY – We left our hotel for a short 3 mile ride to catch a ferry to Vermont.  Riding into the fog we could hardly see more than 200 feet in front of us.  The joke is the ferry has never been late in its’ 217 year history…  it does not operate on a schedule.  The ferry is unique as it does not have steering or a helm.  It is guided by steel cables (salvaged from local ski areas).  The cables pass through wheels on the underside of the ferry, rising to meet it as it crosses, then sinking twenty-four feet back to the bottom. The captain doesn’t steer, just handles a throttle.

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After a short 7 minute ferry, we were off to the rolling hills of Vermont, making our way to Fairlee, VT some 94 miles to the east. A highlight of the day was seeing we had met and now exceeded my fundraising goal for Alzheimer’s research.  Thank you to my family and friends for their generous support and a special shout out to my big brother Scott for “pushing us over the top”!

Vermont.JPGStarting out foggy, damp and cold, we were blessed with a clear sunny day warming up to over 60.  The 6,800 feet of hill climbs warmed us up at the same time, having us strip to our summer riding attire and one last application of SPF 50!  Arriving at our hotel, the Lake Morey Resort before 4 PM, provided time to enjoy the sunset and fall colors of Vermont.

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