CAYCE — A large group of cyclists, on what normally is a Thursday night ride filled with playful banter, left the parking lot on Knox Abbott Drive solemnly, two-by-two, with heavy hearts, behind a police escort.
On Tuesday, they had lost a comrade to a severe head injury on 12th Street Extension.
Dr. Edwin R. Hudson, a Columbia radiologist, clipped a cyclist in front of him and took a tumble, the kind of fall that happens occasionally in group rides. Despite wearing a helmet, he suffered a severe head injury.
Emergency personnel treated him on the scene and rushed him to Palmetto Health Richland hospital, but he didn’t survive.
The accident stunned the cycling community.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen a death that didn’t involve a vehicle,” said Brian Curran, owner of Columbia’s Outspokin’ Bicycles. “Usually, you see a broken shoulder, road rash, maybe a mild concussion, but not this.”
Hudson, 61, was a customer of Curran’s and lived near him. “He was one of those genuinely good guys,” Curran said. “He was becoming more and more serious about cycling.”
Hudson anticipated a summer cycling trip through the European Alps. He had lost weight and was training to be ready for the trip, said Curran, who wasn’t on the ride Tuesday night.
Hudson was relatively new to the Tuesday and Thursday group rides with the Tri-City Cyclers, who have been around for years. They usually have a blast together on a route through Cayce and West Columbia. It’s so much fun, the ride has grown from a few dozen to as many as 70 people, said Rick Wilson, one of the organizers.
“It’s not about racing, not about trying to hammer as hard as you can,” Wilson said.
Just last week, Tri-City Cyclers had their first bad fall on a ride, resulting in minor injuries, Wilson said. He sent out a message after that incident to the regular riders, reminding them to stay a safe distance from their fellow riders.
“Group rides are usually safer,” Wilson said. “Single riders aren’t as visible (to vehicle drivers) as a large group.”
But Tuesday night, the group ride turned into a nightmare.
“It is devastating that something like this can happen during what is normally a source of great pleasure for many of us,” Aaron West, who often joins the ride but wasn’t with the group Tuesday, wrote in a blog. “Please be careful out there. This is a dangerous sport.”
Hudson is survived by his ex-wife, Dr. E. Jayne Moffatt of Columbia and a sister, Patricia Hudson of Knoxville, Tenn. He earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee and a doctor of medicine degree from East Tennessee State. He moved to Columbia in 1997 and most recently worked for Lexington Radiology Associates.
His funeral service will be private, according to Dunbar Funeral Home.
His friends at Tri-City Cyclers turned their scheduled Thursday ride into a memorial for Hudson. Jack Daniel, a Tri-City ride regular, struggled to keep his composure as he led about 80 memorial riders Thursday night in reciting “The Lord’s Prayer” and singing “Amazing Grace.”
“Please watch your front wheel,” Daniel said as the group began to roll. “Let this be a lesson as we go forward.”