If Attacked — Fight Back! [BftP]

A new feature: BftP (Blast from the Past). This was originally published September 26, 2006, on the original planetpooks.wordpress blog. Since much of my history didn’t forward properly (which I am sure was due to my own ineptitude) you have to go back to find the oldest posts. But I’ve decided that some are worth repeating. Let’s start here:


This was originally published September 26, 2006, on the original planetpooks.wordpress blog.

If you’re a woman who cycles or runs or hikes — if you love a woman who cycles or runs or hikes — I hope you’ll remember this tomorrow.

If you’re a woman.

If you love a woman.

I hope you remember this tomorrow.

When we were camping at Rocky Mountain National Park this summer, we had to take precautions against black bears. Possibly because of the drought conditions, bears have become a danger. This is our first trip (out of five or six) where it was an issue.

As I stood outside the latrine (not to be confused with the actual restroom with toilets and running water a bit farther up the road) waiting for someone to come out, I read the warning sign, which ended:


Perhaps you recall hearing advice such as, “Play dead.”

In Bill Bryson’s fabulous A Walk in the Woods he explains that actually nobody knows what really works with bears. In fact, if a bear wants to eat you, chances are nothing works. But maybe the experts at Rocky Mountain National Park know more these days than was known when Bryson wrote his book.

But that’s not what was on my mind when I read that sign. When I read that sign, I thought:

“Like Jenny.”

I never knew Jenny. I’d never heard of Jenny, until someone on Team Estrogen posted that a woman cyclist was missing in Atlanta. Hours passed … her body was found. Worst fears were realized.

But as I read the reports and felt sorrow and rage for a woman I didn’t know, I also felt a surge of pride.

Police say she fought her attacker every step of the way.

And they caught him, because she fought back.

”(Michael Ledford) went to the Dallas Police Department around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, bleeding profusely from a wound in his genital area, according to investigators. Police say Ledford claimed he was negotiating with a prostitute for sex when she bit him on his genitals.”

Go, Jenny. Go, Jenny, go. I hope when you were fighting, biting, clawing, kicking — I hope you heard a chorus of voices giving you strength, roaring in your ears, your blood — the voices of strong women who went before you and will follow in your footsteps and fight like hell. I hope you felt a surge of power, of strength, of rage.

I hope you weren’t afraid. I hope you didn’t feel alone.

The story doesn’t quite end there. The women on Team Estrogen wanted to do something to honor Jennifer, to honor someone we didn’t know. We knew there would be a memorial ride. We thought about riding wherever we lived, in our own private rides. We thought about taking pictures of us, riding, and sending them to her family from all over the world.

And someone came up with the idea of t-shirts.

Her family was consulted to find out which charity would be appropriate for donations and for proceeds from the sale of t-shirts. Family members showed up on the boards at Team Estrogen. They were grateful, enthusiastic, helpful.

The t-shirt was designed, and the number of people who wanted them was overwhelming.

Susan Otcenas, who owns Team Estrogen, the best place on earth to buy women’s cycling gear, offered to take over. Her shop did all the shipping and paid all the postage and made a sizeable donation, as well. Last I heard, Jenny’s family had ordered 89 t-shirts to wear to Jenny’s memorial ride tomorrow. The bike clubs in Atlanta ordered t-shirts. And the women on Team Estrogen ordered them. They sold out.

I hope you see one tomorrow. Or several. But even if you don’t, wherever you are tomorrow — whether you’re riding, walking, hiking, running, shopping, driving, eating, playing — remember Jenny.


And remember what her t-shirt says.

A woman should never be afraid to ride alone.

Take back the trail.

Fight back.


Added today, 3-4-13.

Something my husband taught me, by teaching my sons when they were young: It doesn’t matter if you win the fight. It matters that he never wants to fight you again.

Think about it. If attacked, don’t think about the fact that you’re smaller, weaker, older. Think about the fact that you are going to hurt them, too. Whatever it takes. They will not walk away from you unscathed.  That difference in attitude may make the difference in how the fight ends for you, as well.



Filed under Bicycles, Blast from the Past, Blogging

8 responses to “If Attacked — Fight Back! [BftP]

  1. Nancy Jane Moore

    One other thing: You don’t have to be a superstar fighter. You just need to fight enough to get away. Running like hell — or as one of my Aikido teachers used to say, “Nike-kido” — is a very effective form of self defense.

  2. Pooks, this link no longer works:

    “Police say she fought her attackers every step of the way.”

    Thank you for letting me know about this brave woman. I hope her action saved other lives.

  3. I’m glad we got to talk about this today, Pooks.
    I highly recommend a book by Gavin de Becker called “The Gift of Fear,” about learning to trust your instincts. If you sense danger, don’t ignore what your instincts are telling you!

Hit me with it.

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