I noticed Bridget Dawson for the first time in Bend, Oregon, at the USAT Duathlon National Championships. I bumped into Rick Cordes, who was cheering for his wife, Suzanne (recently featured here). Suzanne had a good shot at the podium, and Rick was keeping tabs on where Suzanne was in relation to other top age-groupers. He pointed out Bridget, well in the lead, and her image stuck in my mind because she was very tall.
That night, she would stand on the tallest spot on the podium — Number One –during the awards ceremony.
Now she’s gone.
On Thursday, July 14, a motorist drifted onto the shoulder of Highway 227, in San Luis Obispo, and hit Bridget from behind when she was riding her bike. The police don’t suspect alcohol or drug use was a factor in the incident.
Bridget leaves a husband, a son, and a daughter.
It rattles me every time I hear of a bike collision, whether it involves an acquaintance or a stranger, whether it happens on roads I ride all the time or in another state. I’m reminded that in an instant, someone we love could disappear. I’m reminded that my next ride could be my last. Do I give it up? Do I keep my road bike in the closet and ride indoors? No. I choose not to let fear dictate my life. But I’m reminded to stay hyper-aware, ride predictably and assertively, and of course wear the helmet.
I’m fairly certain Bridget was also a smart, safe rider. But how do you respond when you don’t know a big steel box is closing in on you?
On a website he launched, Bridget’s husband, Scott, writes that Bridget was an All American in cross country at Iowa State University. She got interested in triathlon after college, and in the span of about five years, worked her way up from being a newbie on the bike and swim to a professional triathlete.
As a duathlete, Bridget won her age group every year at the national championships from 2013 to 2016. One week before she died, she won her age group at the Vineman 70.3 in Windsor, California. She had a goal to race Kona when she turned 60.
Bridget’s family set up the Bridget Inspires Scholarship Fund to support women in triathlon and other sports. Find out more here.
Our duathlon community is less one great athlete. Run, ride, and run your absolute best in her honor.