Hillsboro resident John Haide found a broken cable as he performed bicycle safety checks before a Cycle of Life event got under way Nov. 9 in Forest Grove. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Kris Williams of Pacific Universitys outdoor recreation program gives last-minute instructions to volunteers who stood at intersections around town during the four-mile Cycle of Life event.

“I’m doing the ABCs of bike maintenance: air, brakes and chain,” said Haide, who works at the Tanasbourne REI. He sent the bike’s owner home to grab a different set of wheels to ride the four-mile route in honor of Forest Grove sisters Abigail Robinson and Anna Dieter-Eckerdt.

The combination tribute and fundraiser was staged less than a block from the spot on Main Street where Abby, 11, and Anna, 6, were killed in a tragic accident Oct. 20 while playing in a pile of fall NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Maggie Pike of Maggies Buns in Forest Grove brought soup, cinnamon rolls and good humor to Saturdays tribute.

More than 75 families signed up for the ride around town. They and others donated money for additional playground equipment to be installed behind the Forest Grove School District administration office, where the girls often played.

“It warmed our hearts to see those in our community riding and playing right where we would with Abigail and Anna,” said Tom Robinson, Abigail’s father and husband of Susan Dieter-Robinson, Anna’s mother. “We want to send our love, hugs and thanks to all who supported the event.”

As they rode off under an archway of blue and purple balloons — the Robinson and Dieter-Eckerdt sisters’ favorite colors — family members and friends of all ages provided a hurting community with a collective visual embrace.

About 150 members of the Portland Velo cycling club came out to show support for the family and donate to the cause.

“We appreciate Forest Grove because we come through here all the time on weekend rides,” said Kevin Rhea, president of the group. “Our whole club was pretty touched by what happened. We wanted to be here.

“I have a little girl who’s 10. This [news of the girls’ deaths] just hurt my heart.”

Maggie Pike, owner of Maggie’s Buns, the event’s primary sponsor, said about $4,300 had been collected.

“It was lovely,” said Pike, who estimated close to 400 people attended the event throughout the day. “I hope it helps in some way.”

While some rode the bike route, others hung back on the blacktop to talk, give and receive hugs, listen to guitar music and enjoy hot soup and cinnamon rolls.

Deanna and Brian Bloch and their children, Alexi, 14, and Trevor, 9, jumped on their bikes for the more physically active pursuit.

“We’ve really been affected by the tragedy,” said Brian, who added that his regular bike training route takes him right past the accident scene. “We wanted to show up to support the family.”

Likewise, said Kiley Booth of North Plains. Her daughter Madison, 6, a student at Harvey Clarke Elementary School in Forest Grove, selected a unicorn design when she sat down to be decorated by face-painting artist Nicole Palazuelos. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - A throng of bicycle riders, including Nicki Butler and her son Evan (foreground), as well as Sam Marshall and his daughter McKenzie (center background), take off from behind the Forest Grove School District office on the four-mile Cycle of Life route Saturday. About 400 people showed up to the event honoring sisters Abigail Robinson and Anna Dieter-Eckerdt.

“Susan and Tom are amazing,” said Booth, a special education instructional assistant for the Forest Grove School District, where Dieter-Robinson is employed. “And this community is amazing — there are really no words to describe it.”

Kris Williams, who runs the outdoor recreation program at Pacific University, gave riders and volunteers last-minute instructions before they embarked on their journey under mostly clear skies at NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Dilley Elementary teacher Candi Marshall (left) hugs Susan Dieter-Robinson after the bike ride. Their daughters Makenna and Anna were best friends.

“Ride safely, have fun and look out for each other!” he admonished.

Members of Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, including Chief Michael Kinkade — whose kids rode the bike route — joined Police Chief Janie Schutz as the crowd swelled around 10:30 a.m.

During a lull in the activities, some added details to a colorful mural created by Forest Grove resident Anya Doll-Schmitz that bore the words, “A family is a circle of people who love us.”

Meanwhile, Cornelius guitarist and singer George Reiswig crooned some haunting lyrics about “mysteries dark and deep.”

His words expressed what others were undoubtedly pondering.

“This hasn’t been easy to process,” said Reiswig, who used to live in Forest Grove. “I want to sing things that will make people think and to remember not to take each other for granted.”

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