Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Watching the 4th Stage in Italian on RAI now. Their journalists have been interviewing many great men of the sport, including Eddie Merxx, and the man in pink today, David Millar, and they all say, basically, it's a terrible tragedy, but this is a dangerous sport, and this kind of thing could happen any day, everyday in the sport.

But still they ride, these true athletes.  Nobody dies in golf. As the Italians say, "Ciclismo e' una grande passione."

Wouter Weylandt was Tyler Farrar's best friend, and he's gone home today.  He can't take it. He's a sprinter and doing that takes so much focus.  Maybe if he stayed in the race, he might get hurt during a moment of inattentiveness. Continuing would have been particularly hard for him, whose father became a paraplegic after being hit on his bike head-on by a car. His father still cycles, though.

Trying to wrap my mind and heart around all of this. When I ride out on my bike to work every day I take the risk that some distracted amped up L.A. driver might make the wrong move and hurt, maim or kill me. I do all I can to be safe, to be visible.  I wear a helmet, gloves, multiple flashing lights, reflective clothing, but in the end, that may not be enough. I'm still going to ride. Heck, I could die in my bathtub. Life is risky. Might as well do what you love. Leopard Trek is back in the saddle today. Life goes on. The race is beautiful, the landscape lush and full of castles, crashing waves, stately maritime pines, and fortresses built to protect the local people from Barbary Coast pirates. Life can be exquisitely lovely and horrible all at once. And we race on through it, too fast, sometimes, for our own good.

In the meantime, I'd like to personally ask that Universal Sports and RAI please start broadcasting in HD. I want to see every dangerous gorgeous moment of my favorite race in my favorite place in the world.

Forza ciclisti! Viva il Giro!

And as I close this, the entire Leopard Trek team, and Tyler are riding in a line across the road, a formation of silence at the front of the pack, in tribute to their fallen comrade, Wouter Weylandt. Farrar is visibly weeping. No one is racing today. The fourth stage is a funeral cortege. It is one year since Weylandt won the third stage of the Giro.

And the whole team, plus Farrar, comes across the finish. In silence.

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