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Yesterday ended badly with the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt on a tricky and fast descent on stage three of the Giro d’Italia. I found out by accident as I try to avoid Twitter during the afternoons of a big stage race because I usually record the coverage to watch during the evening and don’t like to ruin the suspense. However, for some reason I checked in on twitter and first tweet I saw simply read RIP Wouter Weylandt #giro and my heart sank. Last evening I watched the coverage from the beginning and as the stage got towards the end I was thinking surely it was a mistake and nothing had gone wrong, then some awful shots on the Passo del Bocco and I could see it was all too true.

A ghastly tragedy that was shocking for everyone involved with road cycling and a terrible loss of a talented young man in the prime of his life. Anybody who rides their bike as fast as their ability allows will have also felt “there but for the grace of god goes I” – I know I did.

I felt even worse when I heard that Wouter’s partner is five months pregnant. As a dad blessed with a loving wife and two fantastic children, who are the most important people in my world – the thought of Wouter’s child not being able to meet their dad was very, very, very saddening and I really struggled with my emotions last night even waking up in the night thinking about the crash. When my kids woke me up during the night last night, I couldn’t be annoyed, I just felt lucky to be who I am and where I am with the blessings I have. Others are have been sadly less fortunate and I am grateful for what I have.

Today was busier than planned – I had “pencilled in” a solid ride today, but other events meant I only had an hour free and it was with more hesitation than ever before that I rode today. I wanted to ride but I worried about it a lot more than I probably ever have before. I joked with my wife that if the worst were to happen today, I was well insured but it was a hollow joke and a poor one. I put on my brightest red cycling jersey (with a small Italian flag on the chest) to be as visible as possible, did my helmet up extra tight and told myself that “today I will be extra careful on the road”.

Before I’d even warmed up, I was attacking a hill climb and hurting/struggling up it feeling grateful that I could and reflecting that I’ve always been drawn to sports that have a risk/danger. I dabbled at Motocross as a kid, Kart racing and motorsport as an adult and now for fitness and fun I go as fast as possible on a high performance road bike. Other sports just don’t offer the same frisson but sadly it’s only when tragedies happen that you really consider what could and very occasionally does go wrong. We also know that only in tiny percentage of occasions, someone loses their life but it could happen at virtually anytime on any ride

On a whim, I rode down a walking track and took a moment on the side of Bewl Water, then turned for home.

When I arrived back, I lamented my poor form (again) but felt good about going out and about honouring in my own small way the tragic loss of yesterday but also hoping that all of us who ride will be as lucky as possible as we go forward. Cycling’s a wonderful and amazing sport, the challenge the speed, the pain are all part of what makes it great but the thrill is only there because of adrenalin of risk taking.

Ride safely my friends. Wouter, may you rest in peace and my deepest condolences to your partner, your unborn child, your family and your friends.

Wouter’s Leopard-Trek team have withdrawn from the rest of the Giro and have set up a page for donations for Wouter’s family. The details should you wish to donate are here:

http://www.facebook.com/notes/leopard-trek/donations-wouter-weylandt/161493960581968

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