Monday, July 11, 2011

The Picture of Courage

This man is the picture of courage. I am both saddened and inspired.

If you don't follow the Tour de France, then let me introduce you to Johnny Hoogerland. After being hit by a media car - along with cyclist Juan Antonio Fletcha - landing in a barbed wire fence, getting back on his bike (after being cut out of the fence, then tended to a doctor riding a motorcycle), persevered to finish the race while bleeding and in excruciating pain. He is on the podium because in addition to being in a breakaway of five riders that actually was going to beat the peloton to the finish, he was positioned to win the "King of the Mountains" polka-dot jersey - all he had to do was finish. It didn't matter that he came in 16 minutes after Luis Leon Sanchez (who took the win for stage 9); all he had to do was cross.

What courage. He was in tears as he was awarded his jersey and in such obvious agony. They say it took them 33 stitches to sew him up afterwards (well, I also heard 44 stitches, whichever it was, it was a lot).

Some other reflections:

  • I know the riders take risks, and they accept those risks -- but it's one thing to go crashing over the edge of a mountain or into a ditch as a result of cycling (and there have been plenty of those in this year's TDF -- but to be hit by a car? It's crazy - and I feel for all those riders shaken by the incident, as well as those injured

  • It was a French television media car that hit them and -- get this -- they were ignoring instructions from the TDF Race Director on race radio (it's in one of the articles below) - it's beyond irresponsible

  • I was shocked to see the images of Johnny wrapped in the barbed wire, being cut out, the huge gashes in his legs and on his bared ass (yes, his uniform was in tatters), and his blood covered legs as he crossed the finish line - but I looked

  • I was bothered that I looked, as it seems disrespectful, somehow, to be looking at the worst of it all - and thought of how he would feel, knowing his rear end was displayed to the world in tweets, then re-tweeted, and re-tweeted..... I wish people would resist the temptation to re-tweet the pictures that he'd really not want anyone to see

  • But mostly, I am moved by the deep-to-the-core courage it took for him to get up on his bike and carry on.
Remarkable courage. Inspiring. Breathtaking. Moving. RAW COURAGE. Wow.
Here are a few articles about what happened, if you missed all the action:
Tour chief furious at vehicle accidents
More blood and broken bones leave the peloton shaken and looking for answers

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