Monday, July 11, 2011

jusqu'au bout de son courage...

Johnny Hoogerland, comforted on the podium
by legend Raymond Poulidor
photo credit: Bettini,
As much as I am enjoying the hours and hours of coverage of this year's Tour de France, the familiar sights and sounds pouring out of the TiVo, the excitement of watching the moves and finishes, the gorgeous countryside unfolding, the courage and strength of the riders, I have to admit that the number of crashes is working a weird number on my head.  Yesterday's stage, #9, in which Johnny Hoogerland was sent flying into a barbed wire fence after Alexandre Vinokourov ended up in a tree, just about did me in.

It's not even about me.

But with every crash, I just cringe, remembering Joe's crashes, particularly the last one, re-living that sick feeling of the phone call, the drive to the hospital, the first sight of the beloved in the ER in some stage or other of unconsciousness.

And yet how beautiful and brave and remarkable that that poor Hoogerland picked himself out of the barbed wire, got back on the bike and finished.  That he went, as the French announcer says in this video, to the very end of his courage to stay in, despite his injuries that later required 33 stitches.

That's amazing.

That's why I'll keep watching every year, for these feats of endurance and strength and courage.  And for the loyalty, the laying down of the bike for a teammate, the entire peloton slowing down and waiting following the catastrophic crash.  It's such a great rolling story every single year, with so many opportunities for individuals to shine, both for their own strength and for their bigness of spirit.
Thank goodness it's a rest day today, so the riders can recover.  And so that we can, too.  Yesterday's action was so horrific and yet amazing -- Thor Hushovd's leadership even as his yellow jersey was slipping away, Thomas Voekler's joy on the podium, Johnny Hoogerland's tears.  We are invited to watch the full gamut of human possibility and to go, vicariously, to the every ends of courage.  After which a rest, really, is needed.

Tomorrow it's back in the saddle.  Fingers crossed everyone stays upright and Voekler carries the yellow through Bastille Day!

Vive le Tour!

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