WHY REMEMBERING 'WW108' MEANS SO MUCH TO ME
Some of you who know me are aware that I love the sport of professional road race cycling. To feel the wake of the teams in their outrageously colorful skin suits whizzing by with the rush of the peloton gives me a thrill each time and I can't wait for more. That they're usually pretty hot in this international gene pool doesn't hurt! I watch. I follow. I seldom ride anymore, but I'm what you call a "superfan". Only other cyclists or superfans get this phenomenon, even though it's no different from a football freak or a tennis junkie. I am a superfan and my favorite team, despite the name change, is Leopard Trek. There are others of you who know me who will remember that I was once involved in a dramatic event. I don't like to call it an accident anymore. And starting today, I won't even call it traumatic. It was something that happened to me, and I survived. Nurses filed past my bed in the Intensive Care Unit and whispered, "You should be dead." I wish I had known then, for I may not have been able to talk, but I could have written them a note: "Don't give up on me," I'd scrawl. "I have a lot of things left to do. I'm going to live a long time."
How do we know how long we're going to live? We don't. The short end of it really is, we don't. We can live the best life we set out to do and accomplish amazing things but, in an instant, we can cease to exist. Such is what I witnessed one year ago as I watched Stage 3 of the 2011 edition of the Tour of Italy, the Giro d'Italia; one of cycling's great monuments, second only to the Tour de France. As he reportedly turned his head to look and see who followed on a tricky mountain descent, one of my Leopards, #108 - Wouter Weylandt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wouter_Weylandt) collided with a guard rail and was gone from us in an instant.
The ensuing photos that streamed in were rather graphic. I don't believe the cameraman, who's trained to zoom in on the immediate action, realized what he filmed sent all of us viewing into shock. Jaw dropped, I grabbed both mobile phones and checked Twitter on one, Facebook on the other. Within the minute, my fellow fans and I contemplated the pool of liquid the formed at the base of Wouter's helmet as he lay prostrate on the ground. "Oh, dear God," one tweeted. "I hope that's water." That's not water, I thought. The British Eurosport announcer realized it too, and screeched for the director to kill the shot. Then we all waited an age to pass before his family was contacted and the announcement finally came. Wouter perished on the anniversary of Giro Stage 3 he'd won so triumphantly for Team Quick Step the year prior. The cycling community was stunned.
Hours passed and my time of reflection went to a different place as it does now. How can one survive such massive head injuries and another doesn't? He had his whole life going for him, still in his 20's and expecting his first child! What makes me or anyone more worthy? Is there such a thing as being more worthy? Who's to judge us at all?
Have you ever heard, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?" Well, if I truly believe in my heart of hearts that I'm here to live my Truth, then I have to know my own incident served to saved my life. We are each born with a purpose. Some of us are lucky and find it sooner than others but the only Truth I've ever known about myself is that I came here to push people's buttons. I never knew what form that would take, at least until now. If I have walked through the proverbial fire for you, then please learn from my experience and (I reiterate) go out there and live your best life. Live it for your Self. Live it for your Soul. Live it for men and women like Wouter, who would if they could. Live it for his daughter and all the children who will never know a parent. They need role models and direction.
Celebrate the small joys and the big victories. Go out doing something you love. I will always remember WW108.
À la prochaine….