Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Tour

I grew up obsessed with the Tour de France. I recorded (on VHS) every bit of it that I could during my teens, and scoured the newspaper daily for the little snippets of race coverage and standings that were occasionally printed. Greg LeMond was a hero of mine, I don't even know how many times I read the copy of his book that resided on my nightstand.

By the time Lance rolled around I was no longer all that interested. Maybe I matured, maybe it was the doping, maybe it was because Lance was from Texas, I don't know.

I don't pay a whole lot of attention anymore. I know the big names, but on any given day I couldn't tell you who is wearing the yellow jersey, or how big their lead is. But I follow enough bike blogs that when something big happens I'm in the loop.

Hoogerland's crash and subsequent podium appearance have stuck with me for the past week or so.
First off I'll acknowledge that I tend to root for Dutch athletes. My great grandparents immigrated to the USofA from the Netherlands and I grew up in a community of blonde haired, blue eyed descendants of Dutchmen. My 99 year old grand father still lives in the town of Holland, MI.

But Dutch or not Hoogerland's efforts last week epitomized what is good about bicycle racing. The man was run off the road by a car, crashed through a barbwire fence, almost completely lost his shorts and ultimately needed thirty some stitches to sew him back up. If that was me I would have said screw it, packed it up for the day and probably spent most of the next week sitting on my couch instead of my bike.
What did Johnny Hoogerland do? That dude got back in the saddle, finished the stage and earned the King of Mountains jersey by the end of the day.
He didn't try to be all macho or cool on the podium that afternoon. The dude broke down and wept. . . pure, raw emotion. I've got so much respect for that. Dude has got heart.

Hoogerland didn't pack it in and fly home at the end of the day either. The photos of him out riding the next day with his dad and wearing the polka dot jersey was one of the greatest cycling photos I've seen in ages.

I can't even imagine how sore Hoogerland must be after the crash and how hard it must be hang in there , but after fifteen stages he is still in the top 100 riders.
Oh and I guess Thomas Voekler is in the lead.

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