Monday, March 06, 2006

Details, yes, details

No, not those details, haha!!!! I forgot to mention my second race was in memory of Kurt Marino. He raced for Tokeneke Cycling Club. Last year he died of a brain aneurysm just before a fund raiser for a coworker of his recently diagnosed with MS. He was 47.

We're a close knit group, as many of us only see each other at races. I remember Kurt, but never really hung out with him. He was cool, and we had a few conversations in the slower parts of races over the years. This year we all were catching up, and then the race promoter got our attention and said a few words. After that, all the Tokeneke guys were called to the front, to our rapturous applause. You don't yell in this situation, just clap. It's part of the unspoken code. Then the Tokeneke guys lined up about 10 meters in front of us and led the first lap with us maintaining the gap of respect. It's eerie, as no one speaks, spectators or racers. We just ride by silently at a moderate pace. After the first lap, some of the Tokeneke guys who weren't in our race pulled off, and we started to race after the first corner on the second lap.

This is a racing tradition, best illustrated in the Tour de France in 1993 or 1994. On a descent in the Pyrenees Mountains Fabio Casartelli, Barcelona Olympic champion from Italy, (and on Motorola with Lance Armstrong) tangled with another rider and his head hit a large limestone block that the French use as a type of guardrail. This was while going 60 mph. He died a short time later. I have the tape of the live broadcast from ESPN, and Phil Liggett had the task of informing the audience. Paul Sherewen, his co-commentator, tried to keep it together, but broke up on the air, and you can hear him crying in the booth. He worked with Fabio and Lance at Motorola.

The following day, it was agreed amongst the teams that the race would be neutral, a procession for over 100 miles. All along the route throngs of spectators clapped. It was much like Princess Diana's funeral procession. A few hundred meters from the end of the stage, all the Motorola team went to the front, got alongside each other, and was allowed to ride about 50 meters ahead of the rest of the pack. They finished as one, black armbands and all. Two or three days later Lance Armstrong rode to one of his most impressive stage victories in his career, in fact that I have ever seen. As he neared the finish, he looked and pointed up, later saying he "rode with the strength of two men".

If a cyclist dies on his bike, this is how we pay homage to them.

I'm debating on whether or not to post an image of Fabio on the road with a doctor holding his head. I'm thinking it's more fitting to post a pic of Lance from that stage win.

The Daily News story from last October about Kurt.


LostInTX said...

I guess we take for granted that cycling is all fun and games until, as they say, "someone gets hurt."

It's scary to think that could happen to you at any time. I guess just like with anything we have to be aware of the consequences and hope for the best. Everything we love usually has some sort of dangerous side, eh? I hope you stay safe, with minimal injuries, this season.

Mike said...

Thank you. Last year a friend of mine from Indiana who had gotten married and moved to CT was killed in a race I was in. The hospital was at the end of the course, and I stayed with his wife for a few hours in the ER until they told us he was gone. It's sobering.

LostInTX said...

DUDE - Seriously, NOTHING better happen to you. Don't make me come up there!

Mike said...

Owww, I fell!!!!