Monday, July 23, 2007


Every so often something happens that makes you just shake your head. An unexpectedly brilliant sunrise on a gray morning. A random act of kindness from a total stranger. Or, as in this case, a perfectly heroic ride - heroic in the sense of pure, pointless determination and endurance - to shake up an otherwise same-day-at-the-office painful stage through the monsters of the Pyrenees.

This guy is a dead man riding. He's not going to win the Tour this year, not unless some sudden and virulent plague wipes out all 22 of the top riders above him. And, given his age, and the damage he's done to his body this year, he's not going to win the Tour, now, not ever.

So why keep riding?

Perhaps because today, just for today, he rode himself bigger than he was, bigger than I ever thought he could be. Bigger than the wind, the pain, and the other riders trailing behind him like the sputtering brilliantly-colored tail of a comet. As big as the wild riders of Kazakhstan. Rode a ride he can remember when all else that remains is the pain in his knees and the dim memory of the wild cheers that followed him across the finish in Loudenvielle.

So you keep riding, Vino. Ride for your past, for the suffering of your aching knees and all the sweat and blood you've spilled as a professional cyclist. Ride for the great riders of the past Tours.

Ride for yourself and the feeling inside, the feeling that pulls you up that last climb when your mind and body scream for you to stop.

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