Tuesday, 24 May 2011

why do bad things happen to good people?

the last month has just about turned our sport upside down, it's also severely changed the way i see the world. I'm not sure how much of this i want to share, and how much of it i have to deal with alone but i wanted to put some of it up for debate.

A few weeks ago wouter Weyland crashed and died in the Giro, i didn't know him, i'd never lined up next to him. But it still hit me hard, he was doing what i do every day, and he lost his life. it shocked me but in a way which i now see as peripheral. People i'd competed against people i've grown up with have died before; hit by cars, drunk drivers, heart complaints, even cancer. A couple of times i've been bowled over by the grief butthe confluence of incidents in the last few weeks has really, really made it hard for me to get out on my bike. Heck it made it hard for me to leave dad's house and drive to mum's i was suddenly hit by the realisation that every goodbye could be final.

Xavier Tondo was someone i knew, whom i'd see out training, who was helping me find my feet in my new home, his sister in law was,is, a good friend. He lived 10 kilometers away, we train on the same roads, under the same sun. The randomness with which his life was ended has been hard to bear. For the first time ever he has had a chance to shine, and how he was shining. He will be sadly missed by all that knew him and many that did not. I didn't feel right strapping on a black armband for Wouter, he wasn't my friend and, whilst i respect the decisions of others to do so it felt wrong for me to presume to be so public when my emotional response was shock, not grief. This weekend when i line up in Belgium, i'll be wearing an armband for xavi.

All this has eclipsed the goings on with lance armstrong and livestrong in my own little sphere of consciousness. All i will say is this, good people don't deserve bad luck but if it's true that Mr Armstrong lied and misled thousands of very unwell people, i hope for their sake that he at least has the strength of character to say sorry. Sadly, for Wouter and Xavi, there's nobody to apologise. The wheel of fate turns and we are privy to its revolutions. But one mustn't live one's life looking out for the worst, rather we should search for the best. Xavi would rather we all went out riding in the sunshine than sat inside crying and so i will try.

Carpe diem i suppose

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, the idea that each "good-bye" could be the last (which is why the origin of the phrase: "G-d be with ye") is one we learn many times in our lives. When someone lives far away, the result is a "they're not there and we won't get to see them again", but when they are near -- both emotionally and physically -- it's harder to get past. You keep seeing them in crowds, wanting to call them on the phone or text or e-mail them with some crazy thing you've seen that you want to share...

    In many ways, it's easier to deal with death when it's expected -- as the endpoint of degenerative illnesses (such as cancer, MS, etc), or after many years of life. It's harder when death comes out of the blue, or when there is no generational buffer between you and the deceased, and harder when you have no inkling of how to deal with it.

    One reason Wouter's death struck the peloton so starkly is that it happened not at a distance, but more or less as it watched. It is the reminder that bicycle racing is not without its dangers. To them, Xavier's death happened at a distance. It was reported on, not seen. They didn't say, "get me a bottle" or "I'll go back to the team car" and two hours later find a corpse.

    For you, Wouter's death happened at a distance. We all watched it on TV, but he wasn't someone you socialized with, whom you knew outside of a race, whom you entrusted to G-d's care the evening before, only to find he'd been called to his Maker before you could greet him again. Xavier was.

    FWIW, while I'm following up all the Lance brouhaha, AFAIAC it's all smoke and mirrors and no meaning. I will leave you with the one item the media have forgotten: earlier this year, Xavier Tondo was the guy who went to Catalan authorities and collaborated with them at the risk of his own life and livelihood to bring down a ring of people pushing performance-enhancing drugs. (More about this on Jonathan Vaughters's Feb 20 blog post.)

    Sounds like Xavi lived clean, died clean, and was an upstanding citizen of both the sport and the general community. We have few enough such people in this world; the loss of each is missed.