CW: Forgiveness and heart-health…at the Tour de France?

Few sporting events cause more inflammation than the Tour de France. It’s long, fast, tiring, and stressful. These facts are not news, and neither are crashes.

By now, many of you have seen or heard that crashes have marred the first week of this year’s Tour. Even before the first day in the mountains, potential winners have been forced to abandon from injuries sustained in these accidents. This includes my personal favorite, Chris Horner (@hornerakg).

Of course, Tour de France crashes are not unusual, but rarely are they as vivid as the one involving cyclists Juan Antonio Flecha (Spain), Johnny Hoogerland (Belgium) and an inattentive motorist from French TV.

As you can see, when a car collides with a cyclist, the cyclist loses. Mr Flecha was thrown onto the pavement, while young Mr Hoogerland was catapulted into a barb-wire fence.

I refrained from posting the pictures of Mr Hoogerland immediately after the crash because, along with the horrific lacerations on his legs was his completely exposed gluteus muscles—an image that might not past muster in my Southeastern state. The anatomically inclined can click the Google images.

I am not posting this video to point out the plight of cyclists struck by cars. I will not rant about how distracted drivers threaten cyclists. Nor am I writing about the coolness of how both riders got back on their bikes (Mr Hoogerland changed his shorts first) and finished the stage, though this was plenty cool.

What struck me was the heart-healthiness of Mr Hoogerland’s response after being both robbed of a chance at glory, and badly injured by the blatant inconsideration of another human. Remember readers; this is a twenty-something young man who, when struck, was rotating pulls in a Tour de France breakaway that was destined to make it to the finish.

He should have been inflamed. Angry. Incensed, even.  No one would have faulted him for lashing out at the race organizers or the driver of the car.

But instead he offered this…

“We can still be happy that we’re alive. It’s horrible. I can blame everyone but I don’t think anyone does this sort of thing on purpose. I think the people in the car will have a very big guilty feeling and they will surely apologize to me and Flecha,”

And…

“Nobody can be blamed for this. It’s a horrible accident and I was in it. But I said to Flecha, We’re still alive and Wouter Weylandt died in a crash.”  (Ed note: Mr Weylandt, a Belgian cyclist, was killed in a crash two months previous in the the Tour of Italy.)

Cycling is getting more and more hectic which is also nice because more and more people are watching but, for sure, some people will say that it may be like this because… well, I can’t explain it – but I think most people feel very, very bad about this sort of thing.”

Mr Hoogerland did something very inspiring.

He forgave.

He moved on.

He saw the positive.

All this, my friends, is a glorious example of a very heart-healthy way to manage an inflammatory situation.

We cannot eliminate stress from our lives. To even try would be futile; smart people would call such effort, maladaptive. What we can do however, like this young professional bike racer did, was manage stress in a constructive and “good-hearted” manner.

These kinds of stories are why I am a fan of sports, and people, and of course, bike racing.

JMM