Tag Archive for Wouter Weylandt

A moving gesture in the Giro, yet another bike rider injured in a gang shooting

More on the events before and after the death of Leopard Trek rider Wouter Weylandt in Monday’s 3rd stage of the Giro.

According to RadioShack rider Manuel Cardoso, who was closest to the collision, Weylandt had been dropped by the leaders, and was attempting to rejoin the main group. He was looking back at the riders behind when he clipped the wall and was catapulted to the other side of the road, where he hit another object.

Weylandt reportedly knew the course well, and live video of the crash will take center stage in an inquest into the death. News of his death was withheld until his pregnant wife, who was driving home at the time, could be told; authorities didn’t want her to hear the news over the radio. A Facebook page has been set up to solicit donations for Weylandt’s family.

The Giro riders offer a moving tribute to Weylandt as the peloton forgoes racing for the 4th stage. At the finish, Garmin-Cervelo’s Tyler Farrar rode with Leopard Trek team in honor of his late friend; when he dropped back to let the Leopard Trek riders finish without him, they pulled him forward to finish together in an all-too-rare example of sportsmanship in today’s world.

The race will go on, but without Farrar or Weylandt’s Leopard Trek team.

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The Beverly Hill Courier reports that a 40-year old man with gang affiliations was shot multiple times while riding a bike on the 2700 block of Alsace Avenue in South L.A. early Monday morning. Authorities say he was shot in the leg, arm and the groin (twice), but refused to cooperate with police. Witnesses reported seeing a silver SUV speeding away.

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Joseph Ricardo Fernandez, the driver accused of killing Encino cyclist Jim Swarzman, faces a preliminary hearing today.

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Wish I could have made this meeting, as the BAC’s Planning Subcommittee meets this afternoon to discuss issues including the Exposition bikeway, sharrows on Westwood Blvd, and the L.A. River Bike Path and other proposed bike lanes around the NBC/Universal expansion.

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Better Bike Beverly Hills reports on the recent Westside COG meeting to address closing the many gaps in Westside bikeways. A trio of Cal Poly SLO architecture students suggest banning cars from Downtown L.A. Sign up for UCLA’s Bike to Campus week and you could get a free t-shirt or bike tune-up. Examined Spoke examines the weirdness of biking in Los Angeles. The Palms Neighborhood Council will host a Bike Rodeo on Saturday, June 14th. Rick Risemberg writes there’s room for all kinds of riders on the streets of L.A. Walk Eagle Rock calls for a transformed Colorado Blvd. Santa Monica will hold a workshop on the city’s new Bike Action Plan on Monday. A look at last weekend’s bike-friendly Santa Monica Festival. Well, that’s one bike thief off the street; wait, make that three. Writing for the Santa Monica Daily Press, a family law attorney says California’s helmet law wasn’t written to protect kids, but to make money for helmet makers. A new website challenges you to time your commute by car and bike to win cool prizes. Manhattan Beach will unveil new bike racks on Saturday. Long Beach’s biking expats prepare to hit the road for their latest two-wheeled expansion. A look at this weekend’s upcoming Long Beach Bike Fest; Saturday also marks the family-oriented Tour of Riverside.

Bike corrals could soon be coming to San Diego. Why cyclists should ride with traffic. Among other safety tips, the Atascadero News says while cyclists have the burden of being visible, drivers have the burden of watching out; nice to see the press get it right for a change. San Francisco’s bike plans still have a way to go, but SF Gate says obeying the law should take equal emphasis. Palo Alto could soon get a shiny new bike boulevard. Yahoo offers advice on bike laws for Californians thinking about riding to work. Three Bay Area counties are using smartphone GPS data to improves bike planning; thanks to Zeke for the heads-up. Bicycling looks at the BMC Racing Team’s prep work for the Amgen Tour of California.

A new bill could increase federal benefits for biking to work; good luck getting it through the Tea Party driven House. Grist looks at how employers can encourage bike commuting. Levi’s introduces skinny bike jeans with a reinforced crotch, U-lock holder and stink-proofing. The latest Streetsfilm says complete streets are about more than bike lanes. Evidently, sitting all day is bad for you; unless you’re sitting on a bike seat, of course. Why bike racers need an anchor. Ten tips to make bicycling easy. Rather than crack down on illegally parked bikes, Durango CO builds a successful bike coral, leading to a record month for a local business; thanks to Richard Risemberg for the link. An Arkansas minister rides 60 miles to celebrate his 60th year less than three years after he was nearly killed in a cycling collision. Arlington TX decides cyclists only want to ride to and from parks. Lovely Bicycle looks at the New England Bicycle Expo. An Indiana Amish father and his four-year old daughter are killed in broad daylight by a driver who claims he didn’t see them. New York cyclists are being ticketed for non-existent traffic laws; Gothamist says the solution is an Idaho Stop Law. A Florida cyclist is killed when a driver falls asleep and knocks her off a causeway; thanks to Michael Byerts for the link.

Despite the recent troubles in Mexico, the Rosarito to Ensenada bike ride just keeps on rolling. So who really did invent the pedal bicycle? London considers letting trucks unload in the city’s bikeways. One of the great climbs of London. One day you’re a bike racer, the next day you’re hooking up with the most famous singer in France; thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up. In Abu Dhabi, bumping bikes is the latest national sport, but at least they don’t murder their victims after they hit them. The UN launches the Decade of Action for Road Safety tomorrow; former Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes will probably issue a statement declaring it a socialist plot to save lives.

Finally, bikemeister Chris K suggests an earpiece that channels stereo sound into a single ear so you can comply with state law and still hear what’s going on around you. And Will Campbell points us to a post from a few years back, in which he does what we’ve all thought about when confronted by a butt-flinging distracted driver.

Well, actually, I fantasize about grabbing their phone and throwing it as far as I can, then shoving that still-burning butt where the sun don’t shine.

But still.

Rest in peace, Wouter Weylandt

I grew up a boxing fan.

In those days, before pay-per-view, it was almost hard not to be one.

It was the glory days of Mohamed Ali, Joe Frazier and George Forman, when he was still an angry young man who could strike fear in Frazier and make Mike Tyson seem like a Zen master. I followed closely as they mixed and matched in the greatest series of bouts since American Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in the build-up to World War II, with all the political and master-race baggage those times threw into the ring with them.

It was also a great way of bonding with my father, as we’d gather in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn and a beer — for my dad, anyway — and watch the drama unfold in living color. The seemingly indestructible Quarry Brothers could take a beating on Friday night, then get back up to win the next round, or the next fight; Colorado’s own Ron Lyle would emerge from the state prison to go toe-to-toe with Ali and Foreman, nearly beating them both.

That all changed in 1982, when we watched Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini take on South Korean fighter Duk Koo Kim for the lightweight championship; this time separated by a few thousand miles, but knowing we’d talk later to discuss every knockdown.

That call never took place.

Mancini stopped Kim in the 14th round, winning by TKO as Kim hit the canvas hard, then struggled back to his feet; he died four days later after slipping into a coma moments afterwards.

To the best of my knowledge, my dad never watched another fight.

I’ve tried a few times, but find myself screaming at the TV for the referee to stop the bout as soon as I see a boxer trapped against the ropes, fending off a barrage of blows. I’d rather watch the replay on HBO long after the fight is over, knowing that everyone has walked away.

And Ultimate Fighting?

Forget it.

I was reminded of that today, after sleeping in late to recover from an overly taxing weekend, awaking to the news that Leopard Trek rider Wouter Weylandt died after falling in today’s third stage of the Giro d’Italia.

For all the danger of the peloton and twisting, heart-pounding descents, fatalities are rare in bike racing, just as they are in boxing and other seemingly dangerous sports.

Pro racer Fabio Casartelli died in the ’95 Tour de France; Andrei Kivilev during the Paris-Nice classic in ’03.

Both tragic, both devastating. Yet both demonstrating just how rare events like this are, despite the dangerous courses and riding conditions pro cyclists are forced to contend with. And even though injuries, sometimes serious, are common.

Training can also be deadly, as riders are forced to contend with the same road and traffic conditions the rest of us face on a daily basis, while putting in more miles at higher speeds.

Yet the riders on the pro tour are the best of the best, taking on challenges and employing skills most of us will never approach. And pulling them off beautifully — and often, spectacularly.

Even amateur racers and recreational riders can face similar risks, as we push ourselves to the edge of our capabilities, whether to improve our skills or experience the thrills of carving the perfect turn on a high-speed descent.

Including me on more than one occasion.

Back when I lived in Colorado, I was young and fearless — and yes, very reckless. While I prided myself on my bike safety skills, I had no aversion to pushing the edge, bombing down steep descents and carving high-speed turns with my knee nearly scraping the pavement. And more than once ending up with a bloody kneecap to prove I’d pushed it just a little too far.

One time stands out, though, in terms of crossing the line from pushing the edge to sheer adrenaline and testosterone addled stupidity.

I’d somehow managed to talk my girlfriend at the time to give a handful of fellow thrill-seekers a ride up a steep mountain pass. The plan was that she would wait for us at the bottom while we rode down with one simple rule: the first one to touch his brakes lost.

Those were the days when bike helmets were a relatively new concept, worn only by overly safety-conscious people who wouldn’t set foot in a car unless it was a Volvo. So we set off bare-headed as cars and heavy trucks wizzed by on our left.

It wasn’t long, though, before those cars were no longer speeding past. As my companions dropped off one by one, I found myself passing startled riders on their right, riding the shoulder in a racing crouch at speeds I estimated as somewhere around 70 to 75 mph.

In those days, when bike computers were just beginning to hit the pro tour, speed was usually judged by comparing yours to that of the cars passing by. That particular highway had a 55 mph speed limit; I knew from experience that most drivers regularly exceeded that limit by a good five to ten mph — and the fact that I was passing every car with ease told me I was doing well over that.

And yes, I knew at the time that what I was doing was incredibly dangerous; at that speed, a single patch of gravel or broken glass could have been fatal.

Somehow I made it, riding far beyond my ability to arrive at the bottom of the mountain half an hour before my companions. And several minutes faster than my girlfriend could drive the same route at highway speeds.

While I knew what I was doing was dangerous, I’m not sure I fully understood the risk I was taking.

Just this past January, two riders died under similar circumstances; both probably far more skilled than I was at the time and riding at much lower speeds.

Now older and hopefully wiser, I can still put myself in that moment and feel the same incredible rush I did that day, yet think I was an idiot to even try it.

Let alone lacking the common sense and instinct for self-preservation to back off when my more prudent friends did.

Weylandt’s death in the Giro serves as a tragic reminder that our sport can carry a significant risk, even when performed at the highest levels by the most skilled riders. And it’s made even more tragic by the news that his wife is pregnant with a child who will never know his or her father.

Reportedly, his left pedal touched a wall during a high-speed descent, sending him into a 65 foot tumble down the hillside; despite rescue efforts that lasted 40 minutes, the race’s medical team was unable to resuscitate him, and his body taken to a nearby hospital, not for emergency treatment, but for an autopsy.

Yes, I’ll watch the Giro again tomorrow.

But it won’t be the same.

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There have been a number of moving statements during the course of this day.

But a couple stand out in my mind, and I’ll let them sum up this sad day; you’ll find additional links to stories about this tragedy below.

Say it ain’t so… Wouter, you were kind and gracious to me every day at Tour of Oman. You will be very dearly missed.

Taylor Phiney, @taylorphinney

The very act of cycling is in itself a celebration – so it’s especially hard when a life is lost in that act. RIP Wouter Weylandt.

Steve Montalto, @Highmountain4

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The Leopard Trek team responds to Weylandt’s death. Photos of Weylandt winning the same stage in last year’s Giro, and at the start of today’s race just hours before his death. ESPN says his best years were still coming. Johan Bruyneel says the sick feeling in his stomach just won’t go away. Memories of one of the world’s greatest races before today’s bad news. Bicycling offers more details on Weylandt’s death. The Trickster forwards in-depth coverage of the story from New Zealand. Thoughts on the risks and tragic ironies of competition.

Finally, Bike Snob offers his very moving thoughts on today’s tragedy.

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