Cycling & Safety
Million Dollar Decision
55“We all die. She was very fortunate to die doing what she loved.” “It was an act of God.” “I’m done with road racing; I can no longer race without fear of crashing.” comments overheard at serious and fatal crash sites
After I made the transition from racer to team coach and then director, it dawned on me how my decisions could affect the destinies of others for better or worse. The awesome responsibility of influencing lives for a career in cycling hit hard when I watched the movie, 56Million Dollar Baby. This film evoked a profound emotional reaction, since I knew that my race calls and influence could indirectly lead to an athlete’s death. Death had come crashing near me before: I’d personally witnessed one race-related death, wasn’t present but nearby during the event of two others, and had raced near many serious crashes and myriads of minor cycling mishaps.
Crashes characterize cycling. I’ve crashed numerous times including one requiring several surgeries and one with a minor head injury (no comments 😉 Head injuries make up the majority of cycling-related fatalities. After my concussion, the helmet became a priority in training rides and I lost the was-a-euro-racer attitude.
Recreational riders are no less at risk from sparring with cars on crowded roads or from mechanical failure or road conditions. We put ourselves at risk. Is it because we love it, because somewhere inside we decide that it’s worth the risk, or because we deny its dangerous nature?
You must face this issue and choose responsibly. Don’t wait until something bad happens. Go into it with eyes wide open and prepared for any outcome. Preparation means precautions such as helmet safety, skills mastery, and health/accident insurance plans. How much risk you take as a rider depends on what you believe is your destiny in cycling. Ask yourself the biggest questions.
Prayer for Safety
“And just as it is appointed for all men once to die, and after that the certain judgment.” 57Hebrews 9:27
We are grateful that risk in sport exists for our excitement. We confess we numb ourselves at times to the life and death issues elicited by racing and its fatal accidents. We ask for help to take every responsible precaution necessary, and for safety for all riding bikes.
Ponder Am I aware of every possible outcome in my cycling experience? Affirm I ride and race as safely as possible. Watch and redeem your time wisely and whole-heartedly in awe of nothing but God.
55These three comments are anonymous to protect the sources. One person was a spectator who comforted me with the notion that there’s nobility in the death of someone fulfilling their destiny. The other came from a race director whom I’d rather not quote because out of context it sounds unaffected; but I know that this person grieved deeply and investigated the course thoroughly to determine probable cause. The final quote is from a world-class racer who could no longer be automatic in dangerous sprint scenarios on the road, but who went off-road to return to an international level uninhibited.
56Million Dollar Baby was produced in 2004 by Warner Brothers and starred Clint Eastwood as the Trainer and Hillary Swank as the boxer who was paralyzed in the ring. Its treatment of issues, such as athlete selection and euthenasia, brought me to my knees asking for sure direction about my own destiny and the stewardship and influence on the lives of others.