Cycling Loss & Grief

Maillot Noir                Mourning Jersey

60“The cycling community is my family.” Merlyn Townley, Race Mechanic & Instructor, on the death of his last living relative

Remembering Wouter Weylandt


If you’ve experienced any kind of devastating loss, then you may agree that the old custom of wearing black as a symbol of mourning was a good one. Just as the bearer of Maglia Rosa celebrates happiness in pink, a Maillot Noir invites more nurturing treatment during black times of intense sorrow. Loss of breath isn’t our only grief as cyclists. Sometimes we lose our own.

Minor sadness about loss of fitness to grieving over the death of a dream to the major loss of a loved one reaches all in the peloton. Studies indicate 61many stages of grief that overlap in unique progression toward healing and recovery depending on the nature of loss and personality of the mourner. Initially, numbed disbelief protects the mind from being overwhelmed, known as shock, denial, aimlessness, physical weakness, and bargaining. Pain and emotional upheaval manifest physically and emotionally as anger, anxiety, guilt, sadness. A sense of isolation, loneliness and depression usually hits months after the circumstance causing concerned well-wishers to push the mourner to get over it. The process is highly individual and needs to run its course apart from external pressures. Unlike a grand tour, there is a return to certain stages without a time-cut. Enlist patient supporters.

A return to lightness signals the start of recovery toward acceptance. Appreciation for all that’s precious is heightened. A complete return to the pre-grief state or replacement of what’s lost never occurs but creative ways to find new joy in life are discovered. The process is messy but miraculously designed. Ride through it with compassion upon oneself or toward others in sorrow. A fight to hold maillot noir eventually brings victory over a sorrowful but expanded heart.

Prayer for Loss & Grief

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.” 62Ecclesiastes 7:2-3


We are thankful for reminders of life’s limits and brevity as a signpost to prepare and prioritize. We pray for all who grieve.

Ponder When was the last time I cared enough to cry? What losses need to be mourned? Affirm I heal by seeing the past as a stepping stone to the future, even into eternity. Watch how acknowledgment of error and seeing some benefit revises some of what’s regrettable.

60Conversations with Merlyn Townley. Merlyn is a category 1 race mechanic who has wrenched worldwide. His palmarès are so numerous it would take several pages to list. He has a sister in me.

61For more information on various models that outline characteristics of the mourning process, see references under “Grief Stages” on

62The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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