I’m sharing a video today that is compelling in its sadness, and yet inspiring. A Colombian rider at the UCI World Championships is left stranded on the roadside after getting a flat. There is supposed to be a neutral service car to help riders in this circumstance, but it seems that even that vehicle passed this rider by.
This young man rode thousands of miles to prepare for this competition, and then this happened. We’ve all experienced disappointment in sports, but as the commentators point out, few of us earn the chance to represent our country at this level. The pressure that comes with that is hard enough to bear. To have your chance to prove yourself stolen by a flat tire and no help in sight is a crusher.
I recall racing the 5000M in the Prairie State Games, an Olympic-style statewide competition held for the first time in the mid-1980s. The race started in 80-degree temps with 80% humidity. I passed through two miles under 9:30 in third place behind Ty Wolf of the University of Illinois and a University of Chicago runner whose name was Paul Snyder, if I recall correctly. At that point a side stitch from hell started coming on. I ran for another lap but it was too painful. Bent over from pain, I lurched off the track and the medical crew pushed my sad body into a wheelbarrow full of ice. I’m not sure if heat was the exact problem, but it was disappointing to have lost my place in the race.
Perhaps you’ve had an experience like that where your expectations were high and they suddenly burst in front of you. If so, this rider from Colombia expresses the tears and frustration that sometimes come with competition. We learn from it. But damn it hurts in the moment.
Take heart, everyone. You’re not alone.