During today’s fifth stage of the Tour de France last year’s winner, Chris Froome, said ENOUGH. After three crashes in two days Froome couldn’t continue. Just like that. The camera followed him as he got up slowly and stood for a moment in the rain. A team support person rolled out a replacement bike, but Froome slowly limped past it, opened the passenger door of the team car, and got in.
The Tour de France is not just a sporting event, it’s a novel written day by day over 21 stages and 3664 Km. The plot lines mingle, as they must, with the many personalities and nationalities – birthing a compelling story of struggle, humor, heartbreak and eventual victory. Chris Froome’s part in the story embodies these.
In other sports a competitor knows that the clock will finally run out. A boxer has two minutes. A soccer match has 90 minutes and the occasional time-out. A bicycle race lasts as long as it lasts: you ride until you’re done, whether or not you feel strong, whether or not you’re going well. Froome inspired because he kept going after being scraped and beaten raw on both sides of his body by the first two crashes. The third crash tipped the balance.
Experienced riders know that suffering often brings unexpected surprises. They push on because they know that emptying the tank could just as well trigger some deep reserves. Our own willingness to press on sometimes brings an end of the ride rally where form and strength are recovered. And sometimes on the other side of suffering is a crumbled confidence and will to continue…and you stop. But the most deeply sacred thing is this: to have fought until we can’t go further. That we gave good battle is sweet consolation, and the great equalizer.
Chapeau, Chris Froome: you fought with great courage.