Sunday, September 14, 2008

Injury Time Out

With the continuing wrist injury keeping me off the bike, I've been thinking about the disabled list. All sports have a disabled list - football, basketball, baseball - they all have athletes who miss a game, a week, a month, etc. Tom Brady is out for the Pat's whole season, Albert Pujols is being encouraged to just end his season for some surgery for his injuries, and the list goes on. Soccer players everywhere seem to be injured every minute or two, but they get up when it's clear no penalty will be called.

Cycling seems to have its share of injuries like any sport, but they tend toward being much more dramatic. Everyone knows Lance's story - it's about as dramatic as they come. Now that I'm stuck on the trainer in the garage (2 or 3 months earlier than planned), I'm watching old Greg LeMond races on DVD. LeMond almost died in a hunting accident in 1986 after his 1st Tour win, and it took him 3 years to come back fully.

Floyd Landis had the decay-by-the-day hip a couple of years ago. Tom Danielson, once thought to be the next coming of Lance and former Lance teammate/protege, saw a whole season derailed by intestinal parasites he picked up from rain-soaked roads in an early season Indonesian race.

Stuart O'Grady, the 2006 winner of Paris-Roubaix, survived one of the most spectacular crashes in Tour history with broken ribs, vertebrae and a punctured lung. His season was over - he didn't race again until the next year.

George Hincapie, another of Lance Armstrong's long-time teammates, missed yet another chance at winning Paris-Roubaix in 2006 when his steering tube snapped mid-race (bike seen above), leaving him holding handlebars that were attached to nothing. Separated shoulder, a couple of months out.

Tyler Hamilton, even if he was a doper extraordinaire at the time, did manage one of the most stunning feats of playing injured in history - he broke a collarbone in the 1st week of the Tour (2003 I think) and completed the race, winning a mountain stage. Enduring the pain led him to grind his teeth so much he needed caps on all of them by the end. Doping can make you faster, but it doesn't take away pain. What he did is just unbelievable...even LA called him a "tough dude".

The list goes on - every year in many races I see bike racers flying into curbs, crashing in a turn, running into the back of a car (Jan Ullrich did that a few years ago). And every year I think to myself - in the [insert professional sports league name here], I doubt they'd play injured like these guys do.

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