Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Tour de France lesson

Folks who know me know that cycling is an important part of my everyday life. I pedal to work, and pretty much everywhere else that I can. I resort to the car only when I have to, and even then I'm not happy about it.

What most folks don't know about me is that when I was a child, I had problems with my hips. They were developing wrong, and in the process were cutting off circulation to my legs. When I was 4 years-old, the docs diagnosed something called Legg Perthes, or more completely, Legg-Calve'-Perthes Disease (click here for more background.) I spent two years in a rather large two-legged cast, which was followed by ongoing physiotherapy.

In many respects, the cycling and other distance sports were my way of saying that I was fine. Indeed, better than fine. To this day, thankfully, I am. And I take nothing for granted, because you simply never know.

So when I started reading about American cyclist Floyd Landis's pursuit of the Tour de France, I was intrigued. Here was a guy who suffered from osteonecrosis - the same thing I had, only his resulted from a crash in 2002 - and his hip was quite literally decaying. His attitude struck me as inspirational. And I knew that, win or lose, I needed to write about him when I next picked up my pen.

He won the Tour de France on Sunday. My column in today's paper pays tribute to the kind of singular devotion that, if leveraged on a larger scale, might help make our world a better place. Here it is...
Deriving strength from affliction
Published Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The London Free Press

It's easy to be inspired by greatness. It's just as easy to miss it when it comes in a humble package.

Such is the case with Floyd Landis, who on Sunday became the third American in history to win cycling's greatest race, the Tour de France.

Landis's win is more remarkable because his right hip will be replaced later this year. After a 2002 crash, the joint began to decay and die. He is in almost constant pain, and can't cross his legs. Yet he views the pain as a motivator to drive himself harder.

Landis, 30, could have blamed his hip when he failed to perform in a crucial mountain stage last week. He could have used the pain as an excuse.

Instead, he fought back into contention the very next day.

In a world where we are quick to blame others and make excuses for our failures, it's refreshing when a champion takes the high road.

I suspect there's a lesson in there for the rest of us.

Your turn: Do stories like Mr. Landis's inspire you to push yourself further? Why? What's your next step after reading this?


MorahMommy said...

You inspire me!

Anonymous said...

Well honestly I get inspired by those I love and care about, and then my own inner drive. His story is a good one...but after serving in the Marines for 7 years, I get a lot of inspiration from soldiers in Iraq who are injured and come back to full use of their bodies through determination and drive.

Shephard said...

Great Article.
My next step... more walking. :)
It is possible shopping may be involved.

Inspirational stories really keep us going. Love them.

Karen said...

Wow, I did not know that about him. I read a story this morning about how his parents are very strict Mennonites and how they went to church instead of watching him win the TdeF. They are quite an amazing family.

I'm inspired by his story and yours! Today my daughter and I were looking longingly at bikes that were very old-fashioned and very expensive. Hmm...I'll have to convince my hubby it's worthwhile. Maybe I'll send him to your blog!

Hi Carmi. Hope you're having a great day!

Kara said...

I admire somone of his character, but I think inspiration has to come from yourself. personally I can't make myself achieve from a story, it has to be because I want it bad enough...

Anonymous said...

Just heard on the radio that they have found unusual levels of testosterone in Landis' system. So for now, his Tour de France win hangs in the balance. Would love for you to write a follow-up story on this, if it turns out that he is stripped of his Tour de France win.

The story of his struggle to get this far is inspirational, but if it turns out that he did indeed take drugs to achieve this win, well... my attitude is another one bites the dust. It's nice to hear stories about people's achievements in the face of adversity, but cynic that I am, I am rarely motivated to do something with my life based on sports stories I read about in the news. It's the people that I encounter in my day to day life that I find inspirational; the ones who lead quiet lives of desperation, who do not get the glory or the medals or the news reports on CNN, but who improve their lives and the lives of others around them, in their own quiet, graceful way.

People like, say, you!

Carola said...

Honestly, Im inspired by life itself. And im inspired by how people get to where they are, but most importantly, WHO they are today. Im inspired when someone is so passionate about something, it makes me feel like i should be passionate about it too. Im inspired by hard times. Im inspired by disabilities. But most of all, im inspired when i know someone has had it rough, but still makes the world such a better place by not complaining, but by smiling, and saying that life is good. THAT, inspires me. Among other things...

Thanks Carmi! After reading that I'm more than ever inspired to get on that bike and ride... if you havent read the post of mine where i 'freaked myself out' that might explain a few things...

Thanks for the great comment Carmi! You really are a wonderful bloke! Enjoy your weekend! *hugs*