If you’re an addicted Tour de France watcher, as I am, you’ve probably seen Jens Voigt eat the pavement on the downhill run from Petit St. Bernard during Stage 16 in the 2009 Tour de France.
If not, here it is.
He broke a cheekbone and had a concussion, but his injuries are not life-threatening. How would you handle a crash like that? Would it mean the end of biking for you?
I know he gets paid to do this, and he is among the elite of the elite in cycling. But a crash like this would send me to the swimming pool, or the badminton net, and I’d put my bike up for sale.
I was playing around this morning in the “downhill tuck” position, where I scrunched down over the top tube with my hands in the drops. It really works. Even on a gentle downhill, I pulled away from my wife, and she was concerned about my ability to hold my balance. But that was at a blistering speed of about 17 mph. At 40+ mph, no thanks.
It’s like watching baseball. I’ve played a lot of ball in my life, but when you face a 95 mph fastball, and the best you can throw is 55 mph, you know you’re in a different league. I’ll continue to watch and marvel at these guys, but I’ll never entertain fantasies that I can ever approach what they do.
Addendum July 31, 2009: Here’s a YouTube clip of Jens speaking from his hospital bed. Recorded July 26.