Friday, January 23, 2009

His Name Was Piero

I've been silent on the blog this past week. Normally, my work trips to Italy give me good fodder for writing, but what happened yesterday has left me lost for words a day and a half later...

After a LONG drive to the Tuscan coast and an even longer night getting to a hotel that was still open (the team's hotel was closed and gated shut), I managed a few hours sleep at the Pisa Holiday Inn (an old standby). The next day (Wednesday) was full of work with the Liquigas mechanics, followed by a nice three hour ride alone on flat roads near Cecina.

On Thursday, the guys were to do six(!) hours. I left with them and enjoyed a chat with some of the guys in my usual position at the end of the group. We discussed important topics like the fact that UFC champion Fedor Emelianenko's trainer is named Vladimir Miholevic (the same as Liquigas' Croatian workhorse). We also took the chance to make fun of the noise coming from Gorazd Štangelj's shoes, and other pressing topics of the day.

I had some work to do, so I turned around at San Vincenzo and headed into the wind alone. In Donoratico I met up with a group of about 20 locals, some young, some old. Being in full poser team kit, they took interest in this Italian-speaking American and took turns saying hi as I crept towards the front to take a pull. 

A half hour into riding in this group, I experienced something that will surely wake me up from the deepest sleep in the future. As I pulled over, I knew something had gone horribly wrong.

As told by the guys at the back of the group, one of the older men in the back had either swerved to avoid something in the road, or had a physical problem which caused him to lose control of the bike. As written here, he crossed lanes and was hit head-on by a coming truck, killing him instantly. The events after are a blur. I remember passing my cell phone to someone, running forward to control coming traffic until the police came, seeing Piero and his shattered carbon bike still in the middle of the road, and then the impossibility of riding the final kilometers back to my hotel.

I still feel shaken about this, and it certainly isn't about me, but I've got to make sense of it somehow. We ride because we love to ride. We argue about comebacks and race results and brag about whose bike is lighter. But does any of this matter to those who are at home waiting for us to return safely?

PLEASE - next time you return home and take off your helmet (I don't think I'll EVER ride without one again), make the most of your time at home with family and friends as much as you do your time in the saddle. It could all end tomorrow.

His name was Piero...


  1. Sorry to hear about Piero. That's a tough situation. It's sad that anyone has to experience that. My best to all of those family and friends left behind. Please be careful out there.

  2. Makes you put things back into perspective, even just by reading this from 6000km away, I cannot imagine what's it's like for those closer to him.

    My sympathy and emotional support goes out to Piero's family, his friends and acquaintances. Be safe everyone.

  3. My support goes to you, Piero and his family, and all the others that were effected by this sad event. It's always sad to hear about a cyclist not making it home.

  4. thoughts and sympathy go out to all his family and friends, a loss in cycling at any level is tragic, R.I.P Piero.