Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Froome's Punch

During Stage 8 of this year's Tour de France, Chris Froome, two time winner of the TdF, punched a fan.

Social media went into a frenzy, right, wrong, throwing blame this way and that way.

Right or wrong I will not say, my thoughts are about how he came to that moment in time.

I have never met Chris Froome.  I was at the Tour de France final stage when he won the first time.  That was as close as I got.  I do not know him, only from what I've read, which as we all know, is biased and tainted at best.

He seems like a quiet guy.  I wouldn't be surprised if he was an introvert.  He comes off a bit aloof, but as an introvert, I get it.  He's focused on his wife and new baby and being the best cyclist in the world.  Everything else comes after that.

In an interview with the UK Mirror in July of last year he stated.

Cool, calm and collected Froome credits his iron will to his upbringing, saying: “Probably something from my parents or, who knows?
“Just the way I was brought up, I think. Generally I am quite thick skinned.
“You’ve got to do something quite severe for me to lash out or to actually get pissed off if you like.
“That’s just the way I am.”
The fan a few days ago simply became the accumulation of every thing Froome has dealt with on the bikes for years.  

There's a quote by Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness:

“the mind of man is capable of anything--because everything is in it, all the past as well as the future”

How true that is....

For 7+ years I've been riding my bike in Rwanda.  It started out pleasurable enough but after 7 years I have found out, first hand, how capable I am...of anything.  Several months ago I was riding up a long 8 mile climb.  A young child, probably around 8-9, a boy, starting running alongside me.  Not that this doesn't happen every single ride on every single day of my life in Rwanda.  Usually I get the "Mzungu (white person) Amafaranga (money)" or my all time favorite, "Give me MY money."  Yes, they actually say "my" instead of "your".  It's constant.  I was doing the math in my head the other day on my ride and figured I have been yelled that at least 50 times a week or 2,600 times a year, or 18,200 times since I've been here.  Take out a few thousand for weeks gone, or holed up in my compound but you're still looking at upwards of 15,000.  

So back to the moment....the boy kept yelling, "Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money."  I did my normal routine of simply ignoring and not making any eye contact, not letting him see any movement from me in acknowledgment of his presence.

"Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money."  

"Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money.  Give me MY money."  

In one fell swoop I leaned over as his head was waste level to me and gave him a smack on the back of the head.  

Silence.  He just looked at me in shock.  He wasn't hurt.  I think he just couldn't believe someone had done that to him.  Aren't all Mzungus just supposed to rain down Amafaranga?  I rode away.

I do not condone violence.  If I had to replay the entire episode again I would like to think I would have done it differently.  I do not honestly know.  I have these moments of out of body experiences here which I look down at myself thinking, "Wow, who is that woman?"

....everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future....

I get it...Froome snapped.  The brow beating media and armchair social media quarterbacks have never been in his shoes.

Mr. AM, finisher of 5 Tour de France, said for the most part he never saw the invading hoards of spectators.  He was in the zone.  He also said, it is significantly worse in today's world thanks to everyone's desire for 5 seconds of fame.  

Personally, after being in many races in the follow car, I fear for the riders' safety.  While you're taking a selfie, and your friends are filming the thong wearing Borat running beside the yellow jersey, these riders are simply trying to make a living and race.  The fan antics and narcissistically inappropriate behavior jeopardize the safety and the financial livelihoods of the riders and their sponsors.  In Froome's case the spectator he hit, almost put a flag into his wheel.  Millions of dollars were literally hanging in the balance in that moment.  What would have happened to the spectator?  Nothing.

I appreciate the fans but stop trying to make this about your 5 seconds of fame on the NBC Sports Network highlight reel.  

Condone violence...no.

Understand how he did what he did...absolutely.

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