As the cyclists whipped by at crazy speeds, we stood on the sidelines eagerly searching the pack each time they sped by. Our eyes were peeled for our fellow cyclist and friend. Each time we saw him speeding by with complete determination, we cheered excitedly. This was the criterium (crit) portion of a three day road race. Crits are truly crazy events. Racers whip around many laps of a closed circuit. The speeds are crazy, and the proximity of the riders insane. The corners are tight – very tight.
As Marc passed by again, we continued to cheer with excitement. Then – boom!! He went down. He slid at in incredible speed across the pavement, the flesh of his leg ripping open with every bit of contact. He hit the side hard and his body crumpled into its final resting position. I felt terror bolt through my entire being. It had happened so fast. It was absolutely horrifying to watch.
As we watched the scene before us, speechless and motionless, what happened next will forever be engrained in my mind. Marc peeled himself off of the ground, picked up his bike, and proceeded to get back into the race. We watched in pure amazement as he pedaled harder than he ever had. With each lap he got a little closer to the pack. He was on his own. There would be no drafting for him. He would have to do all the work for himself. Pure grit and determination took over every bit of his face. I can’t even imagine how gruelling it was for him.
Marc didn’t give up. He dug as deep as humanly possible. He ignored the throbbing pain and the blood dripping down his leg. He focused his eye on the prize.
As he immersed himself back into the pack, we simply couldn’t believe it. With every lap his determination grew stronger. As he crossed the line with a 5th place finish we were in utter shock.
I can imagine that Marc must have been absolutely elated. However, I am not sure that elation lasted too long. For soon after the race ended, he found himself in the back of an ambulance while the medics scrubbed his open wound. What a mixed moment. The drama of the crash, the elation of the finish, and the stinging pain taking over every ounce of his body. I can’t possibly imagine everything that was going through his mind.
The next day as I sat at my desk at work, surrounded by people that just don’t care and don’t try hard, my mind was whisked back to the race. I was so grateful to know someone like Marc who completely inspired me. Cycling had changed my life. Meeting someone like Marc has taken cycling to another level for me. To watch the dedication, the drive, and the sheer passion that he displayed was so inspiring. I couldn’t imagine how much work he did every day to get where he was. I sent Marc note. I simply had to tell him how inspiring he was.
It turned out that Marc had never really thought of himself as having inspired anyone. In his response, he indicated that he couldn’t do this without the people around the course shouting his name. It was like he had someone willing him on at every corner. The truth was – he did. Every part of me wanted him to get back on the front every time he passed by. He couldn’t believe it as it was happening! There were a LOT more laps left in the race than he expected when he rejoined.
Marc’s Uncle Rudd Enter from Holland had died the week before while vacationing in France. He was stung by a hornet while in his bed and died in minutes next to his wife despite her best efforts. He didn’t know he was allergic. Marc was close to them, and was very sad that he wouldn’t be able to attend the funeral. While he couldn’t be there in person, he really wanted to do something for him. In a strange way, he felt that he was given this chance when he crashed. Marc had a very clear image of his uncle cheering him on and he thought a lot about it as he worked so hard to get back into the pack.
Marc continues to be a dedicated member and leader for his team, The Lead Out Project. As part of this team, Marc also cofounded the Bikes for Young Racers Program.