21 August 2008

Book review - Tour de Life

During the racing at Stage 3 of the Tour of Utah, I walked around the tents at the "village" at the start/finish line. At one of the tents, I met Dave Shields. Dave has written some really good books about bicycle racing, The Race, and The Tour. Dave's most recent book is a biography about pro cyclist, Saul Raisin. Tour de Life: From Coma to Competition cronicles Saul's recovery from an almost fatal crash at the 2006 Circut de la Sarthe in France. Saul slipped into a coma, and had to undergo emergency brain surgery to save his life.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part was from the perspective of his parents, anxiously waiting at home in Georgia for the two letter text he always sent them after a race, "OK". A text they didn't get this time. Then their journey to France to be by their son's side. Their experiences, where they didn't understand the language or culture. The second half of the book is from Saul's perspective, and deals with his recovery after he comes out of the coma, until he is cleared by his doctors to race again.

The book is a fantastic read. You feel the heart-wrenching anxiety of his parents, as they wait by his side while he is in a coma - not exactly sure of his condition because of the language barrier, and the frustration and elation of Saul as he comes to the awareness of what happened to him and overcomes obstacles and re-learns how to do the simplest of tasks on his road to recovery. A side note to the book. Even though he was cleared to race by his doctors at the end of the book, His team has since decided that the liability of him racing was too high and he retired from professional racing in November 2007.

I had the opportunity to meet Saul at the Tour of Utah, where he was signing copies of his book. He now lives in Salt Lake City - I have actually crossed paths with him while riding on Wasatch Blvd. before this. He is a genuinely nice and funny guy. Since his accident, he has started a foundation to help people with brain and spinal cord injuries, the Raisin Hope Foundation. You can find more information about him and his foundation at his website.

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