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Cycling over the Pyrenees with one leg

Tags: NFL Jersey
Cycling over the Pyrenees with one leg
cycling-over-the-pyrenees-with-one-leg


I first heard about Christian Haettich in 2012 http://www.officialfootballpanthers.com/KAWANN-SHORT-JERSEY-CHEAP.html when I saw a video of a seven-day race across the Swiss Alps - the Haute Route. The scenery was beautiful but the experience looked brutal. Hundreds of riders struggling to cycle up mountain passes and looking elated but totally shattered. I enjoy riding my bike, but I live in the rolling hills of south-east England, and even these can cause me problems. So the thought of riding mountain after mountain day after day held little appeal. An image that stuck with me from the video though was that of a man with one arm and one leg competing in the field of able-bodied riders. Here was a disabled rider, Christian Haettich, doing something I could never do. But in the summer of 2014 I was offered the opportunity of riding the Haute Route, because a friend of a friend couldn't take up his place. My previous reservations about the demands of the event remained, but the allure of some of the most famous climbs in cycling kept nagging at me. Cycling is one of the only pastimes where it's possible for the complete amateur to ride the same routes as the professionals. It's the equivalent of football fans being able to drop into Wembley Stadium to have a kick around with their friends. My event would cross such peaks as the Col Dan Connolly Authentic Jersey du Tourmalet, the Col d'Aubisque and many others which regularly feature in the Tour de France. So although it was going to be tough I decided to give it a go. Seven days, 500 miles (800km), 21 ascents totalling more than 19,000m of vertical climbing across the Pyrenees. Then I learned that not only would Christian Haettich be taking part but he'd also be riding in the two preceding events. In 2012, its first year, the Haute Route consisted of single seven-day race. By 2014 it had become three back-to-back seven-day events crossing the Alps, Dolomites and Pyrenees. The vast majority of riders entered one event but a small group, known as the Triple Crown riders chose to ride all three. They race over 22 days with only one day off. In that time they cover more than 1,600 miles (2,575km) and complete 60 ascents involving about 60,000m of climbing - more than six-and-a-half times the vertical height of Mount Everest. Doing one Haute Route was going to be an enormous challenge for me. I couldn't imagine what doing three would be like, let alone with only one arm and one leg. As the start time of the first stage approached, the riders began to gather at the line. Butterflies flew around my stomach at the thought of what was to come. Then, as he calmly rolled through the crowd, I saw for the first time the unmistakable figure of Christian Haettich. It was clear he was held in high regard. People were looking at him, talking about him, and shouting greetings. Haettich was born and brought up in rural Alsace, in north-east France. He describes his childhood as being completely normal until a devastating accident in December 1976 when he was 15 years old. He was out riding a moped when he was hit head-on by a car that was overtaking oncoming traffic. As a result of the accident he lost his left leg from the hip and his left arm from just below the elbow. I was greeted at the finishing line with a pat on the back and a "well-done". Haettich's arrival 30 minutes later was accompanied by horns and sirens of official motorbikes and support vehicles. As he reached the last 100m a gauntlet of well-wishers applauded and cheered and ran to try and keep up as he put in a final effort and sprinted across the line. For many riders, like myself, cycling is no more than a hobby. It's a way of temporarily getting away from the stresses of daily life as well as a way of reducing the rate at which my waistline expands. For Haettich it's much more. "Cycling is above all a passion, it's freedom. When I see everything I've done on a bike, I can only be proud. Cycling brings me happiness and a true balance to my life, that is indisputable. Cycling takes away my disability, it helps me move forward, it helps me to always go further, to make the extra effort. The bike is a source of inspiration." The Haute Route Triple Crown is a remarkable http://www.nfllionsofficial.com/Darryl-Tapp-Jersey achievement for any rider. Does the fact that Haettich has a disability make his accomplishment the more worthy of respect and admiration? He would say not. The other Triple Crown riders worked just as hard and suffered just as much. They all pushed themselves to their limits. That being said, I can't remember the winner's name, but I will never forget Christian Haettich.

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