Saturday, May 31, 2008

News of a friend from Down Under

I’ve been saddened by a tragic accident halfway around the globe.

There’s a bit of a set-up, but here goes. Paris Brest Paris officials customarily schedule a mandatory bike inspection the day before the event. PBP 07 was no different, although ultimately the inspection was canceled because of rainy weather.

My wife and I were staying in Paris before PBP07, so the morning of the bike inspection I took the RER train from the city out to St. Quentin, where the ride started.

I wasn’t the only rider who did this and the PBP participants with their fully rigged randonneuring bikes were easy to spot. As we waited on the platform for the next train, I struck up a conversation with another rider. We were both equal parts of nerves and excitement. We only shared 15 minutes, a thin sliver of time, but it was enough for the first threads of friendship. When you're getting ready for a life-changing event like 1200K of cycling, friendships form easily.

He told me his name – Bjorn – but I got in my head that he was Ian. I snapped a picture of him on the platform.

Here he is. His gesture says it all. A fellow rider brimming with life and enthusiasm and confidence.

There are also a couple photos of him on the PBP photo site. His frame # is 4966.

I did not see Bjorn again, but I had his picture in my PBP folder. I had it in the back of my mind to email the photo to him so we could reconnect for a laugh or two.

Last week, an Australian rider named Ewen posted about this Research Trailer Park item. I saw the post, thanked Ewen for it, and took the opportunity to forward the picture of “Ian” and ask for help in hunting him down.

Ewen emailed back with the bad news:

This is a picture of Bjorn Blasse from Western Australia. Sadly Bjorn is in a coma in hospital after a parachuting incident a few months ago.

I was stunned. I had not expected anything like this. I’d so looked forward to surprising Bjorn with the picture and reliving our PBP adventures.

There is some information about Bjorn’s condition on the Audax Website, and Ewen has promised to keep me updated.

I also found Bjorn's Web site.

My heart goes out to Bjorn and his wife. I look forward to the day that Bjorn and I get to share another easy laugh.

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