This week marks American Peter Stetina’s return to racing in the professional peloton in Europe. He is competing in the Ruta del Sol, a multi-day stage race in Spain. It is his first race in Europe since his accident. It is significant event in his career as a professional cyclist - a career that just nine months ago was very much in doubt. In April of last year, Pete was involved in a horrible, what many believed to be career ending, crash also in Spain at the Tour of the Basque Country. In this race a parking pole was inexplicably left in the middle of the final field sprint of the opening stage of the race. By the time the riders saw the obstacle, there was no time to react. Pete’s right leg hit the pole with blunt force at 60 km per hour, the impact immediately shattered the knee cap and fractured his tibia. In an instant, his life as a professional cyclist was changed forever.
|The "Frankenleg" as Pete jokingly calls it
In the wake of the accident, Pete was left with two choices: walk away from cycling or painstakingly put things back together and fight to return to the highest levels of the sport. Pete chose the latter. It wasn’t an easy road and it is still a work in progress, but it is a truly an inspirational story. It is a story of belief, courage, passion, breaking through pain barriers, and really hard work.
|Liam and Pete outside of La Fabrica, Girona
During our training camp last week in Girona, Liam and I ran into Pete out on one of our training rides. Pete lives in Sonoma County, California, and if you have read our blog you will know that we have a special connection to that magical spot. It was really cool to talk with Pete about Sebastopol, Levi’s GranFondo, and the upcoming Tour de California. It was also pretty amazing and almost surreal that we were in Spain on a beautiful sunny day in February riding with Peter Stetina! The adventure only got better from there. Liam and I were headed out to ride the Amer climb, and as it turned out Pete was going to do some intervals on the same climb. Before hitting the climb, however, he was planning a little side trip to check out a natural spring that he had heard about from other local cyclists. He asked if we wanted to come along. It was a fun adventure. After a few wrong turns and a little cyclocross on some back road gravel, we found the natural spring. It was a somewhat hidden spot with the Spanish equivalent of sparkling San Pellegrino coming right out of the mountain. It was good stuff. After the spring, we headed out to the climb for some serious business. Just that morning Liam had thrown down the Amer climb gauntlet – the challenge was on! Amer is a climb of a little over 8k with an average gradient of 8 to 9%. It is not the most technical climb, but it can be quite painful if you hit it at an all out effort. We hit it hard. We hung with Pete for about a minute… or maybe two, and then he was off like a rocket! I would say he is back, and with some pretty good form.
|Liam back at the awesome sparkling water spring
A few days later, on the last day of our training camp, we were able to meet up with Pete for breakfast at La Fabrica (the wonderful coffee oasis that I wrote about in Part 1 of the Adventures in Coffee). We had an awesome chat about bikes, his move to Trek Segafredo, the season ahead, and his return to the highest levels of professional cycling. It was truly inspirational.
Be well and Train Safe!
This is Bill and Liam signing out.