I had a new experience in January and it wasn’t enjoyable. To wake up to the news that a teammate has been killed is something you never expect to happen to you, or wish upon anyone. On January 19 my teammate, Carla Swart, was hit head on by truck while out training in South Africa – she died while being rushed to hospital. Carla was exuberant, full of life and at the risk of pun, fiery. At 23 she had just signed with one of the biggest teams in the world, was mere months away from completing her university degree and had the talent to take her to the top. For her life to be cut so short still seems a surreal reality which is more than a tragedy.
I only knew her for a short period but in that time it was hard for her energy and enthusiasm for life not to seep in and affect you. She loved what she did and was passionate about it. Her enthusiasm for everything – not just bike racing – was almost impossible to match."
I missed this a few weeks ago - an article by HTC’s Chloe Hosking in Bicycling Australia, about Carla Swart and her legacy. You can download the whole article through the link, or it’s here (PDF)
Brought a little tear to my eye…
Today I found out about the death of two young cyclists who were out on training rides - 18-year-old British Cycling Talent Team rider Lewis Balyckyi and HTC’s Carla Swart.
Carla’s last tweet this morning had been a photo of her French Toast, with an exuberant, teasing tweet to a friend about the forthcoming ride. I don’t know why that tugged at my heart so much - the fact that one minute we can be here, normal, teasing and enjoying life, and a few hours later, be gone.
It’s hard, thinking about what Lewis and Carla’s friends and families are going through right now, to care about things like the latest revelations about Lance Armstrong, or Cav’s condition. My friend Stuart wrote a blog that covers a lot of what I’m thinking - but I’m finding it so hard to say. I love cycling, I love the sport - but it’s easy to forget how vulnerable we all are out there, and how precious riding really is.
My love and thoughts to their families, friends, team-mates, people they rode with and lived with. And for anyone reading this - be careful out there.
I’ll try to stop posting about this - but here’s information about Lewis and some tributes and things about Carla
Podium Insight - with photos Lyne took of Carla
From her HTC team-mates:
Carla was my best friend. She touched many lives and will be missed dearly.
She was 1 of most vibrant people I met+made everybody smile. She has been taken from us way to early. RIP carla.
Carla touched many peoples lives. Truly inspirational. She may be gone, but will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Carla!
I am happy to have known Carla. So many great memories. She will be missed immensely. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers
and the HTC 2011 team introduction video, with a little bit of Carla. RIP.
I am so sad to hear about the death today of South African-born, USA-Based rider Carla Swart, who died today while training in South Africa. Early reports indicate she was hit by a truck.
My thoughts are with her family, friends and loved ones.
Stay safe on the roads, everyone - every cyclist killed out there is far too many, and it happens too often.
So pleased for Carla, she’s a star - joining Charlotte Becker as a new HTC signing for 2011
Barry told us to race the race, and above all, take responsibility for our mistake (in this case, missing the move…BIG MISTAKE). In the last 20k’s of the race a crash caused the gap we’ve managed to bring down to increase…we almost had it. Luckily, it wasn’t a waste of a day, because for once we weren’t pack fillers, we weren’t following aimlessly like cows in a herd, WE WERE THE TEAM THAT MADE SURE THE RACE AHEAD WAS NOT GOING TO DETERMINE WHAT HAPPENED THAT DAY!
Sure, it didn’t work out that way, but hell, we tried…and raced our bikes as a team. Yes, it’s tough going to sleep without a blanket - and it sure is cold. Likewise, it’s tough pacing at the front to bring back a break. Not only did we learn what to do when we missed a break, we realized that we are better off being represented in the first place…just like you would’ve been better off if you had that blanket (in the first place), eh?
For only a few of us, La Route de France will forever be remembered as the race where South African women weren’t just a few cows in the herd, but actually lead the herd. Even when your intentions are to get the cows to a greener pasture, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Similarly, results don’t always tell the whole story, and for once, there was a story worth telling. What happened in this race will probably never make it into the history books, but what I can guarantee is that what we do in the future will…thanks to this race."