Of all the experiences I had last week at Interbike, none compared with meeting Saul Raisin, the 24-year-old pro cyclist who just over a year ago staged his most impressive win yet. Saul beat death by “within a hair’s breadth”, as the doctors put it. On April 4, 2006, this aspiring cyclist — on track to race his first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) — crashed during a tune-up race in France. The accident resulted in significant injuries and brain trauma, and Saul later slipped into a coma. Author Dave Shields details the harrowing story in his book Tour de Life: from Coma to Competition. Follow the jump to find out more.
At last week’s Interbike show, Saul spent some time in the Garmin booth, signing copies of his book. Sales of the book and other “Raisin Hope” events go to support charities such as the Brain Injury Association of Geogia. As countless fans stopped by to speak to Saul or get an autograph, Saul paused to speak to each one and gladly obliged requests for photos — as long as the photo was with him, not just of him. I overheard Saul talking to one man who was telling him about a friend who’d been in a coma. Saul encouraged him by saying, “they can hear you. I remember hearing my mother sing to me when I was in a coma.” What a big-hearted guy. And I mean that in every way. In fact, Saul has amazed doctors around the world with his impressive lung capacity and a heart that’s nearly three times average size. Nice combo to have when racing bikes is your passion. Saul is fully back into training now and he uses the Garmin Edge 305 and MotionBased to track his rides and analyze his training. See his MB digest here.
To learn more about Saul’s story, order the book. I’ve gotta tell you — it’s been a long time since I’ve been hooked on a book, and this one did it. Truly an exceptional read, whether you’re a cyclist or not. And for those who’ve already read his book, here’s a little trivia for you: Lance Armstrong called Saul’s mom just days after Saul’s accident. He offered words of encouragement and then he told her to tell Saul he’s a [????]. First one to post the correct reply gets a Garmin cycling jersey!