Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chalkbot - It's About You

During the Tour de France, Chalkbot debuted. It is a long standing tradition to paint on the roads of the Tour to encourage the riders. I did it myself when I went to the Tour de France, camped out on Alpe ‘d Huez, and saw Lance win his Sixth. Chalkbot is a little robot that can be pulled behind a car and paint messages of hope and encouragement from text messages sent to it. I chose my message to memorialize dad… and did not really think it would get printed because it was not very inspiring, but rather sad. When I sent my text, I received a reply that said it would reply back once my message was printed. So, I would certainly know if it ever did. The Tour went on and I received no messages… not entirely unexpected.

I was supposed to leave Flint on Tuesday – but work decided it best I finish up something there and get it in the email before I start driving. This gave me an amazing opportunity to see the Perseids Meteor Shower (my annual birthday gift from God) – which to be honest, I had been thinking it was the following night. Scheduled to start at 11pm and peak at 3am, I drug mom outside sometime after 11 to see if we could see any before she went to bed (I was still working on my document). We watched for a few minutes and saw a couple of faint ones. And then I said something to the effect of “Okay, show me something…” I did not remember if I actually said Dad in there or not. But immediately after that we saw the most amazing meteor I had ever seen. It was very bright in magnitude and streaked across from one side of the sky to the other. But it skipped, so there were two in the exact same path. I just recently saw someone describe this who may have also seen this very same one as two meteors in the exact same direction right after each other). But I was intrigued how it was two going in the same path. I often try to make this all my problem… and things keep reminding me that it is “our” problem – both me and mom.

The point to all of that (other than the absolute beauty) is that on my last day at Flint this last time, just a couple of days shy of my birthday (but still with mom) I received a text message from Chalkbot. I could not believe what I saw. It said my message had been printed… how? The Tour has long since been over. I went to the link and my heart honestly stopped. What I saw was my dad’s name on the streets of France. My first thought was wow, they kept going and are doing it at some other race. But as I looked at the picture, I saw it was taken on July 10th (mom and dad’s anniversary). It had GPS coordinates and all. I spent the next three hours finding the exact location of this memorialized message. It was under Lance’s wheels as he pedaled up the last HC (so steep it is unrated) climb of Stage 7. The one that Contador attacked when unnecessary and when we saw how much Lance really was a team player and did not attack. It was the beginning of the Pyrenees, the first high elevation finish of this year's tour. The message was painted in a ski resort in Andorre between Ordino and Sornas. I later checked Chalkbot’s Twitter feed and he said he was still sending out messages of everything they painted due to slow internet in France!

The photo
Stage 7 route and about Andorre
And the profile of the stage
Vallnord Ski Complex Map – to the left between Ordino and Sornas
A photo with the route mapped on that last climb
And a closeup of the finish.
Map of Stage 7
Chalkbot Site with a must-see video

I also noticed another message… “It’s About You”. I had given up on LIVESTRONG… did me no good, he did not live. Nor would he want to just survive. Living isn’t living just by breathing to him. And I realized it was a message to me.

A simple yellow band

Stood more for drive
and awesome ability to ride
With a life gone
and the yellow given away
I never put it back on
there was no livestrong

A tweet, and a photo
seemingly from the dead
A message to myself
of what I have left

I have lost something and with it, I have given up on something else.

With no LIVESTRONG, I have no life?
A message on the photo...It's about you!

For me…
it’s about life – not his, mine.
I am the one that needs to livestrong.