Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Me chiamo Pedro" (My name is Pedro)

Not a story about doping, but a story, translated from El Pais, about our good friend Pedro Horrillo.

If we had more people like Pedro in cycling, and the world, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in.

"Me chiamo Pedro" (My name is Pedro)

By Carlos Arribas

Pedro Horrillo, a cyclist of 34 years, married with two young children, jumped on his bike in Morbegno, healthy and strong, a bull, at 12.08, at 14.08, he missed a left hand curve on the swift descent that finishes in di San Pietro and fell down a ravine, a vertical wall of 80 meters, at 1545, he arrived by helicopter, body wrecked, casing, unconscious, immobilized, his head surrounded by a splint, at the hospital in Bergamo, where he was admitted, in a medically induced coma into intensive care with a tube in his lungs.

In his long, infinite fall -80 metres the equivalent to a 30-story building; slowed by tree branches, which continually beat him, he broke his femur and right knee. Horrillo received a strong blow to the head which left him stunned, he broke countless ribs which were nailed to his lungs, causing pneumothorax. At no time did he stop breathing. Nor did his heart stop, his heart is heavy and big. Nor did he lose consciousness. After making three Cat scans -head, thorax and abdomen, the director of the resuscitation unit, Mariano Marchesi reserved prognosis. "Fortunately," he said, "the head injury is not as serious as we would have thought, there is no bruising or swelling, but the chest injury is very serious. He also has small fractures of vertebrae, but his is not much."

"It's a miracle," said Sergio Levi, the doctor who led the rescue. When you wake up and recover, Horrillo, lover of mountain and adventure, you will enjoy the story of Levi, "From the road we didn't see anything, but we knew someone had fallen because a bike was up against the guard rail. I tied a rope around my waist and I dropped 10 meters. We still do not see anything. Shortly afterwards came the five-member rescue team Alpine Val Brembo, with longer harnesses and ropes. we went down 60 meters, to a small sloping platform. Nothing, no trace, 'Come on, it is impossible to have fallen here, "I said to the rescue team, but one insisted on a going further and we descended 20 meters more. And they found him. On a small ridge two meters long and very narrow, lying, supine on the rocks, the cyclist. He was conscious, with neurological reflexes working, but confused and disoriented. 'What is your name? "I asked.' Me chiamo Peter. He responded in Italian ! A miracle! I do not understand how he did not stop falling earlier. He asked us to take him up, to to remove his helmet, it was suffocating him and he could not breathe. I did my resuscitation job and I waited for the arrival of the helicopter to take him out of there. Otherwise it was impossible. A few weeks ago I spoke in a rescue at Bardonecchia of a climber falling by 200 meters. It was much simpler than that. "

The doctors worked 27 minutes with Horrillo. They stabilized him, placed a tube in his lungs and opened up the pathways and induced a coma. They saved him.

On the road, the police found a long straight skid mark in the middle of the curve, the signal of his desperate braking. The director of career Babini Raffaele, who came to the hospital even before the one that won the stage, the Belarusian Siutsu, raised his arms and ordered that the music be stopped on the podium. "It is critical to the team," said his roommate, Colombian Mauricio Ardila as he held back tears. "Not only for his work on the bike but to help Menchov to make sure he is in the right group."

A writer as well as a cyclist, and habitual collaborator of the newspaper El Pais (and to this blog), Horrillo, a philosophy graduate, recently completed an autobiographical story for a book on cycling. In it he tells of a crisis of conscience, a few months in London with his friend Bruno, a start: "But I found that nothing gives me more pleasure in life than riding a bicycle. In that old steel bike that I rented from Bruno's brother I re-found the pleasure of pedaling aimlessly. No limits, no schedules, no one path to follow. That was freedom, and I am convinced that I never would have tasted it without that old bike. That old steel bike brought me back to cycling, it is true, but ironically I have never felt so full as a cyclist and in those days. Being a cyclist has little to do with it what you make of it as a profession. To be a cyclist is to find harmony between you, your bike and all that surrounds them. I found that in London, and in the years since then, only a few times have I tasted it with the same intensity. "


  1. News has it that he has awaken from the induced coma. May he recover well, and his spirit remain unperturbed.

  2. The bravery and nerve of racing cyclists always amazes me. I hope Pedro makes a full recovery and I hope he regains his courage to continue racing.