A rider with too many beats per minute.
Mario Aerts has been bike racing with cardiac arrhythmia for years — how’s that for amazing and dangerous? Now, with the problem getting worse, he’s decided to have a heart operation.
“I have had problems with my heartbeat for more than ten years already, but the doctors said it was nothing abnormal,” Aerts told news agency Belga. “So I never worried about it.”
With a family and at the tail end of his career, he decided the risks were simply too high to continue on the bike. “When I sprinted up a hill, it got worse. It was more often, too, which started to make me nervous. Doctors in Leuven told me that I could continue racing, but if I fainted I should report it immediately. Well, I don’t want to faint on my bike when I’m riding at 60 km/h! I’m 36, and I don’t want to take any risks anymore at this point in my career, which is why I’m going to undergo surgery.”
The medical procedure will insert electrodes to his heart to determine whether a heart nerve might be over-active. Should that be the diagnosis, doctors will cauterize the nerve and he’s good to go fast again.
Nevertheless, he’ll be heart-broken if he misses the Tour de France and a chance to help Jurgen Van Den Broeck. “[Doing] the Tour is going to be difficult, even if I can start riding again in May. I haven’t been racing since the beginning of March, so it’s not going to be easy to get back in top shape,” said Aerts. “If I don’t make it, then it’ll of course be a shame for Jurgen Van Den Broeck. I’m his roommate, and we’ve already been planning all the training camps towards the Tour.”
The operation is scheduled for May 24th and if there are no complications he can begin training a week later. Let’s hope the Belgian is back on the bike soon, for all parties concerned, including the little guy in purple.