Ten Years



I rode the trainer for exactly 41 minutes this morning. Today is March 23, 2013 which is the day after E3/Harelbeke and the day before Gent-Wevelgem. Were it not for the ripping wind outside, the pelting snow flurries, and the temperatures hovering around freezing, we would have gone for a standard one hour recovery ride up and down the canal, capped off with a serpentine ride through downtown Kortrijk and a lengthy stay at our favorite coffee shop/bakery – or bakkerij as I say in my finest Flemish.

This is also Easter week. Over the past three years as a result of a spring Classics race program I’ve come to really savor my time in Belgium during this particular slot of time on the calendar. Weather over these years has been generally agreeable so that the daffodils are budding, colorful Easter decorations are everywhere – but in a warm welcoming sense, as opposed to the abrasive Christmas decorations spotted in September; plus especially on the sunny days as we wind through Kortrijk, there is a friendly buoyancy in the air.

Today also marks ten years since my dad’s stroke which occurred March 23, 2003. As he says with his fondness for all things nautical, it’s the day that took the wind out of his sails. Homeward bound and driving north on the New Jersey turnpike from a collegiate bike race, I remember the exact feeling I had as I heard the news that Dad was in the hospital. Like a swift punch to the gut taking the wind out of me, I literally couldn’t breathe.

I can recount most of where I’ve been on each March 23rd for the past decade. Where my mind grows fuzzy, I scroll through past training logs for an easy and exact reminder. Cycling has clearly characterized the past ten years of my life since every single one of those March 23rds featured a big training day with the exception of 2007 when there was a number pinned to my back and I was racing Redlands.

With inclement weather churning outside and feeling as if it’s still the dead of winter, today has just had a very strange cloud hanging over it. My mind is spinning somewhere, everywhere, and nowhere all at the same time. Which somehow is a bit like riding the trainer, therefore going literally nowhere on a rest day for 41 minutes, sandwiched into the most animated week of bike racing of the year.

My thoughts today always turn back to Dad, both my incredible parents, my entire family, and what we’ve been through the past ten years. It’s impossible for me to describe what it’s like living with a brain injury, but as the son of a brain injury survivor all I can say is that it changes everything: the emotional, the physical, the mental. Every day presents its challenges back home – imagine injecting Novocain into the entire left side of your body rending it numb, next put a sock over your left hand to remove nearly all acute dexterity, and now go about your day, your year, your life. It’s a silly comparison, but likely as literally accurate as I can offer.

What’s incredible is that while a stroke often and easily tears families apart, there is still every bit as much love and support in our family as before – in fact, I would say more. After some troubling periods, Dad has come to graciously accept all that’s transpired. In fact, talking with my parents who are back home in New Hampshire this morning, he announced that he is as happy as he has ever been in his life. My parents are an incredible source of inspiration and resolute determination. It’s therefore flipping through these training logs and seeing the places I’ve been all across the globe each Easter week – with considerably more away from my family than with – that I recognize all the more how much support they truly provide.

Hopefully someday soon this frigid, dank weather will lift across the European continent and we can race in conditions more suitable to short sleeves. Tomorrow’s Gent-Wevelgem has already been shortened and there’s talk of postponing it or canceling it outright because of the weather. I’m absolutely focused on the race at hand, but will still be thinking about my entire family today, tomorrow, yesterday, and always. While the wind howls outside right now, the proverbial breeze is steadily picking up, putting life back into dad’s sails.



Comments

  1. Connie

    Hey Ted
    What a beautifully written tribute to your dad, the season, and family. Truly appreciated. It does remind me a that while I remember where I was and how it felt when my dad called to tell me that my mom died in her sleep (she was 55), I can’t for the life of me recall the date. The mind is curious – and very protective in its own mercurial way. For your dad to find happiness in his predicament is a blessing – one which I see every day in my own guy with his own challenges that deeply affect the family and him. Yet we find happiness & joy in each and every day. What is the alternative? And as to the race today – I for one hope they cancel. Or at least put you guys on skis….keep writing, we’ll keep reading.

    Reply
  2. Cornelia

    As a parent myself, I know that for my husband and me, supporting our children is one of the easiest and most rewarding things we do. The reward is the fact that they are becoming amazing human beings. I think that it is the same for your parents. I don’t even know you and I am happy for your successes in your career, so I can only imagine how much joy it brings to your parents. Good luck in the classics and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll get to see you in the tour!

    Reply
  3. Marquis

    Kings, an inspirational family. Keep riding forward…

    Reply
  4. jimmy

    Damn. Don’t know what today really aside from glad to hear you are all making the best of everything. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  5. dave mengle

    Nice Ted! Seeing this inspiring post reminds me that a wise man from my past, (Harry Groves, head track coach at Penn State University), once told all us 18 to 20 something runners — “You need to let your parents know what they mean to you before it’s to late”. Something I admit I probably haven’t done a good enough job doing over the years. Today seems like a good day to change that.

    (On a side note – Hope to make Krempels this year and for anyone else interested: http://www.kingchallenge.org/)

    Thanks for your eloquent post and best to you and your family!

    Reply
  6. larry Hudgens

    Right on brother. Strong sense you fill your father’s sails w wind each and every day.

    Reply
  7. Robert

    Good on your dad Ted. And good on you too. Beautiful writing!

    Reply
  8. James

    Hey Ted,
    Really, really great piece. My own father has had his share of medical problems over the last few years and sometimes I forget the kind of determination that he must have had to live with them and, really, almost never complain or despair about it- well, at least not to his children. But I know it was hard given what he couldn’t do anymore. I think since my parents are so stable and constant that it can be hard to see what it takes to be like that. So, thanks for the reminder.

    Also, good to see the team get the win today.

    Reply
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  10. Rich

    Nicely written Ted. All the best to you and your family. Good to see the win this weekend.

    Reply
  11. David

    Ted,
    I don’t know you, and have never watched you race, but consider me a fan, though not of your athletic prowess nor of your accomplishments on the bike but of the way you weave word and thought into a wonderful, literary tapestry.
    Your very apparent love for your family and your dedication to live a purposeful life make you a good man in my book. And if I knew you, I would be proud to call you friend. All the best to you and your family.

    Reply
  12. Carm

    Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
    Dalai Lama

    Love this post, Teddy. Thanks for sharing, and for serving us a reminder. xx

    Reply
  13. zac_in_ak

    WOW! great post. Watching you on TV seeing your strava and twitter I am always impressed with what you share. I love watching and following your cycling, but I think when you have hung up your sidi’s it will get even better and even more interesting.

    enoying your ride and waiting for the after :)

    Reply

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