I know this message has been some time in coming, please forgive the delay. I'm writing this from the hospital as I enter Cycle 2 (of four). My life has taken on a timeline of its own, and that timeline rarely synchronizes with most people's "real life." I'm blessed to be living very much in the moment. It's not a bad place to be...
Thank you all for what you did at Rockburn to support my in my cancer battle. It is very difficult to communicate what it means to me. It was such a simple thing—a strip of pink tape—yet it held a sincere and complex meaning.
Through my first week of recovery, I had two focuses. The first, to see my Little Angels. They inspire me. In my darkest moments, envisioning them gave me strength.
The second focus was Rockburn.
The thing. Us. You.
There's something enriching about our races—especially Rockburn. We share an esprit de corps that's infectious. Part of it is the cyclocross culture. Part of it is the joy we all get from competition. Part of it is pure endorphin buzz. All of these components make a heady cocktail of positivity.
But there's something more.
I don't know any of you well. You don't know me. I've spent time with some of you—particularly those who trekked to Louisville—but our relationships are young, new, uncertain.
Yet, every time I encounter an AFCer or a CXHairer, or the hairy Jon Seibold, some spark of magic happens. This crazy motley crew constantly reminds me of the best in people. It's a warmth, a genuine friendliness, a consistent rapport that exists without pretense or attitude or any of the social barriers we normally encounter.
I cannot explain it, and I don't want to examine it any more closely. I want to embrace it and enjoy it and acknowledge it and celebrate it.
And to do so is to celebrate you.
No one had to do anything, yet you did something. It was symbolic, yes, but it was very real. Yes, I love pink! And seeing so many of you adorned in pink warmed my heart and raised my spirits.
|That's a lot of love in one place...and it was for me.|
Humbled, I remain...
I'm not going to pretend, and this isn't "woe is me", but you should know that it took every ounce of strength I possessed to be there. When I first arrived I labored up the hill and saw Seibold on his practice lap near the nasty off-cambers by the old start grid. He stopped and hugged me and said something amazing. And that gave me a boost...enough to keep walking up to race central.
By the time I got to the gravel hill I was was leaning on my cane in desperation—having just walked more at one time than I had in two weeks. I ran into David Tambeaux and Jelly—and we hugged and they said some amazing things, and I derived the strength to walk up the hill to see the AFC tent and CXHairs Bill—whose kind words and gentle spirit move me still.
And along the way people came up to me and hugged me and said amazing things.
Do you see the pattern?
I was exhausted, and every time I reached my limit, I was buoyed up by you.
Every hug, every kind word enabled me to take another step forward. Each encounter helped to endure and enjoy. I got to watch a few races. I got to hear cowbells. I got to shout encouragement, talk a little trash, joke about handups, marvel at your skills, and relish the experience of a sport and an atmosphere we all love.
And I do love it.
And without you, I would not have been there.
And without you, I could not have endured it.
But you got me through.
And I cannot thank you enough.
So many people said so many wonderful things. They blend together, and that's OK, as I was delirious through much of the experience.
But here is what I took away from the day.
You are a special group. You're competitors—some of you are fierce competitors—yet you have big hearts. And you extended your love to me.
That's a beautiful thing.
And I honor you for it.
I'm starting my second cycle. I just refueled at the 20-mile rest stop. This ride? It's going to get harder. There are a lot of miles ahead, and the hills are going to get steeper and longer.
No amount of training could prepare my body for this. I will bonk, and bonk, and bonk again. Yet, I will endure. You see, every sufferfest I've endured has prepared my mind for this. Each training ride and race has toughened me. And every time I read about your races and struggles and triumphs and failures has filled me with a reservoir of lessons from which I draw strength.
Pat Blair said something to me along the lines of "Man, what you're going through is like Patapsco 100, but worse!"
I suppose it is.
But I can endure. With your help. You smooth the trail. You host rest stops and shout encouragement and ring cowbells and distribute handups.
And it matters.
And I appreciate it.
And I appreciate you.
What will be will be what will be.
I've got this.