Domestique of the Week
By Chris Lyman
In late October I started riding outdoors after a summer crash had sent me to the hospital for 20 days and three surgeries. Once back, I realized how much I missed and enjoyed riding, and was glad to again be at it.
But some days my thoughts are dominated by how much life nearly changed in July. My neurosurgeon often reminds me of how “damn lucky” I am – had my L1 burst vertebra moved a tad further into my spinal column I wouldn’t be walking, let alone gearing up to race.
Enter my newest feature for this column: the Domestique of the Week.
With race season about to get underway I’d like to call on you to recognize those who help make a win possible for their comrades. If you find yourself atop the podium thanks to the assistance of another, let me know about it. Or maybe you observed a teammate pull back a break, or drop a sprinter off at 200 meters so his/her buddy could take it. That deserves recognition, don’t you think?
It’s no secret that the best wins often result from someone who is off to the side, celebrating quietly, satisfied with the job he or she did in support of another.
Since the season has yet to start, I’d like to recognize my wife, Carm, who has been steadfast in her support and encouragement to get back on the bike. She knows how much I enjoy cycling and accepts it as part of my daily life (so long as I’m being reasonable). The decision to ride was/is a joint one, even more so considering this year’s trials and tribulations. Without her help I would have given up cycling and moved onto something else. Thanks to my domestique, I’ll once again be a bike racer.
Yet even buoyed with this support, there are days when getting out the door remains a challenge. Just last week while at a final rehab session, the anxiety about cycling’s risks once again descended on my psyche. Typically I can push through, but this one got the better of me, and I decided an outdoor ride was not going to happen. My fallback was trainer time. Leaving PT I feared that if I didn’t turn the pedals that day I might never again.
Just then I pulled out my phone to see a text from Lucas Euser, a dear friend and rider on the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, who is in town for the holidays. “Hey buddy! Going to ride… Let me know if you want to join” read the message. 20 minutes later, Lucas and I were on the road logging some miles and my concerns faded.
A few years ago I had the privilege of accompanying Lucas on one of his first outdoor rides following knee reconstruction from getting hit by a car. I saw him struggle through it, but admired his determination to look forward versus back. Last week he returned the favor and so he’s also my Domestique of the Week.
As we turn the page on 2012 and look forward to 2013, these two important people have reminded me that with fear comes an opportunity for courage, and without support, little can be accomplished. For that, I thank them.
Drop a note to <Chris@cyclingillustrated.com> and share who you observed being a great domestique. Let’s make this a weekly feature that recognizes those important to our sport.
Happy New Year to you and your family.