Surprise! A post from Kathleen. At work we preface a voicemail of non-urgency with “Listen to this when you have time.” I can tend to be wordy so I will start with “Read this when you have time.”
Yesterday was my last consecutive day of the ride. Tonight I am flying home with Isaac (our son and super support driver) so that he can start his senior year at Boulder High School on Friday. How fitting is that? There have been so many Boulder High School connections involved in this ride that it would only make sense for me to take a break in order for our son to return to the scene of where it all began. Go Panthers!
I want the blogging world to know a few things about my team.
Rick Baker: I have only had the pleasure of knowing Rick in the last few years. When he joined our little cycling tribe I didn’t quite know what to make of him. For one thing, he was buff. That made him stand out from the rest of us right off. And he was quiet. I reluctantly sat by him in the MS 150 beer garden and wispered to Kevin “I don’t have the energy to try to make conversation with this guy.” He heard me and said, “Don’t worry, you don’t have to talk to me. I don’t like to talk to people. I’ll just sit here.” I felt relieved, and we talked all afternoon.
Rick may not say a lot, but he is the king of one liners. He has an infectious laugh and is able to laugh at himself as easily as he laughs at others. He does a SNL Pat imitation that is uncomfortably spot on. I find that when he talks, I tune up my ears so as not to miss the approaching zinger. There is nothing worse than being at the back of the pace line and hearing Rick laugh at the front – you just know you missed a good one. This afternoon as we hugged farewell, he said, “You are my favorite of the four – well, actually I am my favorite, but you are my favorite of the other three.” He’s humble too.
Rick is our “King of the Mountains.” With his high cadence, lighter body frame and very light titanium bike, he ascends the mountain climbs making it all look effortless. Rick also loves to be in the lead. He often starts us out as the first “pull” of the day. He keeps a steady pace and uses his mirror constantly to make sure the ducklings (quacks) are in check. You will hear him say “down a notch” if anyone is lagging. If you ask him how he is feeling on the bike, 98% of the time he simply says, “Good!” The other 2% of the time he will say, “$@#!, I’ve got nothing.”
Tom Casey: I have known and loved Tom and Amy (wife) nearly as long as I have known and loved Kevin. I remember the first night we met. It was quite brief. A group of their family and friends had gathered at La Estrellita to send them off on the T&A Adventure. They worked and explored their way across the USA (including Alaska, Hawaii and Florida). They were so excited to head off into the unknown and I recall thinking “Wow, what must that feel like?” (Now I know.) When they came home, we had them over for dinner to hear about their trip. We started asking them questions and Tom looked me in the eyes and said, “I want to hear about you. Tell me about Kathleen.” Yup, that is the way he is. When you talk to him, you always know he is listening. Not because it is polite, but because he is interested.
As you have all read in Kevin’s blogs, Tom is the Ambassador of the Universe and handles the job with ease and joy. On the bike, he is the entertainer. I love to be in the draft line next to him so that we can sing silly songs, comment upon the wacko sights, discuss flatulance and moan together when the going gets tough. Tom is also a hugger. When times are happy, we hug. When times are sad, we hug. He can even make reluctant midwesterners enjoy a hug.
As a cyclist, Tom is our ace in the hole. He will float around back in the draft line until called upon to perform. He can go whatever speed you want and sustain it however long you need. Tom is incredibly strong. He acquired it through his genetic makeup and maintains it through daily hard work. I think it is because of his strength that he can have difficulty maintaining a steady pace in the front. The concept of perceived exertion is hard for Tom because when you are that strong it is difficult to gauge the slight degrees of effort change. So, we need to tell him “up a notch” and “down a notch” in order to keep him in line. But sometimes you just can’t hold him back – like when there is a dog in pursuit. Actually, all Tom needs is to hear a dog and he reflexively increases his speed by 3 mph. If he was ever to become a racer, I would put a barking dog at the 1km mark and watch him go.
Kevin Cartin: Kevin and I met at Boulder Community Hospital. I was asked to cover acute care that day (not my favorite area) and received an order to treat a new stroke patient – Harold Cartin. In the room was Harold, his wife Helen and their handsome son, Kevin. The story goes that the family thought I was OK when I pulled out a deck of cards and started playing Black Jack with Harold. I was slightly flustered when leaving the room and left my work bag at the bedside. Kevin chased me down and it was then that I got to look into his eyes and smile without seeming unprofessional. Anyway, I continued to treat Harold in the homecare and out-patient settings. Helen engineered a bit of match making and I eventually asked Kevin out. I enjoy telling Helen that she cannot complain about her daughter-in-law because she chose me. What initially drew me to Kevin was his sincere love and caring for his parents. If a man treats his parents well, he will surely treat me well also. I figured right.
You have heard people say “I am a leg man” or “I am a boob man.” Well, I am a shoulder woman. I have always been attracted to men with strong shoulders. Kevin will attempt to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. To be a good carrier of burdens one must develop intense strength. Kevin is certainly intense. He approaches a task with passion and an expectation to succeed. When he is having a good time, he is infectious. When he is having a bad time, there is uneasiness. (Flat tires within 10 miles of hotel = uneasiness.) To know Kevin is to know a man of great ability. If you have looked at our route or read his blog, you have sampled a taste of his organization and brilliance.
On the bike, Kevin is the master of the big ring. He used to love to watch Jan Ullrich grind out the miles – he could relate to Jan. Rolling hills and flat stretches are his playground. He jokes about the Fred Flintstones (his legs), but they are filled with power. We vary our order in the draft line, but if it is a big ring day, you will find me on his steady wheel. Part of being uber smart is the ability to hyper focus. Kevin does not lose his concentration while riding. He makes no sudden moves and keeps safety as a primary concern. Back in our co-ed softball days, he started each season stating the #1 goal: “DON’T GET HURT!” Same applies for this team. (There’s no wood on this airplane, but I should be knocking on some right now.)
So, as Friends for Phinney continues on this last week without me, I want them to know that I am with them in spirit. I love each one for his individual gifts and I can’t wait to join back up with them for the final day. I have called us “average cyclists,” but my teammates are anything but average human beings. I am proud to call them my team.