My Team

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.



16 thoughts on “My Team

  1. Deana

    Oh, Kathleen! It was your turn to make me cry and smile a big ear to ear grin. I tell my husband about the awesome funny strong persistent team of Friends for Phinney and how their day went. Last night, as I was telling him about the rest day (hahaha), I was wondering what I was going to read this morning. Low and behold, there was a posting by you after I had hit the sack. Amazing! That is what this whole team is. Next Friday is NYC and the light is at the end of the tunnel. KEEP PEDALING!!

  2. Carl Ames

    Kathleen, a great report on the “men of the team”!
    You, the “sweetheart” of that team, are a remarkable class act in and of itself. My short time with you all, and though I never got the opportunity to ride with you there as you and Isaac were taking care of things, I have great respect for your strength and ability to contribute greatly to the success of team. To organize as you did, to give interviews as you did, to have the knowledge that you have and to share it. I just want to say a big THANK YOU! for being who you are and doing this great ride. You are an awesome person and I am so very grateful to know you!

  3. Polly

    What a lovely tribute to your team, Kathleen. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

    Why don’t you stop by and visit us today? We’d love to see you and hear some of your stories in person.

    Keep pedaling, guys, our heart are with you!

  4. Cheryle

    Kathleen, thank you for your sensitive, insightful post. You have shown incredible strength and have added powerful, multi-tasking balance to the team. What a terrific role model for women you are! Thank you.

  5. Diane McGrew

    Kevin is a great writer, but he married one as well. Again, I needed to keep the Kleenex handy. Since she is my little sister, I know first hand what a wonderful and strong person Kathleen is. I’m so proud of her part in this great endeaver and appreciate the professional dedication she has for all her patients, and especially her PD patients. I’ve learned a lot from her.

    Isaac, I hope you have a great senior year at Boulder High. Kathleen, enjoy this time of being a mother. Kevin, Tom, and Rick, keep pedaling and spreading the word. You are all amazing!!

  6. Christian Arndt

    This was a beautiful description of the team of friends, bound by their selfless love to help a dear friend. Thank you Kathleen for showing how the varying individual characteristics make a stronger team. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.

    1. Lori Parker

      Dave and I had the pleasure of meeting Kathleen a year ago when she came to our 12 hour challenge to ride with her dad Wayne who was 79 at the time. Wayne, along with other daughter Diane as his support, came back year after year to race this event and we grew to love and respect him over the years and admire his determination to never give up. We’ve seen that same determination in Kathleen and she, Kevin, Tom and Rick have all been perfect ambassadors for all the PD folks and for the Phinney Foundation. We are so glad that we were able to meet the rest of your team Kathleen. You guys are awesome!

  7. laurie robertson

    Kathleen, I never got to meet you when the team came through Del Norte Co. You remain a source of mystery, and understated strength to me. To do what you have done;; riding across this country with this group of wild and crazy guys, speaks volumes to your character. Kevin has kept us all riveted to the adventure with his daily posts, and I am sure there are days when the last thing he want’s to do is sit down and re-hash the events of the day. But we are all waiting on the edge of our seats for the all important next installment of the incredible journey.
    Your post here today is so well written, and enlightening. A female perspective on these remarkable ,and diverse team mates of yours, and more importantly, a chance for those of us who don’t know you, to learn more about the courageous, and dedicated, woman you clearly are.
    Thank you for this post, and I look forward to meeting you one day, perhaps at the next class of ’77 reunion. If you guys ever get down here to ski Wolf Creek, give me a call, so that we can get together !!
    YOUR’E A STAR !!

  8. Maria

    Welcome home Kathleen!! I just read your post with tears in my eyes. You are so inspiring and I will always treasure that I got to meet you guys in Copper. Reading the blog we can all say wow, the finish line is in sight, but I honestly feel it is just the beginning. There is so much work to do and you guys chipped away at it with passion, kindness and a strength that I admire with all my being. To ride all day and still have the energy to connect with community – wow, I’m in awe. You are an inspiration and your blog entry was awesome. YOU are awesome. Thank you with all my heart. Did I type the word awesome enough times? Awesome!!!

  9. Amy

    Kathleen – it’s great to see another great writer in the family. Thank you for sharing your insight into the FFP team. You made me laugh out loud and cry, too. I’m sorry to be missing out on your company on this leg.

  10. Wayne Donohue

    What a great blog. But then all of our children are great writers, and we are proud of all of them. Kathleen’s sister, Diane, was recently named Chief Nurse Executive of our local county hospital, but we are proud that Kathleen has chosen to continue her work directly with her patients rather than going into administration. That’s where she gets her gratification and reward.

    In addition to her professional success, daughter Diane and her husband, Kevin, have been my racing support crew for 20 years or so. It doesn’t hurt to have a nurse on your support crew, and the bonding we experienced during those events has been just as memorable as the wins.

    Although our son, Kent, a senior engineer with Underwriters Laboratories, has not yet been involved in the Coast-to-Coast ride, he plans to fly to New York City and drive the sag vehicle and trailer back to Boulder for the team.

    I enjoyed riding the 38 miles from the Missouri River to Red Oak with the crew, especially because I got to ride with Kathleen most of the way. Mary also enjoyed sagging as far as the Malvern corner that day. It was her first experience of that sort. Mary took great delight in feeding the crew and attending the meeting at the Red Oak Hospital.

    As with everyone else, we have read Kevin’s blogs with great anticipation. Being retired, we have the leisure of staying up every night until his blogs were posted–except the night we went to bed at 2 AM when it wasn’t posted until morning.

    Mary and I applaud all of you for this great effort and hope to see these celebrity cyclists during our next visit to Boulder.

    We look forward to the completion of your journey at New York City and wish we could be there for the celebration. Then we can all say, job well done Coast-to-Coast team, job well done.

  11. Sally Wincentsen

    Wonderful post, Kathleen – I have read each of Kevin’s great posts but yours had me crying today. I just
    finished talking to Helen & will call her back soon & read to her. This whole ride across the
    US is just amazing to me – I’m so proud of all of you & for a great cause.

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