Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Davis Phinney

Update: The outcome of surgery has been good so far. An article on Yahoo Sports says Davis Phinney experienced the expected immediate relief Doctors promised. The article quotes his wife: '“We saw an almost immediate response,” Connie Carpenter-Phinney said. “The actual tremor is almost gone but not totally gone. His gait was really good. His arms were swinging. I’m super-relieved. Literally, it brought tears to my eyes to watch the process, and it’s a very moving experience to watch what might be possible down the road.”

Davis Phinney was exhausted after Friday’s procedure, but squeezed in one key event before settling down for an afternoon nap.

“We went out for a celebratory ice cream,” his wife said.'

I watch videos of old bike races while I tread the mill for exercise. Currently, I'm engrossed in the 1987 Tour de France. Lately I've been reading about the struggles with Parkinson's Disease of a bike racer of that time, Davis Phinney. He's just undergone surgery to reduce some of the worst symptoms. He and his family won't know whether the surgery worked until this Friday. His wife, Connie Carpenter Phinney, is a world champion cyclist and now their son Taylor looks to be following in their footsteps.

Davis won a stage in the 1987 Tour, one of the few Americans to claim that victory at the time. He spoke to the camera a couple of times early in the race, always charming, articulate, upbeat, and interesting to hear. Then he caught a bug and had to retire. (Professional cyclists are particularly vulnerable to infections; one of the many mishaps that can sideline them.) Seeing the man in his 1987 prime brought out much compassion in me toward his 48-year-old self brought low by Parkinsons.

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