Timmy Duggan. An intimate insight into a US champion.
Twisted Spoke is not without sources. Our buddy Sam Parker has known Timmy Duggan for a long time and has a better perspective on what makes him ride so fast than almost anyone. We now step away from the post and let Sam take the controls.
This Is What It Takes To Be A National Champion…
I met Timmy Duggan almost 20 years ago. He and his younger brother were competitive ski racers on the club my wife ran. He came to the club as part of a package; his Mom and Dad got involved too. Timmy was maybe 10 years old and his Dad soon became a board member for the club. Timmy and his brother were always out the door early, and always the last ones off the hill. His Mom and Dad volunteered endlessly, and always did what they said they would do. The four of them were friendly, engaging, and made you feel comfortable in conversation. After years and years of coaching every different kind of kid, my wife will tell you that each and every one is really a reflection of his or her parents. It rubs off. As a member of the supervisory staff of the ski patrol, I measured the same kids by whether or not they could behave on the hill. I expected a lot from the skiing public and I expected even more from the ski racers. Those boys never let me down. Timmy comes from a great family and we count the Duggans among the select few that we referred to as role models when we became parents ourselves…this is what it takes.
Being a good athlete is never easy. For those to whom it comes naturally, the ego can be a problem. A “natural” may never know what it means, or what it takes, to overcome hardship, injury, setback. Some “naturals” actually leave the sport when it begins to require effort. Timmy is a natural, but he also knows just what it means to work hard for every result he has ever achieved. He was not a big kid, and he didn’t get bigger as an adult. He just looked beyond what some people may have perceived as a limitation and kept at it. In his mid-teens, he told me that he was racing his bicycle. I knew he had switched from one insanely difficult sport to another, even harder one. As he progressed, he picked himself up off the pavement so many times, and kept trying. I have more than a few friends that have been in bike races with him and they all comment on how strong he is…and what a nice a guy he is. I have read about broken shoulders, broken collar bones, a traumatic brain injury, respiratory issues…and every time he has picked himself up and kept at it, employing his motto, “Just Go Harder.” Perseverance, hard work, pick yourself up, again, and again…this is what it takes.
Through all of it, every time I run into him, he makes me feel like I am a more interesting story than he is. He wants to know how my kids are doing in their ski races, how my wife is doing , how I’m doing. Three weeks ago, about 5 days before leaving for the Amgen Tour of California, he sent me a text message, “I’m going to be up in the mountains for the weekend, wondering if you want to go for a bike ride.” He could ride with a dozen people that are fitter than I am, a 54 year old friend of the family, part owner of a bike shop. We rode for 3 hours, talking about everything…he wanted to drop by a mutual friend and former ski coach’s house to say hello, he wanted to talk about how hard it is to have missed his best friend’s wedding, he wanted to talk about the new house that he and his wife built. It was a terrific 3 hour conversation that really had little to do with bike racing. Most of the comments that you read, from people who know Timmy, speak to how nice a person he is, and I can attest to it. He is genuine, and concerned about the things that are important to his family and his friends…this is what it takes.
I watched the National Pro Road race on a laptop, streaming live, on my bed with my wife and two kids last Monday. It certainly took horsepower to make it into the break of 5 that determined the outcome, but when VanGarderen attacked, Timmy helped the other 3 guys chase him down. When Busche attacked, Timmy helped the other 3 chase him down. And when Danielson attacked, Timmy helped the other three chase him down. When the physical part of the race became the mental part of the race and all 5 were looking around at each other, Timmy rode away from them. It appeared that they were all looking around for “that guy” to help them chase Timmy down. Unfortunately for them, their helper was up the road. While we were jumping up and down on the bed, screaming at the computer, Timmy was winning the race, and the other 4 guys didn’t have the mental fortitude to even make it onto the podium. He had both the physical and mental strength to make his move stick from 15K out…this is what it takes.
I read a recent interview of him and smiled when the interviewer was asking Timmy if this recent success might transfer into a place on his team for the Tour. Although he said it is one of his professional goals to be in the Tour, he said, “It’s still just a bike race.” He is not the wide-eyed-deer-in-the-headlights young professional overcome by the enormity of the Tour. He has come back from a life- threatening injury, overcome adversity time and time again in his life, and he’s been a competitive athlete for a long time. It lends balance and perspective to his approach…this is what it takes.