Garmin’s Timmy Duggan Gets PEZ’d!
Pro cyclists live on the razor’s edge; one moment Slipstream’s (now Garmin) Timmy Duggan was safely in the Tour of Georgia peloton, with the prospect of his first Giro not far away. The next, he was on the tarmac with life threatening injuries. We caught up with him just after Garmin’s ‘Bash’ in Timmy’s home town of Boulder, Colorado.
PEZ: Did you have fun, Timmy?
Timmy: Yeah, it’s about the only chance each year when the whole team and all the staff are together – it was great to see all the guys again.
Timmy at the recent Garmin team presentation.
PEZ: April 23rd 2008, the Tour of Georgia, tell us what happened.
Timmy: I still don’t remember! I’ve heard that we were bombing down a hill at around 100 kph, we came to a bridge, there was a crack in the road, somebody (Corey Collier, Health Net) stuffed their wheel into it and I went over the top of them. (Collier grabbed a new bike and was on his way, Timmy’s next mode of transport was an ambulance.)
Timmy was in the midst of a solid season (seen here running at Tirreno Adriatico!) before it all went awry at the Tour of Georgia.
PEZ: You were seriously injured.
Timmy: I had a subarachnoid hemorrhage resulting in a subdural hematoma – a big bruise on the right front lobe of my brain. I was in hospital for a week before they flew me back to Colorado. I broke my collar bone and shoulder too – but they were the least of my worries!
PEZ: And you still don’t remember it?
Timmy: No, there are about four days which have just ‘gone!’
PEZ: I’ve heard your Giro helmet saved your life?
Timmy: Oh yeah; I can’t imagine what would have happened if I’d been one of those guys, 20 years ago, who raced bare headed!
Duggan before the start of that fateful Stage 3 at this year’s Tour of Georgia.
PEZ: How did rehab go?
Timmy: It’s still going on, little things deep in my mind are still not right; I’ve been doing a lot of work with psychologists and I’m getting there, now. One of the things I find in training is that I can dig myself into really deep holes; I can get very tired – more so than I used to before – and depressed and I’m working on how to overcome that. When it comes to brain injuries, doctors can’t tell you anything exact – everyone reacts differently.
Timmy, along with Blake Caldwell, is the only rider to be a part of every Slipstream team since their inception way back in 2003.
Timmy with his close friend and current TT1 rider, Ian Macregor.
PEZ: I believe that you didn’t feel ‘yourself’ for a long time after the crash.
Timmy: That’s true and there are still thing deep inside my head that aren’t like they used to be – you could say that my mental toolbox is incomplete. There are things that I having to re-learn; you wouldn’t notice, talking to me, but I do, and my wife does. When you’re a pro athlete, you need everything to be 100%, if you drive a truck and you’re 10% down, then maybe it wouldn’t be so important, but as a pro cyclist you can’t afford to be one or two percent off your best.
PEZ: When did you get back on the bike?
Timmy: Not until July, but that was a couple of months before my doctors actually wanted me to start riding again.
PEZ: Were Garmin supportive?
Timmy: Oh yeah! So supportive, the only thing I had to worry about was recovering. Jonathan Vaughters and the team were fantastic, they took care of me and my family to a level above and beyond what was expected of them.
Timmy is more than solid in a time trial…
PEZ: Your first race back was the US TT champs?
Timmy: Yeah, that was at the end of August; I placed 13th and was happy with that result because I hadn’t trained for it. The time trial is one of my strengths (Timmy has twice been runner-up in US U-23 TT champs and a bronze medallist in US the Elite TT champs) and it was one of my goals for 2008 – it’ll certainly be a big target for 2009.
Timmy on the USPRO TT podium with Dave Zabriskie and Danny Pate in 2007.
Timmy: I start with the Tour Down Under – I’m pretty excited about that. It’ll be good to start racing, you get tired of training on your own all the time. Then it’ll be back to Europe and the Tours of the Med, Murcia maybe Pays Basque, leading into the Giro – which should have been my first Grand Tour, last year, until the crash. Because I’m coming back, the programme is relatively light, but if I’m adapting well then I may ride more races.
PEZ: What advice would you give readers coming back from a crash?
Timmy: The biggest thing is to listen to your doctors, but don’t limit yourself – listen to your body too and make your own decisions. Take it day by day and above all – believe in yourself and your ability to come back.
Timmy recently completed a seven-day, 600 mile ride in California for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
PEZ: You sound like a man with PMA – positives from that huge negative, please?
Timmy: The first thing is that I got to spend a lot of time with my wife; usually I’m either racing or travelling all the time. I think that next season I’ll have a heightened appreciation of the moments in a race that really matter, I’ll recognise them now. This isn’t the first negative situation I’ve found myself in during my life; but I’ve found that for every ‘low’ I’ve had, there’s always been a corresponding ‘high’ to follow – so I’m really keen to see what that’s going to be!
PEZ: And one more question before you go – tell us a little more about your Just Go Harder Scholarships…
Timmy: The scholarships we are creating are offsetting program fees for a couple of different local organizations. One is the Lake Eldora Racing Team, the ski/cycling club where I started my career.
We are working on where the second scholarship will go, but likely to juniors in the ACA, the local colorado cycling governing body that gave us our start into cycling. The scholarship will off set the costs of coaching and mentorship in these programs, the things that i think are most important in giving kids an opportunity in sport. Cycling and skiing are both expensive sports and these scholarships will go to kids who couldnt afford to have these opportunities otherwise.
For more on the Just Go Harder Foundation – head on over HERE!
With thanks to Timmy for his time, we’ll be talking to him again during 2009 – and remember what he said about that helmet, dudes!