is relentlessly progressive, advances in treatment are slowing the onslaught.
On Friday, Phinney will undergo a cutting-edge procedure that he hopes will
ease some of the symptoms. Deep brain stimulation is "just what it sounds
like," explains Jaimie Henderson, the Stanford-based neurosurgeon who will
perform the 4 1/2-hour operation. Through a dime-sized opening in the skull, a
tiny electrode is inserted into a lima bean-sized region of the brain called
the subthalamic nucleus. There, ideally, it carries electrical impulses that
block the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremors.
turn the clock back about five years," says Henderson. Which would be a
brilliant result for Phinney, who's slowly but surely losing ground in his
"I still have
a decent amount of mental acuity left," he says, "but my speech is more
halting than it used to be." On occasion, he stutters. So insistent is the
tremoring on his left side that it awakens him roughly a dozen times per
Phinney has made Parkinson's, he has made damned grudgingly. He still travels
frequently, rides his bike, attends fund-raisers, makes speeches. "He gives
a lot of people a lot of courage with his example," says John Tew, head of
the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinnati. Tew treasures the
memory of Phinney striding toward the podium to give an address at the
institute in the fall of '07. Rather than climb the steps, Phinney vaulted onto
the stage. The crowd went wild.
"Let's live as
well as we can today," he implores the members of his tribe. The lack of a
cure can't stop them from enjoying what he calls "curative moments—small
victories when we're not thinking about PD [Parkinson's disease] because we're
purely happy right now." Even with the Body Snatcher lurking, he insists,
"life is pretty damn rich."
those scissors from his father at the Carson velodrome, Taylor takes to the
track for his qualifier, in which he destroys Ireland's David O'Loughlin by
more than five seconds.
is Vaughters, the extravagantly sideburned Slipstream director. "Two years
ago," he marvels, "this kid wasn't even racing."
A former prodigy
himself, Vaughters isn't sure how Taylor's talent will ultimately manifest
itself. He suspects the kid may end up too big to be an elite climber, which
could dampen his prospects for winning one of the grand tours. (Taylor rejects
that speculation—his training for pursuit, he says, has given him more
confidence in his climbing. In both, he points out, "you're going all out
as hard as you can. There's not really any place to hide.")
Asked to hazard a
guess, Vaughters predicts a career for Taylor similar to that of Switzerland's
Fabian Cancellara, the reigning time-trial world champion, who is also scary
strong in one-day classics like Paris-Roubaix and Milan--San Remo, both of
which he has won. For the foreseeable future, Taylor will continue to ride for
Slipstream, whose depth and talent is sometimes overshadowed by its commitment
to drug-free performance, which has put the Argyle Armada out front in the
battle to clean up the sport.
In that night's
final, Taylor promptly falls a half-second behind Jenning Huizenga, a Dutchman
who finished fifth at the 2007 worlds. No biggie. Halfway through the race
Taylor finds an extra gear, closes the gap, then pulls away as if his Felt TK1
track bike were equipped with a twist-grip accelerator.