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Destiny… Defined in a Nanosecond
 
By Staff
Date: 7/6/2005
Destiny… Defined in a Nanosecond
 

Destiny… Defined in a Nanosecond
By Dave Shields

It’s amazing to think back on key moments in our lives and consider how they altered our future. It’s enlightening when we can see those moments in the lives of others. Maybe that’s one of the things that rivets us to the Tour de France, and to sports in general.

Dave Zabriskie invested incredible preparation into Saturday’s stage one time trial. Anybody could plainly see that two seconds redefined his world. In less time than it takes to draw a full breath, he changed from another young hopeful into a name we’ll never forget.
Would this moment have happened if Lance Armstrong’s foot had been more securely clipped to his pedal in the start house? If Zabriskie had fallen short by even a single second it would have still been a great performance, but not nearly as many people would have cared, and Dave wouldn’t have learned what it feels like to wear yellow.

I got to sit down in the home where Zabriskie grew up the day after the biggest race of his life. His mother, Sheree Hamok, related talking to him by phone while he waited for his competiton to finish. “Did I do good?” he asked. “Yeah, you did real good, Dave.” She’d talked with her son as he waited near the finish line, worrying that Armstrong might relegate him to second place.

We all know what happened. The kid from Salt Lake City who grew up wanting to be a Super Hero had just turned himself into one. Through relentless effort he’d blurred the border between dream and reality. Even his widest grin couldn’t contain the joy, and aren’t we fortunate for it. I practically drowned in the emotion.

Two days after my visit to Zabriskie’s home I watched the Team Time Trial while doing an interview on KNBR in San Francisco, Dave’s current off-season home. His performance was clearly a big part of the reason CSC was surprising everybody on this stage. His team set the best times all the way along course, despite being a heavy underdog to Discovery.  

Then, only 1200 meters from the finish line, another of those epic moments occurred; only this time it was the bad sort. Zabriskie slammed into the pavement. He skittered along the blacktop, still attached to his bicycle, narrowly avoided by his teammates. Could he yet comprehend that catastrophe had stolen his dream. The radio hosts, men who admitted having little interest in cycling when our interview began, were riveted. The race had delivered more than they ever expected.

Dave quickly got onto a new bicycle, but by now reality must have been hitting hard. I spoke to his mother not long after she heard from him. They were both devastated. She, because she wanted to hold her boy in her arms. He, because such incredible possibilities had disappeared so suddenly.

Zabriskie must have dreamed of winning the Tour de France from time to time, but his mom says his primary commitment has always been to supporting Ivan Basso, his team leader. Now, despite bruised ribs, a stitched elbow, several patches of road rash, and a tremendous mental jolt, Dave’s focus must turn entirely to that objective. He’s going to have to overcome a lot to accomplish it.

I, for one, will be watching closely. Given that Dave has a history of performing at every level, of reaching every objective, of overcoming every obstacle, I’m looking forward to a special performance. For those of you aren’t convinced yet, we’re all about to see how this kid responds to adversity. I think he’s about to prove that he’s the real deal. I can’t wait to tune in, and then hang on tight!

Dave Shields is the author of Amazon’s #1 Selling Sports Novel, The Race. In June the book became the first sports themed novel ever to win the Ben Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Fiction. See more at http://www.ReadTheRace.com.

 
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