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Tyler Tunes: A letter from Haven

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  • Published Sep. 24, 2004

By Haven Hamilton

This update is coming to you from Haven Hamilton. I’m Tyler’s wife. I wantedto post a note of appreciation to all of you who are standing behind Tylerand I during this very difficult ordeal. The outpouring of support hasbeen overwhelming and is appreciated more than you can imagine. Tyler isinnocent of the charges against him and we will do everything we can, withevery resource we have to make this clear.I have known Tyler since 1996 and we have been married for almost sixyears. When I met him he was a neo-pro bike racer who competed primarilyin the United States. Back in the day, we had no idea Tyler’s career wouldreach the heights that it has. But we’ve been grateful for every opportunityhe’s been provided through racing and have made the most of what I oftenrefer to as – one incredible adventure.After ten years of working for an advertising agency back in BostonI left my job to join Tyler full time in Europe. The weeks and months apartwere taking a toll on our relationship and it was clear that if Tyler wasgoing to excel overseas he needed an on-sight support network.Some people probably assume that athletes who make it to the professionallevel were born gifted, and that it’s the gift they possess that allowsthem to make a living doing what they love. But the gift is only the beginning.Tyler and I have met many talented cyclists over the years who never makethe jump to Division 1. So many things can railroad a career. A bad season,a lack of support, a team folding. the list of variables stacked againsta kid who wants to rise up to the highest level of this sport is endless.The ones who make it have to above all, love what they are doing, be dedicatedbeyond compare, and have luck and forward momentum on their side.And this is all just for starters. When Tyler began racing in Europe,he quickly realized he was starting anew as an athlete. Although he hadbeen a successful cyclist in the U.S., he had to begin the process of provinghimself all over again. It was clear that success back home did not guaranteesuccess in Europe.For the first time in his life he was told he was “over-weight,” “didn’ttrain hard enough,” “didn’t eat right,” “wasn’t dedicated enough.” Thiswas pretty shocking considering he had been a successful skier, soccerplayer, sail boat racer, little leaguer and cyclist all his life. But Tylertook the advice of his new mentors, and as he would say – “stepped up”his dedication and focus.Tyler’s steady progression over the last eight seasons here in Europehas been a result of his ability to put cycling first in his life. I haveoften joked that I ranked third behind the bike and dog in Tyler’s world.But there is some truth to this. Since 1997, the bike has been first. Tylerhas been a cyclist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year withoutexception.This means that everything about our daily lives has been centered aroundhis career. The way we eat, what we eat, where we live, how we rest, howoften we see our friends and family, how often we go out to dinner, wherewe go out dinner, where we go, what we do – has all depended on what hasbeen most suitable for Tyler’s legs. This takes discipline and dedicationthat we have often times found ourselves having to explain over and over.”Yes, I know it’s Christmas, but Tyler has to ride his bike today.” “Thewedding isn’t until 5 o’clock. He’ll be back from his ride in time.” “Iknow you spent all day preparing dinner, but Tyler can’t eat that.”But the sacrifices have been worth it. Every season Tyler has managedto set the bar a little higher for himself and reach a new height thathe hadn’t reached before. But he has also been very “human” on the bike.One thing that separates Tyler from other athletes in my mind is that hehas never been afraid to fail. So many times he has finished a race severalminutes behind the leaders when it would have been easier to climb intoa team car and go home.If his career has proven nothing else, it’s that cycling is a humblingand unforgiving sport. One that no human being can be good at 100 percentof the time. Tyler accepts this. This is why he has always said that youcan’t get too carried away when things are going well, and you can’t gettoo down when things aren’t. The racing season is nearly ten months long.Peaks and valleys in performance are as prevalent as peaks and valleyson course profiles.This season has been no exception. Tyler was very disappointed to haveto abandon the Tour de France with his back injury. Although his effortsin the 2003 Tour reinforced the valuable lesson – that no one should giveup on anything without a fight; Tyler also recognized that he punishedhis body by pushing it through that race with a broken collarbone. He paiddearly throughout the rest of the summer and fall. It took him a very longtime to recover from that effort. So this year, he knew from experiencewhat the consequences could be if he continued on with his injury. That’swhy he stopped the race, rested and refocused his fight on the Olympics.He still fought back, but in a different place.At the end of the day, Tyler will tell you he loves his bike, his career,his team, racing and his life overseas. But he will also admit this isjust bike racing. He has proven he is willing to dedicate his life to thissport, but he is not willing to risk his life for it.Transfusing blood from a foreign source is dangerous business. We knowthis because our dog Tugboat faced the need for a transfusion in June.He had been bleeding internally and had lost over half his blood supply.When the veterinarian recommended a transfusion we agonized over the optionfor the better part of week. We feared contamination and disease. Onlywhen the situation became “life or death” did we opt to move forward.When a second transfusion was needed, we reluctantly moved forward again.This time, the effects were devastating. Tugboat was left paralyzed onthe left side of his face in reaction to the blood. He never recovered.His final days were more uncomfortable as a result.With the dangers of transfusing blood so fresh in our minds, it is ridiculousto think Tyler would consider taking another person’s blood.When Tyler won his gold medal in Athens he achieved a life long dream.That medal is his payback for years of hard work and dedication.
Tyler was asked to participate in the Vuelta because one of his teammateshad an injury that prevented him from going. Tyler and his team statedmany times, prior to the race, that there was no pressure on him to leadthe team.His win in the individual time trial there was justification that thetime trial training he had done for Athens was right on. That he wouldgo on to lose ten minutes the next day, and an additional 40+ minutes inthe days ahead prove once again how human Tyler is.He could have dropped out of the race after falling out of contentionfor the general classification, but he wanted to be there for his teammates;to go on riding in support of them, like they have done so often for him.After all, this was why he was there in the first place. This is the essenceof bike racing and good sportsmanship. And Tyler has proven many timesover that he can weather the ups and downs of competition. He can succeedand fail without making excuses. At the end of the day he knows how luckyhe is just to have the opportunity to do what he does for a living. Heaccepts the highs and lows as if they are both gifts that teach him totake nothing for granted.Tyler is devastated to be accused of being dishonest. After all theyears of hard work he has devoted to his racing career, he feels as thoughhe is being stabbed in the back. He is angry. If we have to drain our bankaccounts to get to the bottom of this we will. And when Tyler can speakfreely about all of this, he will.There are a number of questions that have to be answered regarding thesituation Tyler now faces in light of the charges against him. We willdo everything in our power to address them. Tyler’s family, friends, supporters,team and sponsors deserve answers as much as he does. We’ll get there.The peaks and valleys ahead will not derail us from clearing Tyler’s name.Thanks for reading.

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