HIS BELLY HANDS could not hold the handlebars. His right leg, disfigured, did not flex anymore. Even though she had taken a handful of nitroglycerin capsules and morphine doses to hide what she described as her "occasional pains 9, on the scale of 0 to 10," Wally Ghia, 74, could not sit still in her best bike us. A group of men surrounded him, giving strength. They held Wally's thin arms and grabbed him by the already loose jersey, straightening his mountain bike with thick tires to one side ... Only for him to fall for the other. Her black lycra shorts collapsed on the sidewalk.
On a bridge across the Arkansas River in Salida, Colorado, between two red, white and purple colored flower boxes, Wally and 57 other cyclists were gathered for the Banana Belt Mountain Bike Race, a cycling of the city and that happens every month of September. In about 20 minutes, at 11 in the morning, someone will shout: "3,2,1 ... now!". And then the mass of competitors will drop out of the city, then turn around on an arm of the river and continue toward the Rocky Mountains.
Finally, the group of Wally's helpers manages to lift him again and hold his body on the purple carbon full suspension bike. Then they clip their sneakers on the pedals and encourage them to spin the crank. But your knee hangs.
That's the time old man
"Pourra!" He shouts- Could he even accept that he was dying but could not compete? That, yes, made him extremely pissed off.
FOUR YEARS BEFORE, Flavio "Wally" Ghia stood up and introduced himself during a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Mancos, Colorado. For nearly 30 years, he relied on the organization's fellowship, as well as his belief in a superior power that helped him stay sober.
At age 70, Wally was tanned and well looked after, with a carefully shaved head and a white goatee framing his face. He wore Italian glasses and carried a brown American Staffordshire Terrier dog in his arms - with a muzzle. Upon seeing Wally for the first time, one participant in the group remembers thinking, "Who the hell is this guy?"
But Wally, with his rustic, frank and funny manner, soon introduced himself to the group. "I'm part of an exclusive club," he began. "In a city of 1300 people, there must be a few drunks." He had an endless amount of unbelievable stories: about when he was a teenage fugitive roaming Acapulco in Mexico; his career as a self-taught graphic designer in New York, a personification of a character out of Mad Men ; about his involvement as the main witness in a murder trial, which was later portrayed in a TV movie.
But Wally really liked talking about biking. He said he had already won a state mountain bike championship in Arizona, and wore a sweatshirt with the Absolute Bikes logo, a local bike shop. He told the store owner, Shawn Gillis, that he was one of the fuckers who competed in teams set up by Wally in the 1990s.
WHILE HIS FUNNY HEART WORKS HARD, WALLY SEES ON A NIGHT CRITERION THROUGH THE WEEK. WHEN THE PACE DECREASES, HE ESCAPES IN FRONT OF THE OTHER ATHLETES.
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Wally liked to spend time in Zuma, a natural food market. Suzanne, the one responsible for baking the blueberry muffins, had learned exactly how much Wally liked to eat them. And the owner of the market, "Cowboy Steve" Klumker, had accepted the help of Wally to help in the diffusion of Zuma. He created a new poster that took advantage of the store location, facing Highway 160, at the city's only traffic light.
The design was something innate in Wally - he had once been given the title of "design genius." And he had a special ability to pack and sell things. He grew up in South Brooklyn, New York, raised mainly by his beloved grandparents. His father had traveled the world while working in the US Navy, and once returned from England with a Raleigh bike, which the boy used to explore the neighborhood (until the bike was stolen). When the boy was 13, his mother moved with him to Philadelphia and, far from the grandparents, the young man rebelled. At age 15, he fled to Acapulco, where he worked at beach resorts and a local silkscreen studio.
After two years, he hitchhiked back to the East Coast and, at age 18, with no experience in marketing or design, went to New York with the intention of working for a large design company.
There he realized that the graphs worked very close to these large companies, so he found a simple job, cleaning up old linotype machines. He became indispensable, and he studied at night in major schools, such as the Pratt Institute and The Cooper Union.
Pop illustrator Peter Max took one of his designs to the printing press where Wally worked, and the boy helped him all excited. In 1961, this led to him getting a spot in Peter's company, Daly & Max Studio, a collective of young, hip-hop designers from New York. "We were the first group of outsiders in Manhattan," Wally told the Phoenix New Times newspaper in 1982. "During that time, we were taking a lot of drugs.
He and the gang had LSD drugs of dubious purity and they tasted various kinds of exotic marijuana. Fueled by narcotics, Wally worked fervently.
But after fighting with Max, he quit his job and started working as an art director at Bantam Books. At age 22, he received praise as a "rising star" from a New York Post writer (who had also noticed his appetite for the soothing Tuinal). Finally, Wally left Bantam to start his own company - but he kept up with drug use. "In the early '60s, the crazier you were in business, the more you earned," he told the New Times.
He sold very popular packaging designs to some well-known brands of the time. "I've always seen supermarkets as the true battleground of designers," he said. "And I wanted to be in the gallery of the recognized brands. If you're good, it's in this class that you should be." Wally left the city and moved to a large glass-walled house in a luxury condominium.
He filled his garage with a Range Rover and a Lotus and took a vacation at the Oloffson Hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a popular meeting place for politicians and celebrities such as Mick Jagger and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the 1970s.
His success in New York continued, but the manic work associated with chronic drug use resulted in what appeared to be psychotic episodes. He was hospitalized for a while, and when he left, he decided to leave the New York area. He worked in Toronto, Canada, and Los Angeles, California, until he settled in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1974. There he intended to bring his great experience to the emerging city in the middle of the desert. But addictions and association with unreliable character types ruined his aspirations. In 1982, he was a key witness in a murder trial - a crime linked to the local mafia, who took the life of one of his associates.
After that, fearing for his safety, he fled the state and changed his name (the baptism was Wally Roberts). He started carrying a loaded gun and a knife, and he always had a pit bull on his side. Since then, whenever he felt threatened, he wore tough armor. He broke up with close friends or girlfriends because of any disagreements. Until it was completely isolated.
UNTIL IT WAS ATTRACTED BY CYCLING, "THE ONLY THING THAT COULD BE REPLACING HEROIN".
After more than a year of running away, he returned to Phoenix and finally got rid of the drugs. He discovered the companionship of Alcoholics Anonymous and found comfort in the spirituality of Eastern philosophies.
He began to see himself as a samurai, a solitary warrior of wisdom and honor, who took his own life before submitting to the enemy. Wally began collecting samurai swords and often quoted "Solitary Wanderer's Way," written by the legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto.
Until he was attracted to cycling, "the only thing that could replace heroin," he recalled. He thought of the colorful groups of cyclists he admired as a boy, bustling around Brooklyn, gesticulating and speaking Italian, and used them as role models. He became an athlete. He woke up every day before dawn, stuffed a VCR tape from the Tour de France on TV, and then he was ready to ride. With his slim physique and strong legs, he could still compete with mid-age cyclists until he was 50.
In 1990, Wally founded a mountain bike team, which soon began competing nationally. He made designs for his sponsors and called his team Team Rhino (Time Rhino) because he said that these animals "never give up, never stop attacking." And Wally's athletes really were that way.
A downhill mountain bike named Kim Sonier competed in the European World Cup races and was second in the world championship in 1992 and 1993. Another, Matt Quinn, got a job in the Secret Service and worked on George W.'s safety team. Bush, which often involved mountain biking with the then president at his farm in Crawford, Texas. Carl Tobin became a scientist and expedition expert at National Geographic.
Then, one night after a race in 1996, Wally had a heart attack. There followed complications and a series of surgeries, but he remained dedicated to the pedal. During the recovery, he was dragging a spinning bike into the yard and spinning in the open air. But in 2004, as he began to regain his strength, he began a new battle for his own life, against the flesh-eating bacteria of the necrotizing fasciitis, which led him to spend months in a burn hospital.
In 2005, he moved to Sarasota, Fla., In an unsuccessful attempt to regain his relationship with his sick mother. He could not compete anymore, but he organized 25-km night pedaling in a local park.
Wally met a woman in Sarasota, a park ranger who worked there called Lisa Rhodin.
She rescued him when Wally suffered some disgrace on a pedal, faced mechanical problems or had complications in her poor health.
The couple was in a place called Deep Hole (Hole Bottom), where alligators flocked to the hundreds. The pregnancy women felt very attracted to Wally (they were five weddings), but he said he had never felt such great love. And when Lisa left him, when she moved to Montana, she said she had never felt any greater pain.
In 2011, kind of by impulse, went to Mancos, back to the highlands of the North American West. In Mancos, he was able to enjoy the landscape of the desert, in addition to developing a community of friends and caregivers. He had had little money and few job prospects. He had no plans to move again.
Of MANY friends he made in Mancos, Joan and Peter Brind'Amour were the ones he considered closest. The middle-aged couple lived in the same block of the house that Wally rented and they also liked to bike.
They had moved to Mancos in 1997, in search of a place to grow their own food, and also because they knew the city welcomed cyclists. "We like to test the cordiality of people pedaling through the streets and feeling receptivity to our lycra clothes," says Joan. The couple often went for a visitor to take the Conchetta bitch for a walk, as Wally could not do it anymore.
Although we talked about unpredictable health issues, Wally clearly suffered from various illnesses.
When asked, he said that he had moved to Mancos to pedal and train for the Senior Games, the local games for older people. However, according to Peter, "I've never seen Wally on a bike." Visibly, the crisis of necrotizing fasciitis had almost cost the amputation of the right leg, permanently disfigured from the ankle to the thigh.
He also suffered from chest pain, known as angina, even after three cardiac surgeries. The feel of a walrus clutching his chest spread over his arms, neck, and jaw; it sickened his stomach, forcing him to vomit. Peter remembers to take Wally on a particularly bad day at his house. "He could only sit, holding his head and rocking," he says.
WALLY'S MOST RECENT SWITCH IN WALKTHROUGHS WAS IN MANCOS, ON A COWBOY STEVE MULE RIDE - WALLY SAID THAT HORSE WATCHED REMEMBERED IT FROM THE MOUNTAIN BIKE FEELING, "BEING OUTSIDE, STOLEN". BUT, WHILE RAISING AN INJURIOUS CANON, HE LEFT BACK, WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE LEFT FORWARD.
He fell, hit his head, and had a bleeding in his brain. He was rescued by helicopter to a neurology center in Farmington, New Mexico, where doctors made holes in his skull to drain the blood and relieve the pressure. The procedure saved his life, but the injury left him with nerve damage, unsteady balance, and an intermittent memory.
Steve and his family helped Wally recover after the fall, and Peter and Joan have also volunteered caretakers, taking him to their doctor's office. However, modern medicine could not help that 70-year-old gentleman with a weak heart much more. One day, in 2016, Wally left the hospital with a particularly somber face. The doctors had given him a letter, and he read a line aloud, "There's nothing more we can do for you."
Wally had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and was advised to seek a nursing home that could offer relief for pain as well as emotional and spiritual support. "It was a pretty rough way for them to talk about what was really going on," says Peter. Flavio "Wally" Ghia was dying. As they drove back to the mountains in Mancos, Joan tried to improve her temper and made a joke in bad taste. "You could start a new bike team," he told Wally. Time Terminal.
Everyone laughed at the morbid absurdity of suggestion. A bike crew for people who were on the brink of death. Peter joked: "The slogan could be: 'Stop the competition.'" Wally, always a marketer, seemed to draw energy from the idea. "No, you have to be more aggressive there," he said. "Bury your competitors."
The joke came true. A few weeks after starting the "terminal" palliative care, Wally began working to bring the Hospice Racing team to life ( Hospice is what it calls palliative care clinics for terminally ill patients), creating a logo for its one-man team only (a purple exclamation point, with a mountain bike tire tracing over the name). Distributed hospice racing stickers in hospitals. "Everyone loved it," he said.
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He telephoned potential sponsors, such as his old friend Shawn Gillis of Absolute Bikes (who persuaded Wally to change the tagline to "A Happier Ending") and had Big Hospice Racing stickers done to transform his SUV in the team's official car.
Wally developed a deep affection for the caretakers who went to his house. A social worker, Crystal Harris, helped him make a list of friends he wanted to keep informed about his health, as well as giving a force in the coordination of the cleaning service. Gail Bertram, who lived on the same street as Wally, became her nurse and got a variety of narcotics so he could alleviate the symptoms of illness. "The drugs took away the pain," says Wally. "With everything I had, it was like a miracle."
The team of Wally's dying cyclists (ie, himself) came as no surprise to caregivers, who had already helped other patients to carry out similar desires. "I took care of a lady who wanted to see the beach, so we helped her get there," says Gail. "She died right there with her feet in the sand." With Hospice Racing, Wally also wanted to use her bike to raise awareness about palliative care and show how it was helping her live life to the end. Without the debilitating pain, he believed he could pedal again.
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SUMMER OF 2016, WALLY CALLED SHAWN AND SAID: "LOOK, I NEED TO PARTICIPATE IN A PROOF. IF I DO NOT DO THAT, EVERYTHING WILL BE INDEED." Shawn told of the event that would take place in Salida, the Banana Belt Mountain Bike Race for best bike us reviews.
The race, named after a constantly sunny city spot in the Rockies (a banana belt), has been going on since 1989 and was part of the annual bike crazy festival.
Then Shawn asked Wally, "But can you pedal?"
"I do not know," he replied. Are you going to do a group cycling without support? Check out the tips and put the pedal on the road.
At THE BEGINNING OF JUNE, Peter and Wally met up with Shawn at his store in Salida, a four-hour drive from Mancos, for what they called the "test." Because of the horse's leg, heart, and fall, Wally had not been riding for eight years. Sensing Wally's enthusiasm, Shawn tried to subdue expectations. "Let's just see what happens," he said.
Shawn suggested that he use a Specialized Rhyme FSR 6 Fattie bike, a comfortable fat bike. "We did not tell her that it was a female bike." It was purple, says Shawn, who felt that 6Fattie's fat tires and a more upright positioning would help Wally's balance. And the adjustable cantilever would give Wally a lift to get off the bike. Any time he stopped, he could get off the saddle and put both feet on the ground. Wally rattled questions about the bike. "If I'm going to be sponsored, I have to get to know my equipment," he said.
As he started to pedal, Shawn ran after him, holding the back of the saddle as a father does with his son for the first time. After about five yards, Wally shouted, "You can let go!" Shawn got on his bike, and the old friends pedaled three miles down an empty street.
"When they came back, they were both glowing," says Peter. The eyes of the lord more than 70 years old shone like a child's.
Wally still joked with Shawn: "Did I pass the test?"
"Yes," said Shawn.
The two of them prepared for the test during the months that followed. On their first ride together, they made a 400-meter trail with Peter using an old titanium mountain bike that he had turned into an urban cruiser. "I do not know if we can make two laps," says Peter. But Wally was making progress. Peter says that shortly afterwards, "Wally called me all the time."
Peter and Wally pedaled two or three times a week, and Wally waited for each roll eagerly.
They both figured out how to dose Wally's drugs so he could pedal: morphine enough to relieve the pain, but not so much that it would not let him stand erect on the bike. On his pedals, Peter carried a small bottle of nitroglycerin capsules, which instantly dilated Wally's blood vessels, relieving episodes of angina. And Wally discovered a strain of marijuana in the local drugstore that relieved the pain in the nerves in a way that even the morphine could not. "He smoked almost non-stop," Peter says.
To help Wally get on the bike, Peter sat on the front tire and held the handlebars using his legs as stabilizers so Wally could climb.
As Wally's energy increased, they ventured beyond the path.
They left the Wally house south, toward the mountains. Near the cemetery, there was a small ascent, where they turned around. They pedaled back to the city and turned right onto East Montezuma Street, a slightly gravelly road on the rise. "We did not talk much on the bike. Wally had to be very focused so he could keep the bike stable and breathe at the same time, "says Peter. When Wally said something, it was to celebrate, "God, this is very good!"
"It was clear from the first time I saw him get on the bike, he was a person who had spent a lot of time pedaling," says Peter. "In simple maneuvers, like turning around, he balanced with his good leg, to keep moving."
Only once did Wally try to pedal alone. Peter arrived in the afternoon and found him all crippled. Wally said an old lady threw him off the road. He did not hurt himself, and the incident only increased his desire to pedal. He had "bought a piece of land", as they say in the slang of mountain bikers - and now he was a real cyclist again. Are you ready Long distance cycling-
After three months of preparation, the day of the race arrived. On September 17, Peter and Wally put the mountain bike in the car and departed for Salida. Wally wore a sweater with the Absolute Bikes logo. They were in his SUV, all bonded to Hospice Racing. But during the weeks leading up to the event, Wally's health had changed. His hands and feet were swollen. "He could not control his hands. If I got a glass of water, I'd knock it on my lap, "says Peter.
In Salida, when removing the Wally kit, Peter told Shawn: "I do not even know if Wally can get on the bike." And he could not.
"I fell down on my ass," Wally said.
"We were five guys trying to get him on the bike," Shawn recalls.
All Wally's work was crumbling right before his eyes. He tried to turn the crank, and his right knee caught. Here, on this street in Salida, among the blooming blossoms in color, Wally screamed in frustration.
MISSING ONLY 20 minutes into the race, Shawn had an idea. "We have a tandem in the back of the store," he told Wally. "Do you want to ride back?"
Wally looked at Shawn, "Go get her!"
The two lined up near the front platoon in Shawn's Electra tandem. The low top tube on the back of the tandem cruiser made it easier for Wally to climb on the bike, and the high handlebars helped in the footprint.
Someone shouted, "Go!" The squad fired ahead and Shawn kicked hard. The 42 km stretch circled the town of Salida on a flat stretch of approximately 5 km and then climbed the mountains.
For a while, Wally was at the leading platoon as they crossed the historic center through the two-story brick buildings. Shawn leaned forward so that Wally could see the sea of â€‹cyclists turning right and crossing the Arkansas River by the old steel bridge, then to the right again, to edge the river along a bumpy dirt road. In tandem, the two were able to chat. Shawn remembered the time when they competed in Arizona and he reached Wally on the trails. Some competitors did not make it through, but Wally always pulled aside, encouraging Shawn.
In the curve where the route returned to the city, Wally and Shawn stopped to let the rest of the cyclists climb the mountain. Wally took off his cycling jersey, donned city clothes, and breathed oxygen from a cylinder that Peter had brought.
Then he positioned himself near the finish line to greet the competitors. The 38-year-old professional winner from Durango, Nick Gould, spotted Wally when he arrived and engaged in conversation. "Did you run too?" Wally told Nick how his pedaling had been, and it was late in life. Before going, Nick asked to take a picture with Wally.
After the test, Nick invited Wally to give a lecture at a psychology course he did for his master's degree. He accepted. "And I was applauded standing up." After the lecture, the dying cyclist and the young professional went to lunch. Wally knew Nick was managing the team. Nick listened to Wally's plans for Hospice Racing and how he believed that if he could run, so could others.
"I'm not totally terminal," he said.
He had plans to compete again at the Cactus Classic in November, an off-road event he called home tracks in Arizona near Phoenix. Nick, who has a degree in exercise science, offered help with Wally's training. He went to Mancos to give him strength and balance exercises. "He was all full of life," he recalls. Likewise, Peter recalls that he and Joan used to make fun of Wally, saying, "You really do not look like someone dying of congestive heart failure!" Wally was very angry because only he knew how much pain he felt.
IN THE WEEK OF CACTUS CLASSIC, YOUR HEALTH HAS BEEN VERY HEAVY. A NURSE FOUND IT UNCONSCIOUS. SHE CAME INTO CONTACT WITH CRYSTAL, THAT CALLED TO WALLY'S FRIENDS AND SUGGESTED TO VISIT HER. HOW TO RIDE A BIKE AROUND THE CITY: HOW TO RIDE THE STREETS?
He did not want to die alone. "Sometimes he would call me in the middle of the night," says Joan. "Say, I'm dying, can you come here and hold my hand?"
Gail went to visit and listened to music together. Suzanne sent Zuma blueberry muffins. Shawn came from Salida and told stories of the fuckers there. Nick also appeared, en route to the Cactus Classic. "Go and get that shit," Wally said. Nick obeyed.
As friends gathered around him, he regained consciousness and slowly improved. "It's scary," he said. "One hour I think I'm dying, I'll be right back."
A week later, he decided he wanted to pedal again. Then, on November 16, Nick returned to Wally's house in Mancos for a training session.
Peter and Joan were there, preparing food for Wally, who took a triple dose of morphine to get on the bike. Nick helped him wear his shorts, compression stockings, and slippers. They did a slight stretch to release the hip, so Wally could get on the bike, which was on the roll. The heat was boiled down to ten minutes. He focused on the posture and alignment, pulling and pushing. Nick suggested some intervals, between one and three minutes. He told Wally that the effort should be 60% or 70% of its capacity, and as he put more pressure on the pedals, he spoke to close his eyes and visualize the road.
Wally found herself on an Italian road bike, among the red mountains of the Phoenix desert, with the sun rising.
He was in a platoon, in a race that goes to the top of the South Mountain by a winding road of asphalt; sweat trickled down his muscular legs, while his weakened heart worked hard. Suddenly Wally finds herself in a nighttime test of discretion, in the twilight. When the pace slows, he escapes ahead of the other athletes. Visualize your team of dying and gray dust from the tracks of Cave Creek stuck in the shins.
Peter watched Wally pedaling and wondered aloud whether the effort would kill him. "I'm trying hard!" He replied. "If I died there on the bike," he said, "it would be perfect."
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But it was not this time.
TWO DAYS AFTER the training session with Nick, Lisa "Montana", as Wally likes to call her, came to Mancos. He had sent her an email explaining her situation. She also confessed that Lisa was "the only true love" in her life. Her eyes filled with water.
"I just want to hug you one last time."
They spent four quiet days together at his house. On the fourth day, at three in the morning, Wally lost consciousness. His skin went gray and his belly slack. His breathing subsided, and it seemed he was gargling with every breath.
Peter was also sitting next to Wally, holding his hand. Beyond him were still Joan, Gail, and Nick. Wally had signed up for the Dream Foundation, an NGO that has made last wishes. He wanted to pay for training sessions for Nick, to work with a focus on one more cycling event. The foundation agreed to make a check to fulfill his wish and had also sent a letter to Nick. Gail told Nick that at the time of death, hearing is one of the last senses the person loses, so he sat next to Wally and read the letter.
Wally knew he would probably never take part in a race again. A week before, he had expressed what fate told him: "Yeah, you bastard, you only have one more proof. We will not let you run two. " But knowing that did not stop him from trying. "Whether I live or not, it will be a good story."
WALLY IS IN THE BED, OVER BLUE COWBOY SLEEVES BABY AND RED RUST, DECORATED WITH KNIGHTS. A friend had bought and Wally had said that he wanted to die in those paintings.
"It will be soon," Gail announced, leaning close to Wally's chest. At 11:58 on the morning of November 22, it seemed as though he had stopped breathing. Gail comes even closer, almost touching her ear to his mouth. At that moment, he takes the last breath. Gail jumps up and smiles.
"Wally, you son of a bitch!"
But this time he was gone.
…….. Thanks everyone
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Published on Mar 7, 2018
Published on Mar 7, 2018
Even though she had taken a handful of nitroglycerin capsules and morphine doses to hide what she described as her "occasional pains 9, on t...