The Happiness of Pursuit
A Father's Courage, a Son's Love, and Life's Steepest Climb
Publication Date: June 2011
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For two decades, Davis Phinney was one of America's most successful cyclists. He won two stages at the Tour de France and an Olympic medal. But after years of feeling off, he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's. The body that had been his ally was now something else: a prison.
"The Happiness of Pursuit" is the story of how Davis sought to overcome his Parkinson's by reaching back to what had made him so successful on the bike and adjusting his perspective on what counted as a win. The news of his diagnosis began a dark period for this vibrant athlete, but there was also light. His son Taylor's own bike-racing career was taking off. Determined to beat the Body Snatcher, Davis underwent a procedure called deep brain stimulation. Although not cured, his symptoms abated enough for him to see Taylor compete in the Beijing Olympics. Davis Phinney had won another stage. But the joy, he discovered, was in the pursuit.
With humor and grace, Phinney weaves the narrative of his battle with Parkinson's with tales from his cycling career and from his son's emerging career. "The Happiness of Pursuit" is a remarkable story of fathers and sons and bikes, of victories large and small.
Austin Murphy is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated. He lives in northern California with his wife and their two children.
"I am one of countless people inspired by the remarkable courage and optimism that have characterized Davis Phinney’s career in cycling and his approach to living with Parkinson’s disease. The Happiness of Pursuit introduces us to those who have inspired him — from passionate spectators on a mountain roadside in France to his son, a second-generation champion racer. This book will resonate with anyone who has ever dug deep for strength to reach the top of their own mountain, wherever and whatever it may be." — Michael J. Fox, actor, Parkinson's disease activist, and author of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future
"The test of a true champion is not when things are going well, but when they are not. How they meet and overcome the challenge, and never give up. Davis Phinney’s book lets us see and feel this. A true champion. A remarkable life. Thank you for this gift." — Patrick Dempsey, actor and cycling aficionado
"He won more bicycle races than any other American. Then Davis Phinney faced the onset of Parkinson’s disease, which again called on all of his courage as a winner to fight his newfound enemy. The Happiness of Pursuit is a true story of a famous family who has experienced every emotion. A great read." — Phil Liggett, "the Voice of Cycling"
"In this touching personal account, Davis provides inspiration to the millions of families worldwide—mine included—who join the Phinneys in never giving up hope that we’ll find a cure for this disease." — U.S. Senator Mark Udall
"Davis Phinney always brought great intensity to his racing, which propelled him to the pinnacle of the sport and which now drives him as he confronts his disease. The Happiness of Pursuit is a fabulous story of courage—a must-read." — Jim Ochowicz, general manager, BMC Racing Team
"The Happiness of Pursuit tells the incredible story of Davis Phinney, one of the most talented riders of his generation, with a career marked by many successes. When he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease he faced the challenge with the same determination, courage, and willpower he demonstrated as a world-class bicycle racer. For Phinney, every step in his son Taylor’s cycling journey has been a great joy, a victory, and perhaps a fulfillment of destiny." — Eddy Merckx, former professional cyclist and five-time Tour de France winner
"What happens when you take an amazing family of athletes and bring in one of America’s best writers to capture their stories of achievement, perseverance, and hope? You get an instant classic." — Bob Babbitt, cofounder and editor in chief, Competitor
"Davis Phinney and Taylor Phinney. Father and son. They have in common an incredible drive to succeed. The Happiness of Pursuit shows how a father and son can become an unbeatable combination, building a strong relationship by conquering challenges both on and off the bike." — Axel Merckx, former professional cyclist and current team director of Trek-Livestrong U-23
"The cycling talent scouts’ salivary glands went into hyperdrive when they saw Davis Phinney for the first time. But what they slowly came to understand was that the era of the pedestaled despot was over. The untouchable tyrants like Hinault, Saronni, Moser, and Roche would have to yield to more democratic leaders. Davis Phinney heralded a more open, clean, and passionate sport that we now see having worldwide appeal. It was my great fortune to have been a teammate of Davis, who is one of the cornerstones of my personal passion and enjoyment of our sport." — Bob Roll, cycling commentator
"Davis Phinney is one of my heroes. This book explains why." — Rick Reilly, author of Sports from Hell