My Irish dad

Dad winning some race somewhere

I’ve been called by various people the joker of the cycling industry, described as “someone who loves the sport enough to laugh at it” and I often enjoy a joke at my own expense. I’ve also been known to get into fights, yell at people, drink more than what is socially acceptable and be too competitive. For good or bad all of these traits I get from my Irish dad. He was the original, “Shit my dad says” saying the most outrageous things to get a rise out of people. My British mom passed on more sensible genes and better ears than the ones dad has protruding from his head.

Last month, just before I was about to go live on my Versus Tour de France chat, my mom called. She immediately got to the point, “Your dad has terminal lung cancer and has months to live.” Needless to say I was a little shocked.

Dad had some health issues earlier this year but nothing that suggested cancer. He is a non-smoker and an ex-pro bike racer. Now he is sitting in a chair with cancer that has taken over his lung, kidney, and liver. It has also worked it’s way into his bones causing a lot of pain and he’s taking the most morphine that you can legally have. My younger brother and sister are in England now and I join them tomorrow to help out as much as I can. As the time nears for the trip the harder it is to realize that this will be the last time I will see him alive.

My mom said dad is drawing some strength from America’s seven time Tour de France champion saying, “Lance Armstrong beat this so I can too.” He is as comfortable as he can be watching past editions of the Tour de France on the DVD player. “He’ll enjoy watching them with you.”

Right now I have no great insight into what is going on – just trying to remember all the times we had together. He told great stories of bike racing, fights and other random stories. I’ve put together a photo album for him showing him Greenville, South Carolina. One regret I do have is that he’ll never see Greenville – I think he would have liked it.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be off the radar but I’ll continue to post when or if the mood strikes.


  1. Bill Hue says:

    All my best. My prayers to you, your Dad and your family. I’ll miss you but will also be here when you get back.Your Pal, Bill Hue

  2. Peter says:

    Hey Niel…good on you Mate. I was in your Sidi’s 6 years ago except my dear Dad passed away suddenly in the UK. This is one of the hardest climbs in our life…we never get over it we find a special place in our Hearts to keep them with us for ever.
    Keep us updated when you can…we will be thinking of you and your Family.

  3. Doreen says:

    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope your father’s pain can be controlled and that you get to spend some quality time with him.

  4. Anita Weld says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. It is a hard time, I’ve been there. There will be laughter and smiles, even through the tears. His children are his greatest legacy: each of you will carry him with you forever in your hearts and thoughts. Good Thoughts to all of you as you travel this difficult path.

  5. Steve Compton says:

    Sorry to hear about your Dad. I lost my grandmother to cancer a year ago and had to make that long trip knoing it would be the last time I saw her as well. It was hard but it was also great. Enjoy the time and the memories. Take care.

  6. Michael Levine says:

    Neil, so sorry to hear about your dad. I’m glad that you are able to go spend time with him. You will be in our thoughts.

  7. Jodi Hall says:

    Neil, reading and hearing about your dad over the years, I am shocked and so sad. Let him know that he has fans, too! All the best to you and your family.

  8. Big E says:

    Hey Neil,

    I’ve always enjoyed your work. Your humor and knowledge on cycling has always been a great source of laughs and insight to me. I’m just so sorry to hear about your father’s illness. My Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer a little less than a month ago too. And like all good Mom’s she is far more concerned with how we (myself, sister, and Dad) are doing than herself. About the only thing I can say about any of this crap is that it SUCKS. And your family and friend’s are what are going to get you through all this. Always remember that your parent’s put you in this world. Loved you through and through. That will never change. And make sure that your father and mother know how much you care and love them. Jsut be there. I think that’s about the biggest thing any of us can ever do. I don’t necessarily mean in person. But fully with in spirit and love. I don’t really know where I’m going with all this. But as I hope you already know. There are a lot of people out there on this dirt clod flying through space that care and I pulling for your Dad and you too. Hang in there Buddy,

    Big E

Comments are closed.