David Millar is auctioning a one-off Brompton x CHPT3 bike for a very good cause – and is also running tomorrow’s New York Marathon to help raise funds for the charity involved.
The charity, LuMind, supports people living with Down Syndrome as well as raising awareness of the condition.
Millar’s support for the charity comes from his days riding with Slipstream-Garmin (and its various name changes over time) and emphasises that a top-level cycling team isn’t just about the riders – there is an army of people behind them.
Two of those behind-the-scenes workers at the team a few years back were Marya, their press officer, and Robby, a sports scientist whom, Millar says, “meet each other in the cycling team environment, fall in love, get married, and leave the cycling world. We lose contact.”
Clearly, they made a huge impression on him in the time they worked together, as you can read here.
So, where does the New York Marathon come into this? Over to Millar …
"Life has been a fast forward roller coaster of a ride these past few years. I look back, with rose tinted glasses, on the simple halcyon days of being a bike racer ...
“Recently I've become a runner, not a very good one, but hopefully good enough to run 26.2 miles this Sunday. I don't know what to expect and I'm genuinely a little bit worried about it (shit scared), but it's worth it because there's a bigger reason.
“October is Down Syndrome Awareness month, something I wasn’t aware of until this year, let me try and explain why. It's all because of Team Slipstream – Garmin, the team I helped build, and loved so much, yet sadly left acrimoniously."
Millar, you may remember, was a part owner of the team, but was left out of its line-up for the 2014 Tour de France, a decision he only learnt at the last moment.
“All my greatest friendships and memories come from that team and two people in particular took it upon themselves to give me a farewell present.
“It arrived from New York a few weeks after I retired from racing, a framed graphical representation of my years with the team, it’s the only picture you’ll find of me on a bike at home, albeit tucked away.
“Marya and Robby had it designed and made for me, it was their way of remembering our time together and celebrating what we’d achieved.”
A year ago today, 2 November 2018, Millar saw on Twitter “a picture of Robby carrying a baby at the New York Marathon. I look deeper into it and discover it’s their son, Wyatt, that he’s carrying across the finish line.
“I was aware of the fact that six months before their baby boy, Wyatt, had been born with Down Syndrome, yet I hadn’t known what to say or do.
“Nicole [Millar’s wife] and I have three young healthy children, and maybe that’s why I was so incapable of knowing. In truth I don’t really know why it was, but seeing that image woke me up.”
Millar’s target time tomorrow is 3 hours 21 minutes – a significant goal, as he explains: “Robby had run the NYC Marathon to beat three hours and twenty one minutes, I didn’t even know that Down Syndrome was caused by three copies of the twenty first chromosome.
“He didn’t manage it in 2018 because, well, life was intense. I messaged him that evening and said I’d do it with him in 2019, because if Marya and Robby are going to dedicate their life to Wyatt then I can at least dedicate 26.2 miles of my life to breaking 3:21 for them.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.