His mother was 17 when he was born, and his biological father left two years later. A step-father whipped him. Too small for football and too poor for the in-group in Plano, Texas, he discovered early that he could smother psychic pain with the real pain of long-distance swimming, running, cycling. That pain was self-inflicted yet comforting because he controlled it. Of them all, cycling was the best because "a bike is freedom to roam, without rules and without adults."