Friday, December 15, 2006

A Season Ends...or Ended Some Time Ago

I guess it has been awhile hasn't it?

The self-anointed Summer of Ober ended back in September with Mrs. Ober and I finishing our respective seasons on high notes. Before we went to Crested Butte, Mrs. Ober managed to win her division in a Triathlon and I had managed to pull my technical head out of my ass so as to be finishing in the top half of races.

Later in the season things started getting interesting. Both of us started performing quite handsomely on all things bicycle. We both chalk it up to the miles and miles of smiles put in on the road bikes. I had traversed the state of Indiana over the summer (1 day; 160 miles) and had put in many long rides - with Mrs. Ober and sans my sweetie.
But the last races of the season - for both of us - were appropriate swan songs.

The last race of my season was a grueling ride over a course that I had never seen. That weekend I drove down to Nickel's / Assface's house to hang with the wife and kid and catch up. He forced me to stay up until 1am the morning of the race and made me drink a number of beers (this was before Floyd Landis made is OK to drink on race day).

On race day, the start line was chaotic at best featuring a race that started 15 minutes late that would cover an undisclosed distance (nice, huh?). Well, the race turned out to be a 25-mile slugfest with nature, machine, and my fellow riders. I wrecked twice, bent my rise-bar, lost the effective use of my front derailleur, and generally felt the burning desire to toss my bike to the side and go back to Assface's house and drink more. I didn't though.

I never got passed during my flirtations with death, doom, and bike destruction; I thought that was a bit odd. Had I moved out front of everybody else? Was I last? Personally, I thought I was last. I reminded myself at that point that the fun was in the suffering and in the effort and that miracles do happen to those that bust their ass.

Shortly after that epiphany, I passed two riders. "Well," I told myself, "Now you're two places from last." I kept riding and shifting. My thumb was killing me and my chain was pleading, "No Mas!" Then another two riders? "How long is this damn race," I was wondering. My odometer was starting to show that I was getting to the normal cut-off for these races which is normally 21 miles - give or take. Then more riders including a rival of mine who beat me by 20 seconds only 2 weeks prior.

In the end, I finished 4th. It was my highest finish in the Sport division to date. The season had ended with my hard work paying off - somewhat. I went back to Nickel's crib and had another beer (he drinks a lot; and beats his dog). I didn't know at that time but that was the last race of the season; work would get in the way of my cycling career. I learned a lesson that I luckily didn't have to learn the hard way: Race every race like it's your last. I know that's a life-lesson. I just have to work harder at applying it. Perhaps we all do. Maybe that's the point of Sport.

Next Post: Individual Sports and Why You Suck Until You Participate in One.

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