"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Take a deep breath...

It's been a rough last few days. It feels like it's been weeks since I first heard the news of Beth's death. I've been having a bit of a hard time sleeping. As I lay awake those nights since, I found myself wondering, hoping, she didn't see it coming. That as she lay there, in no-man's-land between her body and soul, if she even realized what had happened to her. If she was aware of what her teammates were doing for her.

Monday night we listened as they described Beth's last hours in her body, and the pain they felt was too much for me to bear. I was selfishly grateful for my scheduled rehearsal and I left as the evening shifted gears to remember Beth as she lived, not as she died. I wish I had stayed, however, as those stories behind the photographs in the picture gallery on the team website may have helped lay the dust of the dry desert in my mind. Desiccated after hearing such a harrowing tale, the anguish of watching, first hand, a friend die right in your arms.

I have stared up at my dark ceiling also dwelling on my own racing, my own riding, and if it's worth the calculated risk we all take. I can't speak for everybody, but it is worth it, of course, until it takes my life - or the ability to live my life. I can only hope, however, that the disaster that struck the cycling community last Saturday can help spread light on cyclists' safety. Maybe it will help those who allow our racing events to be staged realize that a one day road closure isn't going to kill the economy of a farm community. That the inconvenience of rerouting traffic is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of people doing something they love and celebrating it to a level that can only be described and beauty and poetry.

To many we may only be a bunch of weirdo out-of-towners with shaved legs and tights invading their quiet town to ride expensive toys. But we all know that bicycling is so much more than that. And as we move forward with this sport - short-term and long - we need to make others see this.

Bicycling is independence. And Freedom. From everything to boredom to poverty, depression to debt, apathy to spiritual emptiness. The freedom to go and do whatever we want, and the only boundaries are our body's limitations. And racing, by riding as fast and as hard as we possibly can, constantly pushes those limitations farther and farther, widening those boundaries and horizons with them. The more we ride, the more we can do, the faster can do it, the farther we can go.

Beth Kobeszka went far too early. A woman as beautiful on the inside and out as she was had far too much to give. I Googled her name after hearing the news in order to find more information on the accident, and instead found pages and pages on her charity work and her years of athletic competition. I read that she was an Academic All-American. I only knew her a week, yet, her smile and kind words brightened up a dreary, rainy day. I need only to look at her friends and teammates to see the influence she had on them.

Whether you decide to keep riding or not, think of all the people Beth was destined to touch, to affect, to change for the better with her positive attitude and competitive spirit. However, don't keep riding because Beth would've wanted you to.

Ride because it will invigorate you, inspire you, to touch as many people, and affect as many lives as Beth Kobezska would have, and did.

No comments: