October 09, 2008

The Tour

There is an article in the most recent issue of Mountain Bike Magazine about a group of friends who make a yearly mountian bike-camping trip, called The Tour, to the mountains of southern Oregon. The trip is many things to this group of guys including a search for a Sasquatch like being they call the Wookie. It is also about epic, day long rides on trails that are largely unknown or not very often ridden by the masses. But it is really more than all that.
The author made the point to say that The Tour is "a search for the wild, elusive side of ourselves that is chased off by the demands of corporate cubicles and familial responsibilities." When I read that, it hit me. I made a connection. For the past 7 years, I have journeyed with a group of guys that has ranged from a low of 2 to a high of 7, to the Eagleman Half Ironman race in Cambridge, Maryland. Guys only. No wives. No families.

Yes, it requires one to be trained, in good race shape to participate. (You can go untrained but you will suffer. The Eagleman is not kind to those who treat it lightly). But it's a "fun" weekend when we share the nervousness before the race, the pain during it and the accomplishment after we all finish. Unlike, most races, where you hang out for awhile and then take off in separate ways, we make our time after the race, a celebration. There is a grill where we cook Jerk Chicken, there is beer, laughs, busting each other, music and all around good times. We have traditions like our annual trek to Hardee's in the evening to get our much anticipated milkshake. Denny's in the morning for a much deserved, high fat, high caloric breakfast. Every year as we finish this "challenging" triathlon, as we cross the finish line with disgust on our face, we all scream that this is the final year! But after the pain wears off, we pledge our desire to return as we have done time and time again. It's half about the race itself, which remains a constant challenge to better our times as we compete against the Wind, the current of the Choptank River and the stifling heat. But it's half about the guys getting together to rank on each other and laugh about anything. It's a time to break free from the shackles of corporate life, the worrying of rising living costs, of sending our children into the World for the first time, of taxes and every other stress laden worry in our lives. It's a time to be a kid again with no immediate obligations. Except to finish the race!

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