This first post is not about photography but about helping others in need:
It was hot. Sweat was dripping from my brow as I rode up the steep, rutted slope. As I toiled past another cyclist he asked, Do you have a chain tool?" He was having problems with his bicycle chain. I said “No, sorry” and passed him. Then I remembered I did have one - it was part of a multitool I was carrying in the race. Should I offer him the use of that? We were on the last hard hill climb in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race and I was trying to finish the race under the 12 hour cutoff time. If I did, I would be awarded a silver belt buckle. I had missed the cutoff the previous year when I had mechanical problems.
Time was tight and I knew that I might not make the cutoff if I stopped to help the other racer. I weighed the options and realized I couldn’t disregard a call for assistance. I stopped and lent the rider my chain tool and waited while he used it to adjust his chain. It probably took two or three minutes and he thanked me when he was finished. I put the tool back in my bag, remounted and rode on. I pressed hard, knowing that time was short. On the outskirts of town, some race course marshals encouraged me saying I was very close to making the cutoff time. A few blocks away from the finish line I broke into a final sprint. I was pumping hard and fast for the line. The race director stood with his back to the action and got ready to shoot the shotgun ending the race. Ten feet before I crossed the finish line I heard "Boom!". The shotgun blast meant I had not made it in time and I growled in frustration - such a close finish!
I stopped by the food tent and got some much needed nourishment. Then, I headed to my lodging and soaked my tired body in the bath. The race results and awards would be given the next morning in the old Leadville school gym. I had some friends in the race so I was going to attend. The next morning was bright and sunny. I had breakfast and then found a seat in the gym to await the awards. The race director gave his thanks to the aid station workers and volunteers, and the awards started. The order of awards was typically last to first with each finisher walking up to receive a buckle and sweatshirt with their time written on the sweatshirt shoulder. The race director started by saying that there was a racer who crossed the finish line four tenths of a second after the shotgun blast ended the race. As the crowd groaned I realized he was talking about me. He said to the crowd that he would leave it up to the other racers to determine if this racer would receive a buckle and sweatshirt. A resounding cry went up - "Let 'em have it!". ! The race director said “OK” and called my name. As I made my way up through the crowd, they cheered and clapped enthusiastically. I couldn’t have received a greater ovation if I had won the race! Indeed a friend of mine who was seated near the race winner saw him cheering and clapping too! I waved in acknowledgment, glad for the support of the crowd. The Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race is a tough one and there is camaraderie among all who ride this grueling event. All the racers know what an effort it takes to finish - we all suffer together.
As I left the gym, I was thinking about my decision to help that fellow rider. It had cost me some time but I gained much more than that. I would never have received such enthusiastic applause and cheers from the crowd if I had not stopped to help, therefore just missing the cutoff time. I would have been just another racer at the back of the pack.