25.10.09

Day 271. The Appreciative One.

My last entry talked a lot about the Leadville 100 and its great founder...but perhaps even more well known (and beloved) person within this event is Dave Wiens, the only 6 time winner of the event (and consecutive at that).

Dave is an acclaimed mountain biker who has built the life he has through the sport - he was able to make a living, meet his now wife, and support his family through his love of mountain biking. His accomplishments and acclaim are considerable in the mountain biking world, but that's not what gains him mention here.

In watching the Leadville 100 documentary, some of the first images you are greeted with are signs of "Dave, beat Lance! (sic)" and within the crowd of riders and supporters at the pre-Race meeting, more than a few wearing yellow shirts bearing the words "Go Dave!". When I first saw these things I thought perhaps this is the small town support of their hometown hero, or perhaps its just the tiniest bit of anti-Lance backlash. But I was thrilled to be wrong.

Why does the entire community of Leadville love Dave Wiens? Because through the "Across the Sky" documentary I found myself "meeting" one of the most genuinely nice, compassionate and thankful people perhaps in the world. Dave takes the time to talk at every pre and post Race event. He focuses on acknowledging the support of the many volunteers, the Leadville community, and other riders. It is hard to explain how his essence was so clearly communicated through the two hours of the movie, but the only story I can give is what honestly was one of the most touching moments in the whole film...the Race is an out and back course along a brutal route - the halfway point is the summit of a mountain another 14,000 ft above the 10,000 ft. above sea level at which you started. To say that the climb is brutal is an understatement. The film is telling the story of the battle for the lead of the race between Lance Armstrong and Dave Wiens. Competition is intense...the two men both want to win for so many reasons. Lance is ahead, Dave is trying to catch up, and as he spends the few brief seconds at the top of this brutal climb before he heads out to chase Lance he slows and yells out "Thanks you guys for all your help".

Seems small - but its huge.

Lance Armstrong has been quoted as saying that it was the Leadville 100 that motivated him to come back to bike racing because riding it last year taught him that there were so many more important things than winning. Dave Wiens personifies all those things. He is an athlete of the highest caliber and he still demands of himself to recognize and acknowledge all those with whom he shares his part of the world. Dave Wiens is a true champion...of life.

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