Let me win,
But if I cannot win,
Let me be brave in the attempt.
“Let me be brave in the attempt.” What does that really mean? Well, Oxford athlete Matt Beland gave us a demonstration at the 2016 SOCT Summer Games.
Matt was registered for the 15K race on Sunday. 15 Kilometers. That’s 9 ⅓ miles. Matt had been training for the prior 10 weeks under the direction of his coaches, with help from his dad and support from his mom and brothers. He was ready. The race consisted of 24 (!) laps on the course laid out in the parking lot at Southern Connecticut State University. Matt entered the last lap hot on the tail of the athlete in the lead, with the rest of the field more than a lap behind.
Matt was drafting, a standard racing technique where you gain an aerodynamic advantage by riding close behind a competitor. His legs must have felt like rubber as he entered the turn, the Finish Line now within sight. Directly ahead was his cheering section, which included his teammates, coaches, parents and teacher. Matt made his move to pass when suddenly their tires touched and both athletes were thrown from their bicycles.
The crowd gasped in shock as Matt rolled and bounced in front of them. Emergency Room nurse (and Oxford Local Coordinator) Mo Blees ran to his aid. As Mo examined Matt, Coaches Ken and Allen quickly evaluated his bicycle – getting the chain back on the gears, unlocking the brakes, straightening the handlebars and most importantly, straightening out his twisted rim. Matt was scraped and bruised, but fortunately not badly injured.
At this point most people would have called it a day. Matt, amazingly, wanted to continue. Both his coach and the official told Matt he could walk his bicycle across the Finish Line. The look on Matt’s face said that wouldn’t cut it – he was there to ride! His coach warned him that the bike would be very wobbly, so take it easy. Matt didn’t. He hoisted his battered body back onto his battered bicycle and completed the course, finishing in Second Place. But we don’t care about that; we are impressed that he even got back on that bicycle.
Matt faced a challenge. He prepared for that challenge. He ran into a major obstacle. He rose above that obstacle. Matt was truly BRAVE IN THE ATTEMPT.
And now he has quite a story to tell.
Thank you to Sean Morley, Allen Aldrich, Ken Maciecki and Mo Blees for contributing to this.