I don’t remember too many people from the UNH Cycling team. Not that I really would; it was over ten years ago now (ouch) that I was a part of that team. It seems like a really long time ago, and I had only finished one year of school. I was very nervous on the inside and just trying not to make an ass out of myself, let alone be comfortable enough to socialize with all of these “older” people, who for the most part were very experienced riders.
And why wouldn’t I be nervous – who the hell was I? I had just bought a legitimate mountain bike only months before joining the team, not to mention the absolute worst possible ride for cross country racing, and I had never competed in competitive cycling event ever. These guys and girls…not the case to say the least.
And only racing for half of the year in 1996, I was in contact with the group for only a span of four months or so. In all honesty it was a blur. But every now and then I visit the UNH Cycling website just to see what’s going on. I have no particular motive in mind except to just check it out. Just to look.
Today I loaded up the page and I felt like the bottom just dropped out of my stomach.
See, I don’t really remember anyone from that team. A few faces maybe, but definitely no names. Except for Dave Bemis. Dave Bemis was this guy – a guy who you see now and then but by no means very often. Not someone who takes the whole thing overly seriously, or seriously at all. But he’s a monster rider. It’s the strangest kind of combination. He’s super, super strong, but off the bike there’s no connection to that. Very capable of having a good time. Everyone else thinks he’s a clown, and calls him out as slacker. But no one really believes that. They know. Part of me really wanted to be like that. Not someone who does well at the expense of being completely unapproachable, but being really good and having a good time at the same time. Part of me, as I guess it turns out, really wanted to be where Dave Bemis was that last time I remember him, sitting in the Whittemore Center during a team meeting, taking the brunt of light-hearted ridicule. Just to be that guy who everyone looked up to, regarded – but could clown around with. Every now and then – and while this makes little sense at all – I see a toilet made by the Bemis Manufacturing Company and I laugh a little bit and I think of Dave Bemis. There’s absolutely no connection there other than in name, but I still laugh a little bit anyway.
So I pull up the UNH Cycling website and go about my business, and I scan the page briefly, coming across the coach’s most recent posting.
Dave Bemis was killed on May 16 in a motorcycle accident.
I don’t really have a word or word(s) to really communicate how I feel about that. It just sucks. There’s a better word, but I just don’t have it. I feel a little emptier today, and I know that will go away, but it just…it just sucks. I don’t know what the lesson is yet. But when I figure it out, I’ll tell you.