Those mornings when you wake up to the sound of your joints popping instead of the blast of a buzzing alarm remind you that Mother Nature takes mercy on no one. Then you meet someone who takes no mercy on Mother Nature or Father Time. Jim Denevan is one of those people. I recently met Jim and did a story with him for Midco Sports Magazine. I blogged about that experience and what I learned from Jim.
Originally posted on MidcoSportsNet.com
MIDCO SPORTS MAGAZINE – RIDE OF A LIFETIME
I first met Jim Denevan in a tiny, cramped doctor’s exam room that smelled like latex and Lysol. That day he needed to get his arteries checked out with his cardiology team. Jim volunteered to let a television news crew follow him for some video and I accompanied as part of the hospital’s PR team. Funny, charismatic and a cross between your best friend and the coolest grandpa you knew would describe him. As he left, he made a mention of going on a trip and something about fixing his bike. In his early 70s at the time, it struck me that someone his age would be bicycling around the country. After he left, I asked his son how often he rode. He just smiled. Then I learned, he didn’t bicycle, he motocrossed.
Then I caught up with Jim again a few months ago, same grin and zest for life I remember from a few years back (along with plenty of wise cracks mixed with wisdom) and we followed up for Midco Sports Magazine. We met up several times to watch Jim ride, chat about his love of the sport and even more so, his love of life. During our first time at the track (he rides at Sioux Valley Cycle Club near Renner, SD), the fog lay so thick, we could barely make out a track in front of our feet. Mother Nature, not wanting to help us out that day, made it difficult to start the bike. Producers Nate Burdine and Dan Aspan tried to help Jim get it started. And as they pushed, pulled and prodded that bike, something hit me again. Jim, determined to ride, never gave up. I could see the frustration building, just like the fog, on Nate and Dan’s faces. And at about a third of Jim’s age, fatigue soon joined the frustration for them. But Jim, while he slowed down slightly on the outside (moving more like a 50-year-old than 75-year-old), on the inside, he stayed revved up and ready to figure out how to get that bike going. And he did. Once it started, he rode. He crashed a few times, but he always got back on the bike. And that day, and several others, as the snowbird flew, I saw an athlete for the ages.
Because Jim’s story reinforces that it’s not the medal around our necks, but the metal of our spirit that makes us true athletes. That age does not determine a champion, but determination. In this age of athletes glorified on t-shirts, pumped up on primetime TV and internationally recognized, true competitors compete with the man on the inside.