Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Word About Dads

 Rob in Illinois, June 16, 2010
(Photo from RAAM web site)

Rob will likely finish on Father's Day. Rob's dad, known to family, friends and business associates alike as "Bullhead" (the name says it all), passed away several years ago. In some ways, Rob could not be more different than his dad, and yet, what else beside "Bullhead" would you call someone who insists on racing a bicycle across the country in 10 days?

My dad died 45 minutes after Father's Day, six years ago. In many ways, my dad and Rob were nothing alike either, in that my father would have rather set himself on fire than ride a bicycle 20 feet or do any kind of substantive exercise (perhaps because he was always slim and trim.)

Yet my father was one of Rob's biggest fans. I remember when we went to see Rob at one of the annual charity hockey games between the Danbury PD and the fire department. We went down to the ice to say "hi" to Rob. At that point, he had played almost every minute, was bleeding in a couple of places and had a broken finger (I think.) Rob greeted my dad with a big smile and hearty handshake before going back onto the ice and knocking some firefighter into the boards.

My dad got a huge kick out of that. Of course he was always impressed with Rob's RAAM exploits. Like Bullhead, my dad never quite understood why Rob did RAAM, but I think both of them got how much it meant to him.

One classic Bullhead moment that some of you have heard many times: In 1988, Rob did an Ironman triathlon on Cape Cod (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). As Rob was leaving to drive to the race, his dad offers this classic piece of strategic wisdom:

"Robbie - find the guy who is supposed to win, stick with him, and then pass him just before the finish line."

Still the best race advice I have ever heard!

I'll be thinking about my dad and Bullhead as Rob gets closer to a Father's Day finish.


Rob Stowell said...

Nice piece of writing, Bill.

Sharon said...

I remember going to that triathlon with you to watch rob. was it really that long ago. seems like yesterday.