It seems like far too often I'm writing a blog about a friend who has passed away. Robert Bender succumbed to cancer on Sunday, November 13. I didn't know Bender well, but the things I did know about him are things that he should have been proud of. Bender was a damn fine bike rider. He was talented in all aspects of mountain bike racing; cross country, downhill, and freeride. I seldom ever saw him on a road bike, but when I did, Bender was at the front of the ride. I started calling him Tugboat because if he ever fell off the pace due to an attack by another rider, you could bet that Tugboat would steadily ride himself back to the front. I never moto'd with Bender, but I heard he was talented with the throttle, and I don't doubt it for a moment.
Whenever I'd see Bender, whether it was on a ride, at the races, or just around town, he always seemed happy to see me, and I was happy to see him. We'd share laughs and occasionally a beer. Bender was humble, and that said a lot about his character because I think everyone who knew him, knew just how talented he actually was.
Bender never knew it, but when he'd show up to one of the group road rides, I was his domestique. I guess what I really know about Robert Bender is that I respected him a lot.
I'll miss you Tugboat.