A wad of short blonde hair going in 27 different directions nearly buried under a pillow was all that could be seen of my youngest son, Jake, this past Sunday at 6:30AM when I went to wake him up. 13 year old boys are not fond of this time in the morning and he fully looked the part of a coma rattled teenager when I rousted him out of dreamland. We were headed out to Laguna Mountains for a different kind of bike ride.
A few week ago a good friend of mine Cliff Walker made an unscheduled dismount from the ride of life. I can’t use the word “close” and “dear” without feeling some sense of guilt. Cliff had lots of friends who were much more involved with his day-to-day life than I. Cliff was one of my “MTB Buds”. One of those friends that you primarily assoicate with while mountain biking. We have done a couple of road trips and races together as well as many rides and some epics together. A solid good person that is just a joy to be around.
Jake and I were headed to the Laguna Mountains to join some of Cliffs other friends for a memorial ride. Twenty-nine riders gathered up to take a spin around Big Laguna Meadow and honor Cliff’s Life.
The ride was timed to end at about the same time that some of his family and non-biking friends could gather up as well to celebrate Cliffs life. The gathering swelled to over 70 people who sit under the shade of the meadow’s pine trees to share and tell stories about how Cliff had touched each of thier lifes in some way. Cliff had a very diverse group of friends and the stories about Cliff I had never before really showed just how impressive a life he lived and how he had touched so many people’s life in a positve way.
There were more than a couple of stories that included Cliff’s perpencity to be the first person up the hill. More than a few of us recalled getting up to the top of the hill to find Cliff walking around in circles looking under the various bushes and behind the trees. Once we questioned Cliff he would look at you with this devilish smirk and reply “I dropped a hammer somewhere have you seen it?” It was always good for a laugh and the celebration of his life gathering was no different. A special thanks goes out to Chip Brent for making the celebration event happen.
Afterwards, Jake was down for just a father/son ride. The memorial ride was just along the meadow and he had not down some of the other trails in the area before. We decided to add Wooded Hills and Los Gatos Ravine into the mix. A pretty significant event happened on the Wooded Hills climb. Jake was riding strong and then he decided to see how quick he could go. I saw him lift the pace and I was having a tough time matching it. It was not long before he kicked up the pace even more.
I saw the half-sly turn his head to see how far back I was. That was his moment. The moment when a Son knows he is beating his Dad something. Not just something, but his Dad’s thing. He knew he had me and he was not letting up. I knew he had me too, I was not going to catch him, the best I could do give a good showing for second place. I was weird mix of pride in my Son and a relevation that I’m slacking. Sure I could make excuses and rationalize things like the fact I weigh about 90lbs more than he does and I did a respectable climb after a couple of beers at the celebration but no matter how you slice it my son kicked my ass up that hill. I got to the top about 45 seconds behind Jake and he was already off the bike with his helmet off and was hoofing and puffing. After a bunch of praise from me, he looked a me with a very smirky look on his face and calmly said, “Yeah, I dropped a hammer. Did you see it?”