Heading into this weekend I expected two of the biggest days on the bike yet and possibly some new perspectives. After some emails and a few route changes we planned on riding a big 90ish mile Palomar loop on Saturday with some really strong riders and some trails on Sunday we had El Grande on tap. A ride starting in Big Bear and riding down to Redlands with Team Sole and crew. I got new perspective but it was not from the bike
Saturday morning, I got up before my alarm clock at 3am and just decided to stay up, stretch and get ready for a big day. I got down to our start early (for once) and was getting ready when I got some news that put me on the ground. My only grandfather had suffered a massive heart attack driving back from Reno the night before and was able to drive into a hospital outside of Ridgecrest. The hospital only had my cell number and had been trying to reach our family. My Grandfather passed away at 3am Saturday morning. I didn't know what to think, say, feel... I guess I have been lucky that I have not known anyone close to me pass away before but it does not make this any easier.
When I got the news I thought that it was probably the best thing to just ride...turn the cranks around...zone out and let this unreal news fade to reality. I decided to go on the ride and I think initially it did help me absorb it. It helped me clear my mind and let it settle in a bit.
I have climbed Palomar two other times but each time I made a stop of about 3-5minutes during the climb. My ride time was about 1:15 each time. After we were riding for about 20ish miles we reached the start of "the climb" and I thought we were going to stop at the Taco shop because someone behind us dropped a bag and dropped off of the back. I pulled in and the group kept going. I took the opportunity to go number one and use the lead pack as motivation to chase down once I started.
I moved up to see the lead guys about a half a mile ahead of me and slowly started to real them in... I caught a few guys off of the back and then at about the half way point the pack blew apart and I didn't see anyone for a while. It also made me start too fast and I posted a ugly positive split and just dragged it in at the end after riding solo for the entire climb. Whatever, I made my first uninterrupted climb in 1:11. Baseline set.
1st 35min / norm 290 / avg 287 / 10.9mph
2nd 35min / norm 268 / avg 265 / 9.1mph
Then, reality just worked its way back into my head once we stopped at the top and it put perspective in place. I realized that I just needed to be with my family and I wanted to get back to my truck as soon as possible. James, Luke and some of the fastest guys I have ever ridden with continued on with a monster ride and Sean, Lauren and I headed back.
I realized pretty quickly that I didnt have the focus to keep up with the almost 40mph descents on the way back. I dont even know what I was thinking about but I just could not focus and really didnt want to ride. I had to make the calls to my brother and parents and the conversations were just ringing in my mind. I decided to sit it out and Sean was going to pick me up when he got back to the car.
My Grandfather was an amazing man . He instilled a love in me for the outdoors, adventure and people. I remember camping growing up when we would crawl out of our tents and he would have the camp fire roaring and coffee brewing in the mornings. My brother an I would listen to stories deep with wisdom and humor. He made a few trips to Canada and back on his dirt bike and was still riding trails with us in his 70's. He lived an amazing life in some exciting times. Raised in Berlin during World War II he came to America with my Grandmother to live a better life for his family. Mission accomplished. I am grateful to have spent so much time with him and keep his stories of life. Its all good.