My mom says that this is the hardest prayer to pray. It’s not about what you want it’s about what you need. Which when it comes to Leadville and life in general it can be a hard one.
Two weeks ago my mom sent me an email to say my grandfather was going to be in surgery, a pretty routine surgery to remove plague from his artery. He had it done a few times before. I didn’t think much of it and had a day off coming up so starting planning my first mountain bike ride. My mom called that night to tell me that surgery didn’t exactly go as planned, instead of one piece of plague there were two and instead of taking an hour it took three. When he got out of surgery he suffered a stroke. It still didn’t really hit me that it was bad, I’ve interned in hospitals and spent time in surgery wards and I have a lot of faith in the medical community. Especially because he was in a hospital when it happened so they could respond to it right away. Tuesday night I finished writing and painting my nails and had the next day off, I figured I would go ride up at Leadville because it might be the last week of nice weather. I got a call from my mom saying that they were making him comfortable, which is never what you want to hear. She said they were going to stop his dialysis, and that I should start praying that “thy will be done” because he’s had a long good life and it’s okay if it’s his time to go. I asked her if I should come home, and she said she would never tell me not to but it was up to me. The decision weighed heavily on me to go back, I finally decided that I didn’t want my last memory of him to be in the hospital, instead I would leave it with him sitting in his living room chair talking about Leadville with him. I decided to stick with my plan to go back to Leadville.
|Even with the back flexibility of Shawn Johnson this was still not comfortable|
I went to ride the same route that I did the day I crashed, I knew if I didn’t do it this season it would be harder to get back up there this spring, or on a bike for that matter. It’s interesting though how this crash compares to the car crash, I really don’t have any PTSD symptoms related to this one and I really think that it’s because I have no memory of it so I’m not having to relive it every time a similar scenario happens like sometimes it does with cars. I knew I needed to tell someone where I was going but didn’t want to add stress to my parents fretting about me being out there alone. I texted my roommate to tell him “I’m riding up at Columbine, if you haven’t heard from me by 3 something bad happened.” I rode without my Garmin and heart rate monitor and only a watch so I would know to check in by 3 but I don’t want to get obsessive about numbers so figured I could do without the other things. Because my stem was bent I swapped it out but the only one I could find was a 75mm instead of my 90mm. It created quiet the neck-breaker geometry but I figured I would lower my seat on the way down this time.
|This is what did me in…..yah|
|“X” marks the spot!|
I started riding and passed the campsite that I took shelter at on the day of the crash when it had started raining. Around the bend from that is actually where I crashed, it’s embarrassing how uneventful the place is where I crashed. I didn’t want to stop on the way up because it had only been about a mile so decided I would stop on the way down, this time by choice. I rode up to the top and stopped to walk around and lower my seat. I also ate a banana in case the crash was from diabetic shock (not that I’m diabetic but I’ve always been overly cautious of developing it, like one week in college I would wake up 2 or 3 times to pee at night and thought that I had it, I told Molly but she said to call her when I went into diabetic shock, I later realized I was just drinking an obnoxious amount of water, but still better to be safe). I started the way back down and was a little disappointed I didn’t really have any flash back moments like they do in the movies (if only my life was scripted too…sigh) I stopped at the area of the crash and got off to walk around like I did in my dream. It was weirdly familiar, I sat on the log I did in my dream. I would have thought it really did happen that day but for the fact that some of the people that were in my dream have already died and some of the other people live miles away. (Kidding about the dead people being there, there was only one, but I don’t think I’m crazy and I don’t think I had an afterlife experience- I think my subconscious took note of my surroundings and then relayed them into my dream.)
When I got done I checked in with my roommate he asked how it went, and I said good, pretty uneventful but it was good. He then asked, “Where is Columbine?” I said, “You know the place I crashed up at Leadville.” Yah it’s a good thing I survived- here I was trying to be responsible, next time I’ll just leave GPS coordinates.
The next morning my mom was on the way to the hospital when she called to tell me my grandpa had passed on. I hadn’t left for work yet so took some time to get somewhat composed (mainly wipe the makeup that had gone all over my face off) and then went off to work. My mom called me again when I was driving and told me there was a miscommunication and he wasn’t dead (I’m really not sure how that gets lost in translation) by then she was at the hospital and was able to put the phone up to his ear so I could tell him I loved him. He passed on about an hour later, however, it was about another hour after that before they told me. I think they wanted to make sure it was for real this time, that’s not exactly news you want to mess up….again…
I flew home 2 days later and stayed for about 5, which as horrible as it was it was nice to be with family and friends and spend some time up there. During the funeral I was sitting there thinking of all the things he had accomplished, he crammed a lot into 90 years, probably what it would take most to do in two or three lifetimes. The span of lives he touched is enormous and the legacy he leaves behind is what legends are made of. I sat there thinking I want to be like that, so I came to the conclusion that I should stop doing reckless things, so I at least have a shot at reaching 90, mainly just take up knitting, reading and the occasional crossword, nothing too crazy like Sudoku. It’s one thing to die and leave your family when you’re 90, but another to go when you’re 23 because you crash riding your bike. I was all ready to hang up my helmets, retire from racing (haha) find a nice boy, finish my masters, and lay stake on a house with a white picket fence and call it good. After the burial we were loitering around and close to the last to leave I started walking back to the car with my mom when she put her arm around me and said “he loved hearing about all your adventures, even the ones that drove me crazy.” Game on.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Leadville 2013 is on his birthday.