Remembering Lars Nyberg some more

Kendall and I moved to Sooke to be close to family and to begin our own. Like so many people who come to Sooke, we soon found ourselves amongst others who we would come to know as family.

 
The bike shop that became the means by which we’d support ourselves came with some inventory, some goodwill and a group of boys that grew up together and shared a love for bike riding. These guys formed the backbone of our mountain biking family, and although they are, as individuals, unique to themselves, they share something more than just a simple fascination with bicycles. They share a toughness and a resiliency that keeps them getting up, time after time, no matter how gnarly the bail. We expected Lars to get up, and I think that we all are still in a state of shock that he didn’t, because we know that he was the toughest among us.

 
You know these boys, who are all men now. Most of them are here, a few are not. And of those few, most would be here today, if they were able. No matter what the circumstance, Lars was always on side, and never one to make an enemy. Because of that, and for other reasons, Lars always had the respect of those who knew him. He never had to prove himself, because the self respect and confidence he felt was proof enough.

 
I think one of the aspects of Lars’ worldview that everyone could feel through him was his sense of responsibility and stewardship. These filter,s he applied to his view of everything he involved himself with, and because of them, his personal integrity always revealed itself through his actions, which were never forced. He was a genuinely good person, by any measure. He would always lend a hand, keep his word, and never let you down.

 
Lars’ dad, Rod, and I worked together on some trail gigs, and I feel as though I know Lars as much through getting to know Rod, as anything. He was such a good man, infectiously optimistic, and I know that he would be so proud of his son and all the good decisions that he made. The life he lead. Losing Rod was a heavy blow, and losing Lars is a knockout punch.
The hills and valleys of Sooke are littered with reminders of Lars’ stewardship, as the trails that he built and maintained have lasted the test of time. The same can be said of the deep friendships and connections that he has with all of us.

 
As a rider, Lars was careful and calculating, but also blindingly fast and comfortably skilled. I can count on one hand the number of times I witnessed a Lars crash, but I’d need both hands, both feet and probably another couple people’s hands and feet to count the number of destroyed bikes and parts he dragged through my door. We all have a familiar saying; that his bikes were Larsified. He used his equipment to the max.

 
Lars used his life to the max, as well. He never wavered from pursuing that which provided him with fulfillment. He was calculating and careful with all his choices, yet he never limited himself in his pursuit of the simple joys of life; positive relationships with people, and a positive impact on the parts of the world that he cherished. His relationship with Sydney and the decision to share his life with her exemplified his approach to life. It was an approach which would have lead to wonderful things, and although it was cut short, I think we can all look to where things were headed and feel good about what the future could have been, even though the hollowness we feel now results from a future that seems like it was stolen.

 
Shortly after Lars’ death, a spontaneous mountain bike ride occurred in his memory. The response and involvement was both inspiring and heatbreaking, at the same time. Somewhere around 20 riders met at Harbourview for a ride in Lars’ honour, and many more sent word that they’d have been there if they could. We toasted Lars at the top of the mountain. It seemed unreal that he was gone, but the pain was so real. The pain convinced of the reality that we all got together to try and come to terms with. I still have not fully come to terms with this truth, and know that it will be a long time before the shock and pain of all this subsides. But I know of the reality that the pain of a friend lost never ever fully leaves.

 
Matty and I will be heading up to Parksville tomorrow for the Hammerfest Enduro, which is something that a group of Sooke boys and a crusty old bike shop guy used to do years ago together. Lars would always be there, and he’d almost always win. He never cared about that, though. He wasn’t prideful in that way. He was there because he loved it, he loved being with his friends, he loved shredding a trail.

 
I’ll never forget the roadtrip that Lars and I went on to Port Allice for a season closing Island Cup downhill race, (which I think he might have won). That trip gave me the opportunity to get to know a deeply thoughtful, caring and engaged person who I’ve come to realize became one of my best friends.

 
Lars will be with Matty and me tomorrow. He will be with everyone we’ll meet up there who will ask about him. He will be with all of you. He will be with everyone who knew him. Lars may no longer be a man of flesh and blood, but he is akin to a trail now. A trail into legend. If we follow him well, he will lead us to our better selves.

You, me and MTB makes 3

There’s an expression that’s always struck me as deep- “it takes a community to raise a child”.

Mountain biking, in the grand scheme of all things sporting related is adolescent in age.  It was ‘born’ in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and seems to me like it’s on a steep upward trajectory toward maturity.  I mean ‘adolescent’ in this case as reflecting a stage in maturity, not a specific age.  When kids reach 12 or 13, there is a marked and sudden acceleration toward adulthood that those of us who are parents are familiar with, (some are terrified by it).

Over our past 13 years in this community, there’ve been many examples of our fledgling MTB community reaching out toward maturity, but not quite getting there.  The will to thrive has always been there, and sometimes reaching out toward something new has been too far a reach.  Like the child who can now walk, and whose reach can now extend to the stove top, our community has come away from time to time with scorched fingers.

Well, I think that Sooke’s mountain biking community is due for a bar mitzvah, (pun intended). Everywhere I look, I see indications of a seemingly sudden explosion in interest in our knobby tyred passtime.  The miraculous rebirth of Sooke’s bike skills park, (under the midwifery of SEAPARC’s manager, Steve Knoeke) the long anticipated official opening of Harbourview Park, (the first park in the CRD to accept and encourage mountain biking) and the rapid firing of local synapses through the Sooke Bike Club all point in a direction that I know all to well.  A point that has seemed, over the years, just beyond reach.  A point that I’ve seen other communities surpass, making Sooke look to be quite the late bloomer.

Sooke itself is changing rapidly.  Like an old alder tree, the town has gotten to a point where decay has set in and old age has toppled its main trunk.  But alder, as its known, doesn’t die so easily.  New shoots are sprouting, and they are full of new life.  Mountain biking is an important branch in the regrowth of Sooke.

Lastly, they say that when a person loses one of their senses, their other senses become stronger and work better together.  Lars was such a significant part of our community that he definitely was as important to it as a sense is to a being.  Now that he’s gone, we’ve become stronger and we’re working better together than ever.  We have him to thank for so much- not just for the trails he built, but for the life he built with us.

An adult’s strength is forged in childhood, and tempered over time, through hardship and success.  Sooke’s MTB riders have experienced our share of both and I think that our community is well on its way to maturity.  I see so many children now being raised by mountain biker parents, and these kids will hopefully take for granted that which they will eventually inherit. These children will develop a passion to become stewards of our community, but in a way, their very involvement accomplishes that.  When your kid tells you to go riding with them, they are providing the raw materials for the kind of drive toward stewardship we, as a community, need.

Perhaps it’s also accurate to say that it takes a child to raise a community.

 

Remembering Lars Nyberg

Yesterday, April 28, Matt and Ryley swung by near the end of the day to hang out with me while I assembled Matty’s brand spanking new Knolly carbon Warden.  Matty found an old Lighthouse beer can up on the mountain, and figured it was Larsy’s.  He found a home for that can in the bike shop, which in a way is a better home than out in the bush, but I could see an argument for either option.

As the boys consumed some beers, and I worked away on the bike, Lars and his life was a quiet focus on all our minds.  While our conversation was light, all our hearts were heavy.  We all miss Lars so much, but you really can’t let yourself go too deep down the rabbit hole of sorrow when something cool is happening.   There is much and there are times to celebrate, even when grief cuts deep.

I recalled last night, how Lars and I would go about building him new bikes.  He’d pay as he could, and I’d accumulate the best parts I could that I knew might sustain his aggressive riding style, and his sheer strength.  To say that I get to know people through their bikes would be a true statement, and over the years of constantly helping Lars deal with broken bikes and parts I got to know him real well.

Lars was a guy of few words, and I am a guy of many words.  One of the things I appreciated the most about him was how he was careful and reserved his words, which is something I’ve never been much good at.  He was like the Chewbacca to my Han Solo.

When we set roots in Sooke 13 years ago, the shop came with a group of hooligan teenagers, mentored by Dougie- the guy I took over from.  Matty, Larsy, Ry, Bry, Rainer, Sean, Casey, Lee, Mike, Jonny- (geez, I thought it would be easy to remember all the names…) made the shop one of their haunts.  Over the years, some of the boys moved away, some fell out of the scene and 3 of them some stuck around and kept riding and building trails.  The 3 amigos are Lars, Matty and Ry, and I will tell you that these 3 men are 3 of my very best friends.  I will say that I consider them as much a part of what I know of family as almost anyone.

Matty will be riding Lars’ downhill bike from now on, and Ryley will be riding Lars’ Knolly from now on, and I can’t think of a more beautiful thing.  It makes me both happy and sad.  Matty left the downhill bike I built for Lars at the shop so that I could spend a little time with it, and by extension, Lars.  When I came in this morning to work, one look at that bike drew tears from my eyes and peeled back the scab that’s been growing over my grief.  

The best healer, in my experience, is the natural world.  Getting out there alone or with good friends has always been the thing that keeps me steady.  I can’t wait to get out there with Matty, on his sick new sled, and Ryley on Lars’ sick old sled.  That’s the place I wanna be, the people I wanna be with.  I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to be familiar enough with these woods to be able to see evidence of Lars’ love for that place among each leaf and every rock, and to know that I’m not the only one who sees it.

 

April 9, 2017

It was great to get back on the bike after 5 weeks off due to a sprained ankle.  My buddy, Jeff, was waiting at the Harbourview parking lot and I pulled in somewhere around ten.  I do like to ride from my home, since the thought of burning gas in order to ride a bike is somewhat annoying to me.  For me, to be clear.  I don’t judge others.

Anyway, we rolled on up the mountain, had some deep conversations and ranted about how ridiculous American politics are these days.  So ridiculous, in fact, that they permeate an otherwise great ride.  Go figure.

There was quite a number of hikers at the top of Quimper, and we met more on the way down the front side to Airflow- or whatever they’ve decided to change the name to.  While we were at the top, we hooked up with Bob, Tom and Kev.  It’s always fun to ride with good folks.

There isn’t much more to add; the weather was balmy and fantastic, and the trails were loamy and slick.  I crashed.  Twice.  Cuz, y’know that’s how I roll.  And I’m not very good at riding my bike.

 

 

Mountain Biking

  

MOUNTAIN BIKING FUELS MY PASSION FOR RUNNING A BIKE SHOP, AND IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT BROUGHT US TO SOOKE IN 2004 TO START OUR LITTLE MOM AND POP OP.

SOOKE HAS SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TERRAIN I’VE EVER RIDDEN A BIKE THROUGH, AND DEFINITELY THE NICEST OF VIEWSCAPES.  ITS GNARLY AND TOUGH WEST COAST TOPOGRAPHY, WITH NEARLY 365 DAYS A YEAR OF RIDING, MAKES SOOKE THE PLACE TO BE, AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED.

THERE IS A NICE LITTLE COMMUNITY OF RIDERS HERE, WHO RALLY AROUND THE SOOKE BIKE CLUB WHO IS CURRENTLY DOING A FANTASTIC JOB OF MAKING SEAPARC’S JUMP AND TERRAIN PARK BETTER, YEAR AFTER YEAR.

HARBOURVIEW PARK IS WHERE WE DO MOST OF OUR RIDING AROUND HERE.  THERE ARE OTHER PLACES AS WELL, BUT HARBOURVIEW IS BONAFIDE AND HAS A TRAIL SYSTEM THAT IS ON ITS WAY TO BECOMING WORLD CLASS.