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.