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.