Monday, February 23, 2009
I met Dean last December on a training ride. I showed up for one of the Tri Club's Saturday "inland rides." It was overcast, cold, and drizzling. I was one of 4 people that showed and the only girl. The organizer didn't even show. We headed out, and Dean and I were immediately dropped by the other 2 hard-core guys. I had never met Dean before, and riding 60 miles with a complete stranger can be uncomfortable but it felt totally natural. We simply relished each other's company. He was just getting into shape, and I was getting back into shape so we were both content to enjoy the views and just ride (not to mention the roads were quite slippery). Dean flatted 3 times that day. I stayed with him to help change his tire each time. I figured if I did, he would feel obligated to ride with me so I wouldn't have to go it alone. He had only brought 2 tubes so I gave him one of my spares for the 3rd flat. He was extremely grateful (and a little embarrassed at his misfortune). Between the rain, the flats, and figuring out a new route, it was the longest 60-miler I have ever done. It was also one of the most fun rides I've ever been on. I will never forget it.
After that ride, Dean faithfully came on every Saturday ride I hosted. The next time, he showed up with a spare tube to replace the one I had given him. He also gave me a present; I had admired his tire lever, which attaches to the wheel hub for quick-tire removal--he gave me one on the next ride. Dean was rode with me for my first century ride...it was his first too. He was with me on the Train Ride, the Tough Love Ride, and the No Wussie Ride, and the No Joke Ride (Palomar), and every sadistic, masochistic, hilly ride I could think of. He was with me on the Death Swim, he participated in the Barely Legal Half Ironman I put together, he helped me prepare for my IMAZ in April, and I helped him prepare for his IMAZ in November.
He trained a lot with Brent too. When Brent put together a 20-mile run, Dean was the only one that showed. Dean caught up to Brent on the Ironman course during the last 10K of the run, and they ran into the chute together. By rights, Dean should have crossed the finish line first. But Dean refused. Always the gentleman, he insisted that Brent cross first. I gave them both a giant hug at the end. I was so proud of both of them. Dean looked so happy.
Whenever Dean pulled up in his truck at the beginning of his ride, I felt elated. Riding with Dean was always so much fun. Dean loved biking. He was always in good spirits. Plus, even though he could kick my ass on the bike, he would always adjust his pace to mine. He was very humble; he never boasted, even though he had many things to brag about. We would joke and laugh and tell stories. When you ride with another person for 100 miles, you find out a lot about them. You end up telling them your life story. You share your problems, your goals, your fears, your hopes, your dreams. You share Cliff Bars, Gus, and water. You even ask them to watch your bike so you can pee in the bushes. Whether you like it or not, a very intimate bond develops between you and your training partners on long rides and runs.
We found out that Dean died unexpectedly last week. We are both shocked and deeply saddened by this tragedy. I keep thinking there must of been some mistake. I keep expecting him to pull up on Saturday for a ride. This Saturday, I'm hosting a memorial ride in his honor (starts at Del Mar Starbucks 8 am). It will be the same route we did our first ride that rainy December a year ago. Check my bike page later this week for details.