Friday, February 22, 2008

I Remember.

I rode with an old friend today. There were none of the usual smartass comments or jokes that usually define all of our rides, though, I'm not entirely convinced that he did not find humor at my expense. Today I rode with my old buddy, Jaysun. Now, my current crew cringes a little when I say this. And I guess I understand. You see, Jaysun passed away in a freak accident about 5 1/2 years ago. They say a person is never really gone, as long as you keep their memory alive. Jaysun's widow, Kellie, was good enough to send me one of his old bikes. So, from time to time, I take it for a ride, and I remember.

Today it was raining and muddy. That must have been the catalyst, because I remembered staying at Jaysun's Mom's house in Brooksville, for a mountain bike race, back in 1997. Jay and I were both chasing points in the state series, so we traveled together quite a bit. It rained so hard that whole week, and was still raining when we prerode the course on Saturday. Within 100 yards of the start, I had to stop and disconnect the straddle cable on my brakes. There was so much mud caked in my wheels, they wouldn't roll with the brakes connected! I suffered through that day to get my points. My lap times were, 50 min., 77 min., and 80 min.. Do the math. That's a damn long time to play in the mud. Jaysun pulled off 3 laps under the 50 min. mark, for 4th in the sport class. I never really understood how that goofy, gangly kid went so fast. I think he did it just to aggravate Bikechain.

Jay was always turning me on to new music. He was the first to show me Blink 182, or The Presidents of the United States of America. I still remember him showing up at TB Park, and making me climb in the passenger seat of that old blue Volvo, so I could hear another song that had caught his ear. Looking back, it still gives me the chills to remember hearing Gone Away, by The Offspring, for the first time. So I suppose it was only fitting when, as I prepped the bike for the ride, and tried to remember if I had any Offspring on my ipod, Gone Away started playing on the radio station. A big smile crept onto my face, and I knew I was on the right track.

The ride was a comedy of errors, as the bike did its best to self destruct beneath me. First the seat collar QR broke off in my hand when I adjusted the seat height. Oh well. It seemed tight enough, so I rolled out. Halfway out the Cadillac Trail, I notice my handlebar has rolled back a little. No tools with me, so I keep going, not too worried about it. I should've worried. By the dike, the bar was rattling around in the stem. I limped back, either with no hands, or holding onto the stem. I rode the damn Cliff Bar holding the stem in my left hand, while my right hovered over the bar, just in case. I'm supposed to be a seasoned, veteran bike mechanic. You'd never know it if you saw me out there, riding around on my rattle trap! It's like his bike has his sense of humor. If you're one those who believes in an afterlife, where our loved ones look down upon us as we carry on, I can promise you, Jay laughed his ass off at me today!

So today I remembered. It made me laugh and it made me hurt. Loss is tough, but I'm doing my part on the memory front. So, for those of you who knew Jay, here's to our boy. Goofy and gawky, and forever remembered! For the rest of you, love your mother, hug your brother, call those who mean the most to you, and remember those you can call no longer.

Stop now if you are in no place for a sad story. As part of keeping the memory alive, I've included the last few pages of Jaysun's life story, as told by their local paper, the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

There would be no skid marks on the road to Paradise that day.
It was a shirt-sleeve kind of morning a year ago -- unseasonably warm for the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Jason and Kellie Cosner had spent the night before tucked into a woodsy cabin just beyond the "Gateway to Paradise" highway sign that heralds the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.

The Bellevue couple were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. Jason, lively and funny, had burned steaks on the grill, making Kellie laugh, and the pair had spent the rest of the evening piecing together a jigsaw puzzle of Florida, their home state.

Five miles down the road, Rainier begins its gradual ascent out of the ground, a mountain big enough to make its own weather. As the Cosners' green Ford Explorer headed toward the snow-draped peak, they had no way of knowing that National Weather Service spotters would later estimate winds gusting up to 70 mph near the Longmire Ranger Station.
Jason was eager to experience the mountain. An avid biker, he loved adventure. As a kid, he used to tease his mother by rappelling off a balcony over the living room. Kellie, too, wanted to see the emblem of the state where they'd made their first married home. They were both 26.

Like a riptide of wind, a mass of air churned through White Pass -- from a high-pressure field east of the mountain to low pressure on the other side. The swirling gusts weren't out of the ordinary for a fall windstorm.
But wind is a capricious master. Wind shear can drop a plane from the sky. And on that day, a wedge of wind knifed through the canopy of old Western hemlock that clings to the flanks of the mountain. It sledgehammered a massive tree, snapping it off 70 feet above the ground. The Explorer was coming out of a curve on Longmire Paradise Road, the pavement slick from scattered showers, when the severed top of the tree -- three stories tall, with a trunk thicker than a telephone pole -- hurtled earthward. It crushed the roof of the SUV like a wrecking ball. Jason, who was driving, died almost instantly. Kellie's course, like the wind, took a sudden change of direction.

At 1:15 p.m., Nov. 24, 2001, park rangers got the first report that two trees were blocking the road. Two nurses -- Jody Walker and her friend, Megan Bauer -- were driving a few cars behind Kellie and Jason when the trees came crashing down within a hundred yards of each other. It was eerie, witnesses recalled, that a gust would hit with such precision that it would knock down just two trees in such a densely wooded area. The road blocked, Walker and Bauer got out to investigate. At first they couldn't even see the mangled vehicle buried in the branches. The Explorer was smashed so severely the belly of its transmission had slashed gouges more than a foot long in the asphalt. Up closer, they realized people were trapped. "There was no way we could get it off them," Walker recalled. She grabbed for Kellie's hand. Bauer picked her way through the back of the SUV to hold her neck. Kellie was moaning. They couldn't feel Jason's pulse. The tree had fallen at a slight angle, 4 inches further back on the driver's side than on the passenger's. A tiny shift with a huge consequence. Like their timing on the road that day. "I just held her hand and kept telling her it would be OK, that people were coming, that we were there with her," Walker said. The labor and delivery nurse was used to helping life come into the world, not leave. Kellie was bleeding from the nose and mouth; Walker could hear gurgling in her lungs. "We knew she had internal injuries," she said. "We knew it was bad." In a strange twist, two off-duty EMTs and a former policeman happened to be passing by. And in one more lucky coincidence, the local fire department was training nearby. By the time they arrived with chainsaws, minutes later, the others were already doing what they could to rescue Kellie. One of the EMTs happened to be wearing a neck brace. She took it off and passed it to the nurse in the Explorer. Charles Bennett, the former cop, commandeered a chainsaw and worked the accident like a crime scene. "There were angels coming out of the woods that day," Kellie's father, Ed Hobin, would say later. "Without them, she wouldn't have made it." The 10 rescue workers and half-dozen good Samaritans worked frantically for more than 30 minutes, shouting over the high whine of metal on wood as they struggled to pry Kellie from the tangle of branches and twisted metal. None of them knew it, but this would be the first of many teams of people who would help Kellie piece her life back together over the next year.

At 1:56 p.m., they cleared the tree and, using the "Jaws of Life" -- a rescue device powerful enough to split a car apart -- they freed her. She was shock white. An ambulance was waiting to take her to a landing zone behind a grocery store just outside the park entrance, where she could be airlifted to Seattle. A few minutes later, paramedics pulled Jason from the car. The roof had collapsed over his chest. His unscratched face registered no surprise. His hands, still at the steering wheel, were relaxed. They were unable to revive him. No one knew either victim's name. Rangers wouldn't find Jason's wallet until the next day. It was wedged so deep into the console, they had to use a crowbar to pry it out. Kellie, barely conscious, held onto Bennett's coat while on the gurney. Her hand started to slip.
"Don't you leave me," he said. And she clung so hard they almost couldn't load her into the ambulance.


bikechain said...

I remember a bunch of things but the strangest part was when you called me early morning. You could barely tell me that Jaysun had passed and I thanked you for telling me. It must of not registered and been real until I told London about it a few minutes later. Once it said it out loud we both just cried for one of the longest times of my life. Life's about balance and I smile every time I think of Jaysun, his stupid shorts, the blue Volvo, the polished Cannondale, his ass going through the window at Revolutions and more. Nice post. K

Ron said...

You can't forget the shin guards and his nose dive on the bike bending that ridiculous Lawell Leader fork at the park on the Sunday ride. Every time I ride through a stop sign, I think of Jay skidding into the middle and waving us through like a traffic cop, I don't do a ride where he doesn't cross my mind. Kent summed it up perfect, nice post Chris.

Anonymous said...

Damn nice post. Even I remember Jaysun from back in the day.
It’s easy to get lost in all of the crap that this life sometimes has to offer. With this sometimes we lose touch with those around us that we have cared so much about.
This post has helped to remind me how fragile life can be, and how important those we care about are.
I’ll be seeing family today and am going to make a point to reach out to a friend I have not talked with in a while.
Thanks BIG WORM ……
Big Jim

Human Wrecking Ball said...

Nice one Worm. I never knew Jaysun but I remember you telling me about him and showing me the mud from his last ride, still on his bike.
Smile and remember.

Mark said...

Good post Chris. Its definitely tough to think about it. Like you said, you gotta just keep the memories. He was definitely a great guy and certainly entertaining to be around.

the old bag said...

beautiful telling

BIGWORM said...

Thanks, folks. I've been out of town for the weekend, and it sure was nice to come home and see all the positive feedback.

Anonymous said...

Although I rode with Jaysun our main interaction was at the shop. He always did what he said he would and was always willing to sacrifice. I trusted him more than most and turned to him more than once for advice. When the campus store sold to Big Tony, Jaysun was there for the finale inventory, again always willing to help, always with an insightful idea or solution. He created the 10 levels of sales. You reached the 9th level of sales if you sold a bike to someone looking for directions, if you sold a bike to someone coming in for a pack of cigarettes, you reached the 10th level. He remembered everything. If a part number was needed, I wouldn’t check the computer, I’d ask Jaysun and the 6 digit number with follow.

I can’t remember how he decided to apply to Raleigh USA but I do remember when they didn’t hire him. My writing skills aren’t as good as some but I wrote him a hell of a reference. It blew my mind when he told me he didn’t get the job. I knew how much Jaysun wanted it by depth of disappointment he expressed telling me he didn’t get it. I called the folks in Kent to ask why they pasted him up. It didn’t make since to them that someone would want to move across the country for what seemed to them a low level, poorly paying job. They didn’t know Jaysun, they didn’t know how much he would enjoy driving across the country for a low level poorly paying job, and they didn’t know who they were passing over. After a short conversation with the lady in personnel, they changed their mind and off Jaysun went.

I wish I’d known him during a less stressful time and as more of a riding partner than an employee, but I will take what I got.


Ms. Moon said...

Big Worm- it's always a good thing to ride with a friend who is no longer with us. This was a beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

Not sure of the significance running across this post almost a year later. I just had to tell my 1st college roommates what happened 7 years ago and it led me to do a quick google search with the old spelling of his name. I am so glad I did and found this. Chris this was such a beautiful post - I can barely dry my eyes enough to type. Reading the wonderful memories that y'all had. He loved you guys so much and no one really ever knew him the way you did. He was truly in his element when he was riding in Tally - I am not sure anything ever compared. I am so glad he is still out there riding with you. There is no place in the world he would rather be.
- kellie