Theres been a lot of action lately. Racing, riding, training, vacations and life fully into the swing of things. So much so I’ve been unable to post much lately. But this struck deep and slowed everything down
Here is something I was asked to write to be read at AJ’s service. His friends all gathered in a wide open space under the Tetons and celebrated a life lived beautifully.
AJ was a competitor. The kind of guy who could turn himself inside out, move mountains, and push himself and others to the limit like only the most talented driven athletes know how. I know because I was his competition. During last years National Ultra Endurance Series AJ and I battled hard. He would win a race out west, and I a race back east. Knocking the ball back and forth throwing down the gauntlet at each other no doubt envisioning the eventual showdown with more than a hint of sepia toned John Wayne drama.
In order to try and bring the race out west I boarded a plane and came out to race AJ on his home turf, up the way at Grand Targhee for the Pierre’s Hole 100. Most riders would have been been combative, assured, and even perhaps a touch cocky. AJ emailed me to chat about the area and see if we had any questions. He gave my wife and I recommendations on where to eat, beta on the course, and genuinely seemed to want us to enjoy our time in the mountains he knew and loved.
And that was AJ’s legacy to the folks who knew him from his life on two wheels. He was an athlete of absolute power and capability on the bike and perfect kindness and positivity on the race course. Many competitive athletes are driven by an abrasive urge to be the best; often taking on an air of arrogance that turns others off in close contact. AJ was the opposite. His overwhelmingly agreeable attitude and kind spirit become more and more evident the closer you got to him. His passion for his family, his home, and the natural world made AJ impossible not to like and his smile became an infectious carrier for good times.AJ’s love for the Tetons and for the high places of his home was evident in any conversation. His love for the mountains was only paralleled by his love of pushing himself and motivating others to get out and enjoy them. He had an incredibly profound effect on each and every person he met. I cant speak for everyone, but my life was richer for having AJ in it. And I feel confident Im not alone. AJ and I didnt know each other for long but you learn a lot about the character of a person in hundred mile mountain bike races.
AJ lived the kind of life most people only read about in National Geographic. He pushed boundaries, fought gravity, and challenged himself and those around him to do the same. He left the world a better, brighter, cleaner and more positive place than he found it; and for that I am forever thankful for him.