Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rob Verhaaren

I've been staring at an empty screen for awhile now, trying to put into words how I feel.

Yesterday afternoon, around 4:30 p.m., my husband I and received a mass text from a cousin:  "Pray for Rob.  He's been in a terrible accident.  May not survive."  Rob is a dear friend and fellow cyclist who was racing LOTOJA (stands for LOgon TO JAckson)-- a 206-mile cycling event that winds from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

We had several friends competing in the event.  All of them had to put in mass miles on their bikes, a tricky situation here in Phoenix where summer temperatures rise to more than 100 degrees often before nine in the morning.  Many LOTOJA cyclists would start their long Saturday training rides at 10p.m. and finish at dawn, just to avoid the brutal heat.

The texts quickly turned south:  "He did not survive."

It is believed that Rob had swerved to avoid a pot hole near Hoback Junction, just 18 miles outside of Jackson Hole.  The swerve caused Rob to hit and fall over the guard rail of a bridge that was +-100 feet above the Snake River, where the water depths are only six inches deep.

When you get this news, suddenly time stops, sounds mute and you deflate into a whisper of numbness.  Rob is gone, leaving his beautiful wife Bridget and their three kids, Ansel, Helena and Karl.

Here is where I'm going to tell you my beliefs, you can tune out now if you'd like.  I believe Rob was greeted by family and friends on the other side.  I believe my father, who also died in a cycling accident, may have been there to welcome Rob, as well.  I believe that God has a plan for both Rob and his family.  For Bridget, it may be a difficult and emotional road ahead.  But it will be worth it.  And she will have God, her family and her friends by her side to bring peace into her life.

And what about cycling for me?  Am I done for?  Is this sport just too dangerous?

Rob and I each bought beautiful new Cervelo S5s on the same day, at the same bike shop just three months ago.  We were excited for each other, and compared bar tape choices and color of pedals -- just to see which looked better.

That bike has renewed my joy of cycling.  I get excited and happy to head out for a long ride with friends.  I have started commuting into work on it, just to spend more time in the saddle.  Five a.m. is never too early to start a morning workout when you have such a beautiful piece of equipment waiting for you in the garage.

I guess I just have to say TBD.  The roads are getting more dangerous.  Distracted drivers with cell phones are a huge issue for bikes on the road.  And, quite frankly, I am sick of friends and family losing their lives on a bike.  I just don't know.

Today, though, we will remember Rob.  The amazing friend, father and husband he was.  He took the time to take his family around the world where they discovered together the culture, beauty, cities, and landscapes of other continents.  He taught them to believe in a higher power and to remember the values of home, family and faith.  He taught them about heaven, and instilled in them the knowledge that he will see them again someday.

Thank you for being such a special person in our lives, Rob.  We are better off for knowing you.  And give my dad a hug when you can.   

1 comment:

  1. I was so, so sad to hear about this terrible accident. I met the Verhaarens one time (in Coronado I think). So sorry for the loss of such a good friend.


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