A Departure: for Jeff Dykzeul

A Departure: for Jeff Dykzeul

Several nights ago I received an email from a friend informing me that a mutual friend had passed away. Our friend Jeff been battling lymphoma for years, but I, mistakenly, thought he’d won the battle, of not the war. Over a scant few weeks he went from reasonably healthy to gaunt. And like that, he was gone.

I struggle to comprehend this. The last time I saw Jeff, he, I and another friend had gone for a ride near his adopted home of Templeton. He seemed strong as ever. It was a bit more than a year ago. My arc with Jeff went back nearly 20 years to when I was a new resident in the South Bay. Fresh off a divorce, I’d begun doing local group rides and we met on one of the Sunday rides. A year later we were elected to the board of directors for the South Bay Wheelmen, where we traded the odd perspective on divorced life. It wasn’t long before we were both dating again, and had new subjects on which to compare notes.

Jeff was bright and curious. We both began taking French from a former ballet dancer in our neighborhood and he progressed impressively. A group of us from the South Bay traveled to the Pyrenees for a bike tour oriented around the Tour de France in 2003, and while I could get us through a hotel or restaurant, it was he who flagged down locals on a handful of occasions when we really got lost and was able to negotiate the conversation’s ins and outs to get us back, not only to the right road, but the right direction.

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A year later we were in the Chartreuse, again alternating riding with watching the Tour, when on a recently chip-sealed descent, Jeff, who was a terrific descender, took a turn a bit too wide and got into some loose gravel and went down. He was a turn ahead of me and I could hear the white noise of the gravel churning as he fishtailed. I came around the bend just in time to see him hit the deck. My stomach sank. We were but days into a two-week tour. Despite dislocating his shoulder and breaking his collarbone, he was smiles and cheer, right up to boarding the plane to return home.

Jeff loved to socialize, even though he was fairly introverted. His house was a place we’d convene for some wine, the telling of medium-stature tales and music. Jeff played guitar and, like French, it was something he took up relatively late in life. A gathering at his place wasn’t complete without someone singing, and on occasion his daughter, an accomplished drummer, backing them up.

With his love of France and the French language, and my love of route design and logistics, we went as far as discussing starting a bike touring operation, or at least working for one. It remained an open topic for us, and one I only mention as a way to show how we both thought his life had chapters yet unwritten.

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In his exit I’m less inclined to focus on the reason for his departure—the lymphoma—than the fact of his departure. We all go, for some reason, at some point. I can say that Jeff’s example, now that his final chapter is composed, was to get out there, to stretch, to embrace something new. He’d continued to see service as vital to a rounded life and had lent his time to the Eroica California; I’m sure they’ll miss his efforts.

We go. We all go. In that, Jeff is no different and special only to those who knew him. But there’s a universality to his story, a chorus sung many times. Get out there. Stay out there. We’ve only got this one ride on this spinning hunk of rock.

 


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9 comments

  1. Rob Anderson

    My condolences for the passing of your friend due to lymphoma. As a 12-year survivor of Stage–3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I personally know how varied (Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s) this cancer and its treatments are. Even with a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s, there are some twenty-nine or thirty different classified cell-variations. Bottom line: even the best-of-the-best oncologists will tell you they are many times mystified why cancer develops and how it travels throughout the body.

  2. Touriste-Routier

    I am saddened to hear this news. Jeff was one of the people who made being part of the Southbay Wheelmen a joy. It was great seeing him at Eroica, particularly after so many years of being out of touch. The best part was he saw me before I saw him, and he came right over to chat as if we had last seen each other the day before.

  3. Eric Richardson

    I rode with Jeff on many occasions on the SBW “Late riser” from Catalina Coffee and went to his retirement party. He was a really good rider and super nice guy so I’m sorry to hear the news.

  4. Vic Cooper

    I am so sorry to hear this.

    I met Jeff on some of the late riser SBW rides, and really enjoyed his company. He was always gracious and helpful to new riders, and we had some great conversations.

    One day, he asked me if I wanted to do a double century. He had registered, but couldn’t make it. I had never attempted a double century, let along completed one, but I decided to give it a try.

    As it turns out, it was one of many in my future. It was also the beginning of my participation in endurance cycling races like the 508, the Hoo Doo 500, and the Race Across the West.

    I can’t say that I’m all that proud of participating in those doubles and races, but what I am proud of is that by participating, I inspired others to participate as well. And when you come right down to it, Jeff started it all with a gracious act of charity and friendship.

    RIP, Jeff. Rest assured you made a difference.

  5. James Stephens

    For alll those who knew him my condolences, for those who never met him before, I am sorry you did not have the chance…

    Jeff worked for me as a key system Admin in the 90’s and the 2000’s I hated to call him some of those Saturday mornings while he was on a ride no doubt. He would finish the ride first but get to the system as soon as he could and that was fine by me. Jeff was very straightforward and he helped me in so many ways. I always considered him a friend and it was a pleasure knowing and working with him. I did think I was going to track him down just to catch up one day soon, I am sad to hear he has left us. Jeff liked to teach as I recall and he had such a pleasant way of explaining something new about computer technology, never talking down to you. I started riding a bike again in the last 10 years ago partially by seeing what a passion he had for it. I awoke to the fun it was when I was a kid by being jealous somewhat of him having it be such a wonderful part of his life. I never knew he was sick, he never shared that with me but he really was not a guy to complain. I will miss his him. Jeff helped me pick out servers that we still have in use 10 years later still running strong still as fast as most systems brand new today.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Thanks James. I envy you the opportunity to spend so much time with him. He’s truly emblematic for those people in the cycling community who make it richer, in their own quiet way.

  6. Chuck Davis (82)

    SBW 1980-90–Rode and raced Vets now Masters.
    Did business with Ted Ernst during my time there.
    Learned a lot from Tom Scanlon.

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