Eric and I did not like each other that day I walked into Apex to meet the new owner. We laughed about this fairly often. We chalked it up to the fact that we were both A-holes and immediately recognized that shining quality in one another.
Soon after that first meeting, with our friendship growing cautiously, I confessed to him that I had never really hit a big jump on a motorcycle and the prospect made me nervous. He immediately informed me that we would meet pre-dawn the next day, slap some paddles on my bike and “Go get this worked out” at the dunes in Coos Bay.
I will never forget the epic riding we did, the way he helped me overcome my fear of jumping big, the laughing, the crashing, and the worlds worst hamburgers on the trip back. Most of all the conversations we had that day. It was during that drive down Eric and I really connected. It was the beginning of a close friendship that lasted years.
Right up until his passing. We rode and raced together many days.
The two of us had dinner almost every Wednesday night at Bugatti’s in Oregon City. We talked openly and honestly about the things we were most concerned with. This included the usual suspects: motorcycles, business, guns, politics, & women. The subject of cancer was brought into the mix once he was diagnosed, but it certainly did not eclipse the former matters of importance.
The last time we hung out Eric told me not to be sad, that he had a good life. That he had lived better than most, had lived his dream to the best of his ability.
Eric and I were close. We talked openly and honestly about our goals and our struggles.
I’ve lost a friend that can never be replaced. I will miss him until my time comes.
- The other A-hole
On one of my first trips traveling with Eric we where heading to Rd 1 of the National Enduro
Cross Series in Las Vegas. I had known Eric for a couple years ... but traveling with someone you always learn a lot more about them.
Eric had many skills and had a thousand stories. This specific trip we where in his truck with my bike in the back and were hauling ass for Sin City. I believe it was just north of Susanville, CA, and we passed a cop going the other direction on a two lane road at about 90 mph! Eric was calm, and I was crapping my pants. He said he had a plan and told me it would be fun, I’m thinking what does that mean? The cop pulls us over and walks to the window and before he could say a word, Eric says to him, “I’ve got to pee so bad where is the closest bathroom?" ... All while wiggling around in his seat. The cop’s response blew me away more then Eric’s attempt to get out of a ticket! The officer said, “it’s about 3 miles up the road, slow down next time and have a great day!!!” What!!!?!!?!!!!?!!!
Eric and I stopped at the rest area for good measure and laughed the rest of the way to Vegas. Great times with a great friend!
In 2007, Eric, Troy Sweatnam, and my brother Jim all rode together at the ISDE in Chile. When you participate in that event most riders ship their bikes in a crate that holds almost everything they will bring to that country. When the ISDE is over there is limited time to re-pack your crate so it is pretty hectic, so Jim, Troy, and Eric helped each other load them so they could be shipped back to the US.
Once my brother received his crate he started to unpack it, when Jim started to look into his tires that were in the crate, he noticed that there were plastic bags wrapped in duct tape. After cutting into the packages a ton of white powder started spilling all over the floor. Since they were in a South American country, he thought that someone had smuggled cocaine in his container.
Being the worry wart my brother is, he started to freak out because his name and address is all over the paperwork attached to his container. Jim called Gunny Claypool to tell him what he found. Gunny said, “You better watch yourself because that container has gone through US customs and they inspect every inch of them."
After letting Jim sweat for a few weeks, Eric called him to ask if he had received all of his stuff. Jim said yes, and then asked Eric if he had seen anyone place something in his container. Eric said, " No, but you better report it to the Customs department. Jim was totally freaking out not knowing what he should do next, 15 minutes later Eric called Jim to tell him that he and Troy had placed the bags of flour wrapped in duct tape in his tires. Troy and Eric had told Gunny what they had done to Jim, Gunny kept a great secret.
Best prank I have ever seen pulled on anyone, especially on my brother!
I did not know until the last days of Eric’s life that when he was a kid I had to leave for the Navy. I went in to say goodbye to my little buddy, Boomer. As I was leaving I bumped the Star Wars ship hanging from his bed. Eric told me that he never stopped that ship from moving. He told me that,"If I keep it moving ... my brother Mark is still with me."
Man, I just started crying.
I miss you Eric.
On the lighter side, when Eric got his first 3 wheeler we took it out for a spin. I took a spill on it and thought I was going to hear it because I put a good scratch in it. Eric looked at me with tears in his eyes and said , "I wanted to put the first scratch in it."
I remember when Eric was young and we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant with the family. Eric didn’t like the music that was being piped in and asked the waitress to change it. When she told him she couldn’t, he said, "Yes you can, the controls are right there … and pointed to the thermostat controls under the plastic case."
Many years ago I was making poor decisions & became addicted to drugs. I decided to enter drug rehab.
The day I was released, Eric drove my car up to the rehab center… completely spotless & detailed with a big white bow wrapped around the car.
My heart melted ...
Yet, I wasn’t surprised because this is the type of person Eric was. He spent his free time & several hours making sure that the day I exited those doors, I would have a smile on my face with one shiny ass clean car! I will never forget that day … He showed me how selfless & loving my baby brother was.
Another great memory that I have….
I believe it was the year he raced in the 1997 ISDE in Australia, Eric came to my house & gave me a gift that I’m wearing right now … a beautiful gold cross.
What makes this story funny is what he said when he gave me this gift …
"Damn … those things are expensive as hell!!”
Any of you that know Eric ... he was very frugal with his money so I know he must have really loved me!