Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bigfoot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,344

    Ten years since the death of "Earthquake" Jake Watson

    I spotted the post on the vintage board about the Keysville Classic and suddenly realized that it's been ten years since one of our sports first stars was tragically taken from us during practice for the downhill. Jake had scoped out a steep rock section and saw that if he carried his speed he could clear the roughest part. He waited for a break in the practice traffic before launching himself, his friends there said that he had a good fifteen feet of air under his tires. He landed on the dirt but the impact launched him over the bike and he landed hard, his abdomen against a rock, resulting in his fatal injuries.

    I'll always remember the first time I met Jake. It was on the chairlift at "Downhill Mania" at Big Bear in'93, the year that it snowed. I was covering the event for Velo News and on the chair with Jake and I was Hans Rey (he raced some downhill back then). I was asking both riders questions and Hans, being Hans, was giving me smart ass answers. Jake finally told him "Lighten up Hans, the guy's just trying to do his job!" Jake was a gentleman and a gentle giant and is still missed. As his best friend "Insane" Wayne Croasdale said at the funeral, "Jake had a heart as big as his feet." I'm proud to have known him.


    There's a memorial site for him, www.jakewatson.com

    From Wikepedia: Jake Watson (December 5, 1973 – March 12, 1999) Known for his massive frame, Watson was given the nickname "Earthquake" early into his cycling, carrying the name to the top on podiums throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Tragically 'Earthquake' Jake Watson lost his life during downhill practice for California’s Keysville Classic as a result of his injuries sustained in a crash. As a tribute to Watson's contributions, a major bicycle manufacture released a frame series in 1999, entitled "Quake". Watson died March 12 1999, at the age of twenty five.

    FROM THE MEMORIAL SITE:My Last Day With Jake, by Michael Gonzalez

    Keyesville was peacful and warm. Jake, Gina and Clyde pulled in just behind me. I was very happy to see them. It was great seeing Jake and Gina together having fun. We started up the mounain one car behind the other. Robbie, Scott, Paul and myself in front. Driving behind us was Jake, Gina and of course Clyde, Jake's dog.

    We soon got to the top of the mountain to take the first run. Gina got back into the truck and started back down the mountain, but with one thing missing - Clyde!

    "He's going to practice with us", says Jake. We all laughed and started down the mountain one after another with Clyde "running interference". After a while Jake lost us. He was so fast - "Go Champ!"

    Later I caught up with him. We exchanged a couple of RRRAAWWW's and LA-LA's. He at the bottom of the mountain and me at the top. I rode down to where he was practicing a section of the race course. We laughed and greeted each other with high fives.

    We were having the greatest time that day. The weather was perfect, sunny, clear and warm. The mood was exciting yet peaceful. Jake always had a way of making you feel comfortable and relaxed. His attitude was so positive and the dedication to being the best was in his eyes. I would have to say that Jake was glowing. He was electric. He looked like he was in is element and enjoying every minute of it.

    As I sat on the boulder next to the one from which he launched from, I shared a few words with a woman. A beautiful woman with fair skin and blue eyes. She had sandy blond hair and a friendly smile as she looked me in the eyes. We commented on how picturesque the view of Lake Isabella & the valley surrounding was. It was absolutely spectacular. What a view it was with the sun shining bright on God's country,

    We talked about Jake's jump and acknowledged the level of difficulty. She spoke softly to me and I remember her words so clearly.

    "If he does this he will transcend to another level", she says.

    I didn't ask what she meant by her comment, but only digested her words and focused on Jake. The beautiful, colorful "Earthquake Jake" as we all know and love.

    I will always picture his smiling face and hear his funny laugh. He was a happy person and touched many people in a positive way. I will miss him greatly. We will all miss him.

    My heart is filled with his love and enthusiasm for the gifts God has given us. I pray that the Lord will take care of him as well as all of us until we can be together again.

    I love you, Jake
    Michael Gonzalez
    "Gonzo"


    BIGFOOT
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Bigfoot; 03-20-2009 at 03:36 PM.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    136
    What happened on his crash? Is there anyway to prevent it from happening to us?

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bigfoot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,344

    Just added...

    Quote Originally Posted by Juklano
    What happened on his crash? Is there anyway to prevent it from happening to us?
    I just edited my original post to include an account from someone who was there that day. His memorial site also has a page "What Happened" that explains it all.

    Bigfoot

  4. #4
    ****************
    Reputation: One_Speed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    1,113
    I also remember that. First dh race I ever did.

    RIP

  5. #5
    Takw/agranofsalt
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    3,540
    Wow, reading that really hits home. It's been almost a year since my friend Mark passed, (also racing DH).

  6. #6
    MDJ
    MDJ is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    240
    I wasn't there but remember that day. We had a race at Holister the next day and it was a somber mood. I think it was the year before that he won or almost won the national DH race at Michigan on a hard tail.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    257
    That's Heavy... Sounds like he was a great guy!

    Chris

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bigfoot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,344

    Fontana Race

    Quote Originally Posted by MDJ
    I wasn't there but remember that day. We had a race at Holister the next day and it was a somber mood. I think it was the year before that he won or almost won the national DH race at Michigan on a hard tail.
    I was at a Team Southridge Fontana race the day after. That's where I heard what had happened. In honor of Jake that day Don Jackson, Team Southridge's main guy, had Jake listed as the first rider off. At the top of the mountain he called Jake to the line, gave the countdown and held a minute of silence before the "second" rider went off.

    It was a very somber day there too.

    Bigfoot
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
    Pivotal figure
    Reputation: kenbentit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    5,662
    Damn, 10 years already..I was actually on the shuttle truck when they shut down the course that day. Not a good introduction to that Mtn, everyone coming down was totally grimfaced. We also did the Fontana race the next day but none of us were really feeling like racing anymore. Too much heavy stuff this past week, we just went to Bootleg for Brent's Memorial ride. I need a beer.
    Desert Sunset Calls/Upward, Pain, Perseverance/Welcome Solitude

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Snerk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    14
    Very sad. Seemed like a very genuine and nice guy.

  11. #11
    Glad to Be Alive
    Reputation: SHIVER ME TIMBERS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    42,166
    sad and then you have Brent Thompson too....very sad
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

  12. #12
    Speed Thrills
    Reputation: brcjacks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    30

    My time with Jake

    I'll make this brief.
    My bike was stolen the day before the race at Mt. Snow in '94. I must have asked 20 pro's if I could borrow a bike to do my run and they all said no, even though most of them had multiple bikes in their trailers. Then there was Jake. His reply was simple, "Sure man, just meet me after my run at the finish and you can use mine."
    He took 4th(Pro) that day and I took 19th (Expert).
    Not a bad say for either of us.

    Thanks Jake.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mojojojoaf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    747
    Really 10 years? Wow. I met Jake in 93 through a mutual friend who trained with Jake (Eric Palmquist), Jake actually gave me my first pair of Shimano SPD shoe, no cost. Seemed like a straight up guy- I remember though when he bought a new 240sx and I looked at Eric and said "What the crap did he do that for- do you know what kind of bike he could have bought for that money?". Priorities right?

    Earthquake was a great nick name for him- he had such an impact on everyone that met him.

  14. #14
    Pivotal figure
    Reputation: kenbentit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    5,662
    Almost 13 years now (this thread is from 2009). Still makes me sad...
    Desert Sunset Calls/Upward, Pain, Perseverance/Welcome Solitude

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •