Wednesday, April 30, 2008

riding the 'wood

since my program did not call for anything specific tonight, and it definitely didn't include the beatdown ride, i took it upon myself to do some off-roading at castlewood.

i pulled into the parking lot just before 6pm and there was marty, just finishing his ride. he looked a little beat, which is to be expected, because he, like me, has had very little actual mountain bike time. he said the trails were in great shape, and that they were packed with people. right on both counts.

weaving in and out of riders and hikers is commonplace at the 'wood. in any and every direction. i tried to follow the route that is supposed to be the race course on the 10th, but i'm not sure if they have solidified the course plans yet. no worries, i think i can remember my way around castlewood. in the dark. with a blindfold on.

it seemed pretty much like i couldn't do much wrong tonight. my skills were not as bad as i feared, and even though i had the rev limiter on, i felt like i was moving pretty well.

i plan to go somewhere again tomorrow, maybe there again, maybe lost valley, before i have to head into work. we'll see.

sounds like a plan

eli has gotten into the habit of crawling out of his bed and coming into our room to avoid going to sleep. it gets us pretty upset, because we usually have already spent a half an hour or better trying to get him to go to sleep. one thing that keeps him from getting in big trouble is how cute he creeps in.

he grabs his pillow and blanket and drags them both along with him, seemingly so he can go to sleep in our bed with his "piwow" and "banky" and he calls them. tonight he just marched in, tossed his pillow and blanket down, sat down, threw on his micky mouse hat and began singing "micky mouse house." while deanna and i were laughing at him, i grabbed the camera, and he even stopped to say "cheeeeese!"

how long can you stay mad at that?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

it's off-road time

the weather appears to be letting up just enough to allow a little off-roading to occur...just in time for me to escape my other hobby, road racing.

i like road racing. it's a rush. it can even be fun, especially if the fitness is there and you have teammates to race with. but enough is enough. i need long bouts of mountain biking between the endless miles of road riding to keep my sanity, to remind me where i started riding bikes and why.

my best years of racing either bike may be behind me, but nothing gets me jazzed more than good weather and some good trail riding.

buy my stuff!!!

as usual, screaming deals on cool stuff!

HERE

bid early, bid often! it's fun!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

tyson's 7th birthday party

ok, so maybe the cake on the face thing has gone a little far. it seems to be getting quite the mileage during the kids birthdays. on the plus side, it's probably not bad for the complexion.
he seems to know something here. either that, or he is trying to decide which piece of birthday cookie he wants. he got way too many presents from all of the fine children that showed up for the party. we just spoil kids these days. on the plus side, uncle keith beat the odds and became the only person to give to tyson's 529! woo, hoo! (two more kids, and 10-15 more years to go people! let's step it up!)

hanna and i didn't even get a chance to freshen up after the rainy crit. kevin drove us and our soaked bodies from the crit to tyson's extravaganza, stopping by starbucks for a little refreshment.


tour of st. louis, forest park

photo courtesy of john at stlbiking.com

a race i'd rather forget about, forest park has never been my favorite. it's rained on my race there twice in the last 3 years. not that the rain factored into my race, though. oh, no. the only thing i can say about my race is that it was rotten.

we, and i say that with all do respect to my tough thf teammates, got in the break and got another good result today. again, no thanks to me. the wonderful photo above shows me just behind none other than brad huff, flanked by more of my friends, nate, kevin eubanks, and kurt fletcher. don't get excited. my proximity to brad and company has no indication whatsoever on how bad i was.

are you getting the feeling that i sucked today? good. i hope you do. cause i did.

strange, because i set 30 minute and 60 minute power records today during the race. that must mean that i was doing my usual stupid cornering, stupid half-wheeling, stupid letting-the-wheel-go riding style that gets me no where but off the back.

the only good thing that happens after a good road race beating is that my off-roading usually goes stellar...and today i got a good freaking beating.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

i'll be seven tomorrow!

...and dad says donations to my 529 are much more important than regular birthday gifts. i'm not sure what that means, but i'd better get some cool stuff.

tour of st. louis, carondolet

proof that i at least started the race, my ugly smiling mug. i was busy talking to ryan hermsmeyer about turbo's and such when i was summoned to pose for a picture. the beautiful mrs k took the whole slew of kids AND a tent to the park today, just so ghisallo and the thf team could have a cheering section. what a woman.
and while i was holding on like grim death during the race, hanna was enjoying the finer things in life (along with my jersey and tifosi glasses) in the parks natural surroundings.
.
we went second in the race, after what i thought was one of my better outings in recent years. i made some mistakes in the closing laps that could've helped terry seal the deal, and i'll have to work on that stuff. but, i had a great time racing with schvonzie. he's got a much better sense of the race than i do. he helped me out 20 times during the race to get my head where it needed to be, and i actually had the legs to put it to good use. my other team mates are strong as horses, so it's tough for me to even help them, which means i have to commit to hittin' it from the gun. hey, you only live once.

yep...

oh, yeah. this one toe is definitely bigger than the others....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

such controversy

the wagon a man oughta have...

well, i have to say the FWMR post from monday has gotten more comments than any post i have ever done. i've posted the ones that are nice and constructive. i deleted the ones that called me names for picking american cars, the ones that called me various names questioning my sexuality, and the ones that just called me assclown. what? why the hate? don't like, don't read! jeez!

anyway, it gives me all that much more pleasure to talk about the subject, then.

we all have to remember the FWMR's purpose: family, cargo, mileage, fun. pretty much in that order. neumann knows what's best for a man...the dodge magnum. why, there hasn't been such a manly car since, well, since ever! and it's got to have the hemi. maybe even the 6.1 hemi. but i gotsta remind neumann (and some of the others that called me names) that 3rd on the criteria list is mileage ($3.49 a gallon, and worldwide that's cheap!) and that trumps fun and manliness couldn't even be put on the list.

why no mazdaspeed3? why no caliber srt? why no gti? number two on the list, cargo. the hhr is a small suv type thing with a large cargo area, especially with seats folded. bigger, by quite a margin, than the other super fun cars i just listed. and, again, the turbo is something that can be fun yet more economical if you keep your foot out of it.

i think the trend is going towards my needs. the suv/crossover (hate those names) offerings are going for smaller yet more space efficient shapes and sizes. and v6's (which i've always considered to be a compromise) are giving way to turbo 4's. i guess my hhr posting wasn't very clear: i'm not buying one today, i'm just beginning to search out the possibilities.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

gas is expensive

in 1984, i remember a hellish drive in the back of a friends conversion van to colorado. there was a two day bmx national race in denver, and we wanted to do it. my friends dad was always game to drive, despite the jump in gas prices at the time.

i think we were paying something like $1-$1.25 around the st. louis area for gas when we set out on the journey. we pulled into a gas station the next morning after entering colorado and i distinctly remember my double take at the gas pump. it said $2.01. i felt my heart sink a little, because i only brought so much money, and we weren't winning money at the races at that time (still amateurs)...that meant i wouldn't be able to help as much for gas.

which brings me to my gas fill up today. $3.49, and a total of $58.59 at the pump. i don't think i have ever paid that much money in my life for gas. good thing we're not traveling to bmx races now, especially not in an early 80's conversion van!

newsflash: gas is expensive.

pack those days full, people!

today has been packed full of duties. if the beautiful mrs k hadn't let me sleep an extra 45 minutes, i may not have made it here to post this drivel.

first, work. being short a couple of hands now that there has been employee attrition at work, that means more work for everyone there. ok, we can do that. it just takes more attention to detail, and perhaps some creative job sharing. schvonzie and i glued 4 tubulars today...ok, he did all the hard work and has the blisters to show for it. work, check.

second, ride. today was special. schvonzie and i were graciously replaced at work tonight by mrs k and devlin so we could race. but not just race. ride from the shop to the crit at carondolet. that takes planning, but deanna made the arrangements for us and it worked. so, ride to crit. check.

third, race. it was nice to see lots of my friends and people i had not seen in a while. and it was better than tilles for this because of the low pressure of the tuesday night worlds. schvonzie and i chased down things for the first 15 minutes or so. then i got tired. then terry went with a group that stayed away. after that, i stayed close to the front, went with a few moves, went for (and lost miserably) a prime, went for (and lost miserably) the field sprint, but felt very good about it. race, check.

forth, ride home. as we were riding back to my crib, which is only 15-20 minutes max, schvonzie cramped. and cramped more. we finally hobbled into my home and fueled up. i drove his busted ass to his sisters house in st. louis hills. race over, home, check.

fifth, grocery store. i was hungry. i still am. stomach grumbling...check.

last, boys asleep. god bless the beautiful mrs k. check, and check.

Monday, April 21, 2008

hot people carriers with good mileage?

i've been quietly pondering my life situation. i have kids, drive a lot, carry bikes and gear, and like reasonably fun, fast cars.....

that creates somewhat of a quandary. what to drive? so i've been paying attention lately to things that can satisfy all of my criteria, and there aren't many options that can do it all, especially not well. so i'll highlight some of the choices here once in a while when i think of them as "family worthy mini rods", or FWMR's....because, you know, pantera's don't haul much.

the 2008 hhr ss starts as a homely little people mover and gets transformed by a 260 hp turbo 4 and a lot of suspension works. add some good brakes, and you have the first FWMR. being a chevrolet, there are a host of aftermarket goodies straight out of the blocks to pump up the turbo and the suspension. it's a cavernous little wagon, especially with the seats down, tall and deep, and it'll lay strips of rubber like there's no tomorrow. gas mileage climbs as the boost gauge doesn't. it sells in the low $20k range.

two cuties


weather cooperates, riding commences!

even though the beautiful mrs k and i didn't go to hermann, we did get in some riding. although we didn't do it together. she rode with cristal from the cycling club, and i rode by myself (sniff, sniff).

i rode home from ghisallo yesterday, although the extended southern route designed to add miles to the normal ride home. during this ride, i traveled up BA, the road outside of babler park. BA is perhaps the worst stretch of pavement in the wildwood area. it's horrid. actually, second to BA is just about any road or street in kirkwood and webster. it's pretty amazing that such affluent areas have such cracked up pavement. at any rate, from the 109/100 area i traveled a bit farther south, through the castlewood area, then through kirkwood and home. nice day, nice ride, a little tan going.

today i rode home from work again, this time from actual work, and with schvonzie. it's about 25 miles for me, but he rode with me for 3/4 of it and then turned back toward the store to get in his 3 hours. i got home in great time, perhaps fueled by having a riding partner, perhaps just happy to be riding in shorts and jersey two days in a row.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

mice and men, ad infinitum

my preparations for the hermann road race were going pretty well. i got out on saturday for almost two hours, doing my usual pre-raceday warmup. worked on the bike. changed tires.

actually, that pretty much ends the successful preparations. eli had let it be known on friday night that he wasn't going quietly. saturday, he kicked into high gear. crab. crab. complain. pitch a fit. crab. complain.

by 9:30, he still wasn't giving in. deanna and i were furiously trying to get everything together. we were supposed to pick up cristal and her daughter on the way, and that meant swapping the freestyle family truckster for the minivan. packing bags full of toys and food for the toddlers. water bottles. gu.

11:30pm was the witching hour. eli still had some kick in him, and we didn't. we called it a day. as nice as an 80 mile road race sounded with good weather, it sounded like torture after nearly two days of constant eli-patrol and a few stressful days at work.

the best laid plans, ad infinitum.

the ONLY

constructive thing that i accomplished all weekend. a new shelf and clothes hanger in our bedroom closet. sheets and blankets on top, cycling stuff on the hangers.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

wednesday night beatdown, 3rd edition

so the wed night rides keep rolling. we've had a lot of interest in our little battle royales lately, mostly because shawn o'neal talked it up like anthony and i were jan and lance brewing up a can of whoopass. that's not really the case. shawn really put the beatdown on us and we had to follow. anyway, several people have inquired about it, so it's no surprise that we had some extras along tonight.

returning for the wednesday night beatdown were myself, anthony, and devlin. shawn didn't come along this time, something about racing 3 times last saturday... but taking his place was the other thf realty rider at the store, schvonzie. and at the last minute, nice guy and furious pedaler john lynch rode up. now we're talkin'.

the beatdown starts faster and faster each week, mostly because i hate traffic and want to get out into the boondocks away from it all. pedals were mashed, climbs were climbed, wheels were sucked, gears were ground....it was a blast! it was the most fun yet. we all bragged when we were done about calories burned and average heart rates, you know, bike geek stuff. one of the most pleasant surprises yet was devlin hanging on this time until the bitter end. you gotta love progress.

which all means that anthony and i will have to find another night to ride together so we can have those nice, quiet, private rides where we kick the crap out of each other. maybe mondays??

Monday, April 14, 2008

photo enforcement cameras in your area?

it's well-known that the companies that produce red light camera systems hawk them to municipalities as a way to increase ticket revenue. a by-product of red light cameras is supposed to be safer intersections. but, when the yellow lights are shortened, or even put on random timing, it not only can cause more accidents, but increases violation production more.

this is an interesting article about six cities that have been busted for doing just that: red light scam

Sunday, April 13, 2008

who am i to argue?

video

at the end of the day, the only opinions that really matter are from those that love you.

ebay for a friend

for those of you looking for a deal on sram red, here's your chance!

----------here----------------

the stuff is hot!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

tilles park

after hemming and hawing around, the beautiful mrs k convinced me that i should go and give the tilles race a shot. the weather has me really down, so being out in it under stressful race conditions didn't seem like an answer. but, she's right about a lot of things so i did it.

i rode over to the race on my bike, complete with severe weather clothing. i looked like an eskimo. i was warm, though. mrs k and the kids registered me and brought my thf racing clothes along for me to change into. it was a great idea. after kisses and good lucks from the family, i lined up nice and warm and stayed that way during the race.

the wind was a factor, but thf guys were always in the front and always in the moves. nolan hit out on a great two man break with justin from the shark. when he was brought back, terry, austin and brian did more front work, with brian finally getting off for good by himself. i was satisfied with being able to stay at the front of the race most of the time and close gaps, and a nice last lap flier that dirk called a mike weiss glory lap.

a first and a fifth for the guys, and i got to parade my cool new clothes in front of my personal fan club. what more could i ask for?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

sibling heart to heart

eli: sissy, do you think this birthday thing will ever get old?
hanna: no way. trust me, even people as old as daddy can still have fun on their birthday.
eli: awesome, cuz i'm lovin' this stuff.
hanna: great, but you're still not gettin' any of my coke, so beat it.

just a few more




pictures from saturday's birthday party, taken by other family members. it was a busy day for the little guy. love the hat.


wednesday night ride, second edition!

i was prepared to do the tuesday night crit last night, but i backed out do to the weather. it rained hard during the day, cleared a bit, and then rained hard again right before i was going to leave the store and head back home to suit up. i thought that it must surely be raining in the lovely carondolet park, too. today, i hear they raced under dry skies. sigh.

so tonight i had some riding to do. i had to make up for not racing. so anthony and i embarked on the wednesday night ride, edition number two. this wednesday, we were joined by devlin and none other than shawn o'neal. any ride with shawn promises to be a hard one. he doesn't have such things as easy days, nor does he use a little chainring.

devlin hung in about 30 minutes, but hills are his nemesis and we were hittin the hills...and the flats, and the downhills, and the turns...

it was fun and hard. we rode about 35 miles and pretty much let shawn pull as hard as he wanted to, which is pretty hard. when we have more daylight, we'll mix it up and kick the route up a notch.

i've got to do more group rides. there is nothing like being pushed by other riders.

off-roading, finally

monday, i made an executive decision: with more weather coming, it seemed quite appropriate to take advantage of the few dry days in a row we've had to go off-roading. the best bet is usually castlewood, and the bet paid off.

the trails were in fantastic shape monday night. love, rollercoaster, grotpeter...all in good shape, no mud to speak of. i even went up lone wolf backward to the top of the climb and back down...same thing, no mud.

mountain bike riding is so fun. i rarely get to do it anymore. i guess absence truly makes the heart grow fonder.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Buy my EBAY stuff!

fox talas, xtr cranks, up for auction, no reserves! i'm good like that!!!

-------------HERE------------------

feed my addiction!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

hiking at cliff cave

since the weather was so nice this morning, it seemed a shame to do anything indoors. the kids haven't been digging for dinosaur bones in a while, so i thought...cliff cave. i had been reading a bit on the local message board about the trails at cliff cave, so i thought i'd revisit the place with the family.

cliff cave was the site of many off-road battles over the last 10-12 years. we haven't raced there in a couple of years, probably a combination of poor parking facilities and lack of interest by the cycling community. a lot of the cool trails have been flattened and smoothed. but, much is still there, and certainly much for the kids to enjoy hiking.

hanna and tyson were amazed by the caves and the rocks and the views there. we climbed up to and past the caves and into the mtn bike trails. there wasn't much mud at all, only in the typical places that always were left wet after rainy periods. we were able to avoid most of that stuff, even if we had to take excursions into the woods. eli walked much of it, but the beautiful mrs k and i both had to carry that little sack of potatoes more than once.

the kids finally got to digging for bones on the rocky side. there is so much cool geography there. really, it's everywhere at cliff cave. funny, i had never noticed how cool and dramatic some of the landscape was. after a nasty little yard sale by tyson (running on some wet, slick rock) and then by eli (running down the big asphalt hill!) we had seen enough. luckily, the ever prepared mrs k had a backpack full of snacks for us, which seemed to make the tears go away pretty fast.

two, again!

of course, there was the big question...what is eli's big present? do you need a hint? it's under this thomas the tank engine cover. no, it's not a train. although, he did get many train gifts from the family. thomas plates. thomas cups. thomas place mat. thomas fork and spoon. twains!! twacks! queen! bike race!
hanna just loves a good party! and she just came from a wedding to join us. it was quite the day for our junior party goer.

yep, you guessed it. the youngest kakouris boy now has his own bikes. he kept saying, "my bike race! my bike race!" hmmm. where does he get this stuff? this photo is directly after i pushed him down the driveway and knocked him over. oops. he got up, brushed his hands together and got back on. a lot tougher than me!


this says it all. he was so excited about the bike that he couldn't contain himself. we went up and down the street. he loved it.



the beautiful mrs k liked eli's new trek so much that she had to ride it herself. when asked if she would prefer it over her diva, she paused and then said that the diva matched her outfits better.




of course, with the whole family watching, there were the obligatory foot races. hanna won against all the youngsters, even in her flip flops! she met her match with me, however. yes, i am sore today. even grandma raced with the kids, and she was pretty good competition.





eli shed the bike and helmet and raced up and down the street, too. we encouraged this behavior with lots of hooting and hollering, secretly hoping for an early night-night. the neighbors must now fear the kakouris family get togethers.






back inside. there were also thomas books. and lightning mcqueen books.







there were cake in the face moments as well. why do my kids like cake in their faces? i don't know. we might have to get them checked out.








"you guys may have missed this, but mcqueen has a huge exhaust, and that there is the enormous h-pipe without catalysts. the mufflers are pushed WAY back and mounted sideways to make room for the multi-link suspension and the panhard rod. i'm sure this is up for debate, but he's probably running 4.11's or maybe even 4.30's, depending on which track he's set up for. if you move that little piece of icing out of the way, you'll even be able to check out the subframe connectors..."









two!

video

the little guy isn't actually two until tuesday, but for obvious reasons we had his birthday party on saturday. it was quite the birthday bash.

all of his favorite themes were represented: trains, cars, trucks, and bikes. it's pretty amazing how the family spoils this little guy.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

the new THF duds

for this lovely saturday morning, i was up for a leisurely 2 hour spin. and this spin was pretty important...it was the maiden voyage with the new thf team kit. quite smashing, don't you think??

Friday, April 04, 2008

17 years

it's hard to believe, but it's been 17 years since my dad died. i was just about to graduate from umsl, i was working 30 hours a week and racing mountain bikes and road bikes and even doing biathlons and the odd bmx race or two.

at the time, i really felt like i didn't have the time to visit my mom and dad, even though he was sick and had to frequently go to the veterans hospital. i took him lots of times when my mom had to work, and i remember bitching a lot about that. i'm pretty busy, i would say. and i had even convinced myself that he really wasn't that sick, since he was in and out of the hospital so much and he always came home okay.

i pretty much remember saying that when my mom told me to visit him on april 4th, 1991. she said, "you'd better go see your dad, he is not doing well." she had just come from there. but, you know, i was tired. i had ridden 52 miles and i had to do some laundry or something. i would see him the next morning, because i didn't go into work until lunch time or so, and i could catch up on my homework while i visited.

so when my phone rang after 10pm (which everyone knew not to do in those days because i always went to bed at 10pm, being so self absorbed and self important, i needed my sleep) i figured it was mom. it was. she told me dad died. that didn't sink in.

i had been at the hospital two days earlier, and he was not awake for my visit at all. being self-absorbed, it was easy to be angered by that, because i could've been doing homework or riding or working instead. but after mom's phone call, i remember thinking about that visit, and thinking about not waking him up while i was there, or at least holding his hand or something.

guilt is a strange thing. and it's pretty powerful, too. over the next couple of days, in my head i went over and over all of the things i could have and should have done for my sick father. i didn't want anyone to know what i had done, didn't want anyone to know that i just wasn't there. it's not as if i didn't love him. on the contrary. but i just didn't sense the urgency. i thought he would live forever, and i could bitch and complain to him and about him forever. he was 71, after all, and had lived through the depression, world war II, smoked all his life, drank like a fish, smoked like a chimney, had high blood pressure, and cancer. but he still took my ungrateful ass to school and to bike races and brought my lunch to me at work and put up with my mom and me and my brother, and pretty much wiped my ass for me my whole life....what could possibly happen to him?

if i sound like i still have guilt about it, i do. he was a special man, a great man to us, and i know in my household we really took advantage of his kindness. i don't know if there is any way to ever get over the guilt from something like that. i'd like to blame it on youth, but i was 24 years old at the time, certainly old enough to know better. it was pure selfishness, and nothing more.

elijah's birthday is on the 8th, which was the day of dad's funeral 17 years ago. i guess the double importance of that date will forever remind me about children and their parents, the roles we play in each other's lives, both how long and how short life is, and to never, ever take our time together for granted.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

pontiac solstice targa...300hp??

my fondness for the solstice targa grows with the announcement that the turbo 4 will have 300hp. whoa. with my driving skills, i should probably be limited to 30hp, but i will certainly try to put the extra 270 to use.....

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

finally! wednesday night rides are back!!

well the weather cooperated enough for anthony and i to set out on our first wednesday night training ride of the year. still, 51 degrees and blustery wasn't ideal, but even a sissy like me has to get outside sometime.

we busted out right after we locked the doors and headed into wildwood. up wildhorse, up the subdivision and onto orville. then up eatherton and back to wildhorse. i was feeling plucky...downright fast, actually. could it be?

we then took wildhorse, down doberman and through the flats along the horse farms. we took turns pulling into the wind that had no direction except in our faces. hitting the long climb up wildhorse to hardt, it was confirmed...i was riding fast today.

you know those days where your legs and lungs just keep telling you "hey, dude, we're onto something here...click that shift lever one gear higher" ? that was me today. i didn't mean to, but i was putting the hurt on anthony. he had ridden this morning and we had a busy day at work, so it was weighing heavy on him. we grouped back together going down hardt and ran into mitch the masher on the way down. while anthony and i were complaining about being cold, he had on shorts and no gloves. show off.

once we got back down to wildhorse, i had my interval workout to do. anthony stayed on my wheel through the whole thing all the way to old olive. he kept calling me names the whole way, and i took it as a compliment. it just seemed like i didn't really have much of a rev limiter.

once on old olive, i let it all hang out. yes, my intervals were over. but, so rarely do i feel this good, so i kicked in the small twin turbos that so rarely come to visit and hit it all the way past rhombachs. wow.

we trundled back to the store and immediately downed more water and a power bar. anthony was feeling bad, but he was very glad to have our first wednesday nighter out of the way.

i was sort of sad to see it go.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

kids say the darndest things

lately elijah is saying more and more stuff. and it's always really funny.

when the beautiful mrs k calls us for dinner, eli mocks her and starts saying "honey! honey! dinna! dinna!" and of course he has begun to call me honey.

he loves granola bars. he calls them "buck ocks." i don't know how he came up with that.

whenever deanna or i tell him something to do, especially if he wants to do it, he'll say "okay, mommy!" sometimes he says "okay, daddy!"

i have to be careful about my language around the boy. actually, i need to be careful about my language period, but it is apparent that eli WILL repeat things....and i don't want him repeating some things...