Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, Goodbye or Good Riddance?

Ten things, not in order of importance.

ONE:  I lost my friend and companion, Rosco.  Hard, hard, hard to come to grips with that.  What has helped is having so many people to give me a word of encouragement or a pat on the back.  My family loved him, too, and they have reminded me of the wonderful life Rosco shared with us.  Sometimes my insanity causes me to think he's still around, and I'm not kidding when I think he's just in the other room, snoring or tearing something up.  That's what 14 years of love will do to a guy.

TWO:  My beautiful wife came to work with us at Big Shark.  There are so many things that have to be done in a growing small business like Big Shark, and to be able to do what we do best (servicing the cycling community) we have to have our time freed up from some of those other things.  That's what she does and I'm grateful for that.

THREE:  My three lovely children grew another year older.  I can't explain it, but before my eyes they change and morph into more and more complete people. I don't remember being so interesting when I was six.  Or ten.  Or twenty five.

FOUR:  It costs a lot to be sick or need medical care in America.  Insurance is insanely expensive..but you know what?  That's because health care itself is insanely expensive.  And we have had no hospital stays this year.  My advice?  Don't get sick in America...it's a killer.

FIVE:  Once again, I raced my bike this year.  That makes 34 straight years.  I did Tuesday night criterium races, a few mountain bike races, and a bunch of cyclocross races.  It was not a bad year.  Next year will be better.  I bought a BMX bike, although I'm not sure why.  I may race it if I don't hurt myself riding it around the neighborhood.

SIX:  I met up with an old friend of mine from 20 years ago.  We used to do a lot of things together, a lot of riding included.  We started riding some old familiar routes this Fall and it's really got me thinking about how much fun it can be to hang with friends.  That's something I have forgotten and rediscovered over and over again.  And, grumble about Facebook as we may, it has kept me connected with some great longtime friends from the BMX racing days.  Those were some awesome people, and now I get to see how their lives have changed, which is fitting since many of them changed mine.

SEVEN:  We had an amazing family vacation this year, visiting with friends in Colorado.  It was nothing like Chevy Chase's adventures, which is absolutely fine with me.  We did get better gas mileage than he did.  And we had much better accommodations.

EIGHT:  We have a new dog.  His name is Rex.  He is a large, galloping, floppy, stinky (the gas, my God, the gas!!) puppy.  Rosco didn't like him very much.  Lucky for Rex, I like him.  I lot.

NINE:  I traded my convertible for a boring family sedan.  With a four cylinder.  Yes, I groaned like that, too.  And I rolled my eyes.  And fell to my knees and cried out "WHY ME? WHY ME??" several times.  When I arose, I realized that gas mileage and lower ownership costs were just what I needed.  15 years (or longer) ago, I called my friend Todd's Cavalier "SS", short for Sensible Shoes.  It was half joke, half serious.  Turns out that he was years ahead in his thinking, and I just now caught on.

TEN:  I have a great family, both inside my own home and beyond.  No, I don't do much to keep in touch with most of them.  But I never have to wonder if I am loved.  I am.  For whatever reason.

Happy New year.  Onward and upward.




Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas and other stuff

 Hanna opening one of her many gifts.  She appears to like this one.
 I'm wondering if I actually made her laugh for this photo, or if she is goofing for the camera.  Either way, she looks like she's having fun.
 Grandma and Grandpa always have an amazing spread for all of us.  There is no better place to be on Christmas.
 Eli was doing a little differential work on the car at the Magic House.  I'm so proud.
 His hair wasn't standing up so much in this photo.  I don't think it works as well as it did when I was a kid.
The boys got matching coats.  It looks as if Tyson is quite unhappy about this.  Or, he is starting his brooding teenager act a couple of years early.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A little bike stuff

 The old Fastback has been resurrected as the trainer bike.  And why not?  It fits me perfectly!  A little black spray paint makes all of the faded, blemished anodizing go away.
 This is the new love of my life.  The new Giant TCR SL.  Yes, it's aluminum and it's fabulous.  Yes, there is a seat bag on there, and yes, I have nicer wheels than those pictured.  With my "race-day" wheels and minus the seat bag, it's 16 pounds, 4 ounces.
My lovely wife's Christmas present.  It's a Raleigh Capri Carbon 4.0.  Yes, it has Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting.  What a gorgeous machine.  I'm jealous the the Di2, for sure.

A few things for me

 A laptop.  It's just increasingly necessary to have my own computer.  I hate touch pads, so I even have a wireless mouse to go with it.
 My favorite movie this year. 
 Not for me, but I am very excited for Rex and his special knit stocking.
After all of the excitement, he still chews on his favorite shoe.  Typical.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eli's School Xmas Party

Of course the same day that Eli had his school Christmas party (holiday party, or whatever they call them in public schools these days), we had an important meeting at work.  I am unsure if I broke any speed limits as Deanna and I rushed to make it to the party (I'm sure I did not.  Nope.  Not one mph over the limit...)  When we arrived, we were greeted by maximum security at the entrance, which was nice.  The party was in full swing, and they had just finished the ice cream (bummer).  Santa made a brief appearance.  Then the kids played a musical chairs type game with wrapped gifts.  The girls worked seamlessly, while the boys were a disaster.  Still, it worked out just fine.  I remember the parties back when I was a little guy, and they were not quite so cool.

Christmas Tradition, Hiking with the Family

 Even though I'm still under the weather, we could not miss out on our new family tradition of hiking on Christmas.  Ok, it's two days before Christmas, but the kids schedules dictate that we do it today.  And it was a wonderful day.  Aren't we a fine looking bunch?
 Another shot with the beautiful Mrs K holding Rex, the happy hiking mutt. 
Rex did not like to be behind in the hike.  And he had a great trail to lead us on.  We chose the Flint Quarry Trail at West Tyson park.  Except for the first hundred yards or so, it was in delightful shape.  I was really dying to ride it on my mountain bike. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Redline is not Box-Stock anymore

Man, bicycle fashion changes over the years.  My new Redline Proline came with ape-hanger handlebars.  I nixed those today, went an inch lower.  And the seat and seatpost?  What good is a seatpost if it's only a couple inches long?  And the funky seat-like device that's about the size of a toddler seat?  Gone.

As nice as the Redline Flight cranks are, I'm a bit averse to the 180mm length.  I'm going to get 175mm, which is the length I used at the end of my "career" anyway.

Now....just have to RIDE the thing.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Photo Bombing my Phone

So many things end up on my phone if it is left unsupervised. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Fun at Purina Farms

 We took Rex to a fun little gathering at Purina Farms today.  The main draw was having your dog's photo taken with Santa.  We had more fun with the other stuff.  There were hundreds of other dogs their with their owners, doing skills courses and just walking around socializing with other dogs.  This first photo shows Rex tentatively going over an obstacle on the skills course.
 There was stuff for the kids, too.  They took Rex on this little train.  He hung his head out.  Didn't hang his tongue out, though.
 Of course there was bounce house stuff.  This blurry photo shows Eli flying down the slide.
Hanna and Tyson were totally airborne, and you can sort of see that in this blurry photo.

Fun times.  And we stopped at Culver's and had some awesome Butter Burgers. 

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Putting up the Christmas Tree 2012


With all of the kids present this weekend, it was a good time to decorate the tree and get it all ready for the Christmas season.  Yes, there were shenanigans.  And Gang Signs.

Hanna is a Cheerleader

The family and I were able to see Hanna cheer last night.  Sort of like we were cheering her cheering.  She's a natural.  I told her she needs to smile more, though.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

St. Vincent Park Closes 2012 for Me

Thanks Mike Dawson for a full season of great photos

If Spanish Lake was the anti-TK course, then St. Vincent Park proved two years running to be made just for me.  Brilliant course for a guy with a mountain bike.  I ended up 4th place, which will probably keep me in the top 10 for the Bubba series for the 2012 season.

I opted out of the state championship race in Jeffferson City from the outset this season.  No reason to travel to a 'cross race for me, and no reason to race a state event with a mountain bike.  Good luck to those going.

Fantastic season this year with three poor races out of the eleven that I attended.  I am pleased and I had a lot of fun.  With the mostly fantastic weather for 2012, who can argue?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Spanish Lake Gravel Cross

Mike Dawson's Photo provides documentary proof that I was there.

Spanish Lake is home to a unique mountain bike race every now and then.  It's got short stints of tight single track bracketed by super fast sections of gravel.  We have also had cyclocross races there that used a bit of that gravel, some of the rolling grass areas, and even a bit of the single track.  But yesterday's 'cross race there was a complete departure.  We used a 1 1/3 miles of gravel every lap.  Needless to say, it was fast and I was completely out of my element.  I finished a demoralizing 15th place.

Next week is my last 'cross race this season.  That's at St. Vincent.  Let's hope it stays true to it's roots and provides a fun, technical course.

Onward and upward.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Closure

I'm ready to give myself closure on what has been a painful subject for 25 years, BMX racing.

I defined myself early in life by my racing.  I started when I was 12 for two reasons:  I wanted to be different from my friends and I wanted a good reason to stay away from home. 

I accomplished those things.  And....here it goes...I got GOOD at it.  Yes, my big problem is that I have never been able to say that I was good and actually mean it.  I wanted to be the best.   I wanted to win every single race.  I could not accept being beaten, ever, by anyone.  If I did win, I wanted to win by a larger distance.  By my own definitions, I could not have been GOOD...I wasn't the best...I didn't win every single time...and there were people that could line up to race and beat me.

I rode my bike constantly.  I lifted weights hard three times a week.  I ran stairs three times a week.  I did intervals on rollers twice a week.  I did sprints, twice a day, three times a week. I did practice gate starts almost every day of the week.  This went on almost year-round. Once I got a taste of winning races, I couldn't bear NOT WINNING.  It was very stressful.  So stressful, in fact, that even now what I remember most about my 8 years of serious BMX racing is not the wins, or the friends, or the places that I traveled to, but the losses.  I'm no Stu Thomsen, so the losses outnumber the wins by quite a significant margin.  That means that there are a lot of bad memories that piled up over those 8 years.  Truth be told, I've hated BMX for 25 years.

But I'm letting it go.  Dear lord, it's been 25 years.  It's time to let it go and be happy that there were so many good times, memorable trips with my father, memorable people, great friends.  I won some races.  I raced against the best in the world at times and I was competitive...and dare I say it...I beat some of them some of the time.  I won money.  I won cool trophies, some of them taller than my kids are now.  I raced cool bikes, some of which were given to me by cool bike companies.  I had plane tickets bought for me by those cool companies to fly to cool places to race their stuff.  I had my name on a cool home-made bike.  I've had my picture in magazines.  I signed autographs for people, sometimes cute girls.  I signed kid's t-shirts, helmets, frame pads, and number plates just because they thought I was someone special like Eddy King or Brent Patterson or Richie Anderson.

I eventually started racing other kinds of bikes, and haven't done half bad since then, mostly because of the skills and fitness I gained from for BMX racing.  My kids think I'm cool because I'm not like other parents.  I started working in a bicycle store because of my racing, and I still work for one and it's been quite a career.  In fact, most of my work ethic and my way of regarding the world came from those very important years.

So I asked myself:  What is so terrible about all of that?

Nothing.

Thanks, Donald.

Wedde Road is Awful

Climbed Wedde road in Jefferson County during my ride today.  It is awful.  And I liked it.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ATV Motorcycle

Man, this thing looks fun.  You know, in a "Low speed, I'm not a good motorcycle rider" kind of way.

http://www.autoblog.com/2012/11/20/brutus-motorcycle-is-half-an-atv/

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mt. Pleasant Cross Race 2012

 Big thanks to Flannery Allison for some great photos!

I've always been a fan of the Mt. Pleasant Winery cyclocross race in Augusta, Missouri.  It's main feature is the geography:  it's built on a hillside.  That means the course snakes across that hillside, back and forth, until all participants beg for mercy or death.  This year, the course was bone dry...dusty even...with the exception of a drainage ditch that bisected the entire course.  We crossed that little drain 5 times per lap, and the "A" field did 11 laps.  Doing the math, I lifted my front wheel at relatively high speed 55 times.  My biceps confirm that number as I type.
 Another feature at Mt. Pleasant that never disappoints is the steep climb.  On the south end of the course is a gut-busting 20+ percent climb.  Not pictured are the hecklers.  They heckled me.
This is me crossing the finish line.  I noticed as I approached the line for my hard-earned 7th place (out of 22 starters) that the scorers had their heads down, so I flashed them my back to ensure they caught my number instead of continuing to watch YouTube videos of cats playing bongos.  Unbelievable that Flannery caught this incredibly dumb little move.  All in all, another spectacular race put on by the fine Big Shark crew!

Big Shark Women's Ride is Alive and Well

Cold?  Windy?  Doesn't matter to some of these women.  They put in the time and want you to put in the time with them.  Come out and ride, they love you!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Photos from Concordia Seminary Cross Race

 Beautiful weather, beautiful setting at Concordia Seminary in Clayton.  I got a good start, and hung at the front most of the time.
 The mountain bike friendly course had much dirt singletrack, plus this fun dirt mound.
The sun and wind made for a summer-style day, and Mike Dawson caught the late Fall colors just right to contrast the Big Shark Shop kit.  Love this one.

Josh Johnson was superb yesterday.  Pure class, pure strength, as always.  I said if I couldn't win on a course like Concordia, I can't win a 'cross race.  Right here, right now, I top out at second.  Here's to 'cross racing in 2013 and hopefully a new reality...one that might include the possibility of winning.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

On My Phone Today

 I
 Love
You

Rex Loves Peanut Butter

Rex is just like most dogs...he loves Peanut Butter.  Once this jar had been virtually exhausted, we let him have at it.  He has a very long tongue.  Mmmmm.

Hanna and Tyson "fix" Eli

You leave three kids alone in a room for a while, and strange things can happen.

Veteran's Day, 2012

We took a trip to visit my Dad's grave at Jefferson Barracks.  None of my kids were even a twinkle in Dad's eye when he died, way back in 1991.  But, I was 24 years old and I have all of those memories to share with the children. 

I laugh when I think of how my Dad would have received the kids.  Half of me thinks he would have been really, really annoyed by them, and the other half thinks he would have adored them.  In reality, it would have been both.  That's just the way he was.  He and I are not much alike, but that's a trait we most definitely share.  I write this with love and a big smile.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Concordia Cross Race

Every now and then, a 'cross course comes around that is made just for me.  The race at Concordia today was just such a course.  Seriously, it was way mountain bike friendly.  For a brief moment, with 3 laps to go, I thought I might win.  Josh Johnson thought otherwise, as usual, and won.  But, I took second and I'm proud of that.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sylvan Springs, Race Two

 Photo Courtesy of Dan Singer. 
Photo Courtesy of Eville Mike Dawson.

Sunday was the second race at Sylvan Springs.  Man, I love that place.  The terrain is so much fun.  My placing (11th) wasn't so great, but I have to say that I had a great race and I enjoyed it. 

Enjoy is a funny term.  In fact, my new Garmin 500 computer recorded an average heart rate of 171bpm.  Given that my maximum heart rate is only 180, that means I spent 1 hour and 1 minute at 95 percent of my max.  When I say I'm going as hard as I can possibly go, I mean it!

Thanks to the great photographers that spend their weekends taking photos of a bunch of amateurs having fun on bikes.  It's a nice way to look back and relive a bit of the action.  You guys rock!