Monthly Archives: November 2009


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I’m about 1/3 the way done with the roof. 1/2 the deck is covered with rubber. Not much of the walls. Had a 23 hour straight new world record work duration. Pretty depressing that it’s going to rain/snow for the next 4 days. And the race I was going to do in China has been canceled. So, I have no vision right now. It will come if I give it a couple days I assume. That’s about all from here.

Night photo from 2 nights ago.

Night photo from 2 nights ago.

Kind of the same shot this morning.

Kind of the same shot this morning.

Tour of Chile Radio Scare

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I had a big scare yesterday. The radio that I’ve been using at every construction site, bike build, virtually any project outside for the last 25 years, quit working. It has been abused more than I’ve abuse myself, by far.

I got the radio when I was riding for the National Team in Tour of Chile back in the early 80’s. It was a great prize. The race was super memorable. After flying forever to Santiago, Chile, we got on a train that was identical to the train in the TV show the The Wild Wild West. It had sleeper cars that had pullout beds covered in velour. It was a day or two on the train, I don’t quite remember. All the way to the most southern tip of Chile. Then, we raced 10 days back up to Santiago. Over 1000 miles, which at the time seemed like a lot. Upon getting to the first hotel, we realized that everyone was going to be staying in the same room a lot of the time. We wished we would of brought a “boom box”.

The first stage was a circuit race. We were all riding pretty good and won a bunch of the special primes. One of these was the Chilean radio. It was so fortuitous. We couldn’t believe our luck. I’m sure the coaches hated it though.

Anyway, like I said before, I had a ton of life memories from this race. I ended up 3rd overall. I was tackled off my bike from behind while jumping a small curb entering a velodrome 200 meters from the finish on the final stage by the overall race winner, who was falling. I had a police officer push the barrel of a machine gun into my stomach while cocking it. I learned that the best way not to get dropped climbing when you’re about ready to get shelled by guys that are just as red-lined as you is to attack them so everyone is completely gassed. I exchanged all our prize money in an abandoned skyscraper in downtown Santiago with mobsters. And I ended up flying back to the US with the radio.

I got a plug in Miami that allows me to plug it into US sockets. I’ve never lost the plug. And never killed the radio. The recent project is going to take it to its limits though. It has been left outside and been rained on inside. Dropped down the stairs. Good news… it wasn’t truly done for. Just a plug contact issue. I love this radio. If this radio was a bike racer, it would be Sean Kelly.


Good Stewards

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I’ve been in a kinda state of flux the past month, watching the results from the UCI cross races throughout the country. Then, Jingle Cross came this past weekend. Todd and Ned were both there. Night time ‘cross racing in the mud. I hated not being there. Hated it. It’s kind of weird how I check out the results and then try to figure where I would have finished. Intellectually I know that is impossible, but I do it anyway. The second guessing (if I had spent my November doing what I should have been doing) hasn’t been that great for my mind.

A couple days ago, I saw a friend that lives in the neighborhood where I grew up. She told me that the people that live in my old house, cut down the cottonwood tree in the front yard. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a good friend had just been murdered.

The tree was ancient. It was probably 12 feet across in diameter. It dwarfed the house. It was a very special tree.

The tree and I had a relationship. I lived in that tree for years. I had a rope tied to a lower branch and swung and climbed. Summer, winter, it didn’t matter. I nearly died when I fell out of it while collecting lady bugs and ruptured my spleen when I was 6. I played in the snow like cotton every spring. The local grade school would take time out of class to walk down and see the cottonwood tree in full snow production mode.

At least a few times a month I would go out of my way on the way back from a ride to say hi to the cottonwood. Never on the way out. Only on the way back, when it seemed right.

My friend said they cut the tree down because, supposedly, the trunk was hollow. A danger. But, the trunk had been hollow since I was a child. Squirrels lived in two huge holes 30 feet up. My mom had an arborist come out in the 60’s and he said it was hollow. It has been hollow forever. Just because these people happen to own the property where this tree has grown, doesn’t give them the moral right to make such a monumental decision. They had a duty to nurture this tree, not destroy it.

I then started thinking about what I’ve been doing. Roofing. My grandmother bought this building after World War 2. It was already over 50 years old then. My parents lived there after they were married. It has been a boarding house, a pharmacy, an interior design company, a print shop and even a hand-made teddy bear factory.

Anyway, I should have put a roof on this building years ago. It has been a sore point for awhile. But, I never had time. There was always something I would have rather been doing. The racing season never stops. Finally it got to a point where I couldn’t ignore it.

But, I had no idea it was going to take nearly 5 weeks to do this. No idea. It was a huge job. I learned a ton. I got really unfit for cycling. But I had a responsibility to fix it. A responsibility to many. Many I don’t even know. People that aren’t even alive. The craftsmen, from over a century ago, that built it. (I would spend one of my “three genie wishes” to be able to spend time with those guys building this stucture.) But, my main responsibility is to the building itself. Just like the cottonwood tree, it is its own entity. Living in some sense. Its life depends on people. We are stewards to our environment.

So, now I’m more at ease with the past month. I can bike race anytime.

From a era of the past.

From a era of the past.

Jingle Cross Friday Night Video

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I need to start posting more cycling stuff. I’ve noticed that the google ads on my blog are all roofing advertisements now. Not a good sign. Here is a little of the ambiance of the Friday night race under the lights in Iowa City. This race has really grown. I won the first year when it was held at the University of Iowa cross country course. Jason McCartney from Discovery and Iowa City was 2nd. Now it is 3 UCI events. Okay. In my fantasy cycling, I would of finished behind Todd for sure, but way ahead of Ned. Here is Keith’s video.

Jingle Cross 2009: Friday Night Cross from Gizmo Pictures on Vimeo.