Monthly Archives: October 2013

Leaving Seattle

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Okay, I’ve been helping Catherine out in Seattle for nearly a week now and am heading back to Kansas today. Man, is that town busy. Driving to the airport at 5 am this morning, the traffic was already heavy. I think that she got the lay of the land down pretty much. Today is her first day at work, so her day is going to be much shorter now. We went back out to Bainbridge Island and checked out a few houses again. That is a pretty okay place to ride and the ferry drops her off a short walk from her work. She has a couple months of corporate housing, so she has some time to try to figure out where she ultimately wants to end up.

I have a bunch of organizing to do at home. Plus, a ton of bike work, so I’m not going to have any problem keeping busy. Trudi was up in Chicago visiting her mom this past weekend, so she just got home last night. I hate having her drive back to pick me up at the airport in Kansas City after driving so long, but she dropped us off on the way, so there isn’t a car there for me to drive home.

Okay, the flight is boarding, so I have to get going. Here are some photos from the past few days.

The Space Needle is Seattle's signature attraction.

The Space Needle is Seattle’s signature attraction.

I meet up with a couple old friends, Wick and Gavin O'Grady a couple nights ago.  These guys are just the same.  It was great catching up some.

I meet up with a couple old friends, Wick and Gavin O’Grady a couple nights ago. These guys are just the same. It was great catching up some.

This guy was doing pretty well down by the ferry landing.

This guy was doing pretty well down by the ferry landing.

I saw this guy walk by me on the ferry.  I wasn't sure what the deal was.

I saw this guy walk by me on the ferry. I wasn’t sure what the deal was.

He sat down and the cat climbed off his shoulder and curled up in his lap.

He sat down and the cat climbed off his shoulder and curled up in his lap.

The apples out on Bainbridge are to die for.

The apples out on Bainbridge are to die for.

Catherine picked up her new company car yesterday.  It's an AWD Toyota Sienna.  When she told the human resources person at her new job that is what she wanted, they thought it was a joke.  It is a very nice car.

Catherine picked up her new company car yesterday. It’s an AWD Toyota Sienna. When she told the human resources person at her new job that is what she wanted, they thought it was a joke. It is a very nice car.

Plenty of room for my bike this morning.

Plenty of room for my bike this morning.

Numbers that Astound

This entry was posted in Important Life Stories on by .

I heard yesterday on NPR that 110 people in Russian had 35% of their countries wealth. I was thinking that couldn’t possibly be true. But after reading a little, it seems plausible. That is one of the most crazy facts I’ve ever heard.

It got me wondering about US distribution of wealth. The problem with trying to get your mind wrapped around the whole problem here in the US is that it is very easy to askew the numbers. It is tricky figuring out what the fudge factor is and what exactly what each party is using for information when publishing their findings.

It is all over the place. But one thing is for sure, there are a very small percentage of people here in the United States that have an unbelievable percentage of all the wealth. It isn’t as “bad” as Russia, but it is pretty unbelievable.

The average CEO’s salary is really a whole lot more than what people believe. Like I said above, it really depends where you look to find the numbers. Here it says it is 350 times the average worker’s salary. That is pretty much a ballpark number. That means that the average CEO makes as much in one day as their worker would make in one year. That seems pretty high.

There is only an X amount of wealth. It seems to me that the country would be better off if it was spread more evenly. If you watch the video below, it shows how very little a very large percentage of all Americans have. The poorest 40-60% of us have virtually no accumulated wealth. That is more than 150,000,000 people in our country.

I remember reading somewhere that something around 20 something percent of us do not have health insurance. If you remove all the people over 65 years old that have medicare, that percentage is much, much higher. Probably in the 30% range. And these are the people that have virtually no wealth. So, every time one of these people get sick or haves an accident, really no matter how minor, they are destitute. If not destitute, then severely hurt financially.

We live in a very affluent country. If you want to see what happens when the wealth is very inequitable, go to a country like Brazil. The infrastructure and crime is horrible. We as a country need to think more as tribe and start doing things that are good for the whole. What is perceived as wealth inequity is never a good thing for society. It isn’t a perception anymore in the US, it is a reality. We need to address it or we, as a whole, will all suffer the consequences.

Changing a Flat Without Hands

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If you think that you have some issues to overcome, maybe rethink them after watching this video. I don’t have any idea how you get to the point where anyone could do this. It is a true testament to perseverance, patience and fortitude. I can barely do this with a gimpy thumb and sore shoulder. It is very inspirational. Okay, that is all the videos for today, I promise.

From Kansas

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

I’ve never thought much about being from Kansas. When I first started racing, no one I raced with had ever been or even considered going to Kansas. I convinced a bunch of other juniors that here in Kansas we only had 2 paved roads and one stop light where they intersected. I also convinced them that the showed the Wizard of Oz every Friday night and most of the people watched it.

A couple years later, I got good enough to ride the Red Zinger/Coor’s Classic. It was thought of as a mountainous stage race by most everyone including the fans. Usually the prologue was a short climbing time trial. When they would call me up to the line and announce my name and hometown, the crowd would instantly get loud, mainly laughing. I guess it was amusing to them, thinking that I was from a place, where they presumed, was the flattest place on the planet.

Flash forward am a bit, I started racing the full time MTB circuit. If I thought the response I received at the Coor’s race from the spectators was loud, it was nothing compared to being announced as the first Mountain Bike National Champion from Kansas. After many races, strangers would come up to me, saying the weirdest things. Like, “We only stopped by to see what was going on, but when they announced you were from Kansas, we stayed to the finish to see if you could finish.”

I’ve heard it all. Driving back through the border control from Canada, the woman asked me where I was from and I said Topeka, Kansas. She said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” That was about the worst I’ve heard.

I once asked some friends, I had known for a long time, if they thought it was strange I lived in Kansas. There was a hesitation, like they were thinking about whether it would hurt my feeling, but then they all said yes. It surprised me. I thought it would have come up in conversation sometime previously. I sort of understood, though. I don’t know many people from Alabama or Dakota and haven’t really spent much time in either place, so if I hung out with someone from either of those states, I’d have some questions.

Kansas isn’t all that flat. At least Eastern Kansas isn’t. Western Kansas that morphs into Eastern Colorado is long and flat. Eastern Kansas has glacial deposits, so it is pretty hilly. All big ring climbs, but lots of hills. Just check out Strava for some of my rides. We usually get about 500-800 feet of climbing every 10 miles. That isn’t flat.

And Kansas doesn’t have the winters of Minnesota. The coldest day of the year is January 10th and the average daily high is 37. Don’t get me wrong, it could be -10 that day also, but our winters are fairly mild compared to many states North of us. There are normally only a handful of days in the winter that I can’t ride my road bike. And for that matter, the summers aren’t like Texas. It is hot here, but nothing like Texas that can easily get over 100 days of 100 degree temperatures.

I got thinking about all this because of my trip to Seattle. I travel a lot. And get to go to really great places all over the country and world. And I look at these places as a visitor. I only see the great aspects of the area and ignore the downsides. Off course I recognize obvious “problems” like huge amounts of traffic, etc. But, in general, I tend to overlook the bad sides of an area and soak up the differences that seem extraordinary.

But when I went up to Seattle and Catherine was staying there, I looked at the area much differently. Of course I saw the beauty and appreciated the diversity of restaruants, etc. But, I paid way more attention to the downside of being there permanently, exactly the opposite of how I observe an area when I’m just travelling through. I’d never really done this before. It makes me wonder if I’ve been unfair to other places I’ve been, judging them by the short term beauty and fun and not by the livability of the area.

Livability is what is important for a permanent residence. And that is up to each one of us to decide what is important to help make that decision.

The riding around Eastern Kansas is great. Lots of roads, no traffic to speak of. The weather is great too. The prices of houses and most everything is dirt cheap compared to the rest of the country. Locally, in Topeka, we are lacking choices of good food. Our grocery stores are run of the mill compared to those from Seattle or California. Our restaurants suck on a major sucking scale. But, it is very livable. At least for me.

I heard a few years ago some guy say, “Kansas is a great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit.” I couldn’t have said it better.

You don't always need water or mountains for beauty.

You don’t always need water or mountains for beauty.

We have some of the best sunsets in the world.

We have some of the best sunsets in the world.

I took this yesterday on the ride.

I took this yesterday on the ride.

This is the only flat area around Topeka, the river bottom .

This is the only flat area around Topeka, the river bottom .