Category Archives: Important Life Stories

Thanksgiving 2016

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I slept 5 hours, so am up pretty early.  I’m historically not a early morning person.  I have gotten way more stuff done late at night in my life than way early morning.  That being said, maybe I am a morning person now, which is just how it might be.  I have a couple pies to make, so I guess I’m going to accomplish something other than gathering knowledge.

I really like Thanksgiving.  I’ve spent the day in many different countries, but in reality, think that being home is probably the best way to do it.  We historically take a pretty good ride today, but I can’t this year, which I understand, but don’t like.

I looked back upon some other posts that I’ve written over the years on Thanksgiving.  It is hard to explain the holiday better.  I like it.  It is my favorite.  Eating good food with a bunch of friends and family is a hard holiday to out do.

I have this house in Central Topeka.  Central Topeka isn’t the best place to live in our country.  I bought it years and years ago and the neighborhood has deteriorated since.  It isn’t a very safe place to call home.

Since I’ve been out of commission for 5 weeks, I went by there to make sure everything was okay.  I saw that a new lock was on my garage and knew something was wrong.  I have my first car, a 1964 VW pickup truck in the garage and was worried about it.  So I came home and got a pair of bolt cutters and a new lock and heading back to see what was up.

I got there and the lock was off the door and it was standing open a crack.  I opened the door and there was a woman standing there.  I said hi and asked her what she was doing there.  She told me she was living there.

It was a little cold, in the 40’s and wet out.  I told her that it wasn’t a good place to live.  I told her the weather was only going to get worse over the winter and that it we had a great, warm fall, but it is going to be cold.

The woman was nice.  She said she was from Arkansas and explained some of her problems.  I talked to her for maybe 15 minutes and said that I’d try to help her find a safer, warmer place to live.  I told her she could stay in the back of my pickup truck, which she had made up like a little nest with blankets.

I went home and called around.  I found a shelter which would take her.  They would let her live there and feed her.  But she had to agree to come between 1 and 3 pm.

She said she was going to the library,  I drove by and the lock was on.  So I drove to the library to find her.  No luck.  I searched around for a couple hours, but couldn’t find her. My window, 3 o’clock passed, so I realized she was going to have to spend another night there.

I went by again at sunset, a little after 5, but the lock was still on the door, meaning she wasn’t inside.

Now it is Thanksgiving morning and I feel distraught.  I feel like I should go there as soon as it is light and make sure she is alright.  The shelter told me that she couldn’t check in today, so she has to spend Thanksgiving homeless.  I guess that is correct.  Probably many people throughout the world wouldn’t call it homeless, but here, that is the case.  I think I’ll go over to and check on her this morning and see if there is anything I can do for her.  I’m going to explain the shelter situation and see if she might be good with that.  If not, I’m going to have to come up with another alternative.

I think all Americans should realize how fortunate we are being born here.  No matter what your economic situation is, we’ve already won the lottery compared to many places on this planet.  Even this woman staying in a garage is potentially better off than the majority of people in certain places like Africa, China, Central or South American.  It is sort of sad, but the truth. We should focus more on what we appreciate and less on our shortcomings, so we can be a more cohesive society.

Anyway, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I appreciate my luck in life and even more appreciate my friends.

Today, Stacie and her family are driving her from Louisville.  They started yesterday and are going to be here this morning.  We’re going to ride indoors, then eat later this afternoon.  Keith and Catherine are going to Kansas City to have Thanksgiving with Keith’s family.  I’m going to go get Catherine’s mother to have Thanksgiving dinner with us.

Tomorrow, most of my cycling friends and such are going over to Keith and Catherine’s for a post Thanksgiving gathering.  It is supposed to be pretty nice weather here, so I’m sure there will be some rides scheduled.  I’m just gonna stay inside and take it slow.

Anyway, have a good day, enjoy the day and the food.  Don’t take it for granted, it is special.

Brian and Michelle stopped by yesterday for breakfast on their way back to Colorado. I miss those guys.

Brian and Michelle stopped by yesterday for breakfast on their way back to Colorado. I miss those guys.

This is Jenny, the homeless woman. She is very nice.

This is Jenny, the homeless woman. She is very nice.

thanksgiving

 

 

Friend’s Death – Guilty Plea

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Last June, over a year ago, a good friend of mine, Glenda Taylor, was killed while warming up at the Kansas State Time Trial Championships.  She was hit by a pickup truck while warming up. She was thrown over 150 feet and died at the scene.  A true tragedy.

The driver of the truck was charged with reckless 2nd degree murder.  He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and unlawful passing of a bicycle.   He will be sentenced on January 9th.

I can’t really comment on the whole criminal process here.  I really don’t know enough about it other than my friend is dead.   The guy that hit her is 38 years old and will serve some time in jail.  I don’t know how long and really don’t care.  No one wins here.   It is a bad deal.

Our cycling group, here in Topeka, actually, all of Kansas, really misses Glenda.  She exemplified what is good about our sport.  She was always a joy to be around.

It is strange how you take friends for granted until they aren’t around.  Then you feel bad because you just assumed that wouldn’t possibly be the situation so soon.  It’s a hard way to learn how life works.

Anyway, I think about Glenda a lot.  A lot recently.  She used to come over for Thanksgiving.

In reality, the deal is that  I miss Glenda. It is as simple as that.

This is a group from Topke out in Colorado hiking. Bill, Vincent, Catherine, Glenda, Brian and Keith.

This is the group from Topeka out in Colorado hiking. Bill, Vincent, Catherine, Glenda, Brian and Keith.

Glenda was the head of the art department at Washburn University. She made beautiful pottery. I am lucky enough to have some.

Glenda was the head of the art department at Washburn University. She made beautiful pottery. I am lucky enough to have some.

 

 

 

TBI’s are Complicated

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You know, I don’t take much anything for granted.  I realized, really realize, that I won the lottery when being born here in Kansas, in the United States of America.  I have been so fortunate to be able to travel throughout the world, allowing me to observe how the rest of the humans on it live.  It just reconfirms how lucky I am.

As I age, things are getting a little tougher.  Which is to be expected.  It is a new challenge, which I like challenges, so it’s fine.   Injuries aren’t nearly so good though.  Short term injuries can, and sometimes do, turn into permanent issues.  That is understandable.  I get it, so it is just another part of life.

This head injury I have now is something I didn’t expect.  I’ve been concussed quite a few times in my life.  It is nearly impossible to not have been if you race bicycles as much as me.  I’ve been doing this since I was a young teenager, so, of course, I’m going to have been hurt a fair amount.

I’ve been trying to read up on this TBI issue.  I guess just about anytime you hit your head you suffer some kind of TBI, which is traumatic brain injury.   Like I wrote a few days ago, normally when I whack my head hard enough to knock me out, I break something else that overtakes the head problem as soon as I wake up.  Normally a broken collarbone, shoulder, or any number of other bones.  The concussion becomes nearly nothing as I try to recover from the whole crash.

Not this time.  I wasn’t too worried about it at the hospital.  They told me that they didn’t have to drill a hole in my head to relieve pressure and that it might take a bit, but I would be fine.  I though that meant like I was going to have a bad week or two, then everything was going to fix itself.  I knew nothing.

I’ve been reading up on this whole thing for a bit each day.  What I’ve learned is that there are so many different levels of these TBI’s that it is a wait and see game.  I’ve actually talked to a few guys that have had them and I’m skipping that for a few more weeks.    These things can linger for a long while.  I’m going to wait until I see the doctor at KU med and get some answers to the questions I still have before I take a different tact.

My main problems so far are headaches, which are nearly unbearable, and loss of balance. And of course, lack of close to enough sleep.  These three things make the day kind of a wreck.  I don’t have enough energy to do anything and can’t sleep enough to get the energy so I can. Pretty big quandary.   It has to get better sooner.  Because later is going to be a long time from now. Ouch.

I’m hoping this is all over by the time the election is over.   I know that it all won’t be over completely, but I’m hoping that I can sleep by then.  I’ve listened to enough NPR from all over the world about our election.  I’m done with that.  Let’s just vote and move on to the next stupid thing that no one agrees on.  It ain’t going to get any better this next week.

Okay, time limit is up again.  I probably should read my emails soon.  It is over a 1000 now. Most I’ve read are just well wishes, which is super nice.  Lots from people I haven’t seen in a long time, which is great.  It is the weekend.  NPR on Saturday morning is alright.  It doesn’t start early enough for me, since  Friday night is really the start of my Saturday morning currently.

Tucker has been laying on the coffee table in the living room to keep an eye on me and what is going on out front.

Tucker has been laying on the coffee table in the living room to keep an eye on me and what is going on out front.  Pretty weird spot for a dog.

Brain Squished my Eye

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Okay, I’ve finally started the doctor rounds.  Yesterday was an optomalogist appointment.   I really haven’t been able to see very well out of my right eye since I fractured my skull.  I wasn’t thinking it was going to be useful, but I was wrong, as usual here.

The guy I saw, i’d never met before.  He says he used to race bicycles, criteriums mainly, when he was going to school in Florida.  Now he climbs mountains.  Pretty nice guy.

As it turns out, he did a ton of stuff.  He took pictures of the insides of both my eyes, measured the thickness of the lenses and lots of other stuff.  I have about 30 minutes of energy in me and this took close to 3 hours, so I eventually just sat, then did whatever his staff asked.

As it turns out, my right eye got pretty squished from my brain slamming forward on it. Squished enough that it isn’t too happy and needs some attention.  It doesn’t sound like I have to have any surgery or anything, but I guess I’m supposed to take some more steroids, like for a while.  He told me that I need to come and see him pretty often and it will probably take over 3 months before we know exactly how it is all going to work out.

Wow.  Three months from now is the end of January.   The steroids cost something close to $300 at the pharmacy, for the first round.  I’m going to research the whole thing a little bit before I commit to this whole deal.  Steroids and these TBI’s don’t sometime like to get along that great.

I have a neurosurgeon appointment this morning at 10 am.   That is 8 hours from now.  I think it is the final appointment with him.  I’m hoping, plus assuming, that I don’t need any head surgery as of now, so this should be a easy one.  I have more appointments next week at KU Med, where I guess I’m going to find out better how long this whole thing is going to take.  I’m planning on getting on a new drug regiment then.  Hopefully something that will allow me to expand my night from 3 hours sleep to something closer to normal, like over 6 at least.  These days are so, so long, like only 2 hours sleep last night.

The Cubs did pretty well last night.  Incredible they hadn’t won the World Series in 108 years.  Probably a pretty happy bunch of baseball players.  Trudi is pretty happy, since Chicago is her home town.

Okay, time is about up.  Funny how short of a time I can concentrate on any given thing now. Guess it is all part of getting better.  Pretty slow going though.

Pretty modern eye doctor's office.

Pretty modern eye doctor’s office.

Guess this is a photo of the inside of my eyes. Seem sort of veiny.

Guess this is a photo of the inside of my eyes. Seem sort of veiny.

Dr. Marefat looking over all the data he collected. Super good guy.

Dr. Marefat looking over all the data he collected. Super good guy.  Really good doctor.

 

Danny Chew Paralyzed

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I just read last night, when I got back from St. Louis, that Danny Chew,  RAAM winner and all around good guy, fell yesterday and broke his back and is now paralyzed from the waist down. What a tragedy.

I’ve known Danny for a very long time.  Since he was a teenager, and me nearly too.  His brother Tom and I rode together, on a composite team, in the first Coors’ Classic I did.  We were sponsored by Anchor Steam Beer.  The Chew’s, Tom, Danny and their father, drove through Topeka and picked me up on their way to Colorado.  We trained in Aspen for a week before the race.

Danny has always danced to his own beat.  I only saw him every few years recently.  Actually, I don’t think I’ve seen him that recently.  I last time I remember seeing him was at Interbike. Wow, that was a while ago.

Danny promotes a race/ride in Pittsburg call the Dirty Dozen.  I watched a video on it  (below) and put it on my bucket list right after.  It looks like a blast.

Danny is in the hospital and his injury is early to diagnose.  But he has some broken vertebra and is missing feeling in his legs.  Danny has a lifetime goal of riding 1,000,000 miles.  It is rumored that he said  – “I’ll just have to finish my million miles on a hand cycle. So be it.”

Danny’s friends sent up a crowd funding site to help cover some of the costs of the excess medical bills, which, for sure, are going to be huge.  Click here for the link if you think you be able help out.  

Danny, with his whistle, ready for the start of the Dirty Dozen.

Danny, with his whistle, ready for the start of the Dirty Dozen.

I believe this is the Morgul-Bismark stage of the Coor's Classic that year. I'm #47, Tom just above me.

I believe this is the Morgul-Bismark stage of the Coor’s Classic that year. I’m #47, Tom, #48, just above me.

 

Sports Hall of Fame Induction

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Last night was the induction ceremony for the Shawnee County/Topeka Sports Hall of Fame.  I’m not sure the process that selected me, but it was a honor being picked.  The two other inductees, Clardy Vinson and Judy Dyer were genuine people.  Guys we could just hang out with. Both Olympians and both super nice.  It was a pleasure getting to know them just a bit.

The ceremony was held in a ballroom at the downtown Ramada Inn.  It was sponsored by Capitol Federal Bank and a slew of other local businesses.  I was surprised how many people were there and  how well it was run.  I’m not sure why that was.  I guess I expected a lower key deal.

Anyway, I had my own table set up in the front.  Keith and Catherine Walberg were there, along with my brother Kris, plus Bill.   There was a dinner first, then the awards ceremonies.  Along with the Hall of Fame inductions, there were awards for the best student athletes from Shawnee County.

Man, were some of those kids talented.  Not just talented, but smart.  I don’t think I heard a grade point average less than 3.5 and some of them had something like 4.4.  I’m not sure how you even get to 4.4, but more than a handful hand grade points over 4.

Judy was inducted first.  She gave a very inspirational speech.  She moved from Topeka after high school and lives in Houston now.  There was no organized running when she grew up, so she did it pretty much on her own.  She ran the hurdles in the 1968 Olympic Games.

Clardy was last, me sandwiched in the middle.  Clardy was a running coach when I was in high school.  He told me that he asked me to go out for cross country, but I don’t remember that.  Clardy went to K-State and was a two time All-American.  He was part of the distance medley relay that set a world record at the Drake Relays.  He went on to be principal of Topeka High. Pretty good resume.

Catherine introduced me.  She was awesome.  It was a little embarrassing listening to someone publicly say your achievements, but that is my problem.

I kept my acceptance speech short.  Mostly about how lucky I am to happen upon the sport of cycling.  And that the sport has given me insight to how the rest of the world works, somewhat, and gives me a sense of empathy that I most likely wouldn’t have without it.

Anyway, it was a relief when it was over.  I’m not too big on public speaking.  It was a little easier because I didn’t know that many people in the audience.

It is always a privilege being honored by your peers.   It was sort of strange being selected by a committee of people from Topeka, that aren’t involved in cycling at all.  When I took that into consideration, it was a bigger deal than I initially thought.  All in all, it was a really fun night, pretty special.  Here’s a link the local news did last night.

The gave me one of these and the 2nd one is going to hang in the Topeka Public Library for a year, then go to Topeka High.

They gave me one of these and the 2nd one is going to hang in the Topeka Public Library for a year, then go to Topeka High.

Judy, Clardy and me.

Judy, Clardy and me.

Catherine introducing me.

Catherine introducing me.

The layout in the program. I'm not sure why they put a picture of Tom Danielson flipping off Kalan, but I dig it.

The layout in the program. I’m not sure why they put that picture of Tom Danielson flipping off Kalan, but I love it.

Glenda Taylor Ride Tomorrow from Washburn University, Topeka

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I meant to post this a couple days ago, and was reminded just tonight, but there is a local memorial ride for our friend Glenda Taylor, who was killed at the Kansas State Time Trial Championships last year.  The ride leaves WU Art Bldg tomorrow May 22, at 11:00.  Two distances, 18 and 43 mile.  So, if you’re anywhere close to Topeka and want to ride with a bunch of great people, you should try to attend.   More information can be found here.  

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