Category Archives: Important Life Stories

Keith and Catherine are Moving to Seattle

This entry was posted in Important Life Stories on by .

Two of my best friends, Keith and Catherine Walberg, are moving to Seattle. Catherine starts a new job early next week and Keith is going to stay around Topeka for a little while clearing up loose ends. I’ve known these two for close to a quarter century. They started riding bikes with me in the very early 90’s. The first time I saw them at a MTB race, they were wearing hiking boots, riding with toe clips. Since then, we’ve done some pretty incredible things together.

A lot of you know Catherine from racing. She started touring in college, then got into road riding, switched over to MTB racing in the 90’s, took up cyclocross for the Nationals in Kansas City in 2000, now does it all still. Keith mainly rides on the road in the summer and does cross in the winter. He’s also been testing the waters of long (200 mile) gravel road races. Plus, he travels around with us and makes pretty great videos of some of the more major races around the Midwest.

I’m flying out to Seattle this morning with Catherine to help her get sent up. I packed her road bike, plus a Ritchey Breakaway cross bike that she is going to use to commute to work. (I need to get some fenders to put on it.) If anyone has a good suggestions on where they should end up living permanently in the Seattle area, feel free to comment. She is working pretty much right at the Pike Street Market and is looking for a stress free commute to work, along with good places to train.

We had a going away party last Saturday night at our house. Mainly of our friends, that have known them for just as long me, came. It was nice. I’m sure that they’ll be back here in Topeka pretty often, so it really isn’t goodbye. But, that doesn’t mean that they won’t be missed. They are part of the tribe.

Here is a slide show of few photos from the last few years.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A group shot from the party on Saturday night.

A group shot from the party on Saturday night.

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

This entry was posted in Important Life Stories on by .

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.

Some Representation ???

This entry was posted in Important Life Stories on by .

I hate doing this little micro rant on a nice Sunday morning, but the frustration has just been festering and I want to move on. Yesterday I was listening to NPR in the morning and decided to participate in the system and write to my representatives in Washington to tell them how I feel about what is happening currently with the government shutdown and the debt limit problem.

I have rarely done this. Maybe two times in my life. The first time was when smoking on airplanes was allowed and I wrote all the Senators and Representatives in Kansas, plus Jesse Helms, a Senator from North Carolina that was heading some committee that was involved with the legislation. I got a form-ish type response from Jesse telling me that he represented the State of North Carolina and that he had no intention of supporting the legislation to ban smoking on planes. I wrote him back, thru the US mail, telling him my view, that he was one of 100 people in the Senate that represented the whole United States and that he needed to be looking out for the health of our nation, not only citizens of North Carolina.

And that is my issue here. I attempted to email both Senators from Kansas, which I did, along with all four members of the House. The reason I am so worked up is that only one House of Representative member would accept an email from me. The other 3, after entering my zip code, informed me that they only accept email from people from their districts.

What a crock of shit. Do these elected people thing they only represent people that live in their districts? I hope not. Because I think that the majority of people of any given state, believe that the people they elect represent all citizens of that state. I personally believe, all these people that all the states elect to work in Washington D.C. represent all the people of the United States, not only people from their state.

These people work in Washington D.C., not in Kansas. They were elected by people from the State of Kansas, to represent the State of Kansas, not just a specific district or area of the state.

I’m wondering if they only accepted financial donations for their elections from people and companies of their districts? I really, honestly don’t know how this all works, but I’d bet about anything that they all accepted money from about anyone that could legally give it to them. And probably from others too. So if they can and did accept money to be elected from other entities not in their districts, then I believe, they have an obligation to, at the minimum, allow any person from the State of Kansas contact them and give them their opinion on any given subject that is pertinent to the State. Actually, I think they should have to receive contact from any citizen of the United States.

There are only 100 Senators and 435 House of Represetatives members. I don’t have a beef with “my” Kansas Senators. But I do with 3 of the Representatives. The major power of the House is to pass federal legislation that affects the entire country, not just their specific districts. This legislation has to be passed by the Senate and then signed by the President. This legislation affects the ENTIRE COUNTRY. I wonder if they missed that in their election cliff notes.

The government shutdown and debt limit crisis issues are critical to our country’s stability. They need to address the issue, quit posturing and do what is in the best interest of our country. Everyone knows that we have to extend the debt limit and eventually fund the government. If not, our country can not function and the world would go into a financial crisis that would make the housing crisis look like a skinned knee. So I can’t understand why we let this get to this point, the 11th hour. But, that isn’t the point of this rant.

I’d bet that many House and Senate members from many other states have the same filtering systems on their websites. These people are elected by us to do things for us that look out for our best interests. And they have an obligation to listen to us when we feel the need to express our views. And by listening, I mean something as simple as accepting our emails. It is an insult to all Americans when our elected officials deny us the chance to participate in the system. And it is just plain wrong.



Sham on you Tim Huelskamp.  And shame on you Kevin Yoder and Mike Pompeo.

Sham on you Tim Huelskamp. And shame on you Kevin Yoder and Mike Pompeo.

Christian Beattie

This entry was posted in Important Life Stories on by .

Our area lost one of the good guys when Christian Beattie passed away last night. He had been battling leukemia for the past few years. And doing it so bravely that it made me jealous of his mindset. Christian was diagnosed with the disease, but it really didn’t slow him down. He travelled, stayed true to his heart, the bicycle, and lived life to the fullest. I haven’t seen Christian since the Dirty Kanza, but I really didn’t need to. He was one of those guys that you could not see for years and just fall back into a relaxed conversation instantly. He was a soldier, in many ways. He will be missed.

Back when he was just a whippersnapper.

Back when he was just a whippersnapper.

My brother has this bike of his out in our garage.

My brother has this bike of his out in our garage.

Christian being his normally animated self at the Dirty Kanza.

Christian being his normally animated self at the Dirty Kanza.

Check out Christian’s facebook page. Leave a message if you wish.

Harold Lundgren

This entry was posted in Important Life Stories on by .

I’ve skied over the high point of the Birkie course 4 times now. I did it again yesterday, instead of snowshoeing out to the bear den. Up at the top, there is a sign and a big rock, that is now, covered with snow. Right here is where I helped spread the ashes of a friend, Harold Lundgren.

Harold was an interesting guy. First and foremost, I think he would like to be called a cyclist. And he was. But he was much more. He was a friend, a farmer, a brother, and just an all around good guy. And by good guy, I mean the type of guy you could depend on for just about anything. He was a guy you would trust your most secret, secret, or your life. He was that kind of guy.

I think of Harold fairly often. I think of him really a lot when I’m up here. The first time I skied on the Birkie course, it was just Harold and I skiing to the high point from OO. Probably the first 10 times I skied on the Birkie course, it was with Harold.

I met Harold while riding for Michael Fatka. He was one of the original Iowa guys riding on the Raleigh team. He was going to Iowa State and into cycling. I didn’t know Harold that well initially. I got to know him better through the years. Harold wasn’t the best athlete, but he had heart. He would suffer like a dog racing, but I never heard him complain once. He loved the sport.

I have a million Harold stories. I could go on for days. Once, he drove the 45 minutes down from Ames to pick me up at the Des Moines airport. When we got back to the shop in Ames, I couldn’t find my DayRunner, an organizer book, sort of equivalent to a cell phone nowadays, I guess. I thought I’d left it at a pay phone at the airport because I’d been making phone calls while waiting for my bike. Anyway, I tell Harold I have to go back to the airport to get it. He says he’ll drive me in the team van that he picked me up in. We get back to the airport and I go to the payphone and it isn’t there. Then I go ask at lost and found and it hasn’t been turned in. I am bummed. I get back to the van and on the floor, under the passenger seat, is my DayRunner. I am so embarrassed. I apologized to Harold, because he had spent and hour and a half to go out of his way driving me roundtrip to the airport for nothing. He is quiet for a second and then proceeds to thank me for letting him drive me. He said that he couldn’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend time, with a friend, just talking. He said it was the best conversation that he could remember having. It was so nice.

Harold had bad frostbite on his face. The first year we skied, people would stop us all the time and tell him that he needed to go inside or go to the hospital. I was used to it by then. His nose and cheeks would turn white everytime we skied below zero, which was often those first years. He had spent a lot of time outside, farming, in the dead of winter, in southern Iowa, along the Missouri border. It was a hard life. A lonely existence, but he loved it too.

After graduating, Harold moved back near home and farmed. He did that for a couple years, then eventually moved up to Ames and started working for a parent seed company. They made hybrid seeds and Harold would travel around the Midwest and plant and tend to them. He never stopped riding his bike, though.

In the early 90’s, Michael Fatka was cross country bike touring. I think he was riding his bike from Oregon back to Iowa, but I’m a little sketchy on that memory. Anyway, Michael was only a few hours from Ames, so Harold decided to ride out to meet him. Harold was riding out west of Ames, on a paved road, when he was struck, broadside, by a car. It was a kid driving on gravel, in high corn. He didn’t see the stop sign, or it was covered up, but for some reason, he went right through it and struck Harold at full speed. It was just bad luck and an accident.

I got a call from Michael that night telling me that Harold had been hit by a car and that he was in the hospital. I told Michael that I was on my way up. He said that no one was allowed to visit other than family and said I should wait a couple days. I thought that sounded okay. I was surprised when Michael called and said Harold had died. I guess he was pretty much dead on impact, but was still alive enough for his family to donate his organs to others. I couldn’t believe it.

A few days/weeks later, his parents and his sister, decided to hold a memorial service at Iowa State. Harold had been cremated, but they thought that it would be nice and expected a couple dozen of his friends to get together to pay their respects. But it wasn’t a few dozen. It was 100’s of people. His first college roommate, just for a semester, flew up from Florida, I think, and told a life changing story that Harold had helped him through. Person after person stood up and all had their own account of a life changing situation that they consulted with Harold and followed his advice. It was unbelievable.

Harold’s sister told about when she became pregnant and had decided to have an abortion. Harold supported her decision, but told her that it was really up to her to decide, not their parents, her friends, or others, to make this all important decision. She, and Harold, decided that it would be best to keep the baby. And that it was the best decision that she had ever made. And this wasn’t even the most moving of the stories.

Harold’s memory service was a reflection of the impact that he had made on others. I have thought from that point on, that someones death, funeral, memorial, really mirrors or shows the importance that they meant to others. I think that many people would live different lives if they had the ability to see their funerals years before they died.

A few months later, I skied my first Birkie. I skied the race wearing Harold’s bib number. The day before the race, five of us, Michael, Trudi, Pete Caron, Paul Biskup and myself, skied up to the high point with a small film canister of some of Harold’s ashes. His parents had given them to Michael and told him that Harold had told them that it was one of “his” places. We were at the top of the high point, a sunset, on freshly groomed corduroy.

Michael opened the canister and poured a small amount of the ashes into each of our hands. It was the only time I’ve ever actually touched human remains. It wasn’t like I had imagined. It was more like course, ground up bone or rock, not dusty ash. I put some between my thumb and forefinger and rubbed it together. I couldn’t really comprehend that this is what became of us.

Each of us said our own little prayer for Harold. I thanked him for being my friend. Maybe my most loyal friend. I skied out of the 3rd wave the next day and qualified for the Elite wave, top 200.

I don’t have a picture of Harold here. I’m sure I have some at home, on film. Maybe someone out there has one that they could send me and I’ll post it.

Harold’s death made me a better person I think. I think I took Harold for granted. I didn’t realize how important he was to me or how special and unique person he was until he wasn’t around any more. It makes me feel bad I didn’t ever tell him how much he meant to me. But, I think it’s okay. Harold was the type of guy that could tell how people felt about him. He was a true friend.

Sunset yesterday from the high point on the Birkie Trail.

Sunset yesterday from the high point on the Birkie Trail.

Looking North, down the trail from the high point.

Looking North, down the trail from the high point.

You can't really see it that well, but over my shoulder, opposite of the sign is a rock covered with snow.  That is what I consider Harold's rock, I put his ashes there.  I have a little personal conversation with him each time I ski over the hill.

You can’t really see it that well, but over my shoulder, opposite of the sign is a rock covered with snow. That is what I consider Harold’s rock, I put his ashes there. I have a little personal conversation with him each time I ski over the hill.


This entry was posted in Important Life Stories on by .

American Cross Country skiing lost a hero on Saturday when a Russian, Igor Badamshin, died on the Birkie Ski Trail, at OO, from a heart attack. He was 47. Igor was an integral part of CXC Skiing and the right hand man of Yuriy Gusev. I was taking my first nordic ski lesson, after all these years, from Yuriy and Igor, when I got frost bite in early January. Anyway, American cross country skiing lost a true friend. Below is a little about Igor.

This has been a very hard week for most of us, and people and friends from around the country.

The global nordic skiing community and especially here at CXC, have suffered a loss that is rather impossible to process; our coach, our mentor,our ally, our friend Igor Badamshin passed away suddenly last week at only 47 years old. Each one of us is deeply saddened in our own way.

It is really impossible to try and make sense of it, because it makes no sense. What we all know is that in his 47-year life span, he lead an extraordinary life, from his own racing career to the countless acts of caring, hard work, enthusiasm and most of all his time, to help make the sport grow, but also how to have fun doing it. His love of people and the sport knew no bounds. I first met him when he arrived to coach at Gunstock in New Hampshire, and he was loved there. Young people were immediately drawn to him, and already the countless internet tributes to Igor from his athletes and friends has given just a small glimpse of what he had achieved, and the grace and style that he achieved it in.

He was a person of amazing energy and I never failed to be amazed by the power of his hard work, who could build anything, or simply move mountains.

Igor started with CXC as a high performance advisor in 2007, and then started to coach with CXC Junior Development Program in 2008, was CXC Team Coach in 2012-2013 and until last Friday was leading the program as a CXC Head Coach.

“I have known Igor for many years and he is always ready to help, to share joy and sorrow. He is a very good man and a good friend. I speak in the present tense because I still can not believe that he is no longer with us. It is a huge loss for me personally and great sorrow for his entire family. Anytime he struggled with difficulties and setbacks, he would always smile and was not discouraged. So I knew him and try not to forget.” said Andrey Kirilov, a teammate from the Bronze Medal relay at the World Championships in Falun, Sweden back in 1993.

A memorial/gathering is scheduled for Saturday, February 8th from 8pm-10pm at the Cable Community Center, Cable, WI.

We are collecting photos of Igor for a slide show and photos can be e-mailed to

“Igor was the best friend, colleague, mentor and just an amazing person. He was an integral part of everything we did at CXC. He was the one I would call first for an advise or opinion. It’s hard to imagine that he is not with us any more. Just before the tragic moment he called and we talked about plans for the next year, dates for the camps, programs for middle school and high schools skiers, and many other things. To remember Igor, and his passion to coaching junior skiers and athletic excellence we would like to establish a fund in his name to provide scholarship programs for assisting talented junior athletes in Central Region to compete at the U18 Championships and Junior World Ski Championships, ” reflected his long time friend, CXC Executive Director Yuriy Gusev.

The many things that made Igor so special are irreplaceable, but his love and enthusiasm for skiing and people will continue to reverberate and live on in all who he touched. That is but one of his lasting legacies.

Donations towards Igor Badamshin Fund can be mailed to CXC Skiing, P.O. Box 930442, Verona, WI 53593 with “IB Fund” on the memo line.

In all of our collective grief, the fact we must remember was that Igor lived, boy did he live…and we are all the richer for it.

Igor’s Sports Career:

– Peter Graves