Category Archives: Important Life Stories

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.  


rand perkins / ned overend

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This post is about two guys I’ve met through the sport of cycling, Rand Perkins and Ned Overend.  Two guys that are worth knowing.   I guess the main thing they have in common is that they have both seemed to have drunk from the fountain of youth and have defied the aging process.  At least in comparison to most mere mortals.   They both give me hope that the next few years won’t be so awful athletically.

I’ve know Ned for a long time.  I raced with him in the early 80’s when he was living in San Diego.  He rode the Coor’s Classic on my professional road team, then we were team mates for a spell on the Specialized MTB team.   I know him pretty well.  I miss hanging with the guy.  I really enjoy talking to him, but his schedule now is a little more complicated than when he used to race full-time.  He still works for Specialized, but actually seems to work now.  He has to fly all over the world, which you might think is super, but after a while, it becomes a job.  But, even though he has a hectic schedule, he seems to be able to keep super form.

Rand, is a different story.  I met him when he was already in his mid 40’s.   At the time it seemed like he was really old.  How naïve was I then.  Ned and I had just flown back from Japan and were in Atlanta doing a Cactus Cup MTB stage race.  We were kind of jet lagged and the few days before were rainy.

Anyway, we were pretty confident that we were good enough to win the event.  I’m pretty sure it was during the dirt criterium, which was a mini cross country, that I first noticed Rand.  Ned and I were together in the lead and this guy kept hanging around, just a couple hundred meters back.  We were riding through a swampy field and it took a ton of power.  I thought we were going good enough, but the guy was gaining.  Ned finally told me to leave him, which I did.  I think Ned held on for 2nd, but not by much.

After the race I went over and introduced myself to Rand.  He was 8 years older, mid 40’s and hadn’t really been racing bikes on a National level at all.  I asked around and only heard incredible stories about how he could kill anyone on the East coast in a climbing race.

After that, he was on my radar screen.  Eventually, his wife, Laurie, invited me to the Nob Scorcher race she promoted.   I drove out there because I was going to do a road race the next day in Atlanta.  We stayed with them and every since then I consider them friends.

I tried to stop by whenever I went by.   Rand once took Bill Stolte and I on a super MTB ride “near” the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Rand had read something in Bicycling Magazine about how riding bikes affects the parts of your body near the seat.  He must have been having some issues, maybe not,, but for whatever the reason was, he had ridden for a couple months with no seat or seatpost on his bikes.

He took us on a 50 mile MTB ride and stood the whole way.  We actually dropped Bill on the climb.  The descending wasn’t so great for him, without a seat, but that wasn’t his forte anyway.  Bill and I were blown away.  There was absolutely no way we could have done the ride standing.  

After that, he took me paddling.  It was beyond embarrassing.  I was doing a Swanee River paddle and his turnover was like each second.  I could see him for maybe 30 seconds or so before he disappears around the bend.

Now Rand is the guy to beat standup paddling.  He and Laurie spend their winters in Florida and he beats up on just about everyone that competes against him.  He is 63 and has won 12 out of 18 races he did last  year.  Pretty crazy.

Anyway, below are two links to recent stories on both Rand and Ned.  The articles go into depth about each one’s athletic history.  If you have some spare time, check them out.

I am very fortunate to have met both these guys.  I am lucky to be able to call them my friends.

Here’s Ned’s article from Outside Magazine.  

And Rand’s article.

Photo: Dave Lauridsen

Photo: Dave Lauridsen

Photo by  Laurie Perkins.

Photo by Laurie Perkins.





Mental Chinks

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Normally I’m pretty good at handling mental stress.  I used to pride myself on that.  It seems as I age, I have little chinks in my mental armor .  That was the case yesterday.

Yesterday was mentally and physically exhausting.   It was an all day affair.

It started great.  I met up with a group of guys from Louisville Kentucky, that were making their way out to Road Nationals in Lake Tahoe.  It looked like it was going to be a rain out, but the rain dissipated and we got in 30 miles.  It was fun showing them around.

But, I didn’t have any time to even hang, because the memorial for my friend, Glenda Taylor was happening in the afternoon.

I was asked to speak at the memorial, as a representative of her cycling friends.  It stressed me out pretty much, not feeling I could put into words what I felt about her.  Especially in front of all my friends and 100’s of people I didn’t know.

I did the best I could.  The memorial was held in Lee area, where Washburn plays basketball. The stands were filled, which didn’t surprise me.  Maybe people were very fond of Glenda.

People drove, and flew in from all over the country.  Sydney Brown, from Nebraska, drove down with her mom.   I hadn’t seen her in a long time.  I didn’t realize, since I have been hurt and not racing locally, that she hadn’t been racing much at all either.  I realized I missed seeing her.  It is strange how people’s deaths are a gathering of friends that wouldn’t normally gather.  It is sad in some way.

Anyway, I gave my talk.  Towards the end, I broke up a little.  I knew that it was coming.  I couldn’t get through the last line while practicing, so I knew that it was a given it wasn’t going to come out live.  I didn’t care.  I was sad.

Then some of the out-of-town people came over to our house and had some snacks and drank. We had an hour before a private ceremony for closer friends and family at the funeral home.  I was dreading this more than the speech at the University.

But, it turned out fine.  It was pretty low-key, with Glenda’s parents and family just hanging out, chatting and thanking people for being Glenda’s friends.   I talked to her mother for quite a while.  She is farm wife from Chapman Kansas.  Pretty no-nonsense, really quick-witted.  She said that she was so sorry for my loss.  Incredible.  She had just lost a daughter and was being sympathetic to my feeling.   An amazing woman.  A sturdy mother.  Glenda was lucky.

Anyway, then at 8, the last cyclists left standing, went to a restaurant and had dinner and talked some more.  It was super nice catching up with old friends, people who didn’t race anymore, that had children or were pursuing other things in life.

I found it a little funny how I could tell that each and every one of my friends that had quit racing and were doing other things, still had that itch, the  – I could still be doing that look.  Not one of them said, I’m done with that sport and have no desire to ride anymore.  Life just got too crowed and cycling takes up an enormous amount of time, so it is pretty clear that it has to get put on the back burner sometimes.  It was nice to see that it is still simmering back there though.

I woke up way late last night, or early this morning with a splitting headache.  And I still have it. I didn’t drink that much, maybe 2 or 3 glasses of wine total all day.  But, I haven’t been drinking at all the past few weeks, so maybe that contributed.

I think it was the stress.  I hate to admit that, because, like I said initially, I used to pride myself in handling mental stress.  I think emotional stress is much more powerful than typical mental stress.  Athletic stress is much different from those others too.  Athletic stress helps me focus. Especially when I’m going good.

Emotional stress does exactly the opposite.  It defuses your thoughts and makes it nearly impossible to focus.  I don’t meet emotional stress that often.  Close to never.  I’m glad that is the case.

I’m not sure what I’m doing now.  Tulsa Tough is calling, but it looks like it is going to be raining there tonight at 8, when the Pro race is.  I have no business racing a night-time criterium in the rain tonight.  Normally I thrive on races like that, but intellectually, and emotional, now, I’m going to be avoiding those races for a while.

It is supposed to rain again tomorrow in Tulsa too, for Crybaby Hill.  I would do that race in the rain.  There is only one tight corner on the course and it is a off-camber right, at the bottom of the hill.  My right hip is good and is probably feeling a little neglected after all the attention my left hip has gotten the last year or so.

Anyway, I think I’m going to go out of a ride and try to rid myself of this crazy headache and then decide what I’m doing for the rest of the day/weekend.  My mind is kind of meddled right now.

I'm not too into religion, but I have to say, I love the some of the architecture and stained glass.

I’m not too into religion, but I have to say, I love some of the architecture and stained glass.

There was a huge turnout yesterday for Glenda's memorial.  I'm the little dinky guy standing in the middle.

There was a huge turnout yesterday for Glenda’s memorial. I’m the little dinky guy standing in the middle.


My Louisville riding group.  Nice guys.  I wish them best a road Natz.

My Louisville riding group. Nice guys. I wish them the best at road Natz.

Tulsa's weather for the next week.

Tulsa’s weather for the next week.



A Memorial for Glenda Taylor on Friday

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I received an email from Washburn University.  They have been in contact with Joe Saia, and Glenda’s memorial will be on Friday at 3 pm. on Washburn Campus.  So,  it will be this Friday, June 12 at 3 p.m. at Lee Area.  This is open to the public, everyone is invited.  I think there will be a big crowd there.

According to the announcement – Whiting is on the east end of campus and is connected to Petro Allied Health Center. The north entrance leads directly into the practice gym, where the memorial will be held. Attendees are encouraged to park in Lot 4, which is at 19th St. off Washburn Ave. There are a limited number of bike racks around Whiting/Petro if anyone rides over. 

Here’s her obituary from Penwell Gable

                                                     glenda marie copy

Glenda Marie Taylor, 60, of Topeka, died Sunday, June 7, 2015, due to injuries sustained in a bicycle/truck collision near Walnut Kansas. She was a source of never-ending energy, leadership, athleticism and artistry. Her roles included: loving wife, loyal friend, dedicated teacher, fierce runner & cyclist, gifted artist, passionate community leader, and environmentalist.

She was born June 24, 1954 in Chapman, Kansas, the daughter of Gordon and Joyce (Lauer) Taylor. She was married to Joe Saia for 28 years and was a treasure to everyone she met.

Glenda was a 1972 graduate of Chapman High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethany College, a Master of Arts degree from Emporia State University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Kansas State University. Glenda was Chair of the Washburn University Art department, arriving there in the fall of 1987. She was a Washburn faculty member for 28 years, teaching ceramics, sculpture, and art education.

Glenda is survived by her husband Joe; siblings Terry Taylor, Nina Shasteen, Roger Taylor; her parents; and a host of extended family members.

Glenda has been cremated and she will be inurned in one of her own ceramic pots. A public celebration of Glenda’s life will be held at the Whiting Field House on the Washburn University campus at 3:00 PM on Friday June 12, 2015.

In lieu of flowers, a contribution may be sent to the Washburn University Foundation, 1729 SW MacVicar Avenue, Topeka KS 66604 to benefit the Glenda Taylor Memorial Fund.