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Happy New Year!

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Hi. I raced in the snow and then hung with some good friends in Lawrence until the wee hours of today. I’m feeling a little beat, kind of under the weather, but not enough so that I didn’t want to get out and participate in the activities yesterday. But, I’m going to bed, so I’ll use the morning to post something more substantial. It snowed a few inches here and is supposed to be cold, so it’s not going anywhere very quickly. Hope everyone the best in this New Year.

Me, Joseph, & Shadd.

Racing in the snow, Crossing off the Old Year.

Bringing in the New Year with Prosecco.

Pit Bulls, Do We Need Them?

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Yesterday in Topeka, a 2 year old girl was killed by a pit bull. It was very tragic, but dogs do bite humans. My question is, why do we, as a society, allow people to own and breed such an animal.

I know I’m going to take a bunch of flak for this, but I think that we need to pass legislation making it illegal to breed pit bulls and the current ones need to all be spayed or neutered. We, humans, blew this one. We were the ones that bred the aggressive behavior into the dogs and there isn’t a group that is doing the opposite.

I talked to a lot of friends about this and a lot of them disagree with me. But, the facts speak for themselves-

Of the 88 fatal dog attacks recorded by DogsBite.org, pit bull type dogs were responsible for 59% (52). This is equivalent to a pit bull killing a U.S. citizen every 21 days during this 3-year period.

The data also shows that pit bulls commit the vast majority of off-property attacks that result in death. Only 18% (16) of the attacks occurred off owner property, yet pit bulls were responsible for 81% (13).

And let me tell you, by percentage, pit bulls are not a large percentage of all dog ownership. The statistic that blows me away is that pit bulls were responsible for 81% of off property deaths.

I’m sorry, but we made the breed, and as a society, we can choose to un-make it. We allowed people to breed undesirable traits into the animals that make them a danger.

David Lee, co-founder of the Lehigh Valley Pitbull Awareness Club, said his heart goes out to victims of dog attacks, particularly young ones. But Lee said the problem is irresponsibility of owners, not dogs predisposed to hostility.

He is wrong. Many pit bulls in our society have a predisposed propensity for hostility. The majority of people currently breeding the dogs are breeding just that into them. It would be the same as saying that Bromont, an English Setter, is not predisposed to finding birds.

I have a good friend here in Topeka. Her sister worked at the Postal Service sorting letters. She worked from something like 7 pm to 3 am. Anyway, she got off work one night and went home. She had two pit bulls, maybe 5 or 6 years old, that she had raised from puppies. They were asleep, as always, on her bed. When she got undressed and got into bed, she must of scared one of the dogs and it attacked her. Then the other dog joined in. She was mauled terribly. This was in her home by her own dogs.

The jaw strength of these animals is unbelievable. And these dogs have been bred to have a hold and shake bite style causes severe bone and muscle damage, often inflicting permanent and disfiguring injury.

You can’t own these dogs in Australia and some European countries. I know having breed specific laws seem unfair. But, we blew this one. I wouldn’t let a pit bull anywhere near a child if I had my way. All dogs will bite humans. We as a society realize that. But, when the bite can kill, very quickly, we need to address it.

Willow

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I buried our cat Willow last night. I buried her under her favorite tree that she used to climb onto the roof of the house. It is by the back door which is constantly used by Bromont and the rest of the gang. She won’t be bored for sure.

Pets dying are a part of life of a pet “owner”. I don’t really believe that humans own their pets. I think they cohabitant and are each other’s companions. But, this was different. There is a pretty high chance that I ran her over with my car in the driveway. I’m not positive, but there isn’t any other explanation.

The weird thing about that is she is a quick cat. A ex-feral cat. Not a lay around, let people walk around me cat.

We came upon Willow, or more appropriately, she came upon us about 10 years ago. There was this large kitten, small cat living in a wood pile in our back yard. I didn’t really see her much, but there were a lot of sightings. Trudi eventually started leaving food out on the back porch. I told her that if she left food, it was going to come inside.

So a couple nights later I set up a trap. It was actually like on TV, a plastic laundry basket, held up with a stick with a string tied to it, going to the window. I put some food out, turned on the back porch light and waited. Nothing. For maybe 3 hours until after midnight.

The next morning I woke up and Kris has left a note on the kitchen counter. There is blood everywhere. The note says that he caught the cat, it’s in the back bathroom and it bites.

Bill comes over to ride around 10 and he wants to see the cat. So, we go and open the bathroom door. It looks like the Tasmanian devil has gone through it. She is on top of the top curtain rod looking like a rabid bat. We shut the door and went riding.

Kris wakes up just a bit later. He goes down to the bathroom, looks in and thinks I’ve taken her to the pound. So, he cleans up the bathroom and proceeds to take a shower. While he’s showering, he looks up and sees the cat up on the curtain by the ceiling.

So Kris goes out to the garage, nude, and gets some welding gloves and goes back into the bathroom and grabs her. Then he takes her to the kitchen sink and gives her a flea bath. There is nothing that calms young cats down like getting the really wet. I’m not kidding here. They become super docile.

Anyway, the cat lived in the back bedroom for a couple months. Then, late at night it started prowling around. After a few months, it walked around the house in the light. Eventually, it lost its fear and lived among us.

The only time I come close to religion is when a pet dies. I make up a Indian-like scenario where the animal’s spirit gets to hang in its favorite places and stays around.

I try to think about what could have gone differently during the day to change the time sequence and thus the one in a million chance that our paths crossed. Just about anything for me.

A exhaust manifold stud that was striped took an extra two hours of attention. I would have been riding, but for that bolt. Looking for a socket for just that much longer. Listening to the engine longer before I started driving. And her list would probably be longer. A moth that didn’t fly by. The squirrel found its acorn and ran up the tree 15 seconds before she came around the corner. Just about anything once again.

Life can end so abruptly. I honestly don’t think my life is any more valuable than Willow’s. I just don’t. And I value my life, to a certain extent, so I must value her life.

It took a while to cut through the tree roots and get below the layer of clay. She was in a fleece pillow case. Burying pets, it seems so wrong scooping in the first shovel full of dirt. I think I project myself there, or something like that, but it just seems is so horrible.

Anyway, it is now close to 2 am. I just got back from riding my MTB around Washburn University. It is cathartic. At least for me. It helps to sort and maybe even purge some of the stronger emotions. I’ve always had that to fall back upon. I’m lucky.

Turning 113 years old Sept. 5th

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I got a note from Michael Aisner that he’d be in Topeka this weekend. Tom Schuler’s grandmother is turning 113 on September 5th. I helped her move out of her house in 1997 when she was 100. Boy, does time fly.

It used to crack me up when Tom would say that he talked to his grandmother and my name would come up. Tom would tell me that Ella would say that maybe he should ride with the Tilford boy and that maybe he could learn something. Even though Tom had been on a Olympic Team and had won the Professional Road Nationals in Philadelphia.

Anyway, I’ve been following Ella Schuler’s progression on the supercentenarian list for a couple years now. She started in the upper sixties and now is officially the 12th oldest human on the planet. Michael always stresses how rare it is to meet someone born in the 1800’s. I never thought much about it because I grew up with my grandmother and she was born in 1892. But, now, meeting someone that was born in the 1800’s, that person has to be at least 110 years old. That is pretty old, even by today’s standards. Anyway, I thought I should again post Michael’s video a that he made last year about Ella, in celebration of another birthday this weekend.

ELLA @ 112 — THE MOVIE from Michael Aisner on Vimeo.


The list above is of the oldest documented people currently living on the planet.

Riding in Eastern Kansas

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I just rode my bike the 80 miles from Topeka to Kansas City. I needed to get my iPhone looked at by the genius guys at the Apple Store. Anyway, it was a perfect day. Mid 70’s, little wind, nice. It is around 30 miles to Lawrence KS, then another 30-35 miles to the KC outskirts, and the rest of the way through city. I was riding listening to music on my phone. I usually have a rule against riding with earphones, but this is a pretty isolated ride after Lawrence . Anyway, I hadn’t ridden my bike by myself for a period that long for quite a while. I usually train with other guys. Almost exclusively. I love riding in groups. That is one of the coolest things about the sport. A bunch of people with vastly different abilities can go out and train together and everyone gets a workout. Anyway, I was surprised how much I missed riding by myself. I was having a good day on the bike. The hills seemed small. Nearly effortless. But, that wasn’t completely it. It was the I hadn’t taken the time to look around and appreciate the surroundings recently. And I was now. This is one of the best times of the year for that. Everything is lush. Looks fresh. The creeks and ponds are all full. This route crosses both the Santa Fe Trail crossing and California Road, which preceded the Santa Fe Trail. The Oregon Trail also crosses here. It is amazing thinking that 1000’s of pioneers walked nearly 2000 miles to the West Coast 150 years ago. And I’m digging riding my bike 80 miles. The Apple Store is at the Country Club Plaza. It is a outdoor mall that was built over 100 years ago. It was designed architecturally after Seville, Spain. Super high end shops and nice restaurants. It is rumored to have more fountains than Seville. There are a ton fountain here, every corner. I rode through Mission Hills on the way. It neighbors the Plaza. One of the most affluent residential areas in the country. Winding roads. Mansions. Tasteful opulence. Anyway, the Tour of Missouri finishes at the Plaza. A women’s criterium is held right before the finish of the men’s race. So, you should go out of your way and try to make it to the end of the Tour of Missouri in September. Make sure you get a nice room right on The Plaza. I can’t think of a much better way to spend the weekend if you’re a bike race fan. And ’til then, make some time to go out and do a nice long ride. Alone.
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