Saturday, February 21, 2015

On the Job Training

This Fall/Winter we decided to catch up on some house projects after basically neglecting our home for over a decade. So far things have been going well and Christopher has gotten some "on the job training".  He still has no idea what he wants to do in life.  He really liked woods class and seems to like working with his hands.  Like many young adults he does not know what he would like to do.  Other than that he is a hard working kid that will work if you tell him what needs to be done. 

I think the best thing you can do is have your kids try different things.  I tried many things growing up and found out early on some of the things I did not want to do for my career. Professional Motocross racer?  Sure why not until you nearly kill yourself jumping a huge double (which actually was not intended to be jumped but you had to try it anyway).  Truck driver? Not for me - I had trouble keeping away driving at night.  Account/Bookkeeping?  Not for me.  Truck mechanic?  Not for me.  Stock Broker?  I actually wish I would have pursued  that career more but I was a little timid in my early 20's.  Bicycle Mechanic?  If only I could make money working on bikes I would be happy. 

First task before it got cold and the ground froze was to fix an area behind the house.  Over the last year water stopped draining away from the house.   Still do know know the root cause.  I think it was Carolynn's garden that she planted a couple of years ago.  The soil she put down so her vegetables would grow basically seemed to cause a dam and did not allow the water to drain away like it has for the past 14 years.   It could have been the drain pipe along the side of the house. It was filled with dirt and rocks. As a project I asked Christopher to clear the pipe but he could not find a way.  When I went to assist him I came up with a brilliant way to clear the pipe.  I used our shop vac and sucked all the dirt out.  It seemed to work very well because the next rain the water drained right down the new french drain that Christopher installed.   Maybe there is a career in Landscaping for him?

 One thing Christopher has learned is the damage that water can cause.  We ended up just replacing this small section of wood rot.  The end result looks very good.  We also chiseled away some concrete that was causing the problem in the first place.

 It is amazing what termites can do.  Luckily we caught them early and only had to repair two sections of siding.  Overall Christopher did a good job.  He still needs to some carpentry skills but with direction he can do the job.  Just do not leave him alone on a project because he seems to waste a lot of time texting  :-)

Some deck refinished was next.  Overall the deck was in good shape and just needed cleaning and staining.  This project took forever also with Christopher working alone.  If you ask me painting is an art.  As with the front of the house Christopher needs more patience and develop into an artist.

One of the next projects was to refinish the kitchen floors.  We had several spots with high wear and we wanted to fix the creaking floors.  I am happy to report that the creaks are gone and we have a shinny floor. I do not think Christopher will pursue a career in this field.

Mechanical skills are something Christopher really needs to work on.  We worked on several projects on our motorcycles like replacing the chains, sprockets, and installing a new Twin Air power flow kit.  I think we found out why we have been going through valves.  Dirty air will do that.  While disabling the air box boot I found several missing bolts that held the boot to the box.  Hopefully keeping a clean air source will allow us to go once complete season without a rebuild.

The other project we have decided to focus on this winter is refinishing all the wood cabinets.  Overall this project is going along nicely.  Bathrooms are done and now we are working in the kitchen again.  


Our last project we tacked was replacing the hot water heater.  My friend Ashley Blum helped us out on this one because I did not want to blow us up since we have a gas water heater.  He worked with Christopher and showed him each step. He even learned to solder and impresses me with his work.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Time for a Change

I thought I posted this already and everyone knew, but I have received dozens of emails about event promotion and our 2015 season. Well it is official - I am taking a break from promoting cycling events.  Why you ask?   The first reason is my work and what I have to do to grow in that area of my life - see below.
The biggest reason for not promoting anymore is my family and my team. It takes a lot of hard work and time to promote events properly.  I started over a decade ago because I wanted to give back to cycling/racing. When I look at the work that my family/team does to make these events possible and then get turnouts like we had at our last event and get basically harassed about cost (and the way the events are run) and have riders boycott your events.  There are turning points in life and that was a big one for me. Add in the changes that USA Cycling have made and it is not worth the risk I personally take to promote.  I am not going to ask my family and friends to help anymore unless there is a big change in our area

It is time to make some change in my career also.  Off with the long hair and back to school.  I have worked hard at my job and waited long enough.  Time to make some serious changes and invest in my life and career.   More on this later but many people will be surprised to learn of my new path in life.

Damn my hair was long.  I feel much better now and ready to tackle the next chapter of my life.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When to Quit?

I must confess something.  I have a really bad habit of not knowing when to walk away.  This dates back to when I was a child.  With only a few exceptions I always push through the hard times and keep fighting.  A trait I acquired form my parents who never give up no matter how far down in a hole they are. 

But sometimes quitting is the best option.  Like back in 1990 when I decided to leave the sport I loved.  The only other sport I was ever good at besides baseball.  A sport that took part of my families life and nearly mine......

....on the long drive from Parkland, Florida to Gainsville, FL I felt kind of weird.  In the past when I went to race at the famed Gatorback Cycle Park I was always so excited.  On this drive I felt kind of empty.   I kept asking myself "why am I still doing this?"

Gatorback is not your typical Florida sand track.  I was a sand specialist and even though out of state riders label it as sand it is not.  Gatorback is build around an old rock quarry and its dirt and layout is hard.  Today I would race two classes but first there was practice.  Not to many things can beat the first laps around a motocross track.  Flying around on a smooth course with nothing but a big smile on your face.  Practice went o.k. but I still felt strange.  I had signed up for two classes and was looking forward to doing good  - at least winning some gas money back home.   Well at least I expected to do good in the first two motos.  I knew the second motos would be very hard due to the course breaking down and all the holes developing making the going tough.

As I line up on the full gate of  riders and I go through my normal start routine.  A routine that I practiced hundreds of times in my head and when everything goes as planned I usually get a great start.   Gates drops and I pull off a great start and lead into the first corner and then plunge down into the "Gator pit"  The trip out of the Gator Pit is just as fun - see above.  As I re-grip my throttle at the bottom and prepare to accelerate out my rear end hits a square hole and kicks my bike side ways.  I stay on the gas but my momentum is gone and I do not make the large double and land on the face of the next jump.  The rider in 2nd place jumps over me and hits my head in mid-air.  Usually this would not faze me, but with the recent injury to my brother it really effected me.  I did my best to continue on racing and ended up getting a top 5.  Respectable finish but I was not happy.

I go back to the pits to rest up and prepare for my other race.  Something inside of me said to quit but Chris Locke does not quit.  None the less I kept getting these strong feelings to pack up.  I clean up my goggles, put on a couple of tear offs, fuel my bike and check over everything.  I go lineup to line to start and again get a great jump.  I am up in the top 3 but I felt all out of sorts.  My mind would not stop thinking about crashing and what would happen to me.  As I approach a larger uphill double that used to be part of the layout at Gainsville (before you entered the stadium section and dropped down into the pit).  The exit out of the preceding corner was really getting choppy and again my rear end got kick out.  This time I did not stay on the gas and just started letting riders go by.  As each rider passed I felt their roost hit my chest and face.  It was like they were hitting me with small rocks and I felt like I did one day in middle school when some bullies were throwing things at me.

The checker flag is waved to end the moto.  I was never so happy to see that waving black white flag.  As I idle past everyone in the pits everything is in slow motion.  I feel like everyone is looking at me.  I find my pit, throw my bike up on my stand and walk to my trailer to find a friend of my there.  I went to get my my video camera and ask her to film me.  She obliged and went on to film me state these words - "My name is Chris Locke and I for the first time in my life I quit".  I said a few more words and if I can get that old tape converted I will post it up.  When I look at that tape and look into my eyes when I announced that I was quitting Motocross racing I see a young man that just made a life changing decision.

What does all this have to do about today?  Well it is closing in on the end of 2014.  I have recently had one of my worse years ever racing my bicycle.   It is not from that lack of trying either.  I have put in some miles and suffered during training just so I can "get up on that Podium".  The results have not been there this year (especially in cyclocross) and I feel just like I did back in 1990 when those riders kept passing me.  While there were no rocks being thrown up by their rear tires I still felt a pain in every pass that was made on me.

I am now asking myself is it time to quit bicycle racing?   Maybe it is time to put this old dog out to pasture.  I guess is comes down to what your goals are.  My goal once was to be a professional motocross racer.  When I could not longer do that because of fear I released it was time to quit. 

It is a hard decision to let go of any true passion in your life.  Currently I have signed up for two endurance events for 2015 - CIRREM and Ouachita Challenge.   Signing up for those two was more out of habit than anything else.  Based on what I see in the mirror today I will not be signing up for any other events any time soon. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

My South Florida Adventure

I recently got a chance to take a week off and head down to my old stomping grounds in South Florida.  It was a solo trip without the family.  The weather was great with temperatures in the low 80's everyday except the day I departed back home.
Everyday was spent either heading to the beach,  riding mountain bike trails, going kayaking or both.

Down on Miami Beach they were filming a Orbitz commercial.  It is amazing what an artist can build out of sand. 
I headed out to the Amelia Earnhart Mounatin Bike trails. These trails are very popular for good reason.  There must have been over a 100 people out riding.  No race, no event just riding.  Very popular indeed.
It has been over 15 years since I last rode/raced at Amelia.   The entire trails system has been revamped. I thought the Golden Gate Trail was very cool.  

Back in 1999 the Sandblaster series was very popular.  I enjoyed those event a lot back then. Man have the trails changed. 
Some really cool features have been added and the maintain the trail system very well.  One thing I really like about all of the trails down in South Florida is that they are directional.   It makes riding really safe especially when there are so many riders.
You never know what you will find riding down in the middle of Miami, Florida.  I found this and a few other gems including a boat.
Every park I went to had a bike wash area.  South Florida riders like to keep their equipment clean.
I headed North to kayak the Arthur Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge.  The lady who owns this canoe/kayak rental place has been there for close to 25 years.  It is a small family business.  Today here nephew was running the place.  One day I would like to have a business like this.
The Everglades are full of all kinds of wildlife.  This little guy paid me a visit while I was getting ready to head out for the days adventure. 

I had the entire Canoe Trail to myself.  When Carolynn and I go we usually do only one lap but I decided to try two laps today for about 12 miles.  The going was tough at times do to the Nymphaeaceae (Lily Pads). I had to take several brakes to complete my journey.
There is a business for everything down in Florida.  It appears that the residents are so overworked that they can not even clean there own BBQ grills.  Actually when I think about what a pain it is to clean a grill I wonder if I should open up a franchise here in KC?
I rode at Quite Waters several times because my parents live only about 5 miles from the park.  Quite Waters used to be the main trail system that I would ride on when we lived in Coconut Creek.   This park was flattened by hurricane Wilma back in 2005. 
The entire trail system at Quite Waters had to be rebuilt.   For a small area that got a lot of trails with most of them double back along each other. 

This little island brought back some memories.  Back in the early 80's before Quite Waters was even built this area was used by 4x4's and ATC's (yes I said ATC.  ATV's as we know them today were not yet made).   I used to swim out to it.  Funny how things looked so large when you were a kid.

Overall I think they did a good job of rebuilding the Quite Waters trail system.  It has  rocky base in most areas as the terrain was drudged up from the Quite Waters lake years ago.
On my last day I visited Markam Park in Ft. Lauderdale.  This trail system as also changed over the years with many new miles of trails.
The soil on many of the trails were a nice black rich soil.  It was very fun to fly along through the trail system with all the traction you could possible ask for.
Of all the parks I think enjoyed Markam Park the most.  They variety of trails there is overwhelming. 
I about killed myself riding down this section.  It might have been because I was riding a bike that was to small for me.  After this near death experience I realized why the park makes you watch a safety video and sign a waiver before you ride.  I never did watch that video and sneaked in on the backside of each course.  Funny all those old places that I used to ride into the park are still there.

It was a good week down in South Florida.  I enjoyed myself and even got a little tan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Key Lime Pie - Redneck Version

After visiting my parents in South Florida for the week, my Mother asked me what I wanted for my final meal.  I said fried chicken, dumplings, okra, black eye peas and key lime pie for dessert.  I enjoyed a delicious dinner but got a redneck version of key lime pie.

3 basic ingredients: Key Lime yogurt (any brand will do) graham crackers and Reddi Whip. 
Step 1:  Crumble your favorite brand of graham crackers in a bowl.  Be careful not to crumble up too much.  Larger pieces will work better.

Step 2: Add your favorite brand of key lime yogurt. Gently spread the yogurt being sure to cover the graham crackers completely.

You should have the bottom layer of graham crackers with a second layer of key lime yogurt.
Step 3: Add a layer of Reddi Whip.  You can also use Cool Whip if you so desire. 

Your personal Redneck Key Lime Pie is now complete and ready.  The above recipe makes one serving.

Step 4: Enjoy your hard work.  This dessert is very tasty.