Tuesday, August 23, 2016

25 Years of Guilt

It is hard to believe how quickly time passes.  They say that time heals all but that is not always true....

25 years ago my younger brother John was involved in an accident that left him a quadriplegic.  This destroyed my family both emotionally and financially.  Half my life has been filled with guilt, sadness, anger, fear and the ever constant WHY.

I have tried many times to "move on" but I always seem to go back into a mourning cycle.  I know it is a personal weakness of mine.  They question is how do I overcome it.  For 25 years I have failed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What's an Old Man to Do?

Looks like winter is finally over and Spring is here which means a slowing of our Good Times Gravel Grinding series.  What a season it has been for gravel riding.   Some of our rides had close to 100 riders.  All of them out having a good time riding gravel.  I have used these rides to meet new friends and try to recover from my hip injury and gain some fitness. They have been fun but challenging. 

The 2016 racing season has officially begun for me.  What that means right now is not entirely clear to me. I had plans to race the Forward Motion Hare Scrambles series again this year along with some MTB racing. Round #1 at Milford Lake was packed with full "gates".  The course had just as much sand as the classes had sandbaggers. I can not remember a time with the winners from the previous season did not move up.  This year no one moved up and several riders moved down making the Veteran Advanced  35+ class full.  Maybe it is time to make a 45+ or 50+ Advanced class?

My new number for the year.  I sure do miss my brothers. Everyday I think of them especially when I ride.  #911 - John Locke : #103 - Joey Locke  Rest In Peace my Brothers.

I broke a cardinal rule when I bought new helmet to race in.  Dave Lafond reminded me of this and told Carolynn to drop my helmet in the dirt to prevent any type of crashes.  It worked for the most part.
I personally had a very bad race, results wise, but I rode well for my age.  Poor start due mostly due to my hip and the lack of power to get a good strong kick to start my bike.  I rode as hard as a 50 year old can against all the young Vet Advanced riders but only got a 13 place finish.  

Part of my problem on this day was coming to the realization that life goes on sometimes without the ones you love.  Christopher has decided he does not want to ride/race with me anymore. Why, I do not know.  I got back into riding motorcycles so we could do it together.  I may have to rethink things.
This past weekend was another double header for me.  Gravel ride on Saturday with the Kings of the Hill ride hosted by Kevin Nierman and his Dirty Dogs team.  Fun route with plenty of variety, tough climbs and of course a head wind coming back into town.
On Sunday Carolynn and I loaded up and headed to round #2 of the Forward Motion series at Walters Ranch.  I was on the fence about going.  When your head is not in the game it is best to not play.   I decided to go and ride and see how I did on a more demanding course.  Today's course was really rocky and hilly.    I again rode as hard as I could for two hours and only fared slightly better with a 9th place.

The only good thing on this day was Carolynn and I found a nice restaurant to eat at in Sedalia. Kehde's Barbeque just off the Katy Trail was awesome.  If you happen to be in Sedalia, MO stop by and enjoy lunch/dinner.  My only suggestion is to share a meal because the serving sizes are very large.  I guess I have some big decisions to make.  Do I continue on racing Hare Scrambles solo and maybe give another series a try like MORE that has a 45+ class?  Will that change anything?  Do I see if I can work through these injuries and get back in form so I can race bicycles again?  Or is it time to quit racing all together.  Maybe take up Masters Swimming or a safer sport. I know I can not run so Triathlons, which I used to really enjoy are out.  I do know that not being competitive sucks.  I do not like being pack fodder but that is what I have become. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Life Kicked My Ass

The past year was really hard on me.  I felt like I was always fighting something, dealing with a problem or overcoming yet another injury.  Basically I was a wreck mentally, physically and emotionally.  When I lost my brother Joey it put me over the edge. Suddenly I felt like I was all alone. I was all alone.

I felt very empty inside with no one to talk to that knows everything.  Someone that went through all the hell we did while growing up.  Someone who knew all the work and effort I put into trying to be a success. Trying to make a main event.  Trying to get in that breakaway and sprinting for that win.   When I used to get down I would call Joey and we talked about the good ole' days.  One of those days was back in 1987 when I was a top Expert who just got his Pro-Am card.  I can still see Joey working on my bike helping me.  Those days are just a memory now.

My life changed forever when my brother John got injured back in the early 90's.  You can not even begin to imagine the pain in my heart having to watch him try so hard to gain strength and to live life as a Quad.  He lost that battle in 2008.  I of course felt loss but part of me was thankful that his misery was over.
Then in October I lost another brother and suddenly I was mourning the loss of another brother but this one was much worse.  Maybe it was because I did not really take the time to mourn John's death.  
Life this past year really kicked my ass not only with death but yet more injuries including what I believe my be CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathyI can not even begin to count the number of head injuries that I have had over the years.   Most did come from years ago when I raced motocross, but I also have had plenty of head injuries on my bicycle.  Do I have CTE? I do know that I have a lot of the symptoms.  I hate doctors but it looks like I have to look more into this.  This could explain a lot of things like my dizziness and the headaches I get.

My latest injury was something I have been dealing with for over a year.  After my knee surgery in April it steadily got worse.  I tried to just ride through it like I have always done but I finally went to see a specialist.  After a MRI with contrast dye, the problem was found - a Labral Tear and some bone spurs.  After a lot of research and talking with my doctor I elected to try PT and limiting my activity - basically no hard impact activities like running and no cyclocross last year either.  

The past 2 months I have gone through extensive rehab to see if I can avoid surgery and so far so good.   It appears that if I live a moderately active life and avoid strenuous activity I might be able to live a pain free life.  That means no more racing, no more standing on the top the podium.
This is a very hard time for me.  The most depressed time of my life.  If it were not for my wife Carolynn I do not know what would come of me.   All I can do now is take one day at a time and work through my head and health problems.  I am very hopeful that I will be strong enough to live a normal happy life.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Refueling a B-2 Bomber

A couple of months ago I got a email from Col Chuck Remboldt, a Commander at the 190th Air Refueling Wing, asking me if I wanted to go a "Orientation Flight". Lately I have been having trouble with dizziness and I have become extremely claustrophobic so flying is not my favorite thing right now.

After finding out more about the flight I agreed.  We would be in a K-135 Stratotanker.  It has plenty of open space and we would be able to walk around.   The plane above which we flew in was made in 1961.  Over 50 years old and still looks and performs great.  A testament to the men and women who maintain them.

Our "ticket to ride" was only validated after an hour long presentation about the history of the National Guard.  I wish I would have heard this presentation 30 years ago because I think joining the National Guard would have serviced me well and help mold that young trouble mind of mine. 

The final step before our refueling mission aboard our K-135 was our safety debriefing.  The Stratotanker does not have those fancy oxygen mask that commercial airlines have so in case of "sudden cabin pressure lose" we would have to put on these fancy oxygen helmets.

On the flight over to meet the B-2 bombers I got to tour around the plane and talk to some other of the civic leaders including Samantha Walker Jones who is the newly elected present of the Lawrence Mountain Bike Club.

The  B-2 bombers took off from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.  We meet them on the Missouri/Kansas boarder and proceeded west across Kansas on our refueling mission.

Col Chuck Remboldt did a great job of answering all our questions.  I do not know what Steve Tilford asked the Colonel but he sure does look passionate answering it.

Art King got to ride with the pilots during our takeoff.  Art is a member of the LMBC and the main man behind the Lawrence River Trails.

Each of us got a chance to crawl down with the Boom operator and "help" fuel the B-2's. 

Facilities were available.  Just flip up the lid and aim well.   Two are available so no waiting.  When you got to go you got to go....


 Here is my little video of the refueling. 

Thank you to Col Chuck Remboldt and the men and women at the 190th Air Refueling Wing for this once in a life time opportunity.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

RIP my Brother

My bedroom door opened near midnight last Friday and the sound awoke me.  Through the bright hallway light I see my son walking toward me.  He begins to speak and says he has some really bad news to tell me.  My first thought was that he had crashed the car.  Christopher proceeds to tell me that my older Brother Joey had been killed.  His life taken by some drunken scumbag that did not even have a license nor should have even been in this country of ours.

In Loving Memory of

Joey Vaughn Locke

February 23, 1964 - October 9, 2015

Killed. Still hard to grasp what has actually happened.  It has been a week since my Brothers murder.  In all honesty I expected him to die in some high speed crash but I did not expect him to be killed by some piece of shit illegal immigrant.

Both my brothers are now gone.  It is so hard to accept this.  I keep looking at old photos and remembering all the fun times we had.  Then I come back to reality and they are gone.

Joey was my older brother and was always there for me.   I still remember that time while we were hunting on the farm when we were little kids.  We were working our way through  the woods to another track of land and crossed by a trailer where someone was living.  At the time I did not know who it was but it turned out to be my crazy grandmother's sister.  I think she was a little mental because she got a gun and started shooting at us.  We took off running like a bat out of hell.  I heard a few bullets narrowly miss us.  I kept stopping to wait for Joey but he kept telling me to keep running.  I did not want to leave him.  We reached a fence and looked back to see if the crazy lady was still there.  We could see her reloading her rifle.  Joey grabbed me and tossed me over the fence and told me to run like hell.   Luckily the old bitch was a poor shot.  I have dozens of more stories. Each one Joey was my protector and was there for me.

One of the best summers of my life was back in 1990.  I spent the summer up at the farm with Joey and his girlfriend Lisa. We spent time on the beach, we shot guns and we also hit a few local races. I remember both of us getting 1st and 2nd on that night in the Open Money class. Joey got the holeshot and took off.  I went down in the first turn and broke my rear brake lever.  I charge back the entire race and passed over 20 other riders to catch Joey on the last lap.  He saw me behind him and just let me by.  He wanted me to win because I had ridden so hard.  To Joey we had both won and we did.

My last event I ever raced with Joey was the Cohutta 100 Mountain Bike race.  That was one long day in the saddle for sure.  Joey  and our friend Selby had competed in the shorter event.  He always wanted to return to the event and complete the entire 100 mile distance.  Ever since he turned 50 he talked about doing more endurance events like we used to.
Joey had a very hard time dealing with the death of my little brother John.  Joey was our older brother and he was supposed to protect us which he always did.  Now Joey and John are together again.  I love you and will miss you both so much.