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 was 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 break away and sprinting for that win.   When I used to get down I would call Joey and we talk about the good old 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 lose but part of me was thankful that his misery was over.
Then in October I lost another brother and suddenly I was morning the lose of another brother but this one was much worse.  Maybe it was because I did not really take the time to morn 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 did but I finally when 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 live 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 was 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 hopefully 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. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Life in The Small Chainring

It has been awhile since I last posted anything so here is a little update.   

A little over 4 months ago I had knee surgery to fix up my right knee in hopes that I could resume my normal riding/racing lifestyle. After all the physical therapy the knee is better (minus the numbness which may never go away) - no more pain at least when I do normal activities.  Strength is o.k. but no where near the level I was a couple of years ago. My biggest problem now is my right hip.  I am actually afraid to go see the doctor about it because I am really not that pleased with how my by body responded to knee surgery. I would hate to go through any type of procedure on my hip so I have been taking it really easy and hoping that with time I can at least resume a somewhat active lifestyle. The one other problem is my ability to deal with heat.  Every time I push myself when it is hot I get really sick. 

I have been riding a lot with Carolynn on our tandem this summer.  When the trails were dry which was not often we hit them. When they were wet we hit the road.  The temps were down late spring/early summer so we actually got in some nice rides after work and I have not been effected by the heat.    I have actually enjoyed the slower paced rides.

Most of the summer has actually been very fun with no pressure.  Carolynn and I had a great time down in Eureka Springs in July.   We hit several trail systems including her favorite - Blowing Springs.

It was time to head to the lake once the normal summer temps arrived.  A great time was had out on Beaver Lake.  Carolynn's new SUP while a little unstable compared to some models is very fast.
 We never seemed to make any time to visit the tourist attractions when we travel.  Well times are a changing.  A visit to Pivot Rock was in made this past summer.   Hopefully these tourist attractions get a little better.  I was not impressed with this natural formation.
We did not play all the time.  Some work was actually done this summer.  Our hot water heater died on us so my friend Ashley came over and taught Christopher how to replace one. 
Ironically one of the things that may have caused me the greatest damage to my body is the one thing I can still compete at.  After surgery I got back on the motorcycle a little soon.  It has taken me a couple of months but I have finally built up enough strength to race a Hare Scrambles and finish strong.  After winning the first round in March I got my second win of the season this past weekend up in Thurman, IA.  Still got sick after the race but at least I had a win to show for it. But is it worth it?  What long term damage is happening?

Another summer in the books and I am still trying to adjust to this new way of life.   A life which has me stuck in the small chain ring. Part of me feels like quitting everything and just living a sedentary life.  The other part does not want to give up just yet. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Think I Need Stitches

With the high risk sports that my family does, things like racing motorcycles and flying downhill on our mountain bikes,  it turns out home is the most dangerous place there is

I get a call today from my son that he has had an accident.  A little slip in the tub and that he broke the ceramic soap dish holder.  Damn I think. Another project that I need to add to that ever growing To Do list. 

Turns out the bathroom is the most dangerous place there is in the house.  While taking a shower after working all day on the house/yard he slipped in the shower.  I asked how he slipped and he just said he did.  I left it at that.  He told his girlfriend who was over at the time that "I think I need stitches"  After inspection she quickly agreed and drove him to the hospital

No shit you need stitches and a lot more.  A tendon was cut so we need to visit the surgeon tomorrow.  The ER doc stitched his hand up until we see a specialist.

After he got home from the hospital I asked Christopher what he was doing in the shower to cause him to slip and fall.  I think that shit eating grin says it all....