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....

Friday, May 1, 2015

Long Road Back

It has been 10 days since my surgery on my knee.  I wish I could say my recovery has gone well but in my eyes it does not look promising.  Hopefully I am wrong and things will start to turn around soon.

Pre-surgery I had a normal pair of cycling legs.I do not think my legs will ever look like this again

I had a funny feeling going into the operating room. Something inside of me was saying that it is time to quit. Time to settle down and just be a normal sedentary person.  Quality of Life is apparently becoming very important to me.

During pre-op the nurses asked me at least 5 times what leg I was getting worked on.  I was not really worried about getting the wrong leg worked on despite some of the stories Carolynn told me.  Plus I most likely will have to get my left leg worked on also.   The doctor said the procedure should be done all arthroscopically but there was a chance that he would have to make an incision below my patella to remove the cyst.  I kept having the above picture in my head of a large incision.

Luckly everything went well and all done arthroscopically.  Although it does not look like it I was actually in good spirits after the surgery.  The doctor was able to remove my cyst and he also repaired some of the  meniscus and patella damage I had. The osteoarthritis I have can not be cured but is quite common for someone my age.

I was instructed to "act like a normal person",use RICE and to begin therapy the following day.  With pain medication PT went well.  I had to stop taking my feel good pills because they caused some major constipation.  That is no fun at all. 

Why is it so hard to just sit still.  I spent 3 days like this.  I started to walk around the house without crutches I had Max for company and to fend off Carolynn's cat Betsy.   Those two fought everyday.  Now I know what goes on when everyone is at work.

After 4 days my damn knee looks like shit. Very swollen - 2 inches larger in circumference than my other knee.  I do not know if that is normal or not. 

Follow visit to KCOI went well.  Despite my knee looking like crap to me the doctor said it looked good and that I appeared to be walking good. The nurses really liked my sexy stockings.

The doctor said I should wait another week and just walk and do PT.  I started to include using my mini cycle trainer.  Carolynn bought this thing for years ago to use at work - it fits under your desk and you can spin away while you work.   First time using it was weird.  Legs just did not want to turn circle even with little to no resistance.   Second time was better. 

Weather was really nice on Wednesday so I decide to try and ride really easy outside on my bike.  Plan was just to ride around my neighborhood.    First back did not go well.  Knee felt really unstable.  Range of motion was also limited.  One of the roads I was on has a very small hill that I do not even think about normally.  I tried to ride up it but could not.  Knee just would not take the pressure.  I turned around and returned home after only riding 4 miles.   Looks like it will take a lot longer to recover than I thought.  Am I just getting old or is this normal?  Either way I have a long road to travel to recover.  I am trying to find the motivation to get fit again. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What a Pain in my Knee

This past month I finally broke down and decided to find out what is going on with my knee. I have not mentioned it very much but I have been hindered by knee pain over the last year.  I can cycle o.k. and really do no feel pain much while riding especially if I tape them.  After some workouts like running my knee will start to burn and pain sets in.  Usually after some some ice and compression I will be fine again in a day or so.  During a very busy period of work which included a lot  kneeling the pain really started to effect my ability to work.  I can deal with taking days off from exercising t but not working.

I got into see Dr. Browne with KCOI a couple of weeks ago and the x-ray's did not show much other than and old broken fibula and some signs of arthritis .  The doctor asked me why I did not put down the broken bone in my patient history.  I told him I ran out of space.....  After nearly an hour of waiting and examinations it was decided I need an MRI.
After a week I made the trip down to Leawood, KS again to review my MRI result.  Dr. Browne was happy to announce that he found out the cause of my pain. Turns out I have a cyst in my knee.  It does not look like much but damn that thing hurts especially when I bend my knee back all the way or kneel down.  I also have a torn meniscus

I plan to have the cyst removed next week.  The doctor also said he will clean up the tears of my meniscus.  Hopefully they will not find much else wrong.  Looking forward to having no more pain in my knee. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Finishing the Ouachita Challenge

This past December I signed up for another Ouachita Challenge.  An event that I have been racing since 2008.  The course is hard and challenging but with the proper training, mental toughness and if you can get through Blow Out mountain without bike failures or bodily harm you should be able to finish.  Against my better judgment I also signed up Christopher.

Three years ago I signed Christopher up for his first attempt at the Ouachita Challenge.  Prior to that his only other distance event had been the Dakota 50 which he attempted in 2010 when he was 15.  Christopher is a good cross country distance rider.  He usually sticks to rides/races around an hour which is normal for a teenager I would think.  So far all of his attempts at completing Marathon type cycling events came up short.
Would 2015 be any different?  When I registered us I kept seeing this image in my head.  I know from first hand experience what it feels like to be dead tired and not wanting to continue on. To have those voices in your head say things like "why did I want to attempt this?"  "I just want to quit" and  "where is my mommy?".   I asked him did he really want to go through the suffering to finish and he said he did. 
The goal was to just finish the Ouachita Challenge.  No course records would be set.  No awards won.  Only the personal satisfaction of finishing.  Early in January I gave the above photo to Christopher as motivation and to help him realize that any goal worth attempting would take work.
I put in enough rides during the winter that I knew I would be able to finish.  I was really worried about Christopher because he never wanted to go ride this winter.  I do not blame him.  Who the hell wants to go ride when it is 15 degrees out?
I think his first ride of any distance/time was the Mullet Ride back in January.  After that he kind of did his own thing which had me very worried about 3 weeks prior to the event.
About a month ago we headed down to Arkansas for Spring Break. In my mind this would be the decision maker.  If he did not put in some long rides and feel good after them then he should not attempt to finish.  

We hit several trail systems including Lake Leatherwood in Eureka Springs.  Damn that place is hilly! This was a good thing because it offered up ideal training grounds for the challenge ahead.
It rained 3 out of the 4 days we were in Eureka Springs.  Luckily most of the trail systems down there are very rocky.   Despite the rain we got in several long rides.  After the trip Christopher confirmed that he wanted to attempt the Ouachita Challenge again, and this time he was going to finish.
While Christopher was confident I had my doubts.  Not only in him but myself.  My knees, especially my right knee, have been giving me trouble as of late.  It has gotten so bad that I can not even put weight on my knees while kneeling down.  Some days are fine but other days I take a handful of pain meds to make it tolerable.  More on the knee later...

We got a bit of bad news two days before the race.  During our final ride on Wednesday he said he was having trouble shifting.  When I checked everything out I found a broken link on the non-drive side.  No bike to ride.  Not really the news you want to hear a few days before your big event.

Luckily we had a spare bike.  My Ritchey P-29er was built up for gravel and still had CIRREM mud all over her and a rigid fork.  It took a long cold evening (and several beers) in the garage to switch everything over.  With no saddle time on her we loaded up and headed to Tige's house Saturday morning.

After 6+ hours of Smokey and the Bandit type driving we somehow safely arrived in Oden, AR.  Tige wanted to get in a little ride and Christopher wanted to at least ride the P-29er once before the race on Sunday.  I am glad we did ride because we ended up doing several adjustments on the bike to get Christopher somewhat comfortable.

Race morning came too quickly.  Before we knew it riders were lining up.  I told Christopher before the race to remember to pace himself, eat and drink.  If he did not blow up then he could finish.  Deep down I had my doubts but I wanted to sound confident.

The first 10 miles of the challenge are easy.  I stayed with Christopher until the final gravel climb before the single track began.  After that I rode my own event.  Christopher wanted to do this event on his own.   The event gets hard once you hit Blow Out mountain.  This trail sucks ass.  Part of it you can not even ride (at least mortal riders like myself).  I was really concerned that Christopher would try to ride the really rocky sections like he did 3 years ago and waste a lot of energy.  I later found out he listened to me and walked those sections.

I was feeling fine up until the Sims aid station at around the 1/2 way point.  My legs started to cramp a little.  If I am already cramping what the heck is Christopher feeling like?   I kept riding and they went away.  At the 5 hour mark they came back.  The next 1 1/2 hours basically sucked ass.  Leg cramps and fatigue.  While I was going through my own little misery I kept thinking about Christopher.  Did he pull out at Sims?  I told him that if he had any doubt that he should bail at Sims as it was the closest to the Start/Finish area in Oden.  I had two goals on the day: Finish without suffering and to have Christopher finish (he was allowed to suffer).  I finished up in 6 hours 46 minutes.  Despite the leg cramps I felt fine. After a quick shower and some recovery food and I go and check the finish area for Christopher.  After 7 hrs still no sign of him.  7 hour 15 min still no Christopher.  I tell Tige we should load things up and go see if we can find him at the final aid station.  As I walk over to the finishing line one last time I hear the announcer say "we have our next finisher from Kansas City, MO,  #119, Christopher Locke".  The little shit did it!  It took 7 hour 30 minutes but he did finish and I am very proud of him! He did not give up and despite only a handful of training rides he finished.