Friday, December 30, 2016

Leaders Matter

A little over 15 years ago I was doing some research for my brother John who was a Quad (Stem cell research) and came upon a great Institute that wanted to change humanity and cure cancer.  It was led by a great man who had a dream.  I wanted to be a part of that dream which just so happened to be located in the heart of KC.

 I clicked on the Careers tab and as luck would have it there was a position in the Telecommunication field - a field that I was just starting in.  I applied along with nearly 100 others (Sprint had just had a massive lay off back then).  I really did not have the qualifications for the job but I did have the desire to be a part of this great Institute.  Through persistence I got an interview and 2 months later was offered the position.  I was so thrilled and ready to begin a new chapter of my life.  I thought at the time that I could help the Institute for the rest of my life and be a part its great cause.

The next 8 years were awesome.  The Institute invested in my career, I worked hard and enjoyed being part of this great Institute.  Fellow members had smiles on their faces and worked well together.  We got things done and we were making a difference.

When things are good at work you do not realize how important leaders are.  You take for granted how all the teams are working well together, how they share ideas and work hard together as a team. I was part of a very good team that, at least in my eyes, contributed to the success.  

Then things started to change.  A new CEO & COO came in with new policies.  We go from a culture that worked together to fight this monster called Cancer to a corporate culture based on greed, money, who's ass you need to kiss and nepotism at the highest level.  It was not about science anymore which is very sad.

The next several years things slowly changed for the worse.  The hierarchical structure that was created just did not work and "bad managers" took advantage.  For example, directors hired their old babysitter to work at the Institute - just an FYI, babysitters do not know anything about project management nor construction.

You know there is a problem when management start to test new technology, the technology that you support, and you are not involved.  They can not get it to work but they do not even ask for your advice (even though you know how).    

After 15 years of dedication and hard work my department was "absorbed".  Nothing in the budget for me or the services I supported - The "Cloud" and the new poisoned culture had ended my career. 

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.  The 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.