Entries in family (67)
So, lately, I’ve see this flurry of posts on Facebook and elsewhere asking for the "8 or 10 things you didn't know about me". They’re all funny and enlightening but as we pull into this 2013 Thanksgiving period, I’m having, or pehaps wishing us all for, a mental shift. Maybe it’s just me but the centricity of all of us needs to reverse course…and directed towards thanks for all and to all of what you have in this life. We all need to reflect, and now. And so (and I recommend the exercise) my thoughts on where I am putting my thankful energy and practicing myself as it is nowhere near perfected…but inspires me:
1) This life. We're luckier than any generation before us and we still aren't satisfied. Nothing’s good enough. Why? Change it. Stop sucking. Stop deflecting and blaming. Fix your shit.
2) Your friends: You select 'accept friend' on your twitters and your facebooks every day. But what do you know about them? Ever hugged them? When recently have you reached out to your college bud or teammate or co-worker and said “you're rad” and “I love you”? “How's YOUR world?” The time for narcissism must shift. It’s all the same shit anyway in the facebook feed. Selfies, new cars and bikes. I do it to. First world stuff. Fun, yes, but the reality is we get sucked into feeling doubt about ourselves with the repetition of the imagery. Don’t say you don’t know what I mean. Shoot pics of random shit you and your friends have done in blissful moments and show those off.
3) Kids. They need you. Even if you did not create them. Help them. Coach them. Tutor them in math or HTML. Don't complain your generation was better. Inspire them to crush the reality we’ve made into something way more inspired. Shape their mental toughness to sustain what will be a tough go in the next 50 years. Because it is getting very very fragile.
4) Your job. I’m not saying ‘be thankful for your job per se. What I am saying is: “every single nanosecond counts.” Are you doing what makes your mind hum? I’d probably have said “are you doing what you love,” but love is a tough adjective for this and reserved for the brave who have cracked the code of turning passions into paychecks. But if what you do and who you do it with sucks, move on. The economy has never been better. Just grab it. Be thankful for what you know and believe in and apply that to an industry that needs you.
5) Patience. I am thankful for this…or the promise of it. Do not think you are the only one whose day completely sucked. The guy in the SUV probably had a shitty day too. Don’t block his path egotistically because you can on your commute home. Be kind, show patience and wave hi to him. Let him pass. Get home to those that love and need you. The moment will pass.
6) Health. Be thankful for it…or the many many paths you can take to achieve it. It’s never too late. You are not too fat or too wimpy or too feeble. Science and great medicine can help solve deeper problems if you face those too. But you need to absolutely believe you can start. Cork the wine when you know it is extremely hard to do and you think you need another glass. You don’t need another. Breathe to exhale the stress that’s binding your heart. Drink water, and tons of it, to cleanse and cleanse. Moderate it all with balance.
7) Mentors. Find one and be thankful for the time they can and willingly share with you. Your ego can get checked for a bit and you may not know everything, smart guy. Reach out and learn more. Ask for help. And return that favor. Tech start ups, kids coaching, whatever. Either find a great mentor to help you learn where the land mines are or be one to the next generation. Be thankful for those people.
8 ) Your home. Walk in to it and I hope you smile. It should be your absolute sanctity. Your safe place. The place where toxicity gets cleaned from you. If it’s not, ask yourself why and then ask those you live with how they feel. Make it the one place where you absolutely are you.
9) Church. If you go to the Catholic church down the street, the Mosque or the Synagogue, awesome. Your church may also be your trail, your favorite stretch of road, your garden. In any of these cases, be present. Not looking around at the neighbors in the pew and how much more holy you are or perhaps trying to climb the hill faster on a Sunday than the dude in a kit you’ve never seen before on 'your' climb. Respect your moment in the peace you probably deserve and need. Remember what you’re chosen church was meant for and practice that.
10) You. When is the last time, if ever, you said: “I TOTALLY believe in myself.” It’s the hardest thing to do. Be thankful for what you have achieved and the plans you’re making. I need to tell myself this every day because I often let the demons in that signal to me it isn’t true. That I shouldn’t trust myself because I’m not smart enough, or fit enough or engaged enough. But I fight, every day, for it. The balance, the belief and the security in the knowledge that the worse option is to give up.
Be thankful for your radness.
I'm posting a lot about my boys lately. Yes pride is driving a ton of this...but mostly amazement. On many levels. My boys are flying (almost) free now. Not completely solo yet (small rides by themselves on local/close trails...letting the reigns go a bit wider) but they are riding with their grommet friends and coaches in places I share with my best buds. Nederland, Winter Park and more. Magical.
Long dirt road rides with dad showing off all the local spots....
Short spins to just have that deep one on one you can't get with other brothers or parents nearby. Just soft pedaling, calm voices and laughs and authentic smiles that telegraph 'I'm alone with my daddy.'
I continually pull mind and self from all of this wonderment. I spend the time to ensure my sons aren't doing all of this, eyes rolling, to appease their old man. That 'this is dad's thing'. And it refreshes me when I see them kit up on their own. Bike gear...lacrosse gear...whatever gear. They're exploring, seeing, playing, growing.
But I'd be a liar if I said it's not a rush to rail singletrack and high altitude with my boys. It's here.
Time. As I am getting older I now see how precious this resource is. When it's all boiled down, it's what matters most. We are born, we die....and everything in between is a time continuum. It's the quality of how that time is spent in between those life markers that is most important.
But there's more to it.
I'm a pretty intense character as I've been told....and come to find. I like to win...in sport, in business, in life. Living this way created a vortex of self-obsessiveness. Obsessed with carving out 'my time'. The balance thing was in large part my mind struggling to ensure 'my' needs were met..while another bench of the teeter had my family on it (e.g. Work, Racing, Family) in its own compartment so to speak. And while I think I managed to ensure love, respect and quality all these years with that compartmentalized balancing act, it is time.
The time is now for pouring myself into these great kids. My needs are now focused on providing them a platform to feel their own successes. The only thing they want is...time. Time with mom and dad. Time to explore and feel safe and confident in themselves and their abilities. They do much of this on their own...but is intensified when a parent is with them to show them the way.
I will continue to pin on numbers and do what I can to go fast. But the joy I am having seeing these juniors learn, grow and thrive is in itself a new rush. All tempered with removing 'self' and any vicarious channeling of ego, but rather being their biggest fans and cheerleaders.
The time is right now. And it is so much fun.
The family that bikes together...well, has FUN together! It's that time in our kids lives when we want to start looping them in to our passion...riding in the woods on fat tires. Problem is, the state of (really) small mountain bikes is a difficult one. It's not a very big market and rightfully the manufacturers mitigate their risk by not producing a ton of options. Buying off the shelf bikes for kids who are 'tweeners' (too big and advanced for off the shelf bikes and too small for 'adult' sized bikes) is really difficult but we were determined to get it done right for them. I want to ensure my kids could really 'feel' and control the bikes...so that meant careful choosing of frame and parts alike. WIth the help of Boulder Cycle Sport and some of my great friends and long-time industry honches, we were able to source and build up the following for the youngsters:
- Kinesis 'label-less' frames - 14" for 26" wheels
- Carver ridged carbon fiber front forks
- WTB wheels (tubeless)
- Shimano SLX group set
- 60mm stems & flat bars
- Old seat posts lying around
- Kenda rubber
- ESI grips ('suspension'...yes, these boys will learn tire pressure before suspension use)
- Cane Creek headset
Bikes came in about 17lbs and I can still move into lighter territory, but that will be the fun part. Some porn...
It's time to begin to switch over the engine....both mind and body....to ride long, think hard and put in the time to re-charge. Rides with friends, rides solo...it doesn't matter. Just long and epic.
We started this past weekend...the "RTD' or Ride to Denver. Pete Webber has a phenomenal way to get to and from the 'big city', sending us on a Colorado Road Ride which is mainly dirt road and trail like you see above.
We trekked our way along this route, on our way to visit the NAHMBS which came to visit the Mile High City this year. Tons of eye candy which I'm sure you've seen by now all over the webs.
Most importantly, along with all these long rides, this time of year signifies reflection. And one of those reflections was the Boulder Junior Cycling 'CX Celebration' night where we honor the kids and their amazing season. It never ceases to impress me what they do each fall and winter. They're not like other kids...frankly like other adults! I mean, who in their right mind would intentionally choose to pedal their bike in 20 degree weather with ice and sleet raining down. Well, these kids do. With a smile.
It also deeply re-enforces to me how kids feel success and the role we play in helping them. It's never about the results...only about their personal progress. Did they make mistakes? Was each lap smoother? Did they bobble? Were they able to bridge to another faster group? Progress. It's like a little microcosm of life they're learning and all the coaches are so proud to be a part of that.
On to the spring.
Pride. Immense, glowing, unabashed pride is what I feel for my son having completed his first national cyclocross championship in Madison, WI. Aiden is 10 and did his first Junior Mens 10-12 age group and it was a barn burner. He'll be back again in this age group next yere when the Nationals come visit us here in Boulder CO!
From all accounts, from my teammates to my wife to Aiden's Boulder Junior Cycling team parents who made the trek up north, all descriptions of the conditions were nothing less that epic, if not treacherous. Hearing stories by Tilford and Joe underscore what the competitors faced and experienced and it made my stomach turn not being there to support (and maybe feel like I'm protecting in some way). Black ice, frozen earth covered by a thin layer of muddy slime...adults claimed they knew they'd hit the earth, but had no idea when.
But the conditions are what they are and this is cyclocross. It is all about preparation, equipment and trust in your skills. Knowing my best friends and teammates were there made me extremely happy though...
Brandon Dwight (National Champ) Aiden, Pete Webber (National & World Champ) and Russ Stevenson (long time pro and WA state CX champ)
My teammate and family friend (and fellow BJC dad) had Aiden's Clement PDXs dialed for me. We were texting that AM and he put Aiden's tires in the 16-18psi range. Aiden and the BJC kids know how to drive their bikes in the bad as the coaches and I had taken them
It's an incredibly selfish, self-centered sport this cycling of ours. And we're slaves to it because of what it brings us. The work, the rewards, the fun. But lest we forget how we can do this. Through support. Through love. Through understanding. All graciously afforded to us by our loved ones. Wives, husbands, children.
My wife has always been there. Supporting me over the last 16 years in what often feels like a Quixotic adventure. Always propping me up when I've not achieved what I think I can and telling me I can. Cleaning me up when I am broken and bloody. Hugging me when I've done my best.
She is now managing three of us. My sons and me in our quests to go fast. And we owe her so much. Too much to re-pay. Amy thank you for what you do to enable us to do it. And thank you for this wonderful gift you are giving our son. Taking him to his first National Championship. Providing him such an amazing experience.
You are amazing.
It happened probably a lot sooner than I had ever anticipated. It was the moment when my oldest decided to ride his cross bike...on a mountain bike trail most adults find challenging...with his road tires on. I saw his abilities and his joys and how instinctively he negotiated the trail knowing with precision how to stay light on the bike, not use brakes in the corners and just flow away...away and out of site from mom, dad and little bro.
This isn't a story to gloat about my son. He's 9. And God knows what this kid wants to do with his life. He's just a little guy. For now it is all about opportunities and experiences and ensuring both my sons' lives are rich with them...whatever they are: sport, travel, religion, family, friends, relationships, joy, pain, etc. But my child I can see is falling in love with what I know as one of the purest forms of joy: Riding. And he is emanating the same emotions in his words that I often struggle to find for just...how...good....it...makes...him...feel.
But is it time? Is it time for me to full stop make the switch from wannabe uber racer to an athlete who can balance the goals I still feel in my heart I can achieve and pour myself into my sons forays into the sport to achieve theirs? Is it time? Should racing be a proxy for riding...or riding a proxy to racing? What is the blend and on the meter of selfishness, how do I throttle back and balance more for them?
I'm formulating answers to questions I am still finding about these feelings I'm having and this place in life I am at with my beautiful boys. I want to fly and continue to do so...but not at the expense of not dedicating what I know is required to them. For them. More time to teach the lessons to gain more confidence. To learn more history of why we do what we do. Of the promise of where this sport can take a person. To be more relaxed with it all.
I'll continue the search for the right balance. But I know what is right. The torch is being passed. And it makes me so proud.
The influences of a child are maddening in our society…in this era…and in this country. And it (mostly) saddens me. My influences as a kid in the 70's were people…not things. Ron Guidry, Audie Murphy and St. Anthony were pretty much all I knew. Ron Guidry because the guy was a stud and I wished I could grow a mustache at age 7 like he had . Audie Murphy because I just wanted to be like my brother, a real-life army man, and would fantasize in black and white, just like the images I saw Audie blowing up German tanks like this guy did in WWII. St Anthony because if I lost anything I’d pray to that guy and the shit would just show up.
Now…it’s different. Media, sound, imagery, written word…it all gets bombarded into our children’s brains at such a furious pace, it’s almost uncontrollable. And it comes in from everywhere. I’m lucky to be able to drop off and pick up my boys from school…and when I scan the playground it’s like a sea of hunched-over children. Hunched over and consumed by devices. Consumed by the imagery, sounds and eye candy they produce. It’s a connection to the world we never had. And one we didn’t need. These 'things' have become the modern day pacifier for the 4-14 year old set. Given to them by their parents to essentially keep them out of their hair in my completely opinionated opinion.
So how to deal with this? How to combat some of these forces but do it meaningfully...and in a way that applies the focus on REAL things.
Here's that experience of mine...
To the 9 year old, the iPod or iPhone is a toy. A magical, shiny, inexplicably cool toy. But, a $400 toy nonetheless. And their draw to it is unstoppable. Crowds of kids gather around the lucky one who’s got the magical device…watching in silence as the kid hucks birds or other monumentally “important” activities on its HD screen...which is about all they can do at this age as they're too young to open up a social network or email account.
The begging began in my house a year or so ago for one. Intolerable. “PLEASE mom and dad! PLEASE can I have an iPhone??? I’m the only one without one and I can’t play with my friends anymore!”
Play, son? Play how with your friends with an iPhone?
Trust me I’m not a crust or an old curmudgeon. I know how they can play together with iPhones (e.g. pier to pier web-gaming). Maybe I do not want to see my children’s innocence sullied yet, which I’ve seen happen thus far in lots of instances of this dilemma from getting obsessed with 1st Person Shooter games through to accessing smut. Or maybe ‘it’s just me’ in all of this…but imaginative, hard, sweaty, in-the-dirt, on-their-bikes-and-scooters, with Legos, hair-raisingly spectacular PLAY is what they need. With other real kids. In the flesh. Not hunched over. In silence. Staring at screens. Laughter, arguments, dialog, creating real things…all in the analog world..is what they need.
On the countless rides I do with Pete, he has been the brunt of my rants on this subject of how to handle this iPhone thing. Pete's generally acted as a great sounding board as another dad. My plan was to make my son realize that there is more to life right now than being heads-down in a device playing games. There's (limited) time for that but being outside, playing and school are it for their little lives at the moment. But while this seems logical, it still is hard for a child to understand ‘why’ they are being denied this eye candy. Saying, “Because I said so” or “You’ll understand when you’re older” just doesn’t cut it. And frankly he deserves better than that.
So I needed a deflection…and a teaching lesson. And that’s where Pete truly comes in. I decided that Aiden needs something to work for. We’re not just going to drop a $400 phone on him…one that will be destroyed and lost (the kid can not stop losing Legos every day for chrissakes). His greatest joy is riding. Yes, I love that as a nerd-biker and dad, but now is the time for him to go down the rabbit hole we all go into as cyclists. Learning about your equipment (bike and body) and having fun when all that equipment is dialed and you flow.
A bike! A bike is what will be the deflection and he will work to earn this. It will have to become the 'bright and shiny object' and demonstrate what is real for his mind, body and soul.
Back to the Champ. Pete is surgical. I mean medicinally surgical in his approach to bikes and racing. Everything is thought through and meticulously taken care of. How else can you repeat winning national championships and take a Worlds? He offered as part of this ‘earn-in’ into the bike a "Daddy, Pete and Aiden bike building lesson." Amazing. (I hope Pete will be ready in a year to work with Seamus!) It’s this level of ‘community’ and friendship that we cherish here and in every way, this felt like a baptism of sorts for Aiden…really showing him the details of ‘the bike’. The quiet moments of cutting cables and the Zen of getting everything to work perfectly.
Pete is the type of influence I want my children surrounded by. A Champ to look up to. One in our back yard and one who shows the type of quiet work that’s needed to succeed.
I’ll start by saying this: Clearly no child who is growing should have a bike of this caliber. It’s all a bit strange to me as well. But with the support of Boulder Cycle Sport and Ridley, this particular frame became available and ready for a young (small) pilot. That frame and essentially all my old parts made this an extremely cost effective endeavor. And thankfully yielded a bike that a 10 year old can actually lift over barriers (all the parents how have gone to great lengths like me to lighten Redline Conquest 24’s know EXACTLY what I am talking about).
Aiden and I worked on assembling the parts, getting to know each kind and how they worked. From my old SRAM group to how bigger wheels could get him up to speed quickly…it was an entirely new biking experience for him. We scheduled with Pete some working lessons over a few days, taking the bike from its skeleton until its completed state. Here's a pictorial of that build out...
Aiden getting greasy with Pete and Dad.
Pete demonstrating the surgical details...like eliminating that annoying space between the hoods and the bars. It's all about focus on the race.
The fully built whip. 14lbs. 41cm Ridley X-Fire. Grommet-sized.
One of Turbo Pete's 'super mods' A bottle cap chain watcher.
C'mon. Did you think the kid would ride anything else? #oldschool
Yup. He'll be outgrowing this bike (but little brother already licked it for 2nds.)
In all of this, what am I saying here? What is to be concluded? Well,
a) That I think kids with all of this digital media influence are missing some spectacular shit in life.
b) It takes a village to raise your kids. A village you create with friends built on trust and the same core values.
c) If it takes some money and some effort to positively distract your kids and enable more time with you, do it for your kids.
That's it Amy and I are learning to be better parents every day, thankfully having learned lessons from our own parents. Am I trying to turn back the hands of time to force my kids to be a child like I was in the 70's? Hell no. Am I trying to buy time and preserve some innocence where I can. Yes. Unabashedly yes. They can not be 'protected' forever...and I don't want that. I just want more time with them. As innocent young boys.
And yes, little brother is waiting to slay...
I’m noticing I can inhale deeply lately. Always a sign to me that I am at peace. When the teeter totter is listing to any given side, I can never get that deep belly-breath. The kind that you can feel literally cool the very bottoms of your lungs. The kind that you can feel in your toes. The kind I can take in now.
Life is irony personified. At least that is how it feels to me as I am getting older, watching my hands turn into my fathers and finally seeing the forest for its trees. Building an image of a future that was predicated on historical lessons my father taught me on how to build a life, while valuable, needed to be changed in order for my family and I to find happiness. And the greatest of these ironies is that it ain’t about pursuing the nut. It is most certifiably about pursing what provides you the greatest joy and living very much in the moment.
Making the switch from ‘salaried guy’ to start-up guy and essentially attaching the siphoning hose to the bank account to start a business has been…enlightening. And yet while the struggles are present to do the best we can, the moment I am living in, within this period of my life and that of my family’s, is priceless. In my former life, I would not be able to make breakfast and see my children off to school. I would not be able to create my own schedule to coach my boys in this fall’s cycling team. Help my wife with the things she’d normally bear the brunt for our family while she is in school. Simply put, it’s the antitheses of what lessons my father taught me…working for the same company for 40 years as an example…but the mission he laid out is unaffected: being there for your family.
I am attempting to learn the basics again a year and a half into building my first business. What is real and meaningful. What drives happiness. How it can be repeated and keep us safe, happy and healthy. Just like what we all do when we bring out the barriers and practice. We do this for perfection. And so I am doing this as an analog for my life’s needs. Practicing patience, trust and repeatability. This is not our father’s era. Yet it can be rooted in the same principals. Just achieved orthogonally to the path he chose.