Entries in family (64)
It's growing. Can you feel it? 1500 racers in PDX on any given weekend. 80+ people on a training ride in Boulder on a Wednesday AM. It's a wave that is growing. If you love it like I know you do, give back! Bring a kid to a 'cross race! Let 'em get muddy! Walk the course with them while drinking a hot cocoa!
It's happening here in San Francisco...
And here in Boulder...
The Boulder kids clinic above I reported upon earlier and took place yesterday on their Veteran's Day off from school. Ghris Grealish's DBC guys were there as were all of Ben turner's CLIF Bar team. Amazing.
What are you doing to help the sport?? Give a clinic. Or keep taking them to learn more to teach others down the road. Take your neighbor to a local race. Help set up or take down the course as a volunteer.
You must believe me when I say this: In no way shape or form did I Jedi mind-trick my wife into doing what she's about to do tomorrow:
SWEET!! She sprung it on me two weeks ago that she and her friend were 'just gonna do it'. Now, while my lady lives with likely the biggest cross geek of all time, this was very much her thing and honestly shows how powerful this whole sport is at hooking the innocent into its grip. The wave of growth this sport is reaching is clearly at its crest! Home makers and professionals alike are getting the bug. So good. So very good.
So before I made off on my trip to the UK this week, I set up a mini clinic for Amy and her friend Angie last weekend. We brought out the port-o-barriers and I gave them an hour's worth of the good stuff. Both these ladies rocked. Clearly they have some serious athletic talent, but after the instruction, they just got on with it inexplicably well. I've never seen anyone pick it up this fast. We did my basic 'intro to barriers' which breaks the process into three fairly easily learn-able chunks. And nothing is learned at high speed. All slow speed until the little nuances are felt, and then we crank up the speed once the comfort is there. The three pieces come together and we go full bore at the port o barriers to gain confidence Today, as you'll see, we upgraded to unmovable logs.
So, the evidence! Amy is ROCKING it. While I was away she practiced the barrier work skills by herself once, then we did these hot laps you see in the video along with a bit more instruction. All before the Boulder Res race tomorrow. Her first. I'm so proud of her...
from Gregory Keller on Vimeo.
And of course equally solid lap after lap. I made her get a bit cross-eyed so she could feel her body when it's gasping for air as you come into barriers. Mainly so she can know what to expect when you're under stress. But all she could say..."THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!!!!"
I am so impressed and proud and in awe, I do not know what to say. My lady RIPS!!!
Coasting through life can be easy. Will it be as fruitful as a life lived? I dunno. I really don't and choose not to care about that path as I can't accept free-wheeling. I need the chain taut at all times. It's only this way that the teeter totter can maintain the balance that is so required for the mind to be at peace.
As it doesn't rest.
Doors opened today. Feelings felt that haven't been explored in...well a long time. I flicked dominoes earlier this year to do what I thought, and still believe, will create new chapters in life that ensure smiles. A firm belief in no accidents, just opportunities.
I want to raise my arms above my head again and look up at the sun and exhale that breath that has been inside for so long...you know the one that when released, is like a purge of the soul and in its void is that shimmering feeling of happiness in the middle of your chest. Relief. If you think I am speaking about winning a bike race, nah, this is better. It's about belief in one's self for something bigger.
There are no accidents. Can't be. Only what you make life to be when you keep the pedals turning and the chain taut.
Re-entry back into family after nearly a week away (and sometimes more...as will be the case for some hops I need to make including Europe) can be trying. Maybe it is just me and the uber-emotions that get crankin when I am away and when the triumphant return happens, life has been moving here too. I can't be naiive to that.
Sincerely...I hate travel. Despise it. When the plane is wheels up, on its way to my next destination, I look at my watch and will start calculating the hours before I get home. Rainman style. 86 hours 42 minutes and home. But ironically, being out in 'the world' is my strength. Speaking. Meeting. Eye-contacting. Arm waving. Connecting. Convincing. Converting.
It's my painful dichotomy. I have to suck it up.
But coming back home when the senses are on fire, my mind is on over-drive as I pull the car into the garage and shut off the engine and breath out. Home. Thankful the Triple 7 didn't lose a wing. Am I getting a cold? What meetings do I have this week? Can I get out on a date with my lady tomorrow? Should I even line up at the race in Somewhere, CO? Do I still have it? When will the cycles finally snap the rubber band?
When away, I am the fish that has been yanked out of the water and am sitting on the wooden seat of the fat man's canoe as I bake in the sun, scales drying, mouth pulsating....doing what it can to pull in oxygen. The pulling-into-the-garage-from-the-airport from these trips is my symbolic re-entry into the water. It takes me a few moments...OK, maybe a day some times....and then I come back to normalcy. I can breath again.
I can do this. I can balance. I can be there when I need to because you know my intent is good and my mission is to get home. Be home. Feel home. I can be precisely who I am and continue to try only because of your faith in me. Is it a hedge? God, I don't know. But it is authentic....even if it has no answers present to me, to us, at the moment. It is, what I speak of, a continued search for the next wave in our lives. No more scales baking in the sun. I need to be drinking oxygen.
Thanks for the photo, Brian. It spoke all of this to me.
The days are clicking by. It's unbelievable. I blinked and I was eating waffles with KP and Dubba in Belgium....and now am already feeling the coolness of the mornings again.
The changing of the leaves is here. The gluing of the tires is here. The bruising of the shoulder is here. The bury-yourself intervals are here.
Even with the greatest of perspectives on life which I try so hard to have...e.g. beautiful family, beautiful friends, beautiful health (when I'm not yard sale-ing myself over rocks mind you), etc...I use 'cross as an anchor to literally PULL me through the dog days and get me through to the calendar's finish line. God I love it. 50 degree sunny days, embrocation, trees blowing up with color, cowbells making my ear drums rattle.
I still struggle to make sense over career, goals, etc. It's all there in compartments I manage and I am blessed to the core as I push onward with it all (painfully on the imbalanced teeter totter days), but I swear to you I have a vision and know precisely how I'd like to crush it....but I digress. I'll not take up pixels here on that now....
The family these days makes me smile so wide. My beautiful wife is flourishing and we both stand back and watch these boys of ours grow into incredible young men.
I want them to have a 'cross in their lives...whatever it may be. Sports, art, love of some form or another. To help pull them through.
Everyone should experience this.
That is, if you are a parent.
We have massive responsibility to ensure these kids see a path through the junk that life seems to be laying in front of them these days. And no, I'm not going to posture here and say how to do it, what kids should have their brains planted with to 'turn the world around', what the 'right' method of parenting is. You are all doing a fine job I'm sure.
But man, what a responsibility. They want to be us. They observe and absorb everything. From the manners you display with the person taking your order at a restaurant to, in my case, how I have my Oakleys jammed in my helmet when I come home shattered from a ride. It's all the little details and they have the power to read those nuances more prolifically than you take them for.
And I love it. And I live for it. And I digress....
Enforced rest this week.....mercifully as I overcooked myself with Dubba, Von and Andy today on the undergoound Sunday cross ride. I am not healed. I am stupid. I literally had to take a nap for the pain was out of hand. Challenges are funny things, no? I seem to fabricate them for myself quite effectively. But I can not stand not being there. Always afraid of missing something....
But, again I digress.
The fam and I were invited by our dear friends and neighbors up to their place in Edwards which is a small village near Beaver Creek. They basically hijacked us to take us away from the grind here these days and to get our minds off the blah. Awesome times were had. Kids all over the place playing and lots of solid beers sunk (side note: the Tommyknocker Imperial Nut Brown Ale is one of the finest Browns I've ever imbibed...Thanks Gord!).
Being up there, I decided to take advantage of the thin air so I rolled hard up through and in-between the epicness of Beaver Creek and Eagle Vail. It was delicious singletrack of the rooty-twisty-shit-eating-grin kind. While rolling, I had some nice moments of clarity thinking about this coming cross season. I'm as excited as ever for yet another season of the changing leaves. But I need to really think about what I want this year and temper it all with some serious reality. It's already SO different than last. But maybe there's some magic still left. We'll see be the time now is so limited but it is what it is. The thoughts kept coming into focus on needing to dedicate myself to educating this sport of ours. Teaching it as often and as widely as possible....and let my personal season come in its own form the way it will. At the end of the day, I'm tired of starving myself and waking up at 5:30! Ha! The goals will be outlined soon for what they will be, as will some announcements of other changes which I'm working on and I am excited about. A focus on ed-u-muh-ka-shun of 'cross and the whole lifestyle in and around it we live here. Teaching the sport to those falling in love with it and falling hard.
More soon. Maybe less now will be more. Bring it.
Seven Eleven PM
Seven Eleven 2008
We made it in time. The family gathered around. I’ll get to that….
Growing up Irish and Catholic and east coast is problematic and beautiful all at the same time. It's a vicious cocktail of passion and love and guilt and rage and peace and comedy which is combined to create a blood so thick that it can be the only thing responsible for the Faith this family has had in itself, and for a man and wife to be married for 50 years.
The prior posts have led to this. My father has not been well and his condition worsened in such a ferocious pace these last two weeks. It was startling to us all including his doctors. By 6 AM this morning, my sisters said simply “…this is it. We'll do what we can to help him be alive but try if you can to get here soon.” And within 20 minutes, I was booked and bound for the east coast later this morning.
I went over to Tad ‘s house after school one day. Took Bus 6 home with him to play. Bill showed up too and what started out fun, turned into a vicious tag team of those guys versus me in a way that made me doubt myself, my life my whole being. Them against me. I never experienced alienation before in my life and theirs came in such a frontal assault that I felt nothing but betrayal. I just ran away from them and never looked at those kids the same way again. The walk home was really long. Up and down the hills of my small town in Connecticut until I finally made it home and met my parents unexpectedly after dinner. I cried. I was betrayed and ousted out of that circle of what I thought were my friends. The next day was Saturday. Paper route day and a big route. Dad took me in the car this time and when we got to the last mailbox on the route, he did not do the U turn he normally did to go back home but drove on atypically. I asked him “Where we going? To the store?” He just said “Umm, nah, I’ve got to get this thing I forgot to pick up.” So we drove for a bit and he banged into the shopping plaza and parked in front of the new bike store that opened a few weeks prior. He shut off the Volare’s motor and turned to me and as he did so the seats crinkled with that faux leathery sound: “My son will never walk home from anywhere again.” And he took me inside and allowed me to choose the bike I wanted. It was a GT Pro Performer. White. I was 12.
I walked into the critical care unit tonight and I walked in to the room to an array of smiles. My mom, sisters and brother in law. There he was. "Papa!" I yelled but this time he did not turn to look at me like he did last time. He was certainly different than he was even two weeks ago when I came to see him. Thinner. Machines were keeping him alive. His eyes were moving with lids 3/4 shut. He was so hot when I leaned over and kissed him on his forehead. A fever raging given the chemical pneumonia that had begun two nights ago.
We are all there. My left hand reached under the sheets and found his and I interlocked my fingers with those of his left hand. I could feel my ring clink against his. Two married men deeply in love with the wives who make us the men we are, and mom next to me with my sisters and my brother in law watching over us who has guided us all like an angel these dark days. We phase in and out of gut laughs to cries of disbelief that this is it. But we mostly smile.
The machinery displayed numbers that do not lie. We watched as numbers declined.
I could smell the exhaust of the car as he’d start this old Mazda up on winter mornings. My room above the garage so the smell would just seep through. He’d be up at 4:45 and on the road by 5 to catch the 6:20 train from Stamford to NYC. A commute he did every day for 25 years. Winters in Connecticut are legendary, and Mazdas with their rotary pea shooter engines are not capable of much in snow. So I’d sit and watch him from the window from my bedroom as he try to propel the car UP the hill….then watch it come sliding back down. Then UP again….and slide on back down again. Comedy. Five children raised. All put through college on his wage. The dedication to try and get a Mazda up a snowy treacherous hill to get to work the symbol of dedication to us.
We were all there as the numbers cascaded to zero. The heat in him still raging as he shuddered and then peacefully drifted off. His spirit was long ago released and watching us watch him. Watching as we were stroking the whitening hair on his head. Forehead kissed. I know this.
My hand released his. And I ensured precision when I placed it back upon him. I laid out his fingers on his belly for a moment and then put mine on top of his. Measuring the exactness of the similarities of our hands. The largeness of our knuckles and the thinness of our fingers. I pulled the blanket back over.
My hands are his. I am like him. I am like you. You are like yours. You are needed and wanted. You are loved and you live. I say this to you my readers for whatever it may be worth.
Life is a series of choices. Choose to be there. Whatever 'there' may mean to you.
Keep the Faith my father. My choices past and future are eternally rooted in things you taught me.
As I've talked about....a lot these days...real life is demanding me be present. And I'm there. I need to continue to be a keystone for those that I love. So recreational things like going out for monster rides, specified training, fun racing like the short track's....just have to get back burnered for now. The Firecracker 50 was a blast, and I'm stoked to have had the time, a unique window these days to do it, but now I begin a two week hiatus of travel, family visits and focus on the tough stuff that life is requiring of me.
At the expense of sounding like a cheese ball and using a cyclocross analogy, now is the time for the real hup hup. The time where I need to use some of that grit reserved for throwing down in races, now to throw down for others in life. Make them feel a sense of the hup hup to put one foot in front of the other and focus on what is right...what's working in life for them and provide reasons for the next foot to be put squarely in front of the last. The mud is thick in situatons like this and often the mind has no way to slice through it. My job now is to help those that need it to float across it.
I'll be there pushing somewhere the next few weeks in some way. When you throw your leg over your ride this week for your ride, put in a one minute all out interval, max watts, max heart rate....simply for those that can't. Step outside yourselves for just a minute while on that ride and think of the fortunes you have in life. What's working for you. There's always plenty of time to dwell on what's not, right? Try to syncopate your good health and your good fortunes while you're doing something you love.
Hup hup my friends.
First, apologies. I have been shirking my responsibilities as a blogger and have been devoid of content for posts but to be honest, I have not been all that inspired these days. I get in front of the keyboard and...nothing. Thoughts are uninspiring, Food is devoid of taste. I'm just crusty these days I guess.
Losing Darren in May was hard. Shortly thereafter, hearing my dear friend and team mate Joe Il Campione is going to face and man-handle the Type B Non-Hodgkin's out of him was staggering. Finally a week later learning my father is facing a tough battle with the cancer that has made its home in his pancreas and liver was all I could handle.
But I get to handle it. I'm alive and healthy and I'm needed.
What is needed of me is to close my eyes and think and pray and look ahead and live and communicate that life. And within that burning hope, be able to continue to communicate it with truth and conviction to those that will likely want to look into my eyes and try and find it as worlds are crumbling around. I am blessed to support those I love and do so with an intensity that causes a demonstrable pain in me when I focus on this love I need to share. Was born to share. The effort to create and communicate hope must be boundless and it is a deeper energy that any bike race can ever strain you with.
I'm scared for all of the families and individuals facing these roads. What's being faced is anyone's nightmare. And as spoken about before, the bravery witnessed is blinding and somewhat shameful in an odd way. In a way that questions whether if I were faced with like conditions, if I'd be as brave.
So I sit and think on it all.
I never anticipated writing any of this. I desperately want to write about cross and bikes and racing and all the fun that it entails. I'm the Lab with his tail always wagging. The wagging has stopped for now as the gravity of things applies its necessary weight and I am there to support it.
And I'll continue to look ahead.