Monthly Archives: August 2011

Flow

flow

This is a picture that my good friend Andy took at I was rounding the final corner of the 24 25 Hours of Halloween in Santa Ynez on October 31, 2009. I was part of a 4-man team. I was first rider off, so I rode seven laps and the rest of the team only rode six. I was raging on that last lap when Andy snapped the photo. We ended up placing 3rd that weekend. A very good result for my team. It was especially gratifying for me because I was riding amongst 20-30 year-old riders. I was old enough to be a Dad to most of the other riders.

I asked Janet if she could drive the kids down on the final day so they could see me finish. She said no. She lied to the kids by telling them I was spending the weekend in Santa Ynez on some drunken binge. By then I had gotten “used” to her doing this. It wasn’t the first time Janet pushed my kids away from my racing. I ran three half-marathons, all in 6-minute mile times, and the kids missed them all. They missed me racing in the SLO Criterium. Missed several Adventure-series triathlons. Missed plenty of other rides. Janet always had a reason the Kids couldn’t come to see me race.

Yesterday I got out on the Single Speed and rode Montana de Oro with Kevin and Bill, two good friends. It was the first time I had gotten out on the Mt Bike since I broke my hand in a crash last November.

Being that it was the first time on the Single-speed in nearly a year, I was apprehensive. I was thinking about how out of shape I was, thinking about how careful I needed to be on the downhills. And with that, we started riding.

The trailhead starts at the base of a 1,000 foot climb. It’s quite the warmup when your’e in form, entirely a different beast when you’re not. Kevin leads off, followed by Bill, then me. We gain a few hundred feet and re-group. We chat a bit, then Kevin waves me on. I hesitated, saying “you go, I haven’t ridden in a while” Kevin hears none of it, tells me to go ride. I go to the front and an amazing transformation begins.

I start riding “tempo”. For those who don’t ride, that’s at a pace that’s not quite anaerobic. The trail slowly winds uphill. Where it pitches up, I stand up and mash the pedals forward. I feel strangely alive, connected to my primal self. I hit a vertical rocky section of the trail and I totally clean it. It levels out and I start railing the tempo, spinning effortlessly up the entire grade. I don’t worry about Kevin and Bill behind me. They are good friends who won’t take offense with me taking a flyer. By that point I am raging uphill, like I haven’t for years. The sixteen pounds I lost last year is serving me well as a climber. I feel like Robert Millar. Near the top I began to crack the shoreline fog. I can see wisps of the Californian Blue Sky above me. I can feel the humidity of the climb up dissipate, and the scent of Eucalyptus, sage and rosemary fill my senses.

I get to the top and wait for the guys. They come up, and we chat about cool stuff. The conversation is flowing effortlessly, like I’ve been hanging out with these guys forever. Thing is, I haven’t seen them in nine months. We talk about Guy things, about bike parts, the weather, the trail conditions.

Kevin and Bill pad up, and we drop down the backside. It’s fairly steep, some rocky sections, and all loose. I keep Bill in sight but Kevin soon drops away and rides off. I stack up the first few corners and have to unclip. I get back on and catch back up to Bill, who is doing a fine job of railing a nice line. Pieces start to fall in place, and I manage to get down.

We climb back up and top out at Hazard Peak. There was a congregation of riders at the top. I knew many of them. We bullshitted for a good thirty minutes. I wasn’t anxious about getting started again. I wasn’t thinking “I-have-to-finish-the-ride-and-get-home-or-else-Janet-will-get-mad”. For the first time I was at peace, just talking amongst like-minded riders. And it was bliss.

Kevin begins the final descent. I follow Bill. He’s railing but I’m right on his wheel. He pulls over, he’s somehow pinch-flated his front tire. We stop. Kevin’s already way off the front and gone. I go about and help Bill fix the flat when another rider pulls up and asks if we need help. It’s Yishai, a very good rider. We get the flat fixed. and start to push off.

Bill motions me to lead. I take the front knowing that there are two very good riders behind me. The trail is in the flow-style, not steep or technical but nevertheless very fast if you chose to do so. We traverse over to the opposite face of the mountain and I start to pick up a lot of speed. I hit a couple of whoop—de-doos and do a little air but I keep the bike settled, and I stay off the brakes. I carry a ton of speed into a loose right-hander, bleed off some velocity, and come out of it still carrying a lot of speed. For the next two miles, as the trail dips and curves and hops, I barely touch the brakes. I am feeling alive, feeling at-one with the bike, and just flying through the landscape. I am flowing.

I drop into the trailhead at the bottom and I see Kevin waiting for us in the parking lot. Then I turn and look to see Bill and Yishai arrive ten seconds later. Somehow I had managed to not only keep in front, but to extend it out a few seconds.

Yesterday was the first ride in years where I rode in the present. Where I rode without thinking about anything else. Where I was immersed in the sensations of the ride, the endorphin release, and nothing else. I’m back. And I realized that despite my time off the bike, my limits are high. Very high.

What A Difference

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This picture was taken August 23, 2010. First day of school. Seventy-one days since my Kids saw their Mom pass. It’s not enough time to heal. The pain was fresh. Look at this photo, the pain is evident.

Savannah, Courtney and Douglas have worked so hard since that first day of school last year. We changed, we grew, we wept, we learned, and we laughed.

The kids are super excited about going back to school tomorrow. The energy in our home is much brighter. This is going to be a great year.

Dog Days of Summer

dog-days-of-summer

Several week ago Savannah left for a week to attend her school’s annual X-Country running camp. It was at Shaver Lake in the Sierras. She had a great experience. We missed her all week. Courtney made a Welcome Home banner for her sister. I was lucky to get a shot of Savannah embracing Courtney.

Savannah has been busy this summer. She’s been doing Soccer and X-Country training nearly every day. Playing Soccer Tournaments. Spending quality time with her boyfriend. I’m totally cool with that, but the reality is that Savannah hasn’t been around much to help out.

She’s growing into a confident young lady. I give her space to grow. She’s sixteen and already has one foot out the door. Every Parent has to go through this. Part of life I guess.

This weekend Savannah is playing in the Santa Barbara Summer Cup. It’s a very competitive Soccer Tournament. We always enjoy the venue. Several weeks ago I asked Courtney about coming along (Santa Barbara is 100 miles South of us). She said she’d rather stay home.

Several days ago Courtney asked if she could go to a friend’s party on Saturday. I reminded her that Savannah and I were going to be in Santa Barbara, and that she should call a friend to get a ride. She said “No Dad, I can’t call someone and tell them to pick me up. That would be rude!” I tell Courtney that any of our friends would be happy to share a ride to the party. She wasn’t hearing any of it. It was my job to get her there.

At the beginning of the Summer Courtney had been granted an invitation to attend a week-long academic camp at Cal Poly. I wanted her to go, to be exposed to different things. She didn’t want to go, she felt I was forcing her to go. Looking back, I should have found a way to get her there. It would have been good.

Douglas. He’s so imaginative, active and curious about the world. There’s always something new to discover, balls to throw, bikes to ride, Nerf gun battle to wage. If he’s not with friends, you can’t expect him to entertain himself for six hours.

There have been too many days this summer spent watching TV. I’ve never been much of a TV watcher myself, but when you are trying to get stuff done you learn to rely on the electronic babysitter. I get stressed out over that.

The McCarthys have been very fortunate to have great friends helping out with my kids. I am grateful for their time. I’d like to tell everyone that we had a great summer. The truth is that I’m happy that school is starting up next week. My kids need the challenge. And I need to get some work done.

The Police and Your Rights

We’re witnessing an unique time in our country’s history. Government has ceased to be functional, specifically Congress. Wall Street has fixated itself on short-term trading and the commissions it generates. I worry about my children and what the future holds for them in this increasingly dysfunctional society.

Last night the Girls were watching Law and Order. What I overheard shocked me.

Every person that was questioned by cops willfully answered every question thrown at them. They volunteered more information than they were asked about. People were blabbing away. Innocent witnesses and suspects – none of them could shut up. The Detectives were eating it up. This show was making a mockery of our constitutional rights. I had to interject and remind our girls of our constitutional rights.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Savannah figured if “you had nothing to worry about or hide, why wouldn’t you talk to the cops? If you’re taking the 5th, then you’re hiding something, right?” she said. No, it doesn’t work that way. I explained to her that cops are not required by law to be truthful to you. That your comments can easily be mis-construed and you could be charged with a crime, even if you are an innocent bystander. You cannot introduce statements that you give police into a court of law, even if those statements are truthful and exonerate you. The Judge will rule it hearsay and thus inadmissible.

Never, never talk to a peace officer without your Attorney present. No exceptions. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

What I Really Think

what-i-really-think

Being a single Dad means finding the time to craft a couple hundred words is sometimes difficult. Since I’ve started this blog, there has been no shortage of material to write about. But lately it hasn’t been the lack of time that has stopped me from writing. It’s something else.

June 12th, 2010. That morning we found Janet unresponsive in the shower and began CPR. It felt like an eternity before the paramedics arrived. They went right to work. I wanted to get my kids out of the house, away from all the commotion. I took them next door to Marianne Orme’s house. On the way back Marianne accosted me shouting “I know you did this, I know you did this!”

The Paramedics told me there was nothing else they could do, I went back over to tell my kids the horrible news. Marianne was with my three kids. I asked her to leave so I could talk to my kids. She said “No.” I asked again and again Marianne said “No, I’m not leaving you alone with the kids.” I asked her a third time to leave the room and she finally relented.

Later that morning Marianne sat down and spoke with the Sheriff’s Detectives for quite a long time. My other two neighbors Monica Butler and Chris Volbrecht also spoke at length to the Detectives. I’m not going to comment here on what they said because that would be hearsay.

One of them calls her friend Karen Velie, who is an editor at calcoastnews.com. The story that Karen posted the next day, and several of the comments posted, contain false statements. These statements have caused great harm to myself and my family. These statements were made without adequate consideration to the truth.

My kids and I spent seven weeks together in Ohio getting back on our feet. While in Ohio Marianne, Monica and Chris went into my house and took Janet’s and the kid’s possessions. They never asked my permission to do such. They never told me beforehand that they were doing such. We came back to our nearly empty home on August 7th.

All the kid’s clothes, toys and possessions were packed in boxes in Monica Butler’s garage. My brother and sister-in-law John and Laurie, who were with us, helped the kids and I move their stuff back into our house and unpack. Marianne, Monica and Chris didn’t offer any help.

I didn’t see any of Janet’s stuff. I asked Monica if there were any boxes that we missed and she said no. I didn’t give it much more thought at the time. I had other things to worry about.

Several days later Marianne and her husband David showed up with Janet’s missing possessions. They had Janet’s stuff stacked in their driveway. They didn’t tell me why they had Janet’s possessions, nor why they waited several more days before returning it.

There was still one item unaccounted for. It was a cedar chest filled with several family photo albums and scrapbooks. All of it priceless and irreplaceable. I didn’t learn it’s whereabouts until last October. That’s when I went in to the Sheriff to get my remaining confiscated items. There was my cedar chest. I learned my neighbor Chris Volbrecht had the chest. She gave it to the Detectives. She never told me about it.

During the summer months we have what’s called Margarita Mondays down at the park. It’s a traditional community pot-luck where 50-75 friends from town get together and socialize. The Kids and I always enjoy going and meeting our friends. Marianne also attends these. Her and I don’t talk to each other. At the end of one Margarita Monday last month, we were the last ones to leave. The Kids and I always ride our bikes to these. Courtney leaves ahead of us and as we’re following her a block behind I see Courtney stopped in front of Marianne’s house, and Marianne talking to her. I get closer and Marianne sees me approaching and immediately disappears into her house.

So what do I really think? I’m getting over it and actually, I’ve become quite indifferent to it all.