Monthly Archives: May 2015

A Season to Remember

“Did my Dad ever own a bicycle?” I texted those words to my Uncle in Florida. These are the kinds of questions that have started to occur to me – random, simple facts that I suddenly need to know about my Father since he passed away. The reply came back, “No. Not that I ever knew.” My Dad was from a family of seven kids, raised by a single mom, and as poor and as rag tag as any stereotypes of impoverished West Virginian hillbillies that you can conjure. My Uncle followed up with one more text. “But I did build one from parts out of the landfill! And your Aunt J___ won one at church for naming all the books of the Bible.”

My son, Elliot, is shining up his red and white bike, getting it perfectly clean for the first stop of this year’s mountain bike racing series. It’s a new bike for a new season. We opted for a 24 inch cyclocross bike, rather than a purpose built kid’s mountain bike. Elliot only weighs 55 pounds, so we are trading tire width for a racier geometry and overall lighter weight. After purchasing it with the advice from our local bike shop – Race Pace – and having the owner, Michael, replace the drop bars with a flat bar and grip shifters, the little Redline looks like a perfect tiny replica of real Cross Country MTB racing steed. I watch Elliot carefully polish each gleaming surface and think of how this is a world away from what my bikeless Father knew as a kid.

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It’s hard to believe, but this is our fourth year of racing mountain bikes together. Besides racing, we’ve ridden trails all over the country – IL, WI, WV, OH, NC, SC, CO, UT, NM, MI. When we hit the trails for the first time each Spring my heart swells up with thankfulness and we both are grinning from ear to ear. I know my own Father, who never had a bike, made sacrifices so that my life would be a little better than his. This is not a new idea. It’s part of the so-called American dream. Most people think of that “better life” in terms of money. But there is more that my Dad sacrificed and more that I have received than money. These moments on the bikes with my son, they were earned for me by all the moments my Dad sacrificed to work a brutally hard job. All the moments he didn’t have with me, on a bike, throwing a ball, camping – I am now able to have with my Son because of my Dad’s faithfulness to provide for his family.

Elliot is ten this year and we are turning into quite the Father / Son racing team. We are especially excited to be part of Vision Cycling and the chance to ride and race with other biking families. Hopefully we can all learn from each other. One thing we’ve learned is how hard it is to get yourself and a child out the door with everything needed to camp and race – even for just one night! How many times have we been an hour down the road only to remember – at various times – forgotten shoes, underwear, helmets, race numbers, tires, water, medicine, toothbrushes, and cash? So this year I’ve tasked the boy to make a bike packing list. The result is in the photo below. This is one of those moments, one of those precious artifacts of this season, that I always want to remember.

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I’m not yet sure what this blog will be about, except that I want to take the time to write down the moments from this season so we can remember them when this year is long past. Since I just lost my Father, I’m also remembering him and pondering the legacy of our Father/Son relationship and how it has passed on to Elliot and I. So, my working title for these rambling ruminations on biking and Dads and Sons and racing and the memories made will be this: “A Season to Remember.” Thanks for reading and joining us for the ride.

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All Spoked Up/Vision Iola race recap

And the Wisconsin Mountain Bike racing season has begun! Yesterday was the WORS opener in Iola and Team All Spoked Up/Vision brought a contingent of 9 racers to the event. The weather was nothing short of amazing if not a bit dry. It was an amazing event for camping. The moon was bright during the first hours of the evening you didn’t even need a flashlight; just gorgeous.
Speaking of gorgeous, a few team members showed up with new bikes, some fresh out of the box. Nate Knowles had his new Kona King Kahuna while Matt Knowles and Jim Gust brought their new Santa Cruz Tallboys; all beautiful race machines.

As for the race, we all enjoyed seeing the WORS family after the long winter layoff and we had some success while doing it.

Nate Knowles: 1st in his age group and 12th overall in Sport

Nate Knowles: 1st in his age group and 12th overall in Sport

Matt Knowles: 7th in Sport Clydesdale

Matt Knowles: 7th in Sport Clydesdale

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Colin Knowles: 1st in age and 16th overall in Junior

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Will Knowles 2nd in age and 18th overall in Junior

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Brett May: 3rd in age and 33rd overall in Elite

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Griffin May: 13th in age and 77th overall in Citizen

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Reed May: 9th in age and 84th overall in Citizen

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Jim Gust: 5th in age and 47th overall in Citizen

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Marty Tank: 2nd in age and 12th overall in Comp

A big thanks to Jim Gust for doing water hand ups.

This week’s team ride will take place at Alpine Valley just outside East Troy, WI on Wednesday.

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Some of us will be meeting earlier to get more riding in, but official roll time will be 5pm. AV has two loops, a short and a long with the long being about 8 miles with 1000’ of climbing per loop. So be ready to climb as we should be able to do 3 laps before the food is ready. There generally isn’t water available onsite so make sure you bring enough. Be advised that there is also a trail pass required and they only accept cash.