Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hello Kailua Beach, Goodbye Oakleys

On Saturday, we decided to take my sister to our favorite beach in Kailua HI. This beach has been ranked in the top 10 beaches in the world and it is about a 20 minute drive from our house. The weather was perfect and there were nice waves for boogie boarding. Anxious to get started in threw my hat and shirt off and jumped into the water with my board. The first wave I caught was great as it pushed me to the shore. The next wave was also great except I slid off the board and got caught in the current. I forgot I slid my prized Oakley sunglasses on the top of my head when I took off my shirt. The current pulled them off before I could grab them. Unfortunately the current was also mixing up the the sand so you couldn't see. I walked around in the general area that they fell but couldn't find them. It kind of dampened my enthusiasm for a while but it didnt' take long before I was back in the water. Our Dog Ginger loves the beach. She likes to follow us out and ride the waves while we boogie board. The only problem is she tries to climb up you scratching the heck out of your back. To fix this we put her on top of the boogie board and let her ride. We stayed on the beach for about 3 hours then headed back to meet up with some people we knew from Beale to go out for Chinese food. It was a lot of fun.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Meal

I got home from my ride around 9 am. Everyone else was still asleep. After I rousted the troops, I checked the Turkey. Our goal was to get it done around 1200 to free up the oven for the rest of the meal so we could eat around 2. I checked the turkey expecting it to be slowly reaching doneness. However, since I was cooking it in a roasting pan and had the oven set at 350 instead of 325, the turkey was almost done and it was only 945. We had to kick the meal into overdrive. Luckily, Chris prepared many of the items on Wednesday so it wasn't too bad. Everyone kicked in to help.

We had everything finished and started eating by 12. It was the earliest Thanksgiving meal I have ever eaten. It was kind of nice getting done so early as we were able to go down to Waikiki and take in some of the sites including a nice sunset at Ala Moana beach and the Christmas lights.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Ride.

Some people relate Thanksgiving to Turkey, Pumpkin Pie, Football but members of the Hickam Area Cycling Club relate it to the annual Thanksgiving Day Ride. The Ride kicked off at 0630. Some of us used a variety of approaches to get a Thanksgiving Day Kitchen Pass, one person whose name will remain anonymous used the excuse that he bought a car on base and drove it home yesterday leaving his other car on base. He just had to ride back to the base to pick it up. My approach was a little different. I volunteered to get up at 545 prepare the turkey and put it in the oven. The timing was perfect as I was able to accomplish this and get to the gym just as they were getting ready to leave. There were 15 or 16 riders who showed up including one who was visiting his son for the holiday and brought his bike. We rode to the control tower then off base to the road that runs along the Airport. We also rode to AMR and through Pearl Harbor. The ride was pretty tame except for a couple of sprints at the end. I was able to take a few good pictures of the sun raising over Diamond Head and Honolulu.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gina's First Full Day.

As I said earlier, I promised to keep Gina entertained while she was visiting. The first thing we had planned was to ride bikes to the beach and go outrigger canoeing. It took a little while to get going so we decided to forgo the bike ride and drive out to the beach. We arrived at 0830 to meet up with Howard the canoeing coach. Unfortunately we were the only ones to show up and you can't very easily row a 6 person canoe with only 2 people so we had to settle for a nice conversation with Howard who told us about his 20 year AF career and his canoe coaching while we waited for anyone else to show. No one showed so we settled for eating breakfast outside along Pearl Harbor at the Wright Brother's Cafe. After Breakfast, we picked Courtney up from School and headed up with Ginger to Aiea Heights for a hike. The Aiea Height's loop is a 4.5 mile hike along the ridge that overlooks Hickam and Pearl Harbor. It has a few scenic overlooks of the ocean and the H3 hwy. The trail is pretty easy to walk or run. We chose to walk and finished in 2 hours.

We hurried home to eat some lunch so we could head up to the north shore to check out the waves. Unfortunately we didn't leave quite early enough and we hit some of the early rush hour western bound traffic.

It wasn't too bad. I decided to take them up to the same route of my Saturday morning bike rides. We headed out past Dillingham Air Field to as far as the paved road goes on the north west side of the island. I was able to capture some of the waves on film.

We headed back northwest to Halewa. Halewa, is the famous North Shore village that hosts many surfing competitions and whose culture hasn't changed much since the 60's we shopped around a little bit and had a shaved ice then we headed up the road a bit to a place where the sea turtles rest on the beach. I wasn't sure if we would see any now as the surf was up quite a bit. However, there was one turtle sleeping on the beach. I took a few pictures of the turtle as well as a nice sunset picture.

Our final north shore destination was Sunset Beach. This is our favorite beach. In the summer the ocean is very calm. There is a reef about 20 yards out that I like to snorkel along. We also like to take our bogey boards and ride the small waves. Today there was no snorkeling or bogey boarding as the waves were crashing in. Courtney and I got a little daring and would stand at the edge of the beach letting the waves run up too us. We ended up getting soaked but had a great time.

Unfortunately we didn't have any towels so we kind of got the seats in the car soaked on the way home. The Gate guard looked at me funny when I drove up with no shirt on . Since the temps drooped to a frigid 75 degrees, we decided to have chili for supper. Gina and Steph ran to the store to get some tennis balls so we could attempt to play after supper if we aren't too tired. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We don't have any other plans except to eat, watch football and I may possibly sneak in an early morning bike ride with the HACC.

Our First Visitor from the Mainland

It took four months for our first visitor to come to Hawaii. My sister Gina from San Francisco arrived at 1223, 20 Nov 07. Everyone was very happy to have company especially Ginger our Dog who snuck into the guest room and cuddled up with her on the bed. Usually Ginger sleeps
on her bed right outside the room Gina was sleeping but we moved her bed so Gina wouldn't have to trip over her on the way to the bathroom. Ginger didn't seem to mind the new arrangement and at the time of the picture, Gina Didn't either. Maybe it was because their names share the same first three letters. I promised Gina that if she came, I would fill her trip with activities. We started off with a tour of the base and the local area. We finished the day with a sunset walk along the path that skirts Pearl Harbor.

Today we are going to start off with a bike ride to the Base Beach, followed with an Outrigger Canoe ride, then a Hike in the Mtns. It should be fun, more to follow.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

6-Person Outrigger Canoe

One of the things I have tried to do for my office is come up with things that people can do together outside of the office with the hope of building a more cohesive team. I have started encouraging folks to meet at the JR Rockers sports bar on Friday's after work for drinks and socializing. Unfortunately the response hasn't been too strong but those that have participated have had a great time. My boss is a big supporter of these efforts. She was born in the Alaska outback and is a member of an Eskimo tribe. One of the things that her people did was use canoes to gather food. She wanted to learn how to paddle as a way to get in touch with her heritage. I mentioned that I would like to try to put together a Kayak trip and she suggested we try 6 person canoeing since some people would feel safer than on a 1 or 2 person Kayak. I contacted the Pearl Harbor Canoe team and found out they had some of their canoes on Hickam. I set it up for Wednesday 14 Nov 07 and sent it out to the office to see who was interested. Originally we had 8 people sign up. 2 people had to back out due to appointments and medical issues which left us with 6, perfect for a 6 person canoe. Wednesday morning I road my bike to the harbor. My boss and one of my co-workers was waiting for me when i got there but none of the rest were there. We waited for several minutes then decided to give up on the rest of them and give it a try. Howard, the keeper of the canoes, gave us a brief instruction on proper paddle technique and the commands. We set the canoe in the water and gave it a try. At first we had Darlene, my boss, in the front, then me and Paul in the middle seats and Howard in back steering. We tried that for a little bit then Howard rearranged us putting me in the front. I enjoyed being in the front because the front paddler sets the pace and the paddlers in the rear match his cadence. I have a hard time following others rhythm so it was great getting to set mine. We would paddle several strokes on one side of the canoe then we would switch to the other. We toured the Hickam Harbor. At one point a sea turtle poked his head out of the water. I got excited and stopped paddling to point it out, throwing our rhythm way off. We paddled around for a little more than an hour. By the end I could feel our rhythm had greatly improved. It was also a very good workout. Everyone who participated had a great time. When we got back to work, we found out that two of the people who didn't show had forgotten all about it and one had a hot project. It is definitely something I will try to do again. I plan on taking my sister out there next week when she comes for a visit. I can't believe some people don't try to take advantage of opportunities like this to get out of the office for a couple of hours and explore some of the Hawaiian culture.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Race

This is one of my favorite biking pictures. My daughter Courtney and I road in the Ride of Silence. The ride is dedicated to all cyclist who have been killed by motorized vehicles. It was a short 10 mile ride. We had a police escort so we were able to ride on the main roads. The in the pic which looks like we are racing, I have my hand on her back pushing her up this slight hill. It looks like she is pedaling easy and I am struggling. After the ride I treated her to pizza for beating me in the "race".

Monday, November 12, 2007

Some Gave All

Today we had the day off in celebration of Veteran's Day which was yesterday. This was my 40th Veteran's Day but this is the most special because on 17 June 2007, my younger brother Josh gave his life serving our country in Panjway, Afghanistan. You don't realize the sacrifice our veterans and their families make until you lose one in your family. I have been in the Military for 22 years and have never seen action. Josh was in the Army less than 5 years and received 2 bronze stars and a purple heart. The last Bronze Star and the purple heart were awarded posthumously. Josh was 3 weeks from his 27th birthday when his Humvee hit an IED. He was killed instantly with 3 other soldiers. We were in the process of moving from Omaha to Hawaii the day it happened. We were visiting my parents farm when the staff car arrived at around 1400 on Father's Day. That was the lowest day of my life. The support from our community as well as my units (gaining and losing) was tremendous. I
flew to Dover AFB and escorted Josh back to Illinois. We were met at the airport by the Patriot Guard who facilitated a Hero's welcome as we brought Josh home. The Honor Guard was lead by one of Josh's close friends who he served with in Iraq. They did an outstanding job.
Today I went with my bike club to the Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific so we could pay our respects for the fallen. It was a fitting tribute as I always used to drag Josh along for rides when ever he would visit. Josh didn't get to ride much so I think I enjoyed the rides more than he did. I remember one time I put him on a bike that was too big and had the most uncomfortable seat. He didn't complain, Josh wasn't that way, he just tried his hardest to keep up turning the cranks three revolutions then standing up to give his sore ass a break. I wanted to get him into cycling even gave him one of my old bikes but he was a very devoted soldier and spent too much time at work and not enough time having fun. His year would have been up in January and I was going to talk him into coming out for the Pro Bowl. He even talked about trying to get stationed here. Now that won't happen. All I have is memories now.

The Family

My Daughter gave me crap about only having pictures of me biking so i decided to add a post about the Family. I have 3 daughters; Stephanie 22, Heather 21, and Courtney 13. My wife, Chris and I have been married for almost 23 years. Stephanie decided to move with us to Hawaii and transfer ed to Hawaii Pacific University. She is studying Criminology. Heather is going to Clark College in Dubuque Iowa. She is studying Athletic Training and Physical Training and is the Catcher for thier Softball Team. Courtney is in 8th grade here on the island. She is the 1st chair clarinet and is doing very well in School. She loves math, gymnastics and cheerleading. Chris is currently a stay at home mom how enjoys scrapbooking and other crafts. We also have a yellow lab named Ginger.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


In 2005 I got stationed in Omaha Nebraska. I was previously stationed in Omaha from 1986 - 1995 and it is pretty close (5 hours, that is close for a military guy) to my home in Illinois. One of the best things about moving back to Omaha was the chance to ride in the RAGBRAI RAGBRAI is the Register's bike ride across Iowa. It is a 7 day 500 plus mile biking party. We started in Sergeants Bluff in the northwest corner of the state and road to Muscatine on the Mississippi River which is only 45 miles from were a grew up.

I was very lucky and got to ride with 100 other Air Force Cycling team. I wasn't the only cycling personality to do RAGBRAI, Lance Armstrong road for two days. I didn't get to see him on the road but a few of the guys from the team road with him for a few miles.

We road from 60 to 100 miles each day stopping for the night in little towns across the state. Each town was like a festival with lots of Pie, church stands, pork chops and did I say pie. I actually gained a few pounds during the week from all the pie. The towns really opened their doors to the cyclists especially the military guys. One guy was retired Air Force and he let us use his shower. It was great having a hot free shower as most of the showers along the way were neither hot nor free. A couple of inter sting sights along the way were the Albert the worlds largest anatomically correct model bull and the singing nuns.

Cycling in Europe 2000-2005

When I joined the Air Force I had not intention of being stationed outside of the Continental US until the opportunity to move to Germany came in 2000. I volunteered primarily to avoid being stationed in Korea where you aren't allowed to take your family. What a wonderful opportunity. We were stationed at Ramstein AB which is in the state of Rhineland Pfalz which sits in the west central portion of the country. Prior to moving to Germany, my cycling interests were primarily of the mtn bike persuasion. That changed quickly when I discovered the windy German roads. We lived 12 km north of the base in the village of Kollweiler. I had a great commute. Here are some of the sites I saw every day on my way to work.


Before I left California, a friend of mine who was stationed in Germany told me about the Ramstein Area Cycling Club (RACC) and their Tuesday/Thursday lunch time rides. I showed up on my old Schwinn and got my ass handed to me on the Tuesday Spin and sprint. I stuck with it though, replaced the Schwinn with a new Bianchi road bike and before I left, I was able to hold my own on the sprints and was in charge of the RACC.

Pide Piper of Cycling

When people see how much fun I have cycling they tend to want to try it themselves. My first convert was my buddy Curt. Curt and I arrived in Germany a week a part and shared an office about the size of a closet. We immediately became friends. Curt's wife made a comment once that he had put on a few pounds so he asked me to help get him into cycling. We went to the shopette at Ramstein which happened to carry some decent entry level bikes. A shopette is a military convenient store. Cycling was so popular in Germany that this one carried bikes. Curt bought a diamond back mtn bike for around $250.00. He ended up adding a suspension fork, clipless pedals and several other accessories. Before he left Germany he bought a custom made german mtn bike. Curt and I would ride at lunchtime when I wasn't doing RACC rides. We ended up getting several other folks from work to ride with us. When the Air Force started it's push for fitness we started doing PT rides. Curt left Germany a year before me in 2004. before he left we did a ride from Homberg Germany to the French Boarder. The ride was on the Glan Blies trail which ran 60 miles from Glan Muuchwieler Germany to the French boarder. We caught the trail at the half- way point and rode it all the way to France. We finished with a cold beer at one of the little outdoor cafes on the trail. What a great ride.


I competed in two different types of races while in Germany. I competed in the US Armed Forces races and I attempted to compete in a few amateur German races. I did ok in the Armed forces races, placing in the top 5 in the mtn bike races and as high as 1st in some of the road races. The German races were another story. They have 3 classes, A,B, and C. C is the entry level class. In Germany, cycling is like baseball. Children as young as 5 join clubs and start training with a coach. By the time they are my age, they have 30 plus years of training and racing. The races take of hard and never let up. I usually got dropped from the start, lapped and headed for the car much before the race was half over. It was a humbling experience. Some of the guys from the RACC would do ok, a few did very well, but most resigned themselves to racing the military rides and leaving the German races to the Germans.

An example of how popular the racing was in Germany was the Schopp velodrome. There are only 19 velodromes left in the US but they are everywhere in Germany including the little village of Schopp which is just a few klicks south of Ktown. We held both miltary road and mtn bikes there. It was a great place for our families to watch us. Some of us would even ride there and hope on it for training intervals.