Skip to main content

I feel the need for speed...

Photo by Rich Cruise

I want to use this blog to reflect on important individuals and events that have shaped my life. This blog really isn't about me, it's simply a vehicle to facilitate thought about your life, and those important elements that have meaning for you.

The dude in this photo is David Bailey. Once a world motocross champion, then later a winner of the Ironman Triathlon in the wheelchair division.

A lot happened between those two worlds. I knew Bailey since he was an upcoming pro racer in the late 1970's, and was later his promotions agent during the 1983 and 1984 championship seasons. My recollection of the epitome of the two-wheeled world was when I traveled with the U.S. team to the 1986 Motocross des Nations in Italy. The Americans cleaned up, and Bailey was clearly on top of the world, riding the now legendary RC500 factory Honda.

A few months later, that chapter in Bailey's life came to an end. He missed a jump at a local race in California on January 11, 1987. I rushed out to San Jose to see him in the hospital. The day I arrived, Gina (David's wife) told me she was pregnant with their first child, Sean.

A long recovery ensued. Bailey made the best of a bad situation, and became one of the top wheelchair athletes in triathlon. After competing in the Ironman in 1998, 1999 and winning the event in Hawaii in 2000, he moved on to other things - including a career as a color commentator for ESPN and its Supercross telecasts.

There's another piece of this story that holds the most merit for me. Back in 1983, I was quite overweight, and living an unhealthy lifestyle. I decided to make some changes, and started to exercise and lose weight. At the Atlanta Supercross in 1984, I ask David if I could run with him, so we headed out on a slow jog from the hotel.

That was the portal to the life I know, racing and fighting past all the obstacles. I lost over 45 pounds, and became a triathlete, then marathon runner, and to the present an ultra runner. There were epic runs with David and Johnny O'Mara, bicycle rides to the limit, and on some occasions Johnny's mechanic at the time, Jim Felt, would also come along. Jim went on to his own new career - and founded Felt Bicycles, now one of the top performance brands in the world.

I was just an average guy, but David Bailey taught me how to have a world-class attitude. That continues to this day.

Thank you, David, for being a friend and mentor in life. I'll pass it forward to others who are searching for a new way to make it to the finish line.


Popular posts from this blog

Scott Jurek ate vegan, won ultras...then got divorced

(Disclaimer:  I am a Brooks-supported athlete; as part of that relationship, I was provided a complimentary copy of "Eat & Run")

I was recently on a few flights making my way home to Wisconsin and en route was able to plow through Scott Jurek's new book "Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness."

It's a fast, enjoyable read. I've been around the ultra scene for a long time and have known some of the greats, i.e. ultra champ Eric Clifton. So it's always interesting to see how the world looks from another icon's point of view.

My thoughts in no particular order:

1) I've been vegetarian/borderline vegan for 12 years and have always been concerned with protein intake.  Jurek advocates for the protein he naturally induces through his plant-based diet.  Maybe that is enough. Maybe it's not necessary to bang down 100+ grams of protein supplement every day. Good info and good advice.

2) I'm buying on big time to Scot…

Build your low cost gravel and commuter bike

It's the saga of Craigslist. You have a great perfect condition road bicycle to market. You ask a fair price. A few calls come in, most often the caller throws out a low ball offer, maybe 50% of asking price.

You don't need to give the bike away. You may not need the cash.

Consider re-purposing. You already own an excellent commuter and gravel bike. Think your bike is too low end, not good for the purpose?

Wrong. In most cases less expensive bikes are build with heavier parts, which means they are stronger. Heavier wheels = better ability to absorb commuter bumps and gravel roads.

A few simple modifications and you'll be rolling for transportation or logging road expeditions.

Here's my 2011 model Specialized Roubaix. I rode it for several seasons as a serious piece of road equipment. A few buyers offered up a few hundred dollars, so I went in another direction.

1) Added 700 x 28 Continental Gatorskin tires. Gatorskin tires wear like iron and you can trust them in off …

Now this is better...

Hey, I don't want to dole out too many epic photos in one day...but after that fatty shot from the New York City Marathon, I had to dig a bit deeper, and found this:

Check out that attractive specimen (second from right) circa 1986...only a year earlier and Tommy Terrific was looking pretty ripped.

I'll tell you this triathlon training camp was one of the high points of my master competitor career. On the left is Mark Hinson, the best triathlete in the southeast in the mid 19890's...and far right is Frank Kohlenstein, a soccer coach from South Carolina and the dude who got me into ultrarunning...that's tanned and toned Tommy next to David Bailey, one of the greatest men who ever threw a leg over two wheels with an engine.

So, right around the time of this camp, I crewed for Frank at the Western States 100 mile endurance run in California. Hinson ran with Frank through a very tough 20 mile desert section and when he made it to the next check, he pulled me aside and told…