Pride.

Excuse me for jumping into Mr. Peabody’s time machine again.

Every fall there is an old school BMX ride in Philadelphia where a bunch of kooks ride 20+ year old bikes all over the city.  It’s a lot of fun once the swap meet stops and the riding starts.  I try to ride a different bike each year.  This year my choice is a 1994 Hoffman Big Daddy.  I got this frame on eBay about 10 years ago.  It was used but it was one of the good ones before the Taiwan manufacturing changed it.  A couple of days ago I began working on it.  I had to rebuild the coaster brake hub and dig for headset parts.  I know if I have issues with the bike it will be one of these two things.  I disconnected the hand brakes to make the headset work easier.  When it was time to actually take it out and ride it, I set it aside for when Jack got here.

Jack loves to test ride bikes so I knew he’d jump at the chance.  I made him pick it up so he could feel how heavy it is.  I told him that I did my best riding on a bike just like this.  He rode up and down the street doing a few hops, framestands and skids.  He said he liked it.  I took a turn on it and it felt like coming home again.  As we were trading the bike back and forth I explained the story of the Big Daddy to him.  I told him Mat Hoffman sponsored Kevin and wanted him to design a flatland frame.  Kevin and I were at his parents’ house and took all the things we liked from all the other frames and put them on one.  I told Jack while it was a flatland frame, guys also rode vert, ramps and street on it.  It was a great overall bike with amazing balance and as Mike Devitt (then owner of SE racing and the first builder of the Big Daddy frames) said “This is the strongest frame I have ever seen.  I don’t know where it could break”.  Jack didn’t seem to care that much.  All he knew was he liked it and it felt different and fun.

As I watched him go around the corner to jump it off some new curbs I thought of how many hours I spent and tricks I learned on that bike.  Then I thought of all the other riders that did so much more on theirs.  That damn frame accomplished about as much in freestyle as any other.  I have done a lot of of things to make riding better as a whole and basically nobody knows about them.  I’m fine with that actually.  But this frame is probably the thing I am most proud of.  Now I’m not trying to take credit for it and it is Kevin’s signature model but I did have a big influence on the design and geometry.  I look back at this bike as one of the best frames ever in BMX and I’m sure many other riders do as well.  Just knowing a good chunk of it came from my head gives me a sense of satisfaction that I did something that counts.
To see Jack ride it blew me away.  Out of all the things I have ever done, I’m proudest of my three great kids.  Combining them with the Big Daddy overwhelmed me.  The matching red of the bike and Jack’s clothes.  Past and future colliding together in the present.  I couldn’t help but smile.

Last spring I wrote about my friend Steve.  While I was visiting him, his best friend was in a hospital bed dying of cancer.  It was a tough and emotional time.  I talked a lot with him and he told me that he really appreciated many of the things I said.

Last week as I was cleaning out my son’s gear bag from a week at Woodward, I came across this sticker.  Steve owns a bicycle company called FBM.

As I was leaving Steve’s house early in the morning I left him a note on his desk.  I wanted him to know that even though his friend was going, they shared a great life together that defined themselves.  There should be no regrets as they had done more than most people ever will.  The life cut short was full.  Very full.  My note read:

Friendship

Brotherhood

Memories
Finding this on a sticker hit me hard in a good way.  Steve got my note and made a sticker out of it.  People will see this and realize that the whole BMX thing is so much more than just doing tricks on bikes.  It’s life.  It feels awkward writing about this as I don’t really want credit but I am proud that once again in some odd fashion I have done something good for the sport and the riders.  Another random thing that leaves a mark.  That’s all I really want out of life at this point.  Just leave the world a better place than I found it.

And I think I know what bike the sticker will go on….

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Tomorrow is my birthday.  I had been dreading it actually but not for the normal reason.  Sure it marks another year down and halfway to ninety, but the biggest part is that it’s going to be another lonely day.  My kids will be at their mom’s house and I’m alone.  It’s kinda tough to be by yourself on your birthday.  My big plan was to plug in the ear buds and go for a ride.  Not really riding for any reason other than to remind myself of all the fun I’ve had and that I have plenty more in the future.

So this past weekend my mom came to visit because we both knew it was important for the kids to have a party for me.  Sure they need the cake and ice cream but they were also way more excited than I was.  Saturday afternoon I walked out of my room to find the kitchen chair decorated with ribbons, cushions and a flag in my honor.  They had made me a throne.  On the table were a cake that looked like a potential fire hazard waiting to be lit and a stack of crudely wrapped gifts.  Three huge smiles greeted me followed by hugs and a sweet kiss from Kelly.  The candles were lit with minor burning of the fingers, the song was sung and somehow I managed to blow out the confectionary conflagration.  I opened a card from each.  Henry’s made me laugh, Kelly’s made me tear up, Jack’s was an inspired drawing with a beautiful note just for me.  The gifts were essentially so much candy that it would have to be shared.  Sneaky little buggers!

Today the kids are all doing their own thing.  Luckily, an old friend decided that it wasn’t right to be alone on my birthday so the bike was loaded into the car and I’ll be getting a guest in a few hours for some riding and fun.

It’s funny how a day that was so gray can suddenly become sunny from the love of others.  This post doesn’t really have much to do with riding but I wanted to share it just the same.  The gestures of others have made me feel wanted on a day that was about the loneliest I was expecting all year.  Smiles are theraputic and freely given among friends and family.  Today I realize just how important we can be to someone’s life.  Make the difference in someone else’s.  I know I will try my best to pass it forward.

 

By brettdownsconspiracy