Monday, July 28, 2008

RAGBRAI 2008

478 miles in 7 days with 10,000 of my best friends. Here are the details of a great bike ride mostly as they occurred. Pics available at www.dmwebworks.com/ragbrai08

Day 0

I have arrived and am more or less ready to go. Easy flight in yesterday. Coolest thing from my plane ride was a new program I discovered for my iPhone - Shazam. It listens to music in the background and then tells you who it is - artist, album, album cover, etc. You can even buy it with a click on iTunes! Had dinner last night with my old Peace Corps friend, Merry Ellen (the one who gave us a tour of U. of Nebraska at Omaha when we were returning from Okoboji). Naturally I had an Omaha steak.

Everything is easier this year cause I know the drill. I slept in this morning cause I knew the bus would be late morning. Walked out, got on and left. Only about 30 min. to Missouri Valley. We were one of the first to arrive. Got setup quickly. Guy next to me, Sam, who I talked with on the bus gets a new tent every year for this. He was still reading the directions on how to put it up when I left camp 2 hours ago. It is fun to watch people pouring into this little town. Motorhomes, buses, trucks, cars with trailers and lots of bikes. I got my bike early in the day this year (another benefit of shipping it, thank you Billy!). Put it together and rode into town. Cool in the morning, but hot and humid now. Need to remember to keep drinking. Discovered my handlebars were loose (always something when you only take your bike apart once a year) and so found the bike expo at the high school and got one of the bike shops to show me the problem - I had 2 screws in backwards! Went in the high school for the air conditioning. Then saw they had a spaghetti dinner with no line, so I had dinner with a couple from Salt Lake City - Vince and Angie (names included to help me remember). They ride a lot and really like this ride. They go with a charter company called, Pork Bellies. More expensive, but they have tents with misters to hang out in.

I am reminded what a nice group of people do RAGBRAI. Everyone is pretty fit, friendly, and excited to be here. Easy to strike up conversations. I wish finding a/c was as easy. Everyone just leaves their bike outside when they go in somewhere and there doesn't seem to be any problems. According to the Des Moines Register, Lance Armstrong will be here one day this week, but they don't know which day. That will give everyone something else to talk about. I walked the expo and picked up some free samples of Chamoi Buttr. Will be nice if it works. Now if I keep vaseline on my lips I will deal with last year's 2 biggest hurts.

There is a real sense of excitement in the air and it is really fun to have my wristband on and be part of it.

Day 1
Stats: 62 miles; 13.7 mph; 74 rpms; 4:30 hours

Decided to take a break in the a/c trailer at mile 42 today. Day is going well although looks like we might hit a storm. Nice rollers this morning (think day 7 last year, Bill). I started out not drinking enough and got a headache (too enthusiastic I guess), but am making up for it now. I know I am near the front as it has thinned out a lot. Had bagel at Little Farm Fair Trade place, Bill. Then pancakes and lots of liquids. Saw Gabe, Bill, the Asian guy who we spoke with on day 1 last year. Also, saw the lady with the dog from our house last year. She still has a sign about stopping the oil war. All for now.

After my morning email, I walked out of the trailer and enjoyed a rib-eye on a stick (in Shelby). No knife needed! Very good and excellent protein, which I think I needed. I was one of the first ones into our camp in Harlan and that had several advantages: shady spot for my tent, no wait for a shower, able to recharge my phone (which is not getting a signal!), got a camp chair to sit on, and food with no line. Still I plan to (as Billy has coached me) take it very easy tomorrow. 83 miles and 5300 feet of climb. Will be a record for me. Had a nice lunch/dinner conversation with Julie - radiologist from Des Moines who is cross training for marathons. Then met Rob (from Michigan) in the line at the movies where we both were headed to cool off and almost fell asleep watching Journey to the Center of the Earth. Worth it for the a/c. All 50 states and 18 countries are represented this year. Oh, yeah, Bill, had dinner at Pizza Ranch - remember the first place we had dinner in Rock Rapids with the dessert pizza. Am now sitting in the library getting ready to take the shuttle back and get a good night's sleep. Between the trains, the interstate and the partyers, it took me a while to get to sleep last night. Shouldn't be a problem tonight. Weather looks quite good. Today's storm never developed. Harlan has done a good job of organizing the town for us.

Day 2
Stats: 85 miles; 13.3 mph; 70 rpms; 6:30 hours

Went to bed early on Sunday to get ready for the big ride and things didn't work out. The band at the fairgrounds (there is always a band) was so loud, I went to bed at 9 and didn't get to sleep till 11. Then at 2am I awoke to very strong winds blowing my tent flaps around. :30 later a horn starting blowing and a loud speaker voice said "this is an emergency storm warning. Please go to an emergency shelter." Of course we hadn't bothered to figure out where they were. So we wandered around for awhile. Some people collapsed their tents and left. Meanwhile we were getting very strong gusts of wind. It seemed to start from nothing and had been a clear night when I went to bed. Anyway, most people (in my group of 200) finally gathered around someone with a laptop which had a radar view. It appeared we were at the tail end of a front. Soon they blew the all clear and a voice announced the front had passed. The next day, about 50 miles out we saw storm damage - trees down, silo thrown into the ditch, 6' tall corn flattened. They said there were 85 mph winds, not a tornado, but a strong thunderstorm. We ride on.

This was the hardest day and I made it! 85 miles (horizontal) and 1 mile (vertical). I took it easy and actually enjoyed it till the last 10 miles when we got a headwind. The hills were more like rollers and we had some great long downhill stretches with very nice views (followed of course by nice long uphill stretches). The names of the town were very familiar from childhood: Elk Horn, Exira, Coon Rapids. I didn't remember any of them, but probably was there with Dad at some point. Jefferson was the overnight town and they did a great job. Our campsite was at a church and they supplied food, entertainment, etc. It rained a little as we were setting up, but then was nice. Much cooler now.

Easy day today into Ames (Day 3) where I will meet cousin Doug. I saw on the map that we are coming into Ames on Hayward Ave. The first house I lived on in Ames was 306 Hayward!
Stats:

Day 3
Stats: 59 miles; 13.3 mph; 70 rpms; 4:25 hours

Easy day. Mainly flat road, short distance, pleasant weather. Had a head wind the last 15 miles between Boone and Ames. Saw standing water in a lot of hills. Awesome to come into Ames. They wound us through campus from the back and people were cheering us on and welcoming us all the way. Went up Welch and I cut over 1 block to Hayway Ave. to take a photo in front of the old house. Rode around the old neighborhood and out to a sports field (was a farm when I lived there) to get my stuff and call cousin Doug. Great to see him, sit in a/c, get a real shower and sleep in a bed. We hung out and talked. Then took my bag back to the truck in Ames, drove around and went back to sleep. Had a very nice talk with Doug. Turns out Lance Armstrong rode this day (I didn't see him) and spoke briefly at the Styx concert (we didn't go).


Day 4
Stats: 69 miles; 13.0 mph; 73 rpms; 5:15 hours

Starting at Doug's in Nevada I cut off the first 10 miles and so slept in till 6. Started out and immediately saw people having flat tires all over. For the next 20-30 miles there were many flats. Turns out some kids (they caught them) threw tacks in the road. Bad joke. I was lucky and didn't get one, but at each stop everyone was checking their tires. Cooler weather and some hills but not too bad. Ate well all day. Bill, I tried Farm Boys breakfast burrito on Day 3 and it was great. Like Chipotle with breakfast stuff. I liked it so much I stopped again today. The line moves fast also. Sorry we didn't try it last year. Haven't tried Beekman's ice cream yet but I will. Bad headwind, especially the last 20 miles. It seemed that whichever direction we were going it was into the wind. Found my "home for the night" (friend of cousin Clair's), then went to the Presbyterian church where I met Clair and Veryly (wife of cousin). They were doing a baked potato dinner and sundaes for the riders. Had a great conversation and they took me back to the house where we talked some more. Great to sleep in another bed (my last) on this trip.

Day 5
Stats: 80 miles; 12.8mph; 69 rpms; 6:15 hours

Well, I can now saw I have ridden in rain. Cool, overcast, and drizzling. Going to be a long day (about 80 miles). There is more weather forecast in the direction we are heading. Pedaling into the adventure. Aunt Dorothy is planning to come to see me tonight, but not sure with this weather.

Well, Day 2 was not the hardest afterall. Day 5 was. I will take hills over the wind any day. Hills have a beginning and end, usually with a nice downhill reward. But the wind never ends. We had 5-8 mph gusts (according to the forecast, not sure what they acutally were) mainly in our face all day. It was sometimes from the side, but was only at our back for 1-1/2 miles. It also rained for about 30 min. twice near the beginning and end. It was a long, hard day which I broke up by taking many stops. Day 5 was hard last year also so maybe there is a pattern of getting tired at this point. On the positive side, it was cool (65) and overcast. Also, Billy, there was no line at Beekman's ice cream so I tried it. It is great ice cream and you get to watch them making it. Sort of between soft and hard. I only intended to have about half of my cup, but soon found myself at the bottom. When I got in I called Aunt Dorothy and suggested since it was raining at that time, she not try to come up. I didn't know if we could find a place to sit and talk inside. When "we" come to any town there are 20,000+ total people and most overnight towns have populations of about 5,000. We kind of take over. She seemed fine, said she was actually quite tired. Good hot shower at the local middle school. We had a great campground where we were the only ones and were far away from the noise. Enjoyed the company of my buddy, Paul, from Colorado. Another guy, John, joined us and he was a real Debbie Downer (see Saturday Night Live skit). We walked around and went to bed early. Today the weather looks good and the ride is shorter.

Day 6
Stats: 69 miles; 13.4 mph; 71 rpms; 5:10 hours

Today was a great day and a real treat after the wind yesterday. Some hills, but little if any wind and a much shorter distance. Also, people sense the end (at least I do) and that provides some energy. Much cooler today with a cloud cover which made perfect riding conditions. A woman was passing me today and asked where in California I was from (my license plate says: Dave, California). I said I was from Granite Bay, near Sacramento. She hit the brakes and quickly came back and said she is from Granite Bay also. Turns out we are practically neighbors. She lives about 1/2 mile away and is in one of the local bike clubs. Encouraged me to try riding with them which I will do. Also, is with a better (more upscale) charter company - Pork Bellies again. Among other things, they provide shade for people when they arrive and signs of how to find them when you get to town. My charter makes us go to the info tent to find out - sometimes requires backtracking a few miles which at the end of a long day can be frustrating.

Got in and took a cold shower at the school where we camped. Sat in the lobby (a/c) while my phone charged. Had dinner at the Methodist church with Jim, a journalist from Florida. He is writing a blog on the ride for his newspaper. We discussed the accidents we had each seen. I have seen 2 separate people shortly after their tires got caught in large cracks in the center of the highway. Ambulance for one, not sure of the other. He said there were 2 paceline accidents he was aware of (pacelines are when people get 6-12 inches behind another bike to draft - sometimes these extend to 50+ bikes though I saw many fewer of these this year, perhaps because they are easier on flat terrain like last year or perhaps because RAGBRAI discourages them). Went to the local cinema and saw the screening of a couple of new movies. Rode the shuttle bus around town to see everything and then went to bed.

Day 7
Stats: 54 miles; 15.9 mph; 75 rpms; 3:25 hours

An incredible day, perhaps the best ride ever. We finally found that elusive tailwind. Nice sunny day with cool temperature. Everyone was in a hurry to get to the end and we moved quickly through the towns to the Mississippi River. I averaged 15.9 mph over 54 miles which is by far my fastest day in 2 years of RAGBRAI. It felt like I had a sail on my bike. It is wonderful to come into town with everyone out and cheering you on, especially the last town, Le Claire. Rode next to a guy who was from Le Claire and who the week before rode from Le Claire to the start of RAGBRAI. He said that unfortunately, the headwinds had been with them for 2 weeks now. He is organizing a bike trip along the Lewis and Clark trail. Another guy on a recumbent said he is organizing a bike group to go from Paris to Istanbul. No shortage of ad hoc trips to pick from. Le Claire is actually a nice little "river town." Very nice waterfront.

I wanted to get to the end in decent time as our tour company has 3 buses and usually (last year) has each one leave when it fills up. This year he made everyone wait till they were all full. I hurried to get there, box and ship my bike, shower and change, then waited 3 hours (no shade) while we waited for the buses to arrive and they all the riders to arrive. Sat next to my friend from Colorado, Paul, all the way back and we designed the "perfect tour company." Will probably try out Pork Bellies if we do it next year. More expensive, but better service. Since we were all starving the bus stopped for a fast food dinner (worst meal of the week) and on to Omaha. We unloaded and Paul and I took his car to get a celebration beer.

A couple of observations.

  1. As I have often thought and said, the real benefit of something like this is the preparation - getting in shape. Having a challenging goal is important for doing that, at least for me.
  2. No surprise to great athletes, pushing yourself physically forces you to really pay attention to your body and anticipate what it needs. I don't think we do this or need to in our daily office lives. RAGBRAI recommends you eat before you are hungry, drink before you are thirsty, and rest before you are tired. If you get too far gone it is hard to come back.
  3. The cheering and encouragement from people along the way, especially in towns is very motivating and creates a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie among the riders. Pride is a great feeling.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lessons from an Entrepreneur

I have learned much in 14 years of entrepreneurial ventures. These 3 standout:
  1. Time is your enemy. Period.
  2. Don't fall in love with your original idea. It will need to morph several times to find success.
  3. Have a passion for the product and an affinity with the people you work with. It's a long road.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Donating Computers Isn't As Easy As It Used To Be

Over the years as we have upgraded computers, it has always been easy to find a willing recipient for our old computers. Usually the schools. I will confess that once, several years ago, I was so frustrated with an old computer that it went straight into the garbage. No more. First, it is considered hazardous waste and requires special waste facilities. The schools now seem to have plenty of computers - haven't even returned my call about it. Other non-profit organizations also seem to have what they need. I think the market has now been saturated with at least basic PCs. I found a site which lists recycling centers (Environment, Health & Safety). The only one in our market is HP, which will charge $21 per computer plus shipping. Well, at least we still get a nice tax deduction - or so I thought. When I checked out the value of our Dell Dimension desktops on itsdeductible.com, they only thing they cared about was the clock speed of the cpu (I thought we weren't supposed to care about that in PCs any more?). It appears our perfectly good, if dated, PCs are now worth $54 each. The garbage can seems a little close to my office than it was yesterday.....

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

RAGBRAI Day 7

Up at the usual time (5am). Very long porta potty lines today. We got our water bottles filled last night at the Red Cross tent - not sure where we would have found water otherwise. Lots of dew on the tent and everything is wet. Went by the church to get a daylight photo - "info people" said it is a special church. On the road, we have a lot of energy. Phil and cousin Dick will meet us at the end. There is a great set of mainly downhill rolling hills for 10-15 miles. We stop for rolls and bananas and continue on another 5-10 miles. I really want pancakes - Bill isn't so sure as the line is large, but it moves quickly and we are on our way. Much more hilly today, including some up hills that are challenging. Bill hangs right in there. The line for food is really long in the next town and we are now glad for the pancakes. We get smoothies and sit next to our old friend, Cindy. A nurse next to me in line recommends Lantispetic for our rears. I will try it as mine is very sore. We continue on and in the last town stop. Apparently we are in a line that is supposed to be only food, nonetheless we get their last sandwiches, last candy bar and last of their ketchup. We leave quickly to find the next corn field as the porta potty lines are too long. I try Phil on my cell a couple of times on the road with no success, but we connected in the previous town and they know we are close. The big hill that Bill has looked forward to from the beginning looms ahead. He hits 42mph and I 40mph (had to hit the brakes as someone was in front of me). It is over too soon and Bill wishes there was more. We enter town and there is quite a traffic jam. Everything is stopped for 100+ Air Force riders. I didn't know there were that many as they were always in small groups. The bikes keep going. We finally get to the last street and as we start down the ramp to the Mississippi River, Phil and Dick spot us and say hi. I call to Bill and we all hug. I give them my camera as we get in line and get our photos taken dipping our front wheel in the river. We then move quickly to find our charter, break down our bikes and ship them UPS. I explain to Phil and Dick that the lines will only get longer - but strangely today they don't. Phil & Dick help us pack the bikes, we then ship them (no line!) and grab a hot dog and sit on the river bank to watch others do the same. Sara calls, we take pictures, and Dick walks 6 blocks to bring in his car. We load our bags and head for Washington and the family reunion. The ride is over and we did it!

RAGBRAI Day 6

For some reason I was tired today. We got a late start as we needed to dry the tent from the night before and hadn't been able to get everything ready before the morning. We were a few miles outside of town and then needed to stop to get Bill's brake adjusted. Finally on the road it tried to rain a little but never did. The cloud cover was nice, but we had more wind than we had the previous days. There was a stretch of several miles of headwind where I finally told Bill I needed a break - he then moved in from of me and I drafted the next couple of miles. It really helped. We finally had a pork chop with Mr. Pork Chop - turns out the line was very long - even by RAGBRAI standards - because it was his last day. He is retiring after about 30 years and turning it over to his kids. Never quite hit the food lines right and the day seemed to drag on a little. Started hitting hills toward the end. We are camped in the campground right next to the group's personal masseuse (didn't know we had one). I treated myself to a 20' massage after we got setup and showered. Bill sleep for awhile - spaghetti dinner at the church before the line got too long (we have learned what they will learn - that the line will never end - they will just run out of spaghetti), walked around town, listened to the free concert and now getting ready for our last night. As Bill said "it is with mixed emtions that we end this trip tomorrow."

Stats:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

RAGBRAI Days 4 & 5




Day 4

A very good day. Excellent weather and we hit a rhythm and cruised. The last 20 miles were a little hard as it got both hilly and hot. But we were coming into a city with a university (Cedar Falls, U.of N. Iowa) and the signage (like Burma shave) was amusing and clever. Several interesting towns, spoke with several people on the road and at our stops, including a guy who was just "hitching" a ride on RAGBRAI for 3 days. The bikes are really amazing. You see everything. Plenty of regular rode bikes, some mt. and hybrid and then the parade begins: tandems, triple, fourples (for a family of 4 with 2 little kids), recumbents, tandem recumbents, bikes decorated with all kinds of themes, including cows, bananas, 1900 era boxers, etc. The people are often equally dressed up costumes, including several teams that dress up: the brides, achin' knees, ibuprofen, the day drinkers, etc. Quite a show and it was a good day to see it all. We came into Cedar Falls, checked into a dorm, did email, and called cousin Clare Hein. He got us and then we showered and had a great dinner at his house (pork roast, Italian dipping bread, cole slaw, and corn on the cob). We then went to the Unidome and heard Lance speak. Then back to the dorm for sleep. It was not air conditioned and it was very hot.
There is a sense of being in a media event throughout this ride. The Lance Armstrong factor takes it to the next level. Billy was interviewed on channel 7 on day 2 in Clarion because he was wearing his LiveSTRONG jersey. They asked him why he was wearing it and if he had even known someone lost to cancer. In main towns there is often a tv van and crew and the Register sometimes has a news van. However, coming into Cedar Falls was another level. They were expecting Lance (who typically watches the tour and leaves around 11 - so we only potentially see him on tour rest days). I think he was not far behind us today. There were news helicopters overhead as we came in, and msnbc had an outdoor interview setup between Lance and (I forget - the guy who does Hardball?). We also picked up in the paper about Edwards riding with Lance - which happened in a town we had already been through. To add to this, the Iowa National Guard had a unit returning this day from 2 years in Iraq. The Air Force did a low jet flyover to salute them. Very busy media day.

Stats: 71 miles - 13.7 mph - 71 cadence - 5:00 time

Day 5

We rode out and I think we picked up several thousand day riders and hitchers (the paper latter said the total was probably 18-23,000). It was very crowded. We stopped and got air in our tires on the way out. We ate very well today: Subway sandwich from the night before in our room, then stopped at Mr. Pancake Man for pancakes and sauage, then Pastafari for their great pesto. We were good till the end except for snacks and pulled into Independence. The food is interesting. On the road there are 3 sort of places: the towns which have everything from their regular restaurants to tons of vendors, then there are the ad hoc roadside coffee stands, and finally a number of vendors that are in similar points each day (lunch, breakfast, etc.). Those include Mr. Pork Chop, Pastafari, Beekman's Ice Cream (made on the spot), Farm Brother Burritos, Little Farm Fair Trade Coffee, Mama Raphael's, etc. Fun and you get to know them. We found out after arriving in town that our camping was several miles outside of town at the mental health institute. We weren't disappointed when we got there, however, It was great. Under the trees in the shade by ourselves with a bathroom. We went to the canteen for the institute and had great Philly cheesesteake sandwiches and sundaes. A little nap in the camp and walked to a great restaurant for dinner. When we came out there was a thunder storm and we got a little wet walking back. Went right to bed with the sound of rain, lightning and thunder, but we stayed dry.

Stats: 68 miles - 14.2 mph - 69 avg. cadence - 4:45 time




RAGBRAI Days 2 & 3


Day 2

Started out rough with the wind, but then got much better. We got away from the wind, it stayed cool, and there were more towns. We also changed our strategy to slow down, stop in all the towns, and eat and drink regularly. I was really on Billy to drink more - which he did and it all helped. It is amazing how the towns really turn out for these events. Music, water spickets for cooling off and loading up, tons of different vendors selling food and sometimes even entertainment. It is really fun to come into town and often they are sitting out in the yard waving and clapping and cheering for us. Very cool. Each town has a different theme for the event so you never know what you will see. Had spaghetti dinner and met another dad and 15 year old boy from Wisconsin who loves soccer. Haven't seen them again unfortunately. Tonight we stayed at the home of one of the doctors in Humboldt instead of in the campground - we and 8 other riders. Bill and I and 2 others slept on the floor in the living room - the other 2 were real characters. A blind guy and his partner. They got in late because there luggage was lost and their tandem bike broke down. The others riders were also interesting. Our hostess was really wonderful, had snacks out when we arrived, ordered pizza for everyone. She even had her 15 year old son hang around for Billy. They didn't really hit it off, but it was a nice gesture.

We did about 80 miles today and they say if you can do the first 2 days, you can do it all. We feel pretty good, but tired.

Stats: 80 miles - 12.9 mph - 71 avg cadence - 6:15 time

Day 3

Great day. Good weather, cool well into the day and very flat. Had breakfast #1 in Thor, Iowa. Very small town. It sounded familiar to me and I finally remembered why. My father's first wife was from there. We really moved today and gained even more confidence. Billy got to draft behind 4 of Lance's team (LiveSTRONG) and he was totally pumped. He knew they were just cruising, but he loved the experience. The girl next to him (they were in 2 lines) had done it the day before and Lance was in the line then. I believe we saw Lance pass us in the afternoon when we were coming out of the corn field from a bathroom stop. They were flying. Enjoyable afternoon listening to concerts and watching school dancers perform in Humboldt. I couldn't wake Billy up for dinner so brought him something back. They ran out of the pasta dinners so I had to take the shuttle downtown to find something. The band played too loud and too late and we were too close to the road. It kep me up late last night. Also, the porta potties were way too far away and the water sources too few. I think we overwhelmed the community, but they really tried.

Stats: 73 miles - 14 mph - 71 avg. cadence - 5:15 time


RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI = Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. I decided to do this 477 mile trip across the state of my origin with my 15 year old son. I declared it a success before we even left as the process of training, and doing so with Billy, made it so. The following several posts are a diary of our trip.

Day 1

Well, it was quite a day. I now know what a drop of water flowing to the ocean feels like. You join a few people, then a few more join you, then even more and finally you feel like part of a river flowing. The towns and people are very friendly. People really go all out - selling everything to eat and drink. Had a head wind more than we might like and it got hot by late morning. Decision to not put on sun screen was a mistake. Biggest problem was Bill almost seemed to get de-hydrated. At one point he started weaving and was looking down - we stopped, rested, drank, etc. He was very tired. Now I feel tired and wonder how I can do this 6 more days. We'll see tomorrow.

It is very hot and we just want to stay in the community center to stay cool. Bill is looking forward to meeting Lance Armstrong at the session he is doing with the kids tonight. Our tour operator could do a better job communicating. Looks like we should have brought a sun shower to take advantage of his showers. - oh well. Onward and onward.

Stats: 79 miles - 13.6 mph - 71 avg. cadence - 5:48 time

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Defines Success for an Entrepreneur - Part I

Since leaving my marketing career in the corporate world 13 years ago, which followed a successful career in government, I have had quite a few entrepreurial adventures. The original idea in leaving was to

  • get control of my time so I could be more involved with my family (2 boys ages 2 and 4 at the time), and
  • try my hand at the next step on the career ladder - as I see it
  1. government
  2. private enterprise - employee
  3. business owner

Having conquered (at least to my satisfaction) the first two steps on the ladder, I was ready for #3. Today, as I ponder my next move, including a return to #1 or #2, it is time to evaluate what I have learned.

Most importantly, I have succeeded completely in getting control of my time. As a result, I have enjoyed being part of my two teenagers' lives, become much closer to my wife through many wonderful discussions and adventures (enjoyed via morning tea, lunch, a quick walk, hot tubs), have a fully trained golden retriever, and a home with only a short list of needed repairs. I have also been able to exercise regularly for the entire 13 years, work the hours that suit me (late at night), and have avoided the stress of business travel, corporate politics, and bosses. Finally, we have managed to get a handle on our finances and have a financial plan that includes funding college and retirement (although we cannot agree on what age we will live to).

I feel very good about the use of my time for family and personal business. It is clear to me that this first goal, getting control of my time, was by far the most important. I would not now trade being a part of my family's daily life for anything, including succeeding at the second goal - being a business owner. About that I shall write next time...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

40 Miles on the Pacific Crest Trail

Last September I went on a 40 mile backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail (Donner Summit to Sierra City in California). This is something I had wanted to do for a long time. Since my friend, Jim, and I planned to leave a car at the destination and drive to the starting point, I felt it was more of an adventure than the usual roundtrip. The trip was all I hoped it would be. However, the longest lasting effect has been that I continue to enjoy the 17 pounds I lost and increased exercise I engaged in while training for the trip. My wife recently suggested I should identify the components of that successful training to apply elsewhere in my life. Having identified them, I now share what seems to motivate me:
  1. A focused goal
  2. A deadline
  3. "Skin in the game" - something of importance to me is at stake that I stand to lose

I will let you know if I succeed in carrying these over to work, personal projects, etc.