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September 5, 2010

Old Blue comes home

Filed under: bicycling — Tags: , — Roger @ 12:53 am

After a stay of more than six years in Evanston, Ill., my Cannondale R300 bike — affectionately known as Old Blue — is back in Belleville.

Since 2004, Old Blue lived at the home of my sister, Teresa Parod, and was extensively used by her son, Julius, the past few years. Julius rode Old Blue on the 2004 West Shoreline Tour, and he also rode it on weeklong trips in New York and Virginia.

I had broken in Old Blue for him, having used the bike on weeklong tours in Illinois, Indiana (pictured above in 1995) and Missouri.

Old Blue was a good bike for its time. I bought it in December 1985 from The Cyclery in Edwardsville, just months after I completed my first weeklong trip, the Bicycle Across the Magnificent Miles of Illinois ride from Chicago to Edwardsville. Its technology — the 12 speeds with shifters on the frame — is well behind the times.

Old Blue went into semi-retirement in 1996, when I bought my deep teal Cannondale R500 — The Stealth — the bike I continue to use for bicycle tours, club rides, etc. Most of the time, Old Blue sat in the basement, although it was a reliable backup when The Stealth had to go to the shop.

It was a good bike for a teenager like Julius. He was 13 when he first started riding Old Blue, and it was a bit too big for him then. A few years later, it was the right size. Today. he’s 6-foot-2, a full inch taller than me.

Old Blue got some wear and tear during its time in Evanston. The steel front fork is a bit rustier than it was when it left Belleville. One of the water bottle cages is missing. The straps of the toe straps are missing.

I don’t mind. At least the bike was getting some use, which is what bicycles are supposed to do. The rest of the bike is in good shape.

I was surprised to see Old Blue last Sunday at the family farm near Brighton. Neither Teresa, Julius nor my mom had told me Old Blue was coming home.

What’s the future for Old Blue? It will be my backup road bike, and I plan to add some lights and new pedals and make other modifications to make it more of a commuter bike.

Welcome home, Old Blue!

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February 24, 2008

My ‘baby’ sister in the news

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Roger @ 1:43 pm

About a week and a half ago, I gave kudos to my older sister, Teresa Parod, for her new Web site featuring her artwork. Now it’s time to give some props to my younger sister, Karen Brooks.

Karen’s picture was on the front page of Sunday’s edition of The (Alton, Ill.) Telegraph. Photographer Jim Bowling caught my sister in the act of tying balloons to hand out to visitors on Saturday afternoon for the Toddle Towne Learning Center’s 20th-year reunion on Humbert Road in Alton. Karen has been a nursery teacher at Toddle Towne for 14 years.

Anyone who can put up with preschoolers eight hours a day for 14 years deserves a lot of credit in my book!

It’s the second time that Jim has taken a photo of someone in my immediate family, and it’s the second time the photo was on Page One. Back in 2005, my mom, Jean Kramer, attended an event honoring Charley Kevilus, an Alton man who has cerebral palsy, but makes a living collecting aluminum cans in the Alton area. Both my mom and Karen, collect cans for his business.

Even though I’m a hardened veteran of the newspaper business — I can take it or leave it if my name’s in the paper — I still get excited when someone in my family makes the paper.
Way to go!

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February 14, 2008

Filed under: Illinois — Tags: , — Roger @ 12:20 am

Burmese Temple, copyright Teresa ParodMy older sister, Teresa Parod, unveiled her new Web site tonight, with a URL of — appropriately enough —

Teresa, an Evanston, Ill.-based artist and art instructor, has posted many examples of her oil paintings and drawings on her site.

Teresa has visited 31 countries on 5 continents, far outdoing her younger brother, who has only visited 3 countries on 1 continent. But I least I can say I’ve bicycled in more states and Canadian provinces than she has!

Her vast travels have influenced her work, as indicated by the painting shown at left, “Burmese Temples.” But she also draws from influences closer to home, such as the Howard Street EL Station in Chicago and the Amtrak trains that pass the farms of central Illinois as they cruise between Chicago and St. Louis.

Teresa’s travels to Indonesia influenced her to join the Indonesian Performing Arts Group in Chicago, and she has danced in many of the group’s shows.

Some of Teresa’s bicycling adventures are chronicled on this site, her 1985 trek on the Bicycling the Magnificent Miles of Illinois — the first weeklong trip Teresa and I ever did — and her 2004 trek with her two children, Julius and Sereana, on the West Shoreline Tour in Michigan. Teresa and Julius are planning to ride Bike Virginia this year, but I won’t be able to join them this year.

Wesley, copyright Teresa ParodI feel blessed to have had two gifted artists in my family — Teresa and my late brother, Wes Kramer, shown in Teresa’s drawing at left. My younger sister, Karen Brooks, also can draw rather well, although she didn’t pursue a career in the arts. While I cannot draw or paint as well as Teresa does or Wes did, I feel fortunate that God gave me enough of an artistic eye to take photos, design newspaper pages and create Web sites.

At least one of my friends have marveled how artistically influenced we were for being the children of a steelworker. Well, my late father, Henry “Gene” Kramer may have toiled for years as a blue-collar worker and on the family farm near Brighton, Ill., but he frequently drew and occasionally painted. My grandmother, Bertha Kramer, also was quite a prolific artist. They, however, did not have the opportunities that Teresa, Wes and I had. Even my mother, Jean Kramer, who often complained about not being able to draw, has an artistic eye. I remember a photo she took of a tree during the fall and how well-composed it was, even though she had never received formal education in the Rule of Thirds or other aspects of formal composition.

I hope you’ll take the time to visit my sister’s Web site and enjoy her work. I’m also grateful she included a link to my site, and I will insert links to her site on the BAMMI and Shoreline pages.

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November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Roger @ 7:51 pm

One of my friends on my MySpace page — yes, I have one, but only primarily to bring people to this site (And, no, I am not too old to have a MySpace or Facebook page!) — encouraged people to stop dwelling on the bad things or things that need improvement and try just being thankful for what you do have and that you are alive.

In addition to being alive, I’m grateful for:

  • My family, whom I’ll see tomorrow for Thanksgiving and the joint celebrations of my nephew and oldest niece, both of whom turn 17 this year.
  • My friends. My odd hours keep me with connecting with you as well as I would like, but be sure you are frequently on my mind.
  • My ability to ride a bike.
  • My ability to play a leadership role in the Tour de Stooges and the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society.
  • My job. Even though the newspaper industry is going through a difficult transition as more people rely on the Internet for news and advertising, it still gives me a lot of satisfaction to design a strong front page that draws people to read our paper.
  • My faith, which keeps me anchored when things get a bit crazy.

I’m sure I can think of more if I had time, but I need to get back to work. I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S.: For those of you who live in the St. Louis area, KPLR-TV, Channel 11, will be having a Three Stooges marathon from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST Thursday. Thanksgiving is a great day for TV viewing — if you’re a guy!

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July 24, 2007

Who says you have to train?

Filed under: cycling — Tags: , — Roger @ 1:39 am

My older sister, Teresa Parod, her son, Julius, and two of his friends, Kyle Enochs and Nate Walters, recently completed the Cycling the Erie Canal ride in New York.

I’ll let Teresa describe the ride in her own words:

Julius, Nate, and Kyle were successful on the bike trip from Buffalo to Albany, N.Y. Their training consisted of a combined mileage of 5 miles in 2007.

Nate decided to go the day before we left. He won a prize at the celebration dinner for “The Best Reason Not Have a Water-Bottle Holder and Have a Water Bottle Bunged to the Bike Instead.” The reason being is that Nate’s bike is 47 years old and that is before water bottle holders were invented.

Kyle and Julius were the first, out of 500 people, to finish the ride. However, even more incredible, they are still friends, after spending eight days together on a tandem (also called the divorce bike).

Best sights: All the technology surrounding the Erie Canal (locks, dams, aqueducts, etc.)

Worst part: Getting three teenagers up and on the road by 6:30 a.m.

Best part: Spending time with Julius, Nate and Kyle.

I would never recommend going into an 8-day, 400-mile ride with less than 5 miles of training — an average of 1.67 miles per teenager — but it just goes to show what teenagers can do.

Julius’ uncle has considerably more than 1.67 miles of training going into the West Shoreline Tour in Michigan on Aug. 5-11, but I don’t feel completely comfortable with the amount of riding I’ve done going into the ride. At least we’ve had some Michigan-like weather down here in St. Louis for much of July, which has allowed me to get some decent miles in.

Here’s hoping that my nephew and his friends will be inspiration for me while I’m climbing the hills along the Lake Michigan shore.

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May 17, 2007

Not much time for riding

Filed under: cycling — Tags: — Roger @ 1:53 pm

As difficult as it is for me to admit, my bicycle and I have not spent enough time together this spring.

My original plan for June was to ride the Oklahoma Freewheel ride, but I know I will not be in strong enough shape by June 10 to do a 428-mile ride, so I will instead help out with the Gateway Council of Hostelling International’s Cycle Across Missouri and try to get some quality miles in in the process so I’ll be ready for the West Shoreline Tour in August. I always enjoy riding in Michigan in August, when it’s hot and humid in the St. Louis area.

Tour de Stooges is the primary reason for the lack of cycling time because of all of the work I had to do before the ride and all of the follow-up work afterward, especially sorting out the T-shirt orders. I’ve also been doing some critical work for the 2008 ride, but I still can’t talk much about that until plans are finalized.

Also this week, my mom underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on her left knee to repair a torn ligament. It’s related to the blood clot and cyst problem she had in her leg last fall. That meant a couple of visits to the family farm near Brighton, Ill., this week to do some chores.

The most pleasurable of the chores was getting her bicycle back into riding shape so it’s ready to go in a few weeks. Before the problems developed, she rode her bike up and down the lane two times a day to get her newspaper and the mail. She’s hoping to get back on the bike shortly to help the knee recover, and I was more than happy to help.

Here’s hoping I get more time to get some decent rides in soon!

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March 20, 2007

Today’s the day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Roger @ 1:02 am

In a matter of hours, I will be speaking to the Evanston Bicycle Club about the origins of the Tour de Donut. I just got off work, but I’m going to get a little bit of sleep before I have to drive up to Alton and catch the 7:21 a.m. Amtrak to Chicago.

I’m a much better writer than a public speaker, but at least I don’t have to do much talking because the film “Tour de Donut: Gluttons for Punishment” will be shown.

For those of you in the Chicago area who are interested in seeing the film, the meeting is at 7:30 p.m. at the Ladd Arboretum at McCormick and Bridge streets in Evanston.

I’m also looking forward to seeing my sister Teresa and her husband, Bill, as well as their wonderful children, Julius and Sereana. I’m also looking forward to visiting the Art Institute, which I haven’t done in several years.

I better sign off. It’s time to get some shuteye!

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December 24, 2006

Remember the Baby!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Roger @ 6:18 pm

For those of us who are Catholic, today was the Fourth Sunday of Advent. I attended Mass today at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville. Our presider, Father Ed Hauf, stressed the importance of remembering the Baby this Christmas season.

The baby, of course, is Jesus Christ.

Up to now, I did not feel the Christmas spirit. A lot of that is because what passes for “spirit” in the days before Christmas is really little more than commercialization. Too much emphasis is put on the cost of the presents rather than the spirit behind the present.

While it would be nice if there were a Cannondale System Six or a Trek Madone SSL 6.9 bicycle underneath my mom’s Christmas tree tomorrow morning, I will be just as happy with less expensive presents because I know there will be plenty of love behind them.

Another reason I didn’t catch the spirit earlier is that people aren’t sending nearly as many Christmas cards as they once did, and I think that’s a sad thing. I’m sure there’s plenty of reasons: the expense of cards and postage, the prevalence of e-mail or a simple lack of time. I’ve noticed over the past five years or so that I receive fewer cards than I did a decade ago, and I know I’m not the only one. Alas, I simply ran out of time this year and did not send as many cards as I usually do. For those of you who are my friends and didn’t get a card, please accept my apologies and I hope to do better next year.

But now, I am in the spirit of Christmas. I look forward to the peaceful drive from Belleville to Brighton tonight, I look forward to Christmas Mass tomorrow morning with my mom at my home parish, St. Alphonsus Church in Brighton, Ill., and I look forward to seeing my family. Later in the week, my older sister and her family will come down from the Chicago area to celebrate Christmas and a bunch of family birthdays that surround Christmas. There will be plenty of love to go along.

It is my hope this Christmas that all of you will remember the love and humility that the Baby is all about. Even if you aren’t a believer in Christianity, love and humility are fine traits to share with one another. That’s what Christmas is really all about.

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