Sunday, May 3, 2015

Working, for (a) change

Wildflowers—everywhere in Central Texas!
Half a month has passed since I returned from Thailand. It's been a fortnight that has seen me work two regional races and had me wrenching on a few of our local riders' bikes. That's how one supplements that meager TTU monthly retirement stipend. No, I'm not complaining—I'm just saying that I am thankful for the opportunity to make a few cents on the outside to supplement what boils down to being a "fixed income." Those of you who have talked finances with me know how much (or little) a former TTU lecturer makes. Not much.
Vance—center—is nominated for Best RD, and Mike, on the right, is hands-down the best course marshal coordinator
Earning a bit extra on the side is nice, but much more rewarding is the activity that yields this windfall. First, there was the Cavern City Classic, a two-stage road omnium in Carlsbad, NM, that I chiefed for the first time. Thanks, Pamala! Working with an experienced crew and a rock-solid race director contributed to my almost feeling guilty to make money that weekend because I had such a good time.
Following the P 1/2/3 field in the Carlsbad race
While in Lubbock, I had a chance to work on the bikes of some of your club members; actually, I prefer to see these customers as friends and not customers. They touch base with me, asking me when I'll be in town to heap a bit of TLC on their bikes. They trust me and my mechanics skills to give their rides the type of tune-up that they won't get anywhere else in town, at least for the money (and the honest opinions that come from yours truly). Actually, I think for any price they may pay—but that's of course my honest opinion. I treat every one of these bikes as if I were racing on it the next day. I always strive for perfection, and the repeat business tells me that I don't screw up too often.
Not one of my customers....
And then there was this weekend's NICA High School Mountain Bike Final in Troy, close to Temple. It was the third of five HS races this year that I was able to attend—unfortunate overlaps with "bigger" races are unavoidable. But I tell you, in many ways these HS races are the most rewarding of all the events that I work. Obviously, this is all about the kids, and working and talking with them, earning their respect and rust, well, that's just something very big. My friend Vance, who started this league, is one of my heroes, quite frankly.
Osler leads the Howell Scoring Company at the HS finals in Troy
Graduating seniors being recognized at the Tangle in Troy
So, would I do all these rewarding activities without pay? No. Judy and I always said "We don't do it for the money, but we wouldn't do it without the money." One race, two, maybe four—yep, you can do that many pro bono. Do more, and you'll burn out, unless you have unlimited resources and don't have anything better to do. I strive for balance in everything I do, and being paid for some of your time and most of your expenses provides just that. If it were a real job, I think I'd start to hate it at some point, and if I had to pump my own (limited) financial resources into it, I wouldn't last for very long, either.
Airshow at the Temple airport—no fiery crashes were observed
... and more wildflowers ...
And so we're at the end of these two-plus weeks and I am getting ready for a month-long trip to good ol' Europe. If you feel as if you need to send condolences, well, you know the e-mail. :)
Heading back toward West Texas in the late evening sun

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