Saturday, May 29, 2010


Today is another significant date in my life. Eleven years ago, Carol made a huge mistake and married me. I have not known Carol to make many mistakes; she has the most common sense of anyone I know. I am very grateful and lucky that she has stuck with her decision.

We got married in the Gardens Park underneath the Stephenson Pavilion. We lucked out on the weather that day. Just before the wedding started there was a spring shower. All the guests huddled underneath the pavilion as it passed, it worked into a wonderful opportunity for me to visit with people that made the trip. Carol, Tamara, Ronda (Carol’s sister), and Katie (Tamara’s friend) were getting ready at Carol’s house, so they missed the storm. My college buddies ran down to my house and grabbed a bunch of towels and dried all the chairs.

All was ready to go, and as I looked down the “aisle” that we created, I could see the Little Red Rodeo come bouncing and sliding through the mud to the backside of the park. My bride and her attendants stepped out and the wedding began.

Could not have asked for anything more.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Why Bent Finger Chronicles?

I have always said that I would, one day, tell the story of why I named this blog, “Bent Finger Chronicles.” That day has arrived.

Everybody has events in their lives that are timeline markers: Birthdays, Graduations, Births, Marriages, etc. There are other dates in your life that stick out as well. One of those dates for me is May 28, 1997.

At the time, I was a 30 year old, single, City Administrator of Dalworthington Gardens that spent all his free time riding the bike. The past previous Memorial Day I had probably ridden the best in my life at the Bobby Valentine’s 100K. I rode with the big boys the whole time. I even attacked the group. I made the front page of the Start-Telegram Sports page in a picture that I still hang proudly in my office.

I was serving as the Texas Wheels Cycling Club president and was excited about running our monthly time trial at Joe Pool Dam. I was positively giddy as the May time trial approached. I felt that I was going to set a PR that day because I was at the best fitness level of my life. Adding excitement to this event, my older, more athletic, brother, Dave, was in town with his family. Dave as you may know is a U.S. Army officer. He was transferring from Texas A&M to West Point. His wife, Dudely, and their six month old son Zach were going to hang out with me for a few weeks while Dave got quarters at West Point.

Dave and I headed out to Joe Pool Lake to meet up with my cycling club. We had an interesting discussion on the drive. Dave was concerned that someday I would be out in the middle of nowhere and be in a bike wreck. I assured him I had a plan. I explained that all I had to do was to have them call Dalworthington Gardens and tell them to say “Call 800, 600 is down” and everything would be alright. I explained to my brother, that 800 is the radio call sign for Chief Bill E. Waybourn and 600 was my radio call sign. That would give the dispatcher enough information to hunt the Chief down and understand the urgency of why the call was important. I had no idea that this was foreshadowing the rest of my day.

Dave and I arrived at the lake and met up with my cycling buddies at the designated start time of 6pm. I distinctly remember that Mark Wessels, Liz Wessels, Randy Wallis and Larry Stein where there. Since Dave was not riding, he was in charge of the watch. We leave in one minutes intervals and do an out and back on the dam. I do not remember who went in front of me, but I do know that my goal was not to have Mark catch me because he was starting after me.

Dave gave me the signal to go and I begin pounding the pedals to make my personal best on the TWCC time trial. Quickly, I realized that I was flying and settled into a good grove. I was very confident that Mark was not going to catch me and that I was going to shatter my personal record. As I grip my drops, I noted that my speed was hovering around 25 mph but I heard a clicking sound. I looked down and noticed that the magnet on my front wheel was hitting my cycling computer sensor on my fork. This was not a good thing I thought, because it was slowing me down. Each revolution had a small drag that was interfering with my peak performance.

The last thing I can clearly remember is reaching down to move the senor away from the wheel in order to stop the clicking sound. The rest of the story is a combination of my memory and those stories told to me by my friends present.

I hit the ground really hard. I felt my collar bone crack. Mark rolled up to me and found me sitting on my butt, my bike upside down against the guard rail and holding my right hand in my left. I was bleeding like no tomorrow. It quickly became clear to Mark that I had stuck my hand in my wheel. Something was very clearly wrong. Things started happening in a blurry kind of way. I was very confused. Mark asked to look at my hand. He looked, told me to close my hand and to hold on. I remember just a bloody pulp. I did not think I would get to keep my pinky finger.

Mark tried to get me to stand up by tucking his arms under my shoulders so we could start walking to the car. He informed me that the ambulance had been called. When he made the attempt, I could feel a sharp pain in my right shoulder and knew that it was a bad idea to get up. I had broken my collar bone.

The sound of the ambulance could be heard in the distance. Everyone assumed that they would have a key to get past the locked gate that kept cars off the dam. I had lost all sense of time and place. My buddy Randy had to explain over and over again the reason we were wearing our old jerseys was that our others were dirty and we had not done the wash yet.

The fine folks of Grand Prairie EMS arrived on the dam and loaded me up. I apparently did sit up and compliment them on their response time. I also kept trying to tell them to call Dalworthington Gardens. They had no idea what I was talking about.

Randy told me later, the paramedic stuck his head out the back of the ambulance and said “He wants us to call some 800 number...” Randy pieced it together and called DWG and talked to the Chief. Between the confusion of the event and now a body full of morphine, I was not communicating successfully. I do remember being assured or lied to, depending on your perspective, by the paramedic that he seen worse fingers that people got to keep.

I was greeted at Arlington Memorial Hospital by Officer David Janice of the Dalworthington Gardens Department of Public Safety. The best I can remember is that the medical staff ushered me right in. David, Randy, Larry, Mark and Liz all were there. Chief showed up later. I was hooked up to a morphine drip and I pushed the heck out of the button. I know that it does not always inject you with morphine every time you push it, but I still kept pushing it.

X-Rays confirmed my broken collar bone, broken hand and three broken ribs. All the doctors thought I was in a motor cycle accident. Somebody had to keep explaining that it was a cycling accident. I was rushed into surgery for my hand, because there was a concern that my pinky finger needed to be attached in a way that it could survived.

In surgery, hopped up on morphine, I met the good Dr. Ward. He explained to me the choices I had for my finger. He could set me up like Roger Staubach with a curled pinky or more of a bent one so I could still use a keyboard. I elected to go with the bent finger.

All of this did not seem to take very long to me, but when they wheeled take me home, it was after midnight. My brother and my friends stayed the whole time. The stopped at a 24 hour Eckerd’s on the way to get my prescriptions. Ironically, I was to meet the midnight pharmacist that filled that order, Tom Duran, in a few weeks as a new Assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 5.

My poor sister in law had to spend her time in Dalworthington Gardens driving me from Doctor’s appointment to Doctor’s appointment. I did fully recover to crash the bike many more times. However, I am stuck with a bent finger on my right hand, but at least I still can count to ten (or at least 9 ½).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bike to Work Day!

Friday was national bike to work day. Although I try to cycle commute at least once a week when the weather allows, I was real excited for some geeky bike rider reason.

I switched my usual commute day to Friday for the event. My bike shop was at the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center. Corner Bakery provided the coffee and the breakfast food. I even got interviewed by Channel 5 about my cycling commuting, but it did not make the news.

Although I am a roadie at heart, it was fun being perceived as a commuter by the arrogant roadies who did make the effort to ride their bikes to work. They looked down in distain at me as I was there with my $300 steel commuter mountain bike from the early 90s in my backpacking shorts and t-shirt. They were all kitted up with their $5k plus road bikes. One of the roadies was kind enough to explain how his bike was different and that he would never put a rack on it. I smiled and played along and he did not notice we both shaved our legs.

The real reason I rode was because the Tarrant County Judge Whitley committed to doing the small bike rally that started on the Trinity Trails, climbed the Taylor Street hill (at times it has a 13% grade) and head to the Intermodal Transportation Center. I even told the Judge that was my sole purpose of being there. I am not sure he was that amused.

Also in attendance was Gary Fickes, County Commissioner Precinct 3 and Betsy Price, Tax Assessor/Collector. It is important to note that Ms. Price is an actual cyclist that I have ridden with in the past, before I even knew her as the Tax Assessor/Collector.

All the elected officials did a fine job of climbing the Taylor Street Hill. Ms. Price of course did the best, but both the Judge and the Commissioner did a fantastic job. It was really evident that the Judge did not want to walk up the hill. All my riding, cycle commuting, etc. helps the greater cause of the cycling world, but to have elected officials participate brings a heighten level of importance to this event.

I do not expect Tarrant County to suddenly become the cycle commuting capital of the world or even Texas; I am just pleased with the attention we got for one day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

The troop had a very successful campout at the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge this past weekend. The boys from the crossover, here after referred to as the Lizards, made their first campout with Little Troop 5.

It is always interesting taking boys camping for the first time. I don’t know them, they don’t know me and most importantly their parents do not know me at all.  What added to this apprehension was the fact the good folks at had called for rain the whole weekend. Probably unknown to the parents of the Lizards we were going to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, a four hour drive including pee stops, for the first time.

In usual Troop 5 fashion we got out of town later than I wanted on Friday night. I take much of the blame for the lateness this time. I did not know the location of the permission slips/health forms for the Lizards. I am sure I was instilling confidence in the Troops new parents. Once found, we were on our way.

Being late actually worked out for us. By the time we got to our campsite, the rain had stopped and by what I am sure was divine intervention; we never saw rain for the rest of the camp out until the drive home.

The plan for the campout was to get the Lizards acclimated to the ways of Troop 5 and all the boys to backpack on Saturday. In addition to my usual adult leadership, of the 17 boys on the trip, three of them were 17 year old scouts. Nothing makes a boy led troop run better when you have 17 years old scouts at the helm. You add the fact that these three were on the last Troop 5 Philmont Trek, life was good for the Scoutmaster.

The Lizards were welcomed into the troop with class by the older boys. They made sure they got their tents set up and every turn the Lizards found an older scout helping them on their way.  Two adults stayed with the Lizards to work on their understanding of the patrol method so I could go backpacking.

What was more interesting was the backpacking experience of the Scorpions and The Dudes. They have made the shift from being a first year patrol to a year of scouting under their belt. Therefore they are experts and don’t need guidance from older boys or adults. I predicted little failures or as Scoutmasters like to call them learning opportunities.

They did not fail in providing themselves learning opportunities. The Scudes (Scorpions and Dudes combined) could not find their food that was purchased for dinner, even though I know it was purchased. This problem was solved by a trip to Wal Mart.

Once the Scudes had a dinner, those going backpacking got ferried to the trail head. As an aside, this is where I had to explain to a member of a church group that was picnicking, that suspenders and backpacking shorts were in fact not lederhosen. The Scudes launched on the trail and within 100 yards were already adjusting backpacks and gear. The trail was not very friendly or groomed, the boys continued at a blazing speed of ½ mile an hour. The joy or bane of scoutmastering is that this is not the first time I have participated in a backpacking death march, so I was prepared. My 17 year olds were champs. Encouraging and prodding the boys along.

The next learning experience came when we stopped for lunch. That is when the Scudes realized that they had not packed their lunch. I had to shut down the Lord of the Flies moment as those that were carrying dinner began to break into their food to address their hunger issue. One of the advantages of overprotective parents, the boys had enough “extra” food that they should not have needed in their backpacks to get lunch covered.

The rest of the backpacking trip was the standard first time backpacking trip. We had a really cool river crossing that we had to use a rope to get across. I bowline was used that was tied by one of the boys. There is a video of me out their somewhere doing the river crossing. I must confess, after viewing the video, the river crossing did not look nearly as treacherous as I felt it was. But in my defense (or excuse) I have twisted a knee on a river crossing and the last time I was near a river with the troop I broke my thumb. Just saying.

We ended up getting about four and half miles in for the trip. I enjoyed the hike to the pickup point Sunday morning the most. It brings me joy to see the step of victory in twelve year old scouts after they have accomplished something.

I think the lesson the Scudes took from the trip was they have more to learn, so it was quite successful for them. The Lizards all came home wanting to go to Summer Camp. A scoutmaster cannot ask for more.

For those that care: We did 4, crossed the river and sayed south on 5 to the road. Camped at that little loop you can see to the west of the road..  We got picked up Sunday morning at at about where the 7 arrow is pointing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nathan Huddleston

I owe the blog a report of little Troop 5’s backpacking/campout in the Wichita Mountains in southern Oklahoma, but need to share a Nathan story.

Nathan Huddleston is currently serving our county as an infantry solider. He is stationed in New York training and preparing for deployment to Afghanistan. He is a proud alumnus of Troop 5. Nathan is only one of four troop 5 boys to have successfully completed the Eagle Rock Loop in the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas.

I was catching up on Facebook this past Sunday evening when Nathan popped up to chat. He wanted to know about how the troop was doing and how the backpacking trip went. It was neat to realize little Troop 5 was still important to him.

I remembered the struggles of the weekend the Senior Patrol Leader have the boys stay motivated to keep moving over rough terrain for about 5 miles while reflecting on Nathan on his first backpacking trip. How he complained and whined!

In Nathan speak; he reflected on how the boys of the troop don’t know how trouble-free they got it. He had just done a 35 mile trek under load with his duty weapon.

God speed Nathan, keep your head down so you can tell the boys of little Troop 5 in person how easy they got it!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hayden Pierce is an Eagle Scout!

This past Wednesday night Hayden Pierce passed his Eagle Board. Below is the text of the email I sent to the troop. It should be noted that Hayden is the 20th Eagle Scout in Troop 5 history and the 15th during my tenure as Scoutmaster. Longevity will do that.

Tonight, Hayden Pierce passed his Eagle Board of Review. Congratulations!

I have had the pleasure of camping with Hayden since 2004. We have climbed mountains, canoed rivers, and camped. Hayden fished. I can’t say we to that part.

When I reflect on my time with Hayden, it seems to come back to New Mexico. Hayden camped at Wehinahpay outside of Cloud Croft, summated Wheeler Peak, did a week of high adventure at Tres Ritos, and of course Philmont. I remember him dashing to his tent as we got hailed on the slopes of Wheeler at Lost Lake.

It has been a long and enjoyable journey and I am very glad I was a part of it…

Congrats Hayden!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bus Switch

An interesting observation on human psychology or maybe sociology or maybe living anthropology, or at least something.

It is interesting how we seem to fall into routines. The bus commute is no different. All of tend to park in the same parking space at the park and ride. We all seem to have are assigned seats on the bus. Some people talk in the morning, some only in the afternoon. Other, like me, always talk.

The routine became so apparent this past Tuesday on the way home. For some reason we had to switch buses at the T’s Garage. We all unloaded, walked to the next bus and sat in the exact same seats in the next bus.

I cheerfully noted on the way in “Everybody go to their assigned seats” to the laughter of the rest of the bus.

We are creatures of habits.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


When you take scouts to Philmont they say over and over again that "horseplay" is the leading cause of injuries in the back country. As I sit in the doctor’s office this morning, that thought keeps running through my mind.

On Saturday, while I was in the bike circle, shooting the bull with other cyclist waiting for the ride to start, my cycling buddy Tom comes riding up behind me. Tom jokingly calls out "NO BRAKES" and runs into the back of me. I was not prepared and lost balance. There was an hysterical attempt by those around me to prevent me from falling, but to no avail. I went down and somehow drove the chain ring into the inside of my left ankle. I did not realize it at the time, but when I got home from the ride, I had three puncture wounds.

Being the good Boy Scout, I treated the wounds, put some antibiotic cream on, and a bandage. I find myself now sitting in the doctors office with what I fear is a MSRA infection. I have ended up in the hospital in the vecasue I thought I had an ugly bug bite, that acutally was my firs MRSA outbreak.

Antibiotics have been prescribed. Hopefully this ends well. Dang horseplay.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Good Bye Texas Wheels

Sunday’s ride was a testosterone infused hammer fest. It is not what a Sunday ride was supposed to be. What it really was the final nail in the coffin of the Texas Wheels Cycling Club.

I am probably the only person on the ride that realized this fact. I joined Texas Wheels in 1995 and served as president for a number of years. It was the cycling group of strong recreational riders in Southeast Tarrant County. I met many of my cycling friends because of this membership. Texas Wheels rode out of the Wheels in Motion Shop in North Arlington. The shop closed but the club continued to operate. Some of its members even raced, we ran a criterium and even a monthly time trial. When I took over the scout troop as scoutmaster I stepped down in my leadership role in the club. At its peak it had about 100 members, but for the past five years or so it has been slowly dying due to all sorts of factors. Last Spring I was handed the books of the club and I have yet to get around to closing them. I always envisioned finding the time to rejuvenate the club, but I never could.

Well nature abhors a vacuum and there is apparently a need for a bike club in Southeast Tarrant County and that role has been filed. When Big Dave I rolled up to the Sunday night ride there were about 12 riders in new “Primos Racing” kits. A new cycling club had been formed. I joked I missed the memo. What ensued was a hammer fest lead by Team Primos to announce their presence in the cycling world.

I was frustrated by all of this until I realized why it was bothering me. Texas Wheels had been replaced.