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We just completed our first event of 2014! We’ve got the Strider Adventure Zone setup pretty dialed now but for this event we added snow and the new Strider Ski attachments to all of our free demo bikes. The day started early for us, getting up and making the 2 hour drive up to Powderhorn Ski Resort.

IMG_0483Once we got set up curious parents and kids alike started to come by and the fun began:

This little guy looked all business!

DCIM100GOPROAfter running the free Adventure Zone from 10AM – 2PM we then transitioned over to races. We held a race class for each age 2-5 years old and everyone one had a blast. The kids flying around the track while the parents cheered on with their Strider cow bells!

Two of our 3 year old lined up and ready for action!

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Our sole competitor in the 2 year old race, he chose to receive his award on his bike rather than the podium.

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Our 3 year old’s podium.

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4 year old podium – Our second place finisher refused to get off her Strider to come up and receive her award. She may still be riding around there!

DCIM100GOPROAnd finally the 5 year old’s who already know how to work a podium photo!

DCIM100GOPROA  huge thanks to Powderhorn Ski resort for inviting us out and Strider Bikes for putting them in touch with us. Hope to see you again next year!

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Many of you on here are good friends, people we’ve met in our travels or some who have discovered us and have been supporters of our mission in Axel’s memory. Axel’s case had been stalled for over 9 months as the man who was arrested appealed his arrest. We knew this was going to be a long process and we went from weekly emails to our lawyer over there to monthly and then every couple of months and things dragged on.

A couple of weeks ago our good friend and board member on the Axel Project sent a letter to the US Consulate to see what was going on. The US Consulate has been amazing for us throughout this process and jumped right on things again, first sending a representative to the town the trial was happening in to get an update from the judge handling the case then requesting a full update from our lawyer on the progress of the case.

Last week we found out that the appeal was rejected in early March and the trial is moving forward. They are charging the man with “Simple Murder” which carries a sentence of 10-16 years. In addition he is also charged with rape, an additional 10-30 years. We can only hope he ends up with the full 46 years. The sitter is being charged with negligence/omission, basically she has the same murder charge since she was there to protect him. That also carries a 10-16 year prison sentence.

I’d love to tell you how I feel about it but it literally changes on a daily basis. Some days I’m very pragmatic about it feeling that it does not matter what happens, it does not bring Axel back. However lately I find my self hoping he is suffering incredibly on a nightly basis in that Mexican jail. I could go into many gory scenario’s I’ve played out in my head in detail. I do have a lot of anger towards them but again this get me no where and does not change the fact Axel is gone.

All we can do again is focus on the good times we had in his short life and keep his memory alive through our memories, stories and the Axel Project.

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What a horrible word, right? You don’t often think about death until it happens to someone you love. At that moment when you are faced with that insurmountable loss – it all changes. What really does happen to us when we die? Are we simply gone? Or is there a greater power than us, like a God? When death strikes is he there waiting to accept and comfort them?

Honestly I have no idea and I’m really ok with that. What I do know is that after Axel was killed it profoundly changed the outlook on my life. I’m in NO HURRY to leave this world, I have a wonderful Wife, incredible Son and another on the way. However if I were to be taken tomorrow I can only ‘hope’ Axel is waiting for me on the other side with his arms wide open. A friend of mine who moved to Japan a few years ago sent me this story that was told to him by a Monk. Is it true? Who knows. To me it is no more unbelievable than any other form of worship out there and it really made me feel good reading it. After all, at the end of the day, isn’t that really all we have in the face of death – HOPE.

Dear Jen and Randy,

A  story that I would like to share with you…
It helped me to find some healing at one point in my life. I hope that you guys may be able to find some healing in it as well… This story was told to me in Japanese so it has my own interpretation.

When we were living in Ridgway years before we met you, we were walking in Telluride… From across the street came an Asian man that we would soon realize to be a Japanese Buddhist monk. We initially thought he came over to talk being a fellow Japanese. However in actuality he could tell we were in pain and needed some sort of healing.

He eventually found his way to our home where we shared stories… One of them was this:

He spoke of life in Japan… Temples in Japan come in all shapes and sizes, from the larger ones in Kyoto to the smaller ones in neighborhoods… All of them are outdoors in almost a park setting however clearly a place of worship.
In the center is the main shrine of the temple where most people go to make an offering and pray for something. However around the main shrine are a variety of smaller shrines. These shrines are there for people in need of something a little more specific in their lives.

One of these smaller shrines plays a very important role… It is a shrine with a statue of an older lady with open arms. She plays a very specific role. Her role is to bring in all the children that have left this world too early in their lives. She brings them in and gathers them together. She nurtures and cares for them. But that is not all… she educates them and prepares them for their journey ahead… It’s a fun place for children to learn and enjoy with other children.

Now keep in mind, I’m not a religious man. Hearing words from this monk entered my mind with a grain of salt however I was open minded. I had been to Japan many times and seen the many shrines at all the temples with people coming and going.
It never really hit home however until I lived here. Though it is not especially a busy shrine,  it does get visitors. Both old and young. From young children that have lost a sibling to great grandparents. They come from time to time to make an offering and have a prayer.

That’s when you realize the children aren’t alone.

The journey that is being prepared for is a very important one. One that comes sooner for some and later for others.
For a time will come when this “mother figure” will take Axel by the hand and lead him down a path… A path that leads to a river where they will stand and wait.
For there will be a day when it is time for you to leave this world as well. When you do, you will also come to the rivers edge. As you slowly cross over the river, This mother figure will take Axel’s hand and take him right down to the river’s edge. You will look to the other side and see his smiling face… When you arrive, she will take his hand and place it in yours and you will continue on your journey together.

There are no words that are the “right” words… But I hope you can find some healing.

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It’s the craziest time of year to go to the Post Office and I’ve made a bunch of trips there over the past week sending out donated and purchased Striders. Last night I finalized one more donation for our Christmas giveaway (yep, that’s 16). It is going to a 15 month old girl in Washington State who’s Mom has (advance) breast cancer. Needless to say they are buried in bills and life is day to day. Sooooo, their daughter gets a Strider!

Knowing that they open at 8:30 AM I was out the door at 8:20 and pulled up minutes before they opened. As I entered the door the line was already 10 people deep. Now, in a larger Post Office you might count yourself lucky but not here! Laura, our super nice Post Lady finally got the doors open about 10 minutes late and then she was alone to do it all. Hanging out in the Post Office here is always a bit of a social event and most everyone knows the other and chats. After waiting about 20 minutes and discussing the Axel Project with a few of the folks there a Super nice Woman I know did the most incredible thing. She said

” I’d be honored if you would let me stand in line with the Strider and pay for the postage.”

It was an incredibly kind gesture and I’m so grateful for the help and support.

Axelove!

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I was reminded about how important our mission to introduce bikes to young children is when I saw the latest baby/toddler toys for the holidays. Like the fake iPads for babies attached to reclining chairs! Yes balance bikes are cute and fun but they really are more than toys.  The skill of riding a bike, no matter how old you are, changes lives. It’s important now more than ever to start kids and families off right by focusing on wellness, fun and nutrition rather than inactivity that leads to childhood obesity and too much time indoors. The joy of riding a bike also helps children gain the confidence to excel in other areas such as literacy and living a more environmentally-conscious life. The health of our kids at this critical time from the toddler years into elementary school is vital to our families, communities and the entire planet.

Of course many children, especially young children, don’t have the luxury of being exposed to bikes.  Bikes aren’t exactly a basic necessity and just having the basics are hard for so many families, pre-schools, recreation facilities, and therapy centers. It’s our hope and mission that we can continue to provide bikes throughout the next year to all these places.

And it was our drive and motivation behind giving away more bikes this holiday season. We started out with a goal of 5 bikes but because of your donations and purchases we were able to give away 15.

Here is a sampling of where they went:

  • Several children with Downs Syndrome. These were families that had heard of  balance bikes by their doctors or therapists but did not have the extra money to buy one.
  • A two year old from a struggling family. The Dad was laid off and the Mom is supporting the entire family (while pregnant) by managing a pizza place.
  • Two bikes for a family in rural Colorado. The Dad just walked out and the former stay-at-home Mom is working hard to get her skills back up and find work. They are currently on government assistance.  She is also a huge advocate and volunteer in the community. In addition, she provides her children with as much local and organic food as she could by growing her own food and working with local farmers.
  • An Occupational Therapy center got a Strider and a larger Super Strider in Florida. They see the value in bikes but simply did not have enough for all their patients. And the bikes they have are in dire need of replacement. This will get them started.
  • A two year old that just lost his Dad and sole family breadwinner in a tragic accident this November.

In addition, we were able to connect with many other organizations and individuals for the coming year. We are excited about what’s ahead and how we can make an impact through bikes.

Hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

axelove!

axelove!

 

 

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One of my favorite memories of Axel is on the beach in Mexico playing with another little boy. Axel had his two trucks with him and the other little boy came over and just sat beside him clearly wanting to participate in the fun. Axel looked over at the little boy and happily handed him one of his trucks. From then on they were best buddies playing with their trucks in the sand.

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In the spirit of Axel’s giving soul we want to give away 5 Strider bikes for Christmas.

If you know of a family that could use a little help this season and they have a toddler that can use a Strider then send an email to randy@axelproject.com with their story. You can also nominate yourself. We have 5 Strider bikes to give away and we’ll make the deadline the 15th for submission. Must be shipped in the US.

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Axelove!

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We’ll we’ve had one hell of a year! It has not even been a year yet since Axel was killed but it really feels like he’s been gone longer. The thing is, even when tragedy happens life does not slow down one bit. We had been back only a few months and Jen found out she was being laid off from her job! We defiently had a few days of feeling sorry for ourselves but once we finished that we took it as an opportunity to focus on and launch some new projects we are passionate about. Our first one is for the Axel Project. We are planning a road bike charity ride here in our town of Ridgway, CO. The ride will go over the world famous Million Dollar Hwy AKA Red Mountain Pass. We will be holding this event on Aug. 30th 2014 which is the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Plan on coming out for the long weekend and join us. On Saturday, in addition to the main ride, we’ll have a family ride on our bike path to the Denise Weaver Memorial park as well as a Strider adventure zone and bounce house set up for the kids (all free). We plan to have the website up my mid-December to keep and eye out for it.

We are currently back on the road in our camper for a month. We left on November 6th taking the scenic North route towards San Diego, CA. This is a beautiful drive down SR24 through Boulder, UT, Capitol Reef NP and then onto Zion, NP. Our main destination for this leg was Zion to hike the Angels Landing. Kalden had a blast on this hike!

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From Zion we headed down to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. This place is a bit off the radar but a pretty nice find. A real playground for an 8 year old boy and his dog.

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So yes, life goes on both good and bad! I can honestly say there has not been an hour in my day since losing Axel that I,ve not thought of him. My favorite thought that always comes to mind is how he liked me to sit on the couch leaning forward and he’d jump on my back to make me tip over so we would “crash”. He held on so tight and I miss that a lot.

This brings us to the next chapter of our life and why we are on the road for “only” a month. A while back Jen started feeling a bit off. mostly tired all the time and just dragging. A quick pregnancy test revealed, to our surprise, she is pregnant! To say we were shocked would be the understatement of the year. You see, when Axel was born we decided two kids was enough and since Axel was delivered via C- section she had her tubes tied. I’d like to think this gift is from Axel who was taken way to soon from us and feels Kalden really needs a sibling in his life.

So, life has been an emotional roller coaster and I’m sure we have plenty more to come, including a lot of sleepless nights starting in May 2014!

Again, thank you all for supporting the Axel Project and helping to keep our little boys memory alive.

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I’ve been a huge cycling fan for many years now. I follow all the Pro Tour races and it’s kinda my sport. It’s pretty funny, when I sit down somewhere and a person asks “do you follow the Bronco’s (Football, Baseball, Basketball) etc?” I say no, pretty much just road bicycle racing. That’s usually the end of the conversation.

One of my favorite teams has always been Euskatel-Euskadi. These guys are always the underdogs, excelling in the high mountains and just looking to poach the occasional stage win. Through thick and thin the ‘orange armada’ of fans are always there for them. The other day I was reading a story in Velonews that the team was folding at the end of this season, the economy is horrible in Spain and they simply could no longer find a sponsor to fund the millions of dollars it takes for a Pro Tour team. With their imminent demise looming just around the corner an associate of the team sent a random SMS message to a Spanish F1 race car driver, he was Formula One superstar Fernando Alonso who is also a big fan of cycling and the Euskatel Team. Literally, within one week the team was saved and Euskatel lives on!

That’s the way life is and it’s a lesson we have learned in getting Axel Project up and running. You see, Jen and I have never been ones to search out the spotlight and we’ve also (thankfully until now) never had to actively look for donations, etc… for an organization. Getting Axel Project off the ground has been a huge and eye opening process for us and the one thing we’ve learned is there are lots of great people out there who want to help…we just need to ask!

Our 3rd board member Brian has been wonderful with this and is teaching us daily to just get out there. Jen and I are not use to this but we are getting there. We have a couple of great things we are working on at the moment, the first is a children’s book which will feature Axel, his brother, and their dog which we hope to have published within the next six months (fingers crossed) and the second is our Axel Project Gran Fondo which we hope to run here in RIdgway on the Million Dollar Highway early next September.

Jen heading up the million Dollar Hwy above Ouray, CO

Jen heading up the million Dollar Hwy above Ouray, CO

Anyway, Axel Project wouldn’t even be here if it was not for the support all of YOU have given us. I’m finding it takes a lot of courage to ask for help and I’m so glad all of you have stepped up to support us.

Thank you,

Randy, Jen and Kalden

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Awhile back Jen and I decided we wanted to take Axel’s ashes up on Mt. Sneffels and disperse them. Mt Sneffels can be seen right out the front window of our house and is the prominent peak in our area standing at 14,150ft. While it is not considered a very technical peak by most standards it is a fairly serious undertaking and with Kalden (our 8year old) joining us for his first 14er it added a whole other element.

Mt Sneffels on the right.

Mt Sneffels on the right.

By alpine standards we got a late start at around 9AM but with clear skies and only a 10% chance of PM showers we felt confident we could get up and back down dry and safe. We drove in as far as the trail went to minimize Kalden’s hiking (boring to him) and get him right onto the rocks. From the upper trail head at 12,600ft we hiked first across then straight up the scree fields to the saddle.

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From the saddle it was up a couloir to the notch.

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Once on top we had fairly clear skies and no wind so we were able to hang out and relax for a bit.

Kalden on the summit.

Kalden on the summit.

The views of Blue Lakes up there are stunning and as you can see they are aptly named!

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After a few summit shots and signing the log book we were ready to turn to the main purpose of our trip. We got out Axel’s ashes and each of us threw a handful out into the breeze.

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It was a pretty incredible day and I’m really happy we were able to bring Kalden up with us. I think it’s wonderful that he can look out our front door at Mt Sneffels knowing he climbed it and left a little bit of his brother up there to watch over us.

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My Wife Jen, AKA Velomom had a great analogy the other day on her Blog.

“When I sit down to meditate I picture my mind like a snow globe that has just been shaken, the snow is everywhere and nothing is settled. During meditation I try to get that snow (my thoughts) to settle.”

I can really relate to that. During the day my thoughts are everywhere and my brain runs in overdrive just bouncing from one frivolous thing to the next. It’s not until I get on my bike that the snow settles to the bottom and I have time to let thoughts of Axel in. Actually Axel is on my mind every waking moment but it’s amazing how disconnected I am from those thoughts as they just blend in with all the other chaos. On the bike I really have room for only two thoughts, first keeping the bike upright and second whatever is most important to me. Of course that is Axel

It seems incredible that he has been gone now for almost 4 months. On one hand it feels like a lifetime and on the other I can still feel him climbing up my back to try and tackle me on the couch. Lately though the thoughts have not all been great. On my rides I get vivid images of him laying dead in the hospital bed, it really hurts and I try my best to move past it but it doesn’t happen it’s just burned into my memory. I think(hope) it’s all just part of the process. As time passes I would expect the hard memories will be replaced by more of the good ones.

Either way, I will continue to get on my bike and let the snow settle. I welcome any time I can spend focused on Axel and the bike seems to be my gateway to him.

Axel was so excited about his new truck for Christmas!

Axel was so excited about his new truck for Christmas!

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