An interview with Dick 'Grasshopper' Krakowski
Aside from being a top-notch, dedicated, long-distance cyclist, Dick 'Grasshopper Krakowski' has a wonderfully warped sense of humor. Riding with him always adds smiles to the miles!
Dick, please give some insight into your early years.
I was born in a small Polish town. Chicago, Il. The middle child of working class people, I was whisked right off to Rochester NY. before I even had a chance to ride a bicycle "to-da-loop!" It was in Rochester that I discovered girls. Of course I was about six by then and my fat tired bicycle (I think it was a J.C. Higgins) with the basket on the front had to wait from time to time. As a sophomore in high school, we were moved to just outside Pittsburgh Pa., Monroeville, where I barely completed school. I was on the track and swimming teams, but not notable except for the near drowning incident. Not much happened while on the swim team though. After school, I enlisted in the Navy; there I learned more about girls and how to drink. That accomplishment enabled me to have the distinction of wrecking everything except a train. I did, however manage to wreck cars, trucks, a bus, boats, and even an airplane, I finally did learn to fly ( they say it's the most fun you can have with your pants on.) After retirement, I plan on a getting job at the zoo, driving the train, I hope. Speaking of jobs, I don't like mine, I tell people I'm an oil distributor, only two years to go, and the train job is MINE!
When, where, and most importantly why did you get started in cycling?
About 15 years ago, my children gave my wife (at the time) and me, bicycles. I rode in the subdivision mostly. During THAT divorce, some years later, I found that my limited budget, thanks to the court and a couple of apparently broke lawyers motivated me to ride more, including the daily commute to work. I had a "Huffy" and I know how it got it's name.
Tell me about your family. Do any of them like to join you on rides?
I have ridden a few of my grandchildren on my trailer bike a few times. I hope to do more of that but they are hard to get a hold of. T-ball, karate, faster afoot than I am etc.
What is it about cycling that brings you the most pleasure?
Most everything about it, I like the group rides for the social fun, the flats for the quiet smoothness, a fast pace line, the challenge of a hill I haven't climbed and most of all, the speed and exhilaration of a steep descent. Oh yeah, riding fast over rumble strips at the side of some roads and going, "aaaaaaahhhhhh" while doing it feels good.
What qualities would any particular ride have to make a great riding experience for you?
I like the sights, sounds, and smells that you can experience while riding. The social aspect of participating in an activity along with like-minded people is one of the fun things. Food at the end is nice.
Do you have any cycling goals?
Yes, I'd like to complete a few more rides with a 20 mph or better average, do the OKHT time trial in under 6 hours, complete the Big Dog Challenge of at least one century a month, accumulate 8000 miles for the year and finish at least one 300k Brevet. Next month I'll have some more.
What prompted you to start Ride Captaining?
I wanted to give back to others what was given to me, that is, to ensure that newer riders who aren't so confident in their abilities are able to be encouraged to reach goals of their own. I was not left behind, and I want no one to feel that could happen to him or her.
How do you go about putting together routes for your rides? For example, do you use only the roads you know or do you pour over maps to find just the right routes? Do you bike the route solo first?
So far I've not put together a ride that the club has used. I have been using the Kybikerides site. I have very little time to spend due to work and my desire to ride. I hope to come up with a couple of rides in the near future.
How did you discover LBC?
I was tired of riding alone, so I googled the bike club and joined. I am glad I did!
Quickies: Favorite bike, other athletic activities, favorite cycling tips?
I guess I like my own bike, a Trek 1200c. It is actually all I know. I have started running, although just short distances. I hope to complete a duathalon this year, I don't like running, so it's a chore to make myself do it. My favorite tip is that we have to carefully consider nutrition and hydration when cycling long distances. A famous quote goes..."the bicycle is a strange machine, its passenger is its engine." I forget who said it, it might have been Thaddeusz Kosciusko (Ed. Note: Funny! The actual quote was from John Howard.). So you need to fuel the engine or you won't get far. Another tip is.on windy days, get behind the fattest guy and stay there. Or, a tip for guys.when climbing hills, climb with girls, the guy code won't let you quit first. And, a tip for girls.when flatted, cry or flirt, and a guy will fix it for you. Here's a tried and true tip, if you are an introvert, purple tires will get you noticed like toilet paper hanging out of the back of your bike shorts after trip to a porta-pot.
Do you have a favorite cycling photo of yourself or should I just use one from our most recent ride?
I like lots of pictures of myself, I am an ego-maniac with a low self esteem. I may not be much, but I'm all I think about! Use any picture you like.
Anything else you might like to add?
I like cycling, cycling is nice,
Cycling is nice aaand..it's..goood! (sung to the tune of the KIA song!)
Also.look up my article "My first Year" in the Nov-Dec newsletter.
Thanks, Dick. See you on the road.