I dove headfirst into BMX bike riding as well as music (ironic how this panned out that those are the sequence of my articles). One thing that really stood out to me during those years was the Youth-Crew era of hardcore and punk rock. This niche of music was generally about positive messages. It introduced me to the term which described my lifestyle (after my friend's drug related death); Straight-Edge.

Straight-Edge essentially means abstaining from recreational drug use, alcohol and promiscuous sex. Sure, I was an angsty, abrasive teenager. I never had many really close friends. Youth-Crew hardcore also introduced me to a feeling of brotherhood. The song and titled album by Throwdown 'You Don't Have to Be Blood to be Family' really stood out to me.

The symbolism and message from that album really helped drive me to be a better person to those that I care about. Granted, while it was only a very minimal select few at a time most of my life, it really shines now.

The skate park community we have here in Central Wisconsin is probably the best community I've ever experienced and possibly even witnessed. In most places I've traveled to there's usually an unnecessary feud, some crazy hostility, between cliques of bike riders and skateboarders. Not here. Everyone gets along. Everyone is treated like family.

It digs deeper than that. A few months ago I started hanging out with a few of the locals I've known for some time. It started off with us text messaging each other for coffee meetings and talk about hitting up the local skate parks. That evolved into dinner meetings and discussing road trips. It snowballed into calling each other and hanging out at each other's houses, discussing philosophy or just sitting around and bullshitting about absolutely nothing significant.

We've become the epitome of the definition of 'brotherhood'. We are a family. We are a wheel. When one of us is crippled, it cripples the rest of us and we do what we can to help one another, to get this wheel we've created and are a part of running again.