Flip And Circumstance…

I was passed by a San Diego sheriff’s deputy on my way out of town one evening last week — he was in a patrol car. I don’t see patrol cars too often these days. It’s all SUVs now. It didn’t take long before I started connecting the dots to other patrol cars, including those I’ve ridden in the back of as a teenager. Before I knew it, I was reflecting one patrol car in particular — driving down my street in the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years.

I don’t remember for sure, but I might have just finished mowing the lawn. I do remember standing in my front yard wearing a swimsuit and being shirtless. An Arapahoe County sheriff’s car passed slowly in front of my house. The window was down, and feeling all of my 13 years, I raised my left hand and gave the deputy my middle finger. He immediately stopped.

My dad, who must’ve been in the garage, found his way to the front yard as the deputy stepped from his car to the middle of my lawn — where I stood scared to death. The deputy and my father had a conversation a few feet away from me. They spoke soft enough that I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but loud enough that I knew that’s exactly what they wanted.

My father asked that I apologize to the deputy and I did. I looked down as I shook his hand though. My dad raised his voice as he told me to look him in the eye. I looked up to see real person — a man with reddish hair, a reddish mustache, and a very stern look, but a forgiving one.

The deputy drove away and my father sent me upstairs to my bedroom. A few minutes later dad arrived with a legal pad and a pen. I was instructed to write the following 500 times…

“I will not give cops my middle finger”

That was the only time I ever experienced writer’s cramps. The following day my hand was sore and continued cramping well into the afternoon. I’m not sure writing anything 500 times ever did much to minimize my bad behaviors, but it was the punishment of choice by my father. What did make an impact though, took place the following week.

I arrived at Skyline Acres Swim & Tennis Club for my first diving practice of the season — at that point I’d been a 1-meter and 3-meter springboard diver for a couple of years. Springboard diving is something I excelled at in my teens. At practice that first day, I was introduced to my new coach, Ron Genlsow.

Yup, my new diving coach, who would stay with me for the next three years, was also Deputy Ron Genslow from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s department. He and I had met a week earlier — on my front lawn. He remembered me from the incident the previous week, but said nothing to the rest of the team. Ron was a great coach and a terrific leader.

There was one dive I’d struggled with the summer prior, for fear of hitting the diving board. That dive was an inward dive in the layout position. My fear of hitting the board was obvious. During our first practice, Ron deliberately coached me closer and closer to the diving board so I’d scrape my head on the edge of the board — to get it over with. No stitches were required. To this day, that remains one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about physical pain — that it’s always temporary. I still think about that day all the time.

Ron loved yacht rock. Driving to diving meets with him each week I was introduced to Hall & Oates, Ambrosia, America, and Pablo Cruise to name a few — all bands I still listen to regularly. He also introduced me to Tommy Bolin.

Ron drove a maroon Chevy Laguna. I always referred to it as the La Gwanna. My favorite memory of Ron was in a parking lot getting ready to head to a diving meet. A teammate and I were joking about the La Gwanna when Ron stopped us abruptly and said…

“Say La Gwanna again and I’ll shoot you both…”

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean it. Ron allowed me to use him as a job reference, right up until I joined the Coast Guard. We lost touch after that. When I asked if I could use him for a reference on my Coast Guard application, he said yes. He then told me he was proud of me and reminded me how far I had come. Yeah, I’m crying right now.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

201 miles

9,100’ climbing

15.1 mph avg

11,372 calories

13 hours 19minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Richard Hawley. Enjoy…

Stay Put…

September 10th was World Suicide Awareness Day. People acknowledged and promoted it by posting and sharing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.8255 on their social media platforms.

The Internet was flooded with pictures of Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, Junior Seau, and a handful of celebrities who ended their lives too soon. These of the popular faces of suicide.

On one hand, I get it. Relating suicide to famous people who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and idiopathic sadness is a good reminder to all non-celebrities that those ailments don’t discriminate. A person can be worth millions of dollars, have fame and freedom, and still not want to complete the lives they are so fortunate to have.

Most people have been touched by suicide, peripherally. Many who will read this have friends, associates, and family members who have taken their own lives. That’s a heavy thought. What’s a heavier thought though, is that many people reading this will have friends, associates, and family members who will someday take their own lives, but who haven’t yet, and show no signs that they will. With that in mind, I believe the faces of suicide awareness shouldn’t be celebrities — they should be everyone we make eye contact with in a day’s time.

More people live with suicidal thoughts than most others realize. Some people experience suicidal thoughts on rare occasions while others may experience them more frequently. Some, myself included, live with them daily.

The great majority of people who experience suicidal thoughts, whether it’s occasionally or more frequently, hold them in for fear of being judged, cast out, or worse. Some, myself included as also, fear that being transparent about suicidal feelings might influence our ability to earn a living. Someone reading this and who also does business with me may choose not to going forward. That’s a risk I’m willing to take, today anyway.

I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts for most of my life. They are intertwined with the depression, anxiety, and especially the sadness that I’ve also negotiated for much of my life. These feelings first surfaced with me first when I was in lower elementary school. Think about that — I began entertaining and subsequently working through the symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts as a 9-year old. To see me on the surface though, people have no idea this takes place behind my façade of normalcy. 

I know I’m not alone.

I’m now in my late 50s. I can look back at my life, in part, as a series of successful and negotiations with myself on the importance and of staying put. If not for myself, I stay out for anyone who finds value in my life, especially on the days when I can’t. I’m proud of that — proud of my success in a 50-year struggle with the idea of living, or not.  

A part of that success is coming to understand that suicidal feelings always pass — they always pass. That in those critical moments when I think I might be better off dead, I recognize that I want to be dead for that moment, and not for forever. As odd as that sounds, framing it that way has helped me deal with it in ways medication never could.

I’m sharing these feelings today for two reasons:

1) So that anyone reading this who might experience similar feelings will know they’re not alone — that roughly 4% of the adult population in this country has experienced suicidal thoughts in the past year. That’s 12-million people.

2) That those who don’t or haven’t experienced such feelings, might be more aware of the 12-million people like me who have. Again, keep in mind most people struggling with suicidal thoughts look like anyone else on the surface.

As for World Suicide Awareness Day, perhaps in the future we might rebrand it, making it less about celebrities and more about the people next-door or the people down the hall. We could call it…

The World Day Of Staying Put

In addition to promoting suicide awareness, it could also be observed as a day of worldwide confession — a day to share one’s feelings safely, without fear of judgment or any consequences. It could be a day to celebrate those, like myself, who have successfully stood up to the dark and often overwhelming thoughts, and batted them far away, on behalf of those who care for and depend on us. 

As any of us look around today in a room full of people, whether it’s a restaurant, an ice rink, or our living rooms, let the faces of suicide awareness not be those of celebrities. Let the faces of suicide awareness be everyone we make eye contact with. Let’s strive to remember that behind every pair of eyes is a heart, a soul, and a life’s worth of experiences we know little about. Behind some of the happiest and most outgoing faces we see, there is often turmoil, depression, sadness, and anxiety. 

If you experience suicidal thoughts and don’t have anyone to speak with, please contact 800.273.8255. There are people there willing to listen, and without judgment.

This is what I think about when I ride. It’s also what I think about when I don’t ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 6

199 miles

8,750’ climbing

15.3 mph avg

11,390 calories

13 hours 04 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Dinosaur Jr. Enjoy…!


Building A Good Day…

Another fantastic week of rolling stress relief is in the tank. Political divisiveness, corona virusness, and smoke from distant fires notwithstanding, none of those things are fast enough to keep up with a bike. It was a good week. Good weeks are made up of good days.

If I could construct a good day, the framework would look something like this…

– Wake up.
– Meditate in a darkened shower under warm water until the warm water runs out.
– Sip coffee with a handful of pets on or near me while I write for an hour or so.
– Work a little bit — contribute in some way to the greater good of society by infusing some combination of effort, expertise, and dependability so that others can benefit from it.
– Spend a little time unplugged in natural surroundings.
– Cater to my creative side by taking and editing some photographs.
– Take a nap.
– Enjoy simple foods that allow me to feel and function at a high level.
– Enjoy some foods that just taste good, regardless of how they impact me.
– Spent time on a bike riding, but also contemplating life, and enjoying the scenery along the way.
– Relax in the evening. Write a little bit more. Spend a little bit more time with the pets. Go to sleep on the early side.

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That framework is in place nearly every single day. A pat on the back to me, since I’m the general contractor of my life, as well as the framer.

Next up are the walls — both interior and exterior. Walls, of course, seal the framework. They keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Hopefully.

For my interior walls, I like to use appreciation. Appreciation is the material best suited to protect the inside of my good days. When in doubt, or if I feel a bad day coming on, I look around and take inventory of all that I have and all that I am. More often than not, this helps me feel safe and acts as a layer of protection from any external obstructions.

For my exterior walls, I like to use low expectations. Low expectations of every body and every thing. When I start with low expectations, things can only get better, most of the time. Again, a necessaryprotective layer to any good day. 

That’s the basic structure of my good days — a good framework and sturdy interior and exterior walls. Each morning when I begin to build my days, I do my best to make sure the structure and the walls are in place. So why then, I often ask myself, isn’t every day a good day, if that’s all it takes…?

Of course the short answer to that is because I don’t live on an island. There are 7-billion people in the world not named Roy Cohen. Of those 7-billion, a very small percentage are injected into my life each day, often finding traction in my psyche. Some find me at my request, while others just find their way on their own. Regardless of who gets into my head or into my life, and whether they were invited or just showed up, I guarantee not one of them wakes up with the express intent of making my days better. That’s why a sturdy structure and good walls are so important.

That’s not to suggest anyone I’m connected with wakes up with the goal of deconstructing my days. Most are occupied with constructing and shoring up the their own days. When I stop to think about it, and I when I take inventory at the end of each day, most every day really is a good day. They just aren’t perfect days. Forces and obstructions get through, but if I’m being honest, the damage done is always minimal.

Storms happen. Rain falls, wind blows, and external forces brush up against or strike my good days continually, and do do all day long. Occasionally even termites get in. Whatever might’ve happened to my day yesterday though, if it was weathered, picked apart, or even if it were completely deconstructed, every time I wake up I have an opportunity to build a brand new good day.

It’s 5am. The framework of today is already in process and the walls will soon be lifted into place. Hello, good day, here we go again.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
174 miles
7,900’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
9,900 calories
11 hours 37 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Thin Lizzy. Enjoy…

Middle Mac…

If one had the good fortune to grow up with the music of the 70s, then they likely heard Fleetwood Mac every 15 minutes for the latter half of the decade. On FM radio, AM radio, in the shopping mall, replicated by high school marching bands under the Friday night lights, and blaring from the speakers of Chevy Novas stopped at red lights everywhere, Fleetwood Mac was the official background noise of the mid to late 70s.

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The three albums that defined their sound and their place in rock ‘n’ roll history are…

Fleetwood Mac – 1975

Rumours – 1977

Tusk – 1979

It’s as easy to criticize any of these albums as it is to criticize the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup of…

Mick Fleetwood
John McPhee
Christine McVie
Lindsey Buckingham
Stevie Nicks

Theres a reason though, those albums combined to sell tens of millions of copies. They spoke to one of the largest music buying audiences of all-time, they were recorded with great fidelity, and the variety of musical styles, songwriters, and lead vocalists offered something for nearly everyone.

But this isn’t about the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup.

Peter Green died last month. Green was the founding member and iconic guitarist behind the original incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Green helped define the blues-based rock coming from England in the 1960s. First, with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and later in the original incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Green’s contribution to blues-based rock is as significant as anyone’s.

But this isn’t about Peter Green either.

In-between Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac of the late 60s and the classic lineup of the mid-70s is what I like to call Middle Mac.

Middle Mac was a slowly changing lineup which made 6 albums between 1970 and 1974, each unique to itself. No album sounded like the one before nor the one after. It was music that fit the early 70s like a glove. Of the six Middle Mac albums, the one that stays with to this day, and shows up frequently in my head when I ride, is Bare Trees from 1972.

The lineup for Bare Trees consisted of…

Danny Kirwan
Bob Welch
Christine McVie
John McVie
Mick Fleetwood

This will always be my favorite Fleetwood Mac lineup.

Three years after the Bare Tree was released, I walked into a record store looking for a copy of their current (1975) album, the self-titled, Fleetwood Mac. It was sold out. In the bin though, was a lone album with a beautiful photograph of leafless trees in a fog. I bought the album thinking it would sound similar to the Fleetwood Mac album receiving so much radio play at the time. I was 14.

When I got back to my house, I broke the cellophane with my thumbnail, laid the disc down on my turntable, and played the album for the first time. All the while, I stared at the picture on the album cover. To my surprise, the album sounded nothing like the Fleetwood Mac I’d been hearing on the radio for the past few months. It spoke to me though.

At the time I was already listening to a lot of Steely Dan, Moody Blues, and Pink Floyd and have no problem saying my tastes were a little more sophisticated than most 14-year olds. Like I did with most new albums at the time, I kept it on my turntable for several days without listening to anything. Bare Trees would soon become a favorite album and remain so to this day.

Eventually I would own the self-titled Fleetwood Mac album, as well as Rumours and Tusk. I’ll confess, and to the likely dismay of my musically inclined friends, I still listen to those albums and still enjoy them. The three classic albums are classics for a reason.

Bare Trees though, is a gem. It’s distinct from every other Fleetwood Mac album. There’s a gentleness and intelligence to it which was lost when Kerwan and Welch left the band. Nothing big happens on the album, just a lot of richness that pleases the ears and, for me, never gets old.

When I hear people speak of the near-holy reverence they have for Peter Green, or the tens of millions of albums sold by the classic lineup, I sometimes feel like Kirwan/Welch lineup and Bare Trees were kidnapped and left to die in the trunk of a car.
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We’re all busy, I get it. But if you ever have time, check out Bare Trees from beginning to end. It does for the ears during difficult times what good brandy does for the mood on a cold winter’s night.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
201 miles
9,100’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 07 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Fleetwood Mac. Enjoy…

Coffee And Carpet Tacks…

I’ll set the scene…

It’s 430am. Fresh out of the shower, and despite only five broken hours of sleep, my body slowly comes to life. I sit on the sofa breathing in the fragrance of Don Francisco‘s vanilla coffee, which sits on the table beside me in a cup from the 2016 Rose Bowl. I grab it with my left hand, raise it to mouth, and take the first sip.

Ahhhhh…

The metamorphosis begins — the sleepy caterpillar emerges from the cocoon of the night and in less than 20-minutes becomes a functional human being. The first sip of coffee awakens my senses and sends a gentle pulse through my body. It’s the most pure moment of my day.

On the table beside my coffee cup is a small dish of carpet tacks. As the first taste of coffee fades, but before I take a second sip, I grab a small handful of the carpet tacks and put them in my mouth. I begin chewing them. There’s a shock as the steel tacks collide with the enamel on my teeth. Pain manifests as the sharp tips pierce my tongue and the roof of my mouth. The lingering flavor of coffee gives way to the taste of blood.

I force myself to chew them, despite the shock and pain. Every closure of my jaws sends a jolt through my body and I’m more awake but less alive as I force myself to continue chewing. I want to spit them out, but I’m addicted to the pain. Of course I don’t really chew a handful of carpet tacks each morning. I log onto Facebook, but it’s a fair comparison.

For all the pleasure and awakening that my shower and coffee provide me each morning, that mood is killed as immediately as I see the first signs of hatred, argument, and ignorance being tossed around on Facebook. Still, I wake up and do it again, day after day. Something’s gotta give. Maybe.

For over a decade, the coffee and the carpet tacks have gone together. I’ve seen them as interconnected — can’t have one without the other. That said, the carpet tacks weren’t always steel or sharp. They weren’t even carpet tacks. In the beginning, they were more like coffee grounds from the bottom of the cup — a little bit course and bitter, but an easy inconvenience to bypass.

Somewhere, between 2010 and 2016, people’s attitudes towards one another began to change. By mid 2015, I was chewing carpet tacks every morning, in equal portion to the coffee I was sipping. And maybe I’m not really talking about coffee either. Maybe that too is a metaphor for the positive friendships and interactions I’ve come to appreciate each morning on Facebook.

There’s Bill and Ron up in Barsdale, Pete in Brisbane, Lara in Vacaville, Dawn in Valley Center, and Judy in upstate New York, to name a few. There’s Tim in Steamboat and another Tim in Utrecht. Mike in Virginia. There are many others. It’s been like a virtual coffee house, where humor, greetings, and casual pats on the back are exchanged. Information, photographs, and music are shared, and a camaraderie exists that rival a coffee shop, a pub, or the cardio theater in any gym.

But then there’s the carpet tacks.

Anyone who knows me understands the struggles I’ve had negotiating this duality for the past few years. A large part of me says to just walk away — forget Facebook and all the negativity. I should invest that time in anything more productive. For a long time I’ve resisted that desire, always seeing the positive side of Facebook as being greater than negative. Recently though, if I’m being honest, the negative side has grown to monstrous proportions.
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I’ve begun to throw it out there that I intend to delete my Facebook page, and may do so as soon as this week. Every time I think about it though, I think about the value of those relationships — those people in other places, near and far, that enhance my days and enrich my life for what they bring to the table each morning and each evening.

That’s where my real struggle is — throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

As I write this, and as a pedal through my community each day, I spend much of my time considering whether or not Facebook should be a part of my future. I value those relationships, but have so much disdain for all the ugliness, ignorance, and hatred I must wade through to get to the good stuff.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Of course the obvious solution is to limit my time on Facebook and amend my connections. Perhaps I’ll give this a try, but the more likely solution is to just walk away. If I do walk away, I’ll continue to write for this blog weekly, and possibly more frequently. I’ll keep you posted.

This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
195 miles
8,600’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
11,044 calories
12 hours 58 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Otis Gibbs. Enjoy…

From Now Until 2790…

Going back 250,000 years, the approximate time homo sapiens have inhabited the earth, 100-billion of us have lived. With few downward fluctuations, the human population has increased every year. If that increase ended today, and we leveled off at the current population of just over 7-billion people, that would fix our an annual birth rate at 130-million. At the rate of 130-million persons born each year, it would take just 770-years for the next 100-billion persons to be born. That would take us to the year 2790, should we make it that far.

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Consider this…

If we do make it to 2790, then most of the human beings who will have ever lived haven’t even been born as of today. In just 770 years, more human beings will be born than in the first quarter million years of our existence. That’s remarkable to me — that most of humanity will live in an amount of time that’s a fraction of the time human beings took to arrive at today.

What’s also remarkable is that between now and 2790, there will be just 25 generations. That’s a fraction of the 8,500 generations prior. Still, these next 25 generations might be the most significant in human history, and may have more ownership in the possible outcomes of human existence than the the previous 8,500 generations. The next 25 generations will have the potential to pass along our best traits, as well as our worst.

Putting the spotlight on this narrow slice of humanity is the best reminder that the choices we make today, as individuals and as societies, are supremely correlated with all the possible outcomes for the human species. Every decision our elected leaders make, from defense policy, to public health, waste management and recycling, race relations, spending, ethics, journalism, and technology matter.

Our individual choices matter just as much. From how much toothpaste we put on the toothbrush, to how much we drive per day, how much we eat, how much we argue, how many paper towels we use at a time, and especially how we treat others. What may appear to be our simplest and most insignificant individual choices may have a weighted impact the future of man.

Our generation is one of just a handful that are pivotal. We can refuse to learn, refuse to teach, refused to accept, refuse to take action and kick the can down the road like most every generation before us. If you do the math though, that road ahead may only be 25 generations long.

This is what I think about when I ride…. Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
201 miles
8,400’ climbing
14.7 mph avg
11,207 calories
13 hours 37 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Wishbone Ash. Enjoy…!

Let The Music Be My Master…

Though I have no way to accurately measure this, I estimate that my thoughts turn to music — songs, lyrics, albums, or bands and artists every 15 minutes or so. Those thoughts may be fleeting, but they continually bounce around my head like balls in a bingo hopper.

I earn my living as a fitness trainer, something I enjoy doing and am grateful for. In teaching exercise, I’m always in the presence of others when I work. I’m also a caregiver for my elderly mother. When I’m not working with clients, mom is never more 30-feet from me. I’m in face-time, all day long.

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For much of my adult life, playing albums and more recently digital music, has been a daily ritual for me. In the mornings while prepping for my day, in the evenings while cooking, and on the weekends while doing household chores and yardwork. Engaged in any of that, applying my personal soundtrack has always enhanced those experiences.

The most important of my music rituals though, has always been Sunday mornings on the porch, sipping coffee with my dog on my lap and listening to the Cowboy Junkies, James McMurtry, and Colin Hay among others.

Then, five years ago, I made the decision to move both my business and my mother into my home on the same week. Since I’m either in the presence of clients or my mother, there’s little opportunity to run music in the background or to just sit and enjoy it in purposeless relaxation.

In bicycling, one rides with their ears first. Awareness of what’s around you might save your life, so listening to music while cycling is never an option.

It comes in bits and pieces these days. I wake up early and before I commit to too much of anything, I pick one song to listen to — from beginning to end. No specific genre, just whatever pops into my head first. Usually it’s via Spotify or YouTube.

As the day goes on, and if I get a break in-between clients, fixing meals for mom, or taking care of the pets, I try and listen to another song or two. One of the upsides of social media is that friends share songs regularly. Sometimes old songs, sometimes new, very often songs or artists I’ve never heard before. I have something called The Rule Of Three…

In a day’s time, I attempt to listen to three songs shared by other people. It reminds me to stop and listen to a little music, often exposes me to something new, and may even improve my mood. I think this is a good way to be.

And as I snack on songs intermittently throughout the day, they sustain me but they don’t necessarily nourish me in the same way sitting on my porch and listening to an album once did.

And as the day winds down and I crawl into bed, my laptop is on my bedside table facing toward me. I watch documentaries about music, bands, and the recording process. I watch interviews with musicians, music executives, and producers. I might also sneak in one or two more songs at low volume so I don’t wake my mom.

The way I listen tomusic has changed in recent years, a response to the way my life has changed. What hasn’t changed, is that music is one of the best best friends I’ve ever had.

Lastly, as I reflect back on this I realize the most important relationships I’ve had and continue to maintain seem to involve music — either directly or peripherally. I think that’s beautiful. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
174 miles
7,400’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
9,800 calories
11 hours 36 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this new gem from the great Joe Ely. Enjoy…!

Bringing Fun Home…

I consider myself fortunate through all of this. My life has been largely unaffected by the pandemic, and despite the political and social upheaval in the nation, the patterns of my day-to-day existence haven’t changed too much.

I’m grateful.

I went out later last night, for a ride that would bring me home well after dark. I took the mountain bike which I don’t do that often — there just isn’t much trail riding nearby. There is an old golf course though, gone back to seed, that’s become a public recreation area, so I headed there to tear it up for a while and leave the day behind.

Despite that I ride every day, something felt different last night. Being on a mountain bike versus a road bike brought out the kid in me. On the ride to the golf course I was jumping on and off sidewalks, taking air while going over speed bumps, and cutting through private property for that off-road feeling.

I was having fun.

And as I was zigzagging across property easements and bunny hopping over irrigation lines, I realized it’s been a long time since I felt the outright sensation of fun. I ride every day, I walk, I exercise, and I meditate. I have conversations with friends, I work in the yard, and I’m employed in a job I love. But I can’t remember the last time I had fun like I had on last night’s ride.

And then I thought about it. Fun used to be an every day thing for me — I more or less designed my life around the idea of fun, yet it’s been missing.

Sometime back in March, when the reality of this pandemic set in, the civil unrest manifest, and as the political strife we’re experiencing has grabbed every available headline, my ability to have fun vanquished. And then, out of nowhere, it showed up last night.

And how did fun come back to me…? By being airborne — by jumping over a speedbump on Old River Road in Bonsall.

Being airborne is a kid thing.

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I’ll be chewing on that in the coming days and seeing what I can do to bring fun home again. Last night illuminated that I’ve allowed fun to disappear from my life — be kidnapped actually, by the headlines of the world and the nonsense of people arguing over them.

Maybe in the world would be a better place if we all got airborne, for just a few minutes each day.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tobio Obsession
26 miles
1,100’ climbing
14.0 mph avg
1,400 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Where The Rose Is Sown, by Big Country

Morning Pins And Needles…

I’m the early riser in the house — 4:15 most mornings. I’m in the shower by 4:16. Stroodle, my 17-year-old chihuahua, pops up and heads to the back door as soon I exit the shower. Mom, 90, wakes up last, usually around 6:00. She checks on me and then goes back to bed for another hour or so. My workday starts at 7:00 or 8:00, depending on the day.

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We don’t just live together, I’m the caretaker for my mom and the steward for Stroodle. Their care is in my hands. No matter what else I do with the course of the day, my pass/fail grade each day is based solely on how good their days are.

It’s come up a time or two in recent months that when I stepped out of the shower, Stroodle hasn’t popped out of bed and run to the back door as he usually does. My panic is brief though, because as I step toward the bed to check on him, that’s when he pops up, full of life and energy. All is good with the world.

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A few weeks ago, failing to pop up after my shower, and completely still as I stepped toward the bed, my heart stopped. At 17, I know that his time could come any day. I slowly placed my hand on his ribs, which were warm, and rolled him gently back-and-forth. No movement. I stepped back and took a deep breath. The time had come.

Standing there, gathering my thoughts and determining whether or not I’d work that day, he popped up like the little kid he is, jumped off the bed and ran to the back door.

All was good with the world.

A few minutes later, we carried on with our morning routine, me sipping coffee and writing, with him on my lap and back to sleep. My workday was to begin at 7:00 that day. By 6:45 mom had not been up. Occasionally she struggles with her sleep, so I assumed she was just sleeping in a bit. I stepped into my studio, closed the door and worked my first two sessions. Through that 2-hour period though, I kept one ear to the other side of the house, hoping to hear some noise from mom. Nothing.

At 9:00, during my first break, I stepped into the house to check on mom. Her bedroom door was still closed and the newspaper, which I leave for her beside the coffee pot, was still there unopened. I put my right hand on the door knob to her bedroom, turned it slowly, and making as little noise as possible pushed it open. She lay on her bed, completely still.

I swallowed hard, took a half-step back, and watched to see if she were breathing. In a darkened room, with her shades pulled down, it appeared that she wasn’t. I probably processed a couple hundred thoughts in just a few seconds. No, I thought, not today. Her hand then moved, just a little bit, and as she turned her head I heard her breathe.

I stepped back, closed the door quietly, walked to the kitchen and stared out the back window for a few minutes as I took it all in.

In the course of just a few hours, though only for a few moments each, I had believed my canine companion of 17-years and my mom had each passed away in their sleep. That circumstance has happened with each of them previously, but never both on the same morning.

I’m a caregiver for my 90-year-old mother and a steward for my 17-year-old dog. Both are in relatively good health, but 90 and 17. I work from home, leave long enough each day to go for a bike ride and to pick up whatever essentials we might need from the market.

With no plans to move anytime soon, it’s fair to suggest that both my mom and my dog will live out all their days in this house. And it’s also fair to suggest, I’ll spend more mornings on pins and needles, if only for a few moments each.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
196 miles
8,500’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
11,049 calories
13 hours 11 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this new gem from The Waterboys. Enjoy…!

 

Dogs Are Love…

For Sparkie and Baxter

I originally wrote this for my Facebook page back in December. I’ve been chewing on it the last few days though, since the person who inspired it lost her girl, Sparkie, this week.

Kirsten and I first connected nearly a decade ago, via the fitness blogging community. We’ve never met face-to-face, but we’ve had enough interactions through the years that I consider her a true friend. Six or seven years ago, in a reply to one of my Facebook posts, she impacted my life significantly with this simple comment…

“Dogs are love…”

It was in response to a picture I posted of my dog, Stroodle, when he was a puppy.

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I consider myself a dog person. With few exceptions, there’s been a dog in my life every day since I was born. Kirsten’s comment that day took my appreciation of dogs to another level, though I’m not sure why. Perhaps because it came at a difficult time in my life — I don’t know. I only know that from that moment forward, those words have resonated daily. Yes, every day since reading that comment, it’s run through my head, often several times a day.

“Dogs are love…”

It’s not as if I didn’t already think dogs were love. I did. I do. I always will.

The older I get though, the more I believe dogs are angels here on earth, and I mean that literally. Dogs are here to observe and report back. For those who are concerned about privacy in this era of technology, if you have a dog, all bets are off. They see everything we do, they know everything we think, and they report it back to the mothership in real time.

Something’s happened to me in the last decade or so — like a personal dog/love renaissance. I hold dogs in a much higher regard and with a greater reverence than I ever have, and that appreciation increases with each passing day. I love and appreciate dogs, all dogs, more today than I did yesterday. I will love them that much more tomorrow — all of them.

My love for dogs has softened a lot of hard edges in my life and rounded some sharp corners. It’s made me take more frequent and more honest inventories of who I am. My love of dogs has provided me with the best possible template of how to better conduct myself in all aspects of my life — to be more humble, more forgiving, more patient, show more gratitude, be more trusting, and to love more — unconditionally.

Last week, Kirsten, who inspired this piece, lost her girl Sparkie after 14 years. Several days ago, my sister-in-law also lost her dog, Baxter. My response to each, on learning of their losses, was the same response I offer everyone under the same circumstances, and it’s possibly one of the best sentences ever constructed…

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Sparkie…

“When you get to heaven, all your dogs come runnin’ to ya…” Kinky Friedman

I will add to that, the only truth I’ve ever known is looking into the eyes of a dog.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
196 miles
8,600’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
11,040 calories
13 hours 10 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there this from Greyhounds. Enjoy…!

Red White & Kablooey: We Can Do Better…

It’s Saturday night, just after 9pm. This is the time I usually sit down and write an essay, arisen from thoughts which form in my head on my daily rides.

Tonight though, also happens to be Independence Day. It’s kind of hard to concentrate on writing with all the mini-explosions taking place in my neighborhood. Firecrackers and fireworks have been going off without interruption for nearly 45 minutes. If the last few years are any indication, this will continue for another hour or so.

I live near the center of a small town. This demographic is low-to-middle income, and many of the homes in my neighborhood have multiple families living in them — with multiple children. Most every household in my neighborhood has at least one dog in the yard and some have more than one. I’ve never been able to accurately count the outdoor and feral cats in the neighborhood, but there’s a dozen or more I see regularly.

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The dog on my lap, this dog that got over 80 likes earlier in the day for a picture of his sweetness, is now trembling in fear from the sound and vibration of all the fireworks going off. My cat, Mischa, has run through the house at full speed a half-dozen times now, driven mostly by the louder explosions.

When I returned from Colorado back to Southern California in 2015, I lived next-door to a man named Laverne. Laverne was an Army veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s. Laverne had been granted an early retirement after a diagnosis of PTSD. Laverne spent most of his days smoking pot and watching television in his garage — his man cave. He spent most of his nights in there too, also smoking pot and watching television. He confessed to me once that he was afraid to fall asleep. His young daughter and wife lived a relatively separate life from him on the other side of the door.

On July 4, 2015, we were surrounded by fireworks. Between the professional display that took place down the street, and all the neighborhood fireworks, and as cliché as it sounds, it sounded like a war zone that evening. In-between concussions, I could openly hear Laverne crying and talking to himself from under the half-open garage door. When I peaked under the door, Laverne was curled up on the sofa holding his knees towards his chest. There was a smoking apparatus on the table beside him and the television was on but the volume was off.
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I think about Laverne every Independence Day, as I coax my dog from behind the toilet — the place where he instinctively hides from the explosions that surround him. I hold him on my lap, I reassure him and I think of Laverne. If there’s one crying veteran, I think to myself, there are thousands more. If there’s one frightened dog, there are millions more.

The celebration of Independence Day with explosions that scare veterans and animals is an idea let’s run its course. I get that it’s only one day a year and just for a few hours. I also get that they fascinate children and adults alike, and are an age-old ritual that brings people together. But at what price…?

The sight of a grown man curled up on a sofa crying to himself with a cloud of smoke coming out from under the door was enough to convince me, rigidly, that fireworks are a poor way to celebrate the day, and somewhat ironic — pets hiding behind toilets not withstanding.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
199.78 miles
8,600’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
11,267 calories
13 hours 26 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Willy DeVille. Enjoy…

Self-Reckoning…

Fun ride last night. Not as fast as I was hoping due to the wind, but it was a good test of Bella‘s new wheel-set. They performed well and $500 later, they’re a legit upgrade. Eventually these wheels will get passed on to another bike, and she’ll be fitted with her first carbon rims, but I have some financial catchin’ up to do first.

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In his book, Upheaval (2019), author Jared Diamond suggests honest self-appraisal is the single most important mechanism for a nation in crisis to successfully resurrect itself. Since the leadership of my nation is making no attempt to do this, I’m sort of taking it on myself. I’ve spent a lot of time recently looking at my social weaknesses and examining how I can improve on them.

I don’t care who you are and what your worldview is, there will never be a better time than right now for some honest self-appraisal.
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First on the list for me has been taking inventory of my prejudices. It’s not been an easy exercise. It’s important though, that I this considering the current social climate. It’s not just my racial prejudices I’ve been exploring either, but those that have to do with physical appearance, age, geography, and all the demographic lines we use to separate ourselves from them, politics included.

In exploring my prejudices, or any weakness for that matter, it’s important not to rationalize my prejudices away. No excuses. I won’t minimize them either, by disguising them as biases, or for being so-called evolutionary defenses that occur naturally in my species. Simply put, my prejudices have been learned behaviors since my earliest days and have been practiced and consistently reaffirmed without much regard for their impact on the people I’ve judged so freely.

One exercise I’ve been using has been to hit the pause button on my brain frequently throughout each day and when engaged with others. Whether it’s with a service employee, a client, a neighbor, but in particular with passing strangers, it’s amazing how quick I am to judge anyone based on their appearance, and how willing I am to not second-guess myself in those snap judgments.
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We’re marching for a lot of things these days — BLM, LBGT rights, proper context and subsequent application of our questionable past, environmental concerns and so-on. I haven’t participated in any of these marches.

My march though, and the one I’m encouraging everyone to take, is a march on the road to honest self-appraisal. It’s a nasty road with lots of hazards and, at least in my case, and a very long one. It’s also a place our leaders are never going to take us.

This is what I think about when I ride…

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bella
29 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.6 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Girlfriend, by Matthew Sweet

It Ain’t Easy…

A light schedule gave me the opportunity to ride to the coast yesterday. Coastal rides take longer because I don’t start from my house. I throw my bike in my car and drive about 20 minutes to a trailhead where I can take a bike-path directly to the water’s edge.

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It’s a fun ride, but I probably won’t do it again anytime soon. It’s more time-consuming than the rides which begin from my driveway. Also, the bike path is crowded these days — too much for my comfort.

I’m exhausted lately — to a point where I feel like something has to give. I’ve added a lot of values into my life over the last few years. As I’ve added these values, I’ve removed exactly none. By values, I mean all the things I do each day — taking pictures, reading, writing, riding bikes, walking, lifting weights, and gardening. These enrich my life a great deal. Combined though, they occupy as much as 5-6 hours of every day. And let’s not forget social media, and yes, I consider social media a valuable aspect of my life.

It’s like being me is a full-time job.

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You know what I don’t do…? I don’t sleep a lot. I don’t clean house as much as I should. I don’t check in with friends the way I once. I dedicate most of my non-working time to just being me. Seems like a selfish endeavor, yet I have no desire to budge.

These things I do — these values are important to me because I thrive on stimulation, activity, and consistency. I also live with doses of sadness and depression intermingled into each day, sometimes from out of nowhere. Pandering to my values helps helps keep the sadness and depression at bay.

I’ll come full circle — I’m exhausted. I should probably change some of these values, cut back on them, or at the very least, rearrange them. It’s something I think about each day when I ride. All things in moderation right…?

If I were to change one thing in my life, that I’m certain would have an immediate impact on my time management and fatigue level, I would let go of all social media with the exception of my blog, http://www.thespokeandword.net. I don’t think I’ll do that anytime soon, but ya know, maybe I will.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
28 miles
700’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Goldin Browne, by Kid Congo

Ugh, That Sentence…

I don’t usually preface these, but in this case I will. Many who read this will be upset by what I’ve written, will consider me anti-American, and probably have some choice words for me. That’s cool — I’ll still like you.

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There’s just this idea that I’ve been chewing on lately, and I can’t let go of. If nothing else, perhaps sharing it will get it out of my system so I can move onto the next idea that people will look down on me for having.

I’m constantly trying to make sense these days, of how Americans with opposing views treat each other, of how we prioritize the values we’re willing to stand up for, and how far we’re willing to go just to make a point and be heard. And when I look at the growing divisions between us in everything from our politics to our moral values, I think it all arises from a single sentence…

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

God, I hate that sentence.

That idea, to me, has always seemed rigged. To put individual liberty first, ahead of the whole of society as a cornerstone of our righteous doctrine, is like building a ship with a sturdy hull, and purposely leaving a small hole in it — just to see what will happen, and hoping nothing does.

And though the Declaration Of Independence is not a governing doctrine, and that sentence itself is not in our constitution, nor is it guaranteed by any laws or codes that I am aware of, it is a part of our national identity — it’s something most have come to expect as a right of American citizenship…

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

I don’t care what side of the political fence one is on, I think that ideal is at the core for much of what ails us these days.

I know it’s too late now, but I wish read more like this…

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, keeping in mind that the life of our society is more precious and more important than any one constituent.

Once again, Confucianism gets it right.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
168 miles
7.900’ climbing
15.2 mph avg
9,600 calories
11 hours 03 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Sonny Landreth. Enjoy…

To Be A Better Father…

It’s Father’s Day. My daughter is now 29 — the age I was when she was born. She lives 2,734 miles from me, so we won’t be having brunch today. We will share food though. At some point today I’ll send her some money electronically so she and her partner can order dinner in — on Dad. I’ll also call her and thank her for being a fine daughter and an outstanding person.

Father’s Day isn’t about me. It’s about her. I learned that lesson late, but hopefully not too late.

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I’ll just be pedaling along, in tune with the rhythm of the road and enjoying the cool air against my skin when it just pops into my head — a regret from days gone down. Most everything I regret has to do with divorce, being a father, and being a son. Regrets, unlike mistakes, aren’t forgivable, not for me anyway. My regrets always seem to involve the people I love. That residue lingers.
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I heard some wisdom recently that I’d never heard before — I’ve been chewing on it as Father’s Day has approached. It came from the philosopher, Jonathan Rowson, in an interview for the radio show On Being. Rowson, reflecting on advice somebody gave him before the birth of his first child, said this…

“If you want to be a good father, the best thing that you can do is become a better husband…”

Now as simple and straightforward as that sounds, I’d never heard it before. I know I hadn’t heard it before because if I had, I would have remembered it. Whether I would have headed it or not, is something else. But statements like that are indelible.

Sadly, it never occurred to me that as a new father, the best thing I could have done would be to become a better husband. It makes so much sense in hindsight. But nobody told me.

So as I pedaled through the hills last night on the eve of Father’s Day, and as I sped past the vineyards and the orchards that decorate this community so sweetly, I stumbled onto a lingering regret and chewed on it for a while. I regret that as a younger man I wasn’t a better husband, and as such, to become a better father.

So if you’re reading this as an expecting father or as a recent father, please head the advice — like I said, it’s pretty straightforward. It might truly shape the life of a child, the life of a mother, and extend the life of a family.

And you’re an older father, all too familiar with the taste of regret, don’t wait for Father’s Day to come to you this year — it isn’t about you. Use this day to be a better father by being a better husband.

Nobody told me.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
201 miles
9,250’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 10 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there this from Puddle Of Mudd. Enjoy…

A Missed LaChance…

With the police being so much in the news lately, my riding-mind has been revisiting a slice of my life from 35 years ago. In my early 20s, before enlisting in the United States Coast Guard, but after my time working with Nautilus Fitness Centers, I applied to a four-year law enforcement program at Mesa College (now Colorado Mesa University) in Grand Junction Colorado. The year I applied was the inaugural year of the program.

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It was a unique program for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was four-year law enforcement programs weren’t common in the early 1980s. It also stood out because the entire curriculum was to be taught by one man, a retired police Lieutenant and psychologist named Paul LaChance.

I’d made one trip to Grand Junction to meet LaChance prior to enrolling in the program. He spent an hour with me, we connected well, and I felt that I could count on him to help me through the program. As a reading challenged student, the ability to connect with his human side was important.

There were roughly a dozen students enrolled in the program, though at 21, I was the oldest in the group. Still, I was fearful I might not have the fortitude to stick it out for four years, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life teaching people how to do squats and lat-pulldowns.

On the first day of class I took my seat among the other students when a man entered the room and addressed the class. He had long hair, glasses, wore a sloppy suit, and began to speak…

He explained that LaChance, the man who was supposed to teach the program, had cut deep into one of his arms with a tablesaw a few days prior. He was hospitalized indefinitely. The man speaking was a local attorney and former police officer who agreed to cover for LaChance until his return. I honestly don’t remember his name.

What I do remember is that after the first few weeks of classes, I found myself unengaged and unable to receive his lectures. It didn’t help that he wasn’t available for assistance after classes due to the legal practice he also maintained. The assigned reading became more important since the substitute wasn’t as prepared as LaChance. I found the whole thing difficult to the point of exasperation.

One month in, we were told LaChance wouldn’t return until the following semester. The first semester would be  facilitated by the substitute. On learning this, I immediately quit attending classes, but didn’t officially drop out of school until the end of the semester — so I could continue living in the dorms rather than return home to get a job.

The following spring I enlisted in the United States Coast Guard thinking that, absent of any related degree, it would be a logical steppingstone to a law enforcement career. Anything, so I wouldn’t have to teach squats and lat-pulldowns for a living.

Simple twists of fate — we swim within them all day long. They surround us like parallel universes with on and off ramps that we continually traverse, but never actually see.

When I’m out there riding, hiding from the ills of the day, and when I’m pushing my body as both meditation and medication, I sometimes wonder what my life would have become had Mr. LaChance not cut into his arm with a tablesaw prior to the start of that program. Perhaps I would’ve completed the program and proceeded into a law enforcement career. Maybe not.

The events of this week have had me questioning how I would respond to peaceful protesters, and those not so peaceful. I’m short-tempered by nature, and well into my 30s I was aggressive, if not combative, with anyone who might have disagreed with me. In hindsight, it’s easy to see I wouldn’t have been a very good police officer, especially in matters of dealing with crowds, but probably in most other matters too.

Apparently fate got this one right. Each day, in-between teaching squats and lat-pulldown‘s, I get to ride my bike and take it all in. I landed where I’m supposed to be.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
194 miles
9,100’ climbing
14.6 mph avg
10,900 calories
13 hours 16 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there this from The Vulgar Boatmen. Enjoy…

Life Like Piecrust…

When I think of piecrust, I think of three women — my late mother-in-law, her daughter (my former wife), and our daughter. Each made incredible piecrust, the recipe passed down from the generations above. To this day, their piecrusts stand out from any others I’ve tasted.

I think about that all the time, but not in a way that necessarily causes me to crave pie. Rather, in a way that reminds me how to live. You see, those three women not only made excellent piecrust, but each has embodied the roles and characteristics of piecrust as they lived their lives.

Wait, what…?

Piecrust is the ultimate support system.

Though it has its own distinct flavor, piecrust isn’t and never tries to be the star of the show. Piecrust lays low and attempts to blend in. Despite its importance, piecrust would rather you remember the filling.

Piecrust has to be strong. By weight, piecrust is usually a fraction that which sit on top of it, but it must hold the whole thing together. If the piecrust fails, then there is no pie, only stew. In that sense, piecrust must have a strong back and a constant presence.

Piecrust is good with being anonymous. It doesn’t require its name to be on the marquee, it seeks only to be appreciated. When pie receives a complement, piecrust is satisfied and humbled, knowing it did its part.

Piecrust, good piecrust anyway, isn’t complicated. It consists of just a few basic ingredients. The key to good piecrust is assembling those ingredients properly and never in haste.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. In a world where so many people attempt to stand out, take credit, steal the show, and take more than they give, perhaps more of us could attempt to live like piecrust. It’s no coincidence that the three women I know who made the best piecrust I’ve ever had, also lived their lives like the piecrust they made.

Blend in.

Be strong.

Pursue appreciation, not stardom.

Be simple.

These are the characteristics that make good piecrust, and good people.

This is what I think about when I ride…. Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 7
185 miles
9,200’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
10,500 calories
11 hours 59 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there this from Spain. Enjoy…

Something ‘Bout Inner Peace…

There’s much I want to say this week, but I don’t think anybody’s listening. People are busy now, looking through their 7-inch and 60-inch windows to the world.

Too many are occupied with making snap judgments, arguing, predicting the future, moralizing, pointing fingers, and shunning responsibility. All the while, ignoring options, taking their eyes off the ball, forgetting what matters, and failing to connect with those who do matter.

I’ll sit this one out this week. I have things to say, but I’ll save them for another day — when people might actually listen. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the week that was — my week that was. These have nothing to do with politics, the psychology of rioting, infectious disease, The wearing of masks, mass gatherings, mail-in ballots, wet markets, stock markets, or personal liberties.

These pictures I take each day, they are the opposite of hate, the opposite of fear, the opposite of rage, and the opposite of rubber bullets. These are the opposite of ignorance.

This is what I think about when I ride, when I sit, and when I walk… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
199 miles
9,800’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,300 calories
13 hours 00 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there this from Beausoleil. Enjoy…

 

Speaking Of Priorities…

The priorities of culture should be fairly straightforward. If you’re not familiar with them, here they are in order — or the order in which roughly 1/3rd of the human population has them in…

1- Society as a collective — all people who inhabit the earth.

2- Communities within that global society — nations, states, counties, townships.

3- Work — what enables communities and societies to move upward and ahead.

4- Family — those persons we most value and are closest to, who give meaning and purpose to going to work.

5- Self — the smallest constituent of the engine of culture, that’s often corrupted by the illusion of autonomy.

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Governmental malfunctions and abuses of leadership notwithstanding, there’s a reason we aren’t seeing large profile movements in Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea) of disobedience, rebellion, and outright refusal to do what’s best in thwarting a global pandemic — the wearing of masks in public places as an example.

That reason is Confucianism — a system of priorities dating back roughly 2500 years, that is near the center of most Asian culture. In his book, The Religions Of Man (1958), Huston Smith writes…

“It’s said that every Chinese walks in Buddhist sandals, covers with a Taoist cloak, and wears a Confucian cap. They are all of these things, but not always all at once…“

In matters of taking precautions that benefit the whole of society, and doing what’s best to stop the spread of a disease, most of Asia today is showing it’s Confucian cap.

In his book, Confucius And The World He Created (2015), author Michael Schuman suggests South Korea is the most Confucian society in the modern world, as it relates to the priorities listed above. He suggests Japan is a close second. Whatever issues South Korea and Japan have had during this pandemic, civil disobedience in favor of self hasn’t been one of them.

The Declaration Of Independence (1776) gives us this phrase…

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…“

Uh oh.

I’ve seen that phrase cited repeatedly in recent weeks relating to matters of home confinement, the wearing of masks, and the curbing of our ability to gather and enjoy the fruits of our democracy. That phrase life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is at the core of our cultural DNA. I’m not opposed to that phrase, but I think it should be extended to read as follows…

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — so long as our priorities are in order.

Without that stipulation, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness above all things, has made America the drunken college frat boy of the modern world.

Some may read this and consider me un-American, unpatriotic, and even a malcontent. I suppose I’ve invited that criticism, though it’s misguided. I’m a veteran, a responsible citizen, and a person who will never put self above the whole of society. I think this is a good way to be, and I’ll argue that a successful outcome for mankind is dependent on it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
202 miles
9,100’ climbing
15.2 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 17 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Nada Surf. Enjoy…

Oh Daddy…

Global pandemic, domestic political upheaval, and bird attacks notwithstanding, it was a good week of riding. Last week also marked the 8th anniversary of my father’s passing.

I don’t think it’s possible for me to ride my bike for a couple hours each day without thinking about my dad. He’s always there — memories of moments, conversations, arguments, and the telling of bad jokes. As I pedal through the scenery and take it all in, I think of my dad throughout the different phases of his life and of our relationship. It’s no stretch to say that my dad sits on my shoulder on every single ride.

I didn’t begin to truly understand my father until it was too late — until after he passed away. And it’s only because of his passing that I began to take inventory of our relationship, and accept that I was as responsible for the stresses, strains, and gaps as he was.

I guess that’s a common thing with middle-aged men — to seek a better understanding of their fathers only after they’ve gone. When it became a one-way conversation, getting to know my dad better could be done without any arguing. In-turn though, I’ve had to hear to my own voice and absorb my own thoughts.

I often wonder what my dad would think of me now — of my compulsion toward ambling through the woods each taking pictures of little things. I wonder how he’d feel about the shtick I write and whether he’d enjoy it, or mark it up and send it back to me for correction. I wonder if he’d understand my reasons — my need to ride bikes each day. I wonder if he’d approve of the way I’m taking care of my mother, and how surprised he’d be that I’m still making a living doing what he thought I’d never make a go of.
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Through much of my adult life, especially after I was married and after I became a father myself, I avoided my dad. I called him minimally, visited him infrequently, and I never put forth the effort into connecting with him that he put in reaching out to me.

There was definitely love between us, respect, and appreciation. If I’m being honest though, I was a dick to my dad more often than not, standoffish, and aloof in his presence. In hindsight, I’m certain that hurt him deep down, but on the surface he never let it show. He probably recognized his younger self in me and loved me anyway.

When I’m out there, pedaling long stretches of these rural roads, and when the wind is to my back and I’m deep in the rhythm of my ride, I think about the man. I think about the moments, the arguments, and the jokes we shared — in good times and in bad.

I think about being able to say I love you to him one more time — something that didn’t come as easy for me as it did for him. Forever is a long time to regret not saying I love you enough.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
169 miles
8,100’ climbing
15.4 mph avg
9,600 calories
11 hours 0 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Yes — one of the finest songs ever recorded. Enjoy…

Flip The Bird…

The day couldn’t have started any better. Just after 5am my friend Tim, who lives in Steamboat Springs, texted me that he was in Oceanside — about 20 minutes away. He and his neighbor had driven through the night from Colorado to deliver a car to his neighbor’s son at Camp Pendleton. Since he was this close, Tim wanted to stop by Fallbrook and poach some lemons before he headed home. Poaching lemons is a tradition on our annual bike ride each spring. Due to the COVID-19 situation, we had to pass on the ride this year, so I was delighted to hear from him. I figured if we could poach lemons from a safe distance while wearing masks, I’m in.

Last year our victim was a cheap motel on Old Highway 395 just south of Fallbrook. There are six decorative lemon trees in the motel parking lot that are loaded this time of year. I believe we hauled about 40 pounds last year. We decided to meet there and continue the tradition, even if no bikes were involved. After an air high-five and some salutations from a 6-foot distance, he tossed me a bag and we began stealing lemons while in plain sight.

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I don’t think we were together for more than 15 minutes when we said goodbye and he and his neighbor headed back to Colorado. I couldn’t have been more stoked to get on my bike later in the morning. My intention was to ride by the the same lemon trees and photograph my bike in front of them. There was a strong onshore wind though, so I changed my route and bypassed the motel.

Riding west on Highway 76, a four-lane thoroughfare with a 55 mph speed limit, I was about to turn north onto Gird Road when I felt something tugging on the riding bag I wear on my back.

Wait, what…?

Something was tugging on my shoulder bag while I was traveling at 18 mph or so. I had looked over my shoulder moments earlier and seen no other cyclist in the lane behind me. What transpired next happened in less than 4-5 seconds…

With my left hand on the handlebars, I reached behind me to feel what was tugging on my back. I was shocked when I felt the wing of a bird, possibly a crow. Caught off-guard and a bit scared, I tried to brush the bird off of me when I lost control and came off my bike. My bike ended up in the middle of the righthand automobile lane, and I was beside it, just outside the bike lane.

In what probably took just a few seconds, I grabbed my bike with my left arm and flung it over my body into the bike lane. I rolled over quickly into the bike lane, looking uproad to see no oncoming traffic. I go to my feet and took inventory of the situation. I skinned my right knee, my right elbow, and felt a little pain with my right ankle. Shaking and a little bit flustered, I took a gulp of water and quietly assured myself that I was okay. This could have been so much worse, I thought.

I had roughly 10 miles remaining to return home. I rode at a standard pace, and felt little of my ankle or knee as I pedaled. I was delighted that I felt so good and was already planning tomorrow’s route while riding home.

I had a single session from 1:30 to 2:30 in my fitness studio and got through that okay. I was hobbling a little bit more by the end of the session, but still thinking I dodged a bullet. Shortly after my client left, my ankle and knee began swelling and the pain was increasing. I realized then that it was adrenaline that got me through the last 10 miles of my ride as well as my appointment. That adrenaline was starting to wear off.

Over the next hour the pain became unbearable and my ankle and knee continued to swell. By 4pm I wasn’t able to put any stress on the leg at all, and was hopping through the house on my left leg.

With a little elevation and some acetaminophen, the pain diminished some and the swelling dropped a bit. I gave a cursory test that I would apply to any injured athlete, and deemed my ankle sprained, but with nothing broken and ligaments intact.

Now it’s just a waiting game. I know I won’t be on a bike for at least a few days, and won’t even be able to walk my dog for a day or two. As I write this, roughly 20 hours have passed by since the accident. I’ll follow the course of active surveillance for the next 24 hours, testing range of motion often, applying heat, and acetaminophen for pain.

Because I felt so good even after the accident, I gave my ride an A+ in my workout journal. The only note I made in the journal was as follows…

“Attacked by bird. Came off bike. Bird and I never made eye contact…”

I’ve only missed four days of riding since January 1st, and haven’t missed two consecutive days since June of 2019.
I’m guessing 3 to 5 days on this, but we’ll see.

Yesterday morning I got to poach lemons with my friend Tim, and see him for the first time since our annual ride last year. A few hours later, a bird, probably looking for my ravioli, initiated my first accident in nearly three years. Lying in the automobile lane of Highway 76, and looking east to see no cars coming toward me, might have been the most glorious moment of my life. I’m just gonna take it all in for a few days, but I have a feeling I’ll be back out there again soon.

Lastly, for those who think this was another sign I should call it quits, I’ve been dealing with depression, idiopathic sadness, and suicidal thoughts since I was a child. Riding is good medicine for me. I have no intention of giving this up.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer
27 miles
1,200’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
1,500 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Will in’, by Little Feat

Toes In The Water..

I conducted my first one-on-one fitness session in nearly 2 months yesterday. Practicing the safest protocols, I’ll be doing one session per day this week, and 2 to 3 per day next week. I’m putting my toes back in the water slowly.

It may sound hyperbolic to suggest that a one-hour workday stressed me to the point of emotional exhaustion, but it did. I couldn’t get on my bike fast enough when it was through. How I conduct business, I learned during those 60-minutes, will be very different going forward. The session was awkward, both logistically and in conversation, but successful. I hope they’ll get easier over time.

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There will be ongoing conflicts in my head about what I could’ve done better, will anyone become impacted should I get lax or reckless with my cleaning responsibilities, and should I even be doing this as career anymore. I took one of my faster bikes yesterday, but I couldn’t outride any of those conflicts as they played out in my head.

In truth, a workday consisting of a single one-hour session wasn’t putting my toes slowly back into the water. It was more like surfing in an area known to have sharks, but also knowing very few surfers get killed by sharks. That would be a perfect metaphor had a California surfer not been killed by a shark two days ago. Or maybe it’s the perfect metaphor because of that.

Going back to work, for many people in varying fields, is going to feel like they’re swimming with sharks maybe, but also maybe not. Like me, none want to get bit — some will though, that’s certain.

To paraphrase the only shark movie that matters: I’m gonna need a bigger bike…

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
28 miles
1,400’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: The Pusher, by Steppenwolf

Unique Among Billions…

In 2003, I accompanied my daughter and her mother on an Alaska cruise. Our daughter was 13. One of the shore excursions we signed up for involved taking a helicopter to a glacier for a short hike. Her mother, not fond of flying, decided to stay behind. It would be just my daughter and I for the adventure.

Just after breakfast that morning, my daughter and I walked from the ship to the helipad, buckled ourselves in with four other passengers, and enjoyed the ride of our lives in-between jagged mountains, over striking canyons and crevasses, eventually landing on a mountain glacier near Skagway.

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The designated section of the glacier had been opened up for hiking only a few weeks before. The docent in charge pointed out the boundaries and made it clear we were not to go beyond them. After receiving our instructions, we were free to hike independently in the designated area for 30 minutes.

Almost immediately after we began walking, I nudged my daughter and guided us just beyond the designated boundary. For a moment, she and I stood in a spot that might have been previously untouched by human feet — at least not modern human feet. Back on the helicopter, I couldn’t but help feel a sense of profound individuality for standing on what might have been an untouched spot.

Depending on how you define human being, we have been around for roughly 500,000 years. In that time, approximately 100 billion of us have lived.

As a kid growing up in the era of Muhammad Ali, Evel Knievel, and Bruce Jenner, I always had the desire to do things nobody had ever done — or to be better at something than anyone else. Still, I never excelled at anything, despite my desire. I couldn’t sing worth a damn. I never made it past the local level in bodybuilding competition. I could be fast, but not that fast. I had many interests and a lot of passion, but not much discipline in my pursuits.
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A few weeks ago I ran out of Shot Bloks — an energy snack I eat at the midpoint of each bicycle ride. Out of Shot Bloks and looking for a substitute before a ride, I grabbed two frozen ravioli squares from the freezer, put them in a Ziploc bag, and placed them in the shoulder bag I ride with.

When I got to the halfway point of my ride at the Old Bonsall Bridge, I put one of the raviolis in my mouth, and as I reached for a water bottle, set the other ravioli on the seat of my bike for a moment. As I took a swig of water, I looked down to see a bicycle seat with a ravioli on it and I thought to myself… I’m probably the first person in human history to set a ravioli on a bicycle seat, so I photographed it.

I don’t know where it comes from, but my whole life I’ve lived with an innate need to be unique — to do something no person has ever done before, yet I’ve come up short for nearly 60 years. I’ll never run the fastest hundred meters on earth, I’ll never sing at the Grand Ole Opry, star in Hollywood movie, or win the Pulitzer Prize.

For the last couple of weeks though, I’ve been placing raviolis on my bicycle seats at the halfway point of each ride and photographing them against pretty backdrops. I can’t imagine anyone else, among the billions who’ve ever lived, has done this, but I could be wrong.

This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
201 miles
9,100’ climbing
15.6 mph avg
11,500 calories
12 hours 51 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Stonehoney. Enjoy…

A Shift In Exercise Plans…

Each day I see a few more bikes on the road. San Diego County has actually encouraged cycling, so long as social distancing guidelines are met. Bike shops, according to the county supervisors, are an essential business.

I’ve received multiple messages from friends requesting guidance in resurrecting the dust covered bikes hanging in their garage, or for seeking help with purchasing a new bike. I don’t think this is a temporary trend. I say that, not as a bicycle enthusiast, but as somebody who’s been in the fitness industry in various capacities for much of my life.

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Gyms and fitness centers will begin reopening soon. Many workout enthusiasts will return to their deeply embedded rituals, regardless of what consequences await them. They’ll be so glad to get back to their habit, that risking their lives will seem like a small price to pay.

Many gym members won’t return though. During the last 6 weeks, tens of thousands of people who thought they couldn’t live without the gym discovered that they can. Some took to running, some to home-based workouts, while others discovered hiking, backyard yoga, or participated online workouts.
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For those who do return to the gym, they’re going to find a very different place than they left behind. Many won’t find their experience as enjoyable as they once did and will walk away. People may not be comfortable wearing masks while doing indoor cardio or in group classes.

The suggested 6-foot space between members will have a major impact on square footage. Facilities will have to limit the number of persons allowed in at a time. Some members are sure to be frustrated from this, and will invest in home workout equipment or look for alternatives to the gym.

The emphasis on members cleaning up after themselves will dissuade more than a few from returning. The added payroll of personnel needed to clean up after the members who refuse to clean up after themselves will be reflected in membership dues.

I suspect monthly dues with most gyms will increase as annual membership contracts renew — this the result of a decline in membership volume for reasons previously mentioned.

For many, cycling won’t be on their radar as an alternative to the gym, but as they look for a physical release, that may change. Others are already curious — even if in a standoffish way. These are actual quotes from messages I received this week from friends interested in taking up cycling:

“It looks so dangerous…”

“I don’t want to get hit by a car…”

“Those seats are so uncomfortable…”

That they contacted me at all, suggests they’re considering cycling as a fitness option. That’s a beautiful thing. Cycling has the ability to fulfill the need for exercise, recreation, a family activity, and much like golf, it’s a perfect outlet for a physical release in the social distancing era.

Here’s a few random suggestions, not in any particular order, for those who are considering cycling as a form of recreation or exercise.

– Start slow. Like any form of exercise, ease into it. Start by riding just 2-3 miles a few times a week. If you enjoy it, add to it gradually.

– If you already have a bike, but haven’t been on it in a while, take it to a reputable bike shop or mechanic and have it looked over and tuned up. Basic tuneup’s generally run in the $70-$110 range.

– If you’re looking to purchase a new bike, and you’re not an experienced cyclist, you should probably spend less money than your local bike shop will encourage you to spend. An excellent rule when purchasing at a bike shop, is to ask them to recommend a bike for you. When they do, then ask what bike they would recommend for 50% of that price. That’s an excellent starting point.

– The weight of of bike can be important, especially for more advanced riders, but should not be a determining factor for a new rider when purchasing a new bike.

– There are many styles of bikes available: Road bikes with low handlebars and arrow dynamic geometry. Comfort bikes with upright handlebars and a more comfortable riding position. There are mountain bikes, gravel bikes, and beach cruisers. There are hybrid bikes which cover multiple bases. Before you think about purchasing a bike, think about the type of riding you may want to do — be honest with yourself. Bounce this off of friends and family members who know you well and ask for their honest feedback.

Cycling is going to experience a renaissance in the coming months. Bike lanes, gravel trails, parks, and boardwalks will experience traffic they haven’t seen in years. In time, some of that will taper off, but the net-positive gain will likely be permanent.

Gyms on the other hand, as I wrote in this blog post six weeks ago, are going to be changed forever. They’ll have fewer members, there will be fewer facilities, and monthly membership dues are sure to increase. I suspect some national chains, as well as some mom-and-pop outlets, will close permanently.

Despite all the nonsense going on in the world, or perhaps because of it, people will continue to seek out a physical release from the stresses of life. The nature of that release will be evolving in the coming year, and cycling may be a part of it for some.

If you have a lifetime gym membership to your local gym though, this is a good time to ask yourself whether that’s for your lifetime or the lifetime of the gym.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
205 miles
10,050’ climbing
15.1mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 28 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Jimmy Barnes, who turned 64 this week. Enjoy…

One Hand On Optimism…

For the first time in years, I’ve got nothing good to say this week. My mind has been so cluttered with information and opinions that I can’t think straight.

Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise…

From the plumbers who are experts in public health, to the journalists who are experts in economics, at this point I’m ready give myself up to the virus or to drink the bleach and inject the isopropyl just to get it over with.

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These two hours I get each day, on my bikes and in my rhythm, haven’t been enough to distance me from the chaos between my ears. What makes that funny is that it’s not my chaos, it’s everyone else’s. It’s like my mind appears to be the perfect receptacle for everyone to throw their ignirance, fear, and hatred into.

I wonder if people ever think about that — that when they throw hate, ignorance, and fear out there, do they consider that has to land somewhere…?

I’ve even considered giving up my optimism. I just don’t know if I should blame the news cycle, the people who create it, or the people who feed it.

Yes.

Regardless, people are to blame. Shame on me for saying that, but it’s not my dog nor my toaster that’s lying, exaggerating, and screaming all day about subjects they know so little about.
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I’ve spent much of my adult life believing the world is becoming a better place. Intellectuals such as George Ellis, Robert Wright, and Steven Pinker have demonstrated to me, supported with data, that the moral progress of man and the societies man has created, have been on an upward trajectory for 15,000 years.

For the last few weeks though, it feels like that upward trajectory isn’t just slowing down, but might possibly be reversing directions — like a rocket running out of fuel. The only question is, will the fall back to brutishness of our past be slow, or will the velocity increase as the decline continues…

The current health crisis, intertwined with our expanding social/political divisions, have created the first chink in the optimistic armor which has been protecting my mind for decades.

In the aftermath of the last few election cycles, I’ve viewed most social/political disagreements as small bounces in that otherwise upward trajectory of social cooperation — but then the yelling, finger-pointing, and distrust just keep getting worse.

Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise…

Like most everyone, I acknowledge the global health crisis as being real, and worthy of taking every necessary precaution to mitigate. The fact that I had to include the word “most” in the previous sentence though, makes me shudder.

I’m reminded of a woman I saw at the beach a few years back. She was juggling a bottle of sunscreen with one hand, as she was trying to apply it to her arms and shoulders. With the other hand, she was juggling a cigarette and a lighter. While one hand was working tirelessly to keep cancer at bay, the other hand was inviting it in. That woman, with the sunscreen in one hand and a cigarette in the other, was the embodiment of man’s duality.
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Though I’ve been considering giving up on my optimism, I’ve decided to keep it — for now, but I’m only going to hold onto it with one hand. Like the lady with the sunscreen in one hand and the cigarette in the other, my other hand will be holding on to my new found pessimism — my belief that everything that I think I’m doing right is actually meaningless.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
194 miles
9,600’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,000 calories
12 hours 37 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Credence — was, it is, and will always be my favorite blues song. Enjoy…

 

Anything Else…

Like many, I think almost nonstop these days about our global health crisis and all that goes with it. For a guy who’s addicted to thinking about as many things as possible in the course of a day, that’s frustrating. I’ve been trying to think about other things, but I’m struggling.

My bike time — this 2-hour escape hatch I fall through each day is when I open any one of a thousand doors in my mind, and go down any one of a thousand rabbit holes, leading to a thousand more still. It’s free association at an 80 rpm’s and 15 miles-per-hour and I never know where my thoughts will end up.

The things I most think about when I ride, not necessarily in order, are friendships, music, religion, philosophy, and cycling itself. A single thought on any one of those can take me on a journey to the most distant places in my mind. That reflects my cycling itself — that as my bike travels both new and familiar roads, so too does my mind.

As I pedal lately though, I’ve been stuck thinking about the same things everyone else seems to be — masks, hand sanitizer, finances, divisiveness, protocols and boundaries, etc.

When I’m riding down Fallbrook’s beautiful Rice Canyon and should otherwise be reflecting on the tie-dye dress my daughter wore in kindergarten or first kisses with a freckled-face girl, I’m now asking myself banal questions like…

Am I cleaning off my groceries the right way…?

Am I going to kill my mother by breathing on her…?

Do the neighbors think I’m a dick because I won’t walk across the street to say hello anymore…?

Is using hand sanitizer on my plastic gloves good enough to clean them…?

How many of my clients will be willing to wear a mask when they workout with me in the future — will they workout with me in the future…?

Is this country ever going to heal…?

Of course these questions are worthy of consideration, but I get on my bike to escape this type of mundane thinking, not to fine-tune it.

When I attempted to turn my thoughts back to the things that most interest me, within seconds, those very interests lead me right back to the pandemic.

Part of the joy in writing here each week, and each morning on my Spoke And Word Facebook page, is that I get to share what goes on in the mind of a guy who spends two hours a day on a bike, and how how varied those thoughts might be.

Most everything I want to write these days goes something like this…

Hello world. Today I rode a bike and spent the entire two hours convincing myself not to put a Glock in my mouth. Success! Stay tuned, I’ll be back tomorrow with more…

People keep talking about what they look forward to most as the restrictions become lifted — hugging loved ones, dining in restaurants, getting back to the gym, etc. I’m just looking forward to thinking about anything else — all things non-pandemic.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
199.96 miles
9,800’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
11,000 calories
12 hours 54 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Concrete Blonde. Enjoy…

 

Conspiracy Theorist Dearest…

Today’s entry is supplemental. I’ll be back tomorrow with my blog of the week. As always, thanks for tuning in… rc

Headed south yesterday, to the Deer Park Winery in North Escondido. The skies where amazing so I figured I could take some good pictures. The place was locked up tight as a drum though. I couldn’t access the vineyard nor the old car museum. Still, it was fun getting there. Old Highway 395 is like California’s version of Route 66 — except we also get Route 66.

I was thinking about logic versus conspiracy theories as I pedaled down that historic road. I need to quit looking at Facebook at least 30-minutes before I ride.

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I don’t know where to begin when it comes to people who think they have the answers — or more specifically, those who think they know more than the leaders establishing policy and creating protocols and boundaries during a global crisis.

Simply put, most global heads of state, most provincial governors, most mayors, and most corporate CEOs are onboard with social distancing and other protocols which are being suggested by the scientific and medical communities. There are some outliers, but a great majority of these leaders believe that what we are doing is not only correct, but see clear evidence that it’s working.

A quick memo to all the conspiracy theorists out there…

The leaders making these decisions are better informed than you, they have access to more and better information than you, and they are being advised by some of the brightest and best minds in science and medicine. Like with heads of state, there will be some outliers in the medical and scientific communities, but a great majority of these educated professionals are in support of these inconvenient, but necessary protocols and boundaries we must adhere to.

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If you think Dr. Phil is a better resource than the dozens of doctors and scientists advising governors Cuomo, Newsom, and the others, I want you to wear a tinfoil hat with a Play-Doh logo on it so I know who you are.

And if you’re one of those special conspiracy theorists who also thinks the media is corrupt and should be silenced, please consider this…

There is no such thing as ‘the media’ as a collective, any more than there’s such a thing as the ‘founding fathers’. Media is term which applies to many institutions involved in a variety of work. Media institutions, like corporations, schools, and even churches, can be corrupted and can have bad players pervert them. By and large though, we accept those other institutions as being valid and necessary, though we may have difficulty with their occasional perversions and corruptions. The media is no different.

More or to the point though, and please consider this carefully, if it weren’t for the media, tens of thousands — possibly hundreds of thousands more people would be dead right now, including people you love and possibly somebody sitting next to you at this moment.

As much as anyone, I attempt to see both sides of an argument and to always consider I might be wrong. However, when I ask myself if the leaders at all levels of government are conspiring with the leaders in the medical and scientific communities so that they can take away people’s guns, shut down their churches, and have more access to their data, it seems unlikely.

You may not like what’s going on right now, I know don’t. I want to work, I want to go to the beach, and I want to take my mom to lunch. But this is real — virtually every person on the planet has a stake in this. Your conspiracy theorist peer groups and perverted sources are not smarter nor better informed than the experts advising heads of state, governors, mayors, and CEOs.

Please bite your tongue, please. Voicing your opinion is certainly your right. However, sharing those opinions and spreading falsehoods at this critical time is outright dangerous.

Close memo.

This is what I think about when I ride, so I would much rather think about anything else… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Eleventeen Cupcake
28 miles
1,400’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Earth’s Gonna Shake, by Hellsingland Underground

Ninety Years In A Flash…

You grew up dirt poor on a farm in rural Alabama. You were the eldest daughter of a handful of siblings born over an 16-year span. You arrived at the peak of the Great Depression and you come of age during World War II. By the time you were 20 though, the world was starting to get good.

Brave and bold, you decided to become the first in your family to attend college. Nursing school, why not…? As if that wasn’t good enough, you subsequently apply for a commission in the United States Air Force and overnight you became a lieutenant.

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The cards were in your favor — Victorville California in 1952 had to have been better than sewing up wounds at a military hospital in Seoul. Wait, who’s that guy…? Christ, your dad’ll kill ya if ya marry a Jew. Or more likely, he’ll try and kill the Jew.

Leap.

The war is over, you’re married, and hello Massachusetts…! Hospital work sounds good. Worcester General…? Why not…? You can work there for a few years and then when you’re ready, you can have your first of two sons there in 1958.

Go ahead, do the stay-at-home thing — raise that boy right. Who knows, he might grow up to write a couple of award winning novels or even become a judge, but probably not both.

Teaching college didn’t work out for your husband so he jumped into the business world. Good call on his part, he’ll be a great provider. Time for another kid. To make it easy, give this one a single syllable name with only three letters in it. Make sure it starts with R. Yeah, that’ll work.

Head west…? Why not…? Pack up the family truckster and move to Colorado — better than raising those two boys on the East Coast. You can camp, ski, and enjoy the majesty of Mt. Evans from out your front window all day long.
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Well, the boys are getting older and are in school all day — time to go back to work. Nurses gotta nurse. Nothing too demanding though, how ‘bout the swingshift at a nearby nursing home…? Perfect.

The ugliest word in the English language: divorce. The bills are now going to increase and so will the stress. Time for a government job.

Hey, there’s that big Army hospital at the edge of town. What’s it called, Fitzsimmons…? Yeah, try that place. Great pay, great benefits — remember, you still gotta get that older kid through college, never mind that the younger one dropped out of high school to be a sandwich maker at a deli. He’ll be okay — you just won’t know it for about 20 more years.

Well, now the older kid wants to go to law school. Time to get a part-time job in addition to that government job. Why don’t you go back to that nursing home part-time on your off days…? Cool.

And at almost the exact same moment, the older son becomes a JAG in the United States Air Force while the younger son enlists in the United States Coast Guard. They are truly on their own, time for you to get the hell out of town. I hear the Indian Health Service is hiring.

Where on earth is Chinle Arizona…? In the prettiest part of nowhere — freaking beautiful. You actually get to walk canyon to Canyon De Chelly any morning you want to, so you do. Why would you ever want to leave a place like that…?

Oh, because Alaska. They have Indian hospitals there too so you can just transfer. Cool. Whatchya do for fun while you’re in Alaska…? Hanging out with natives and netting silver salmon on the Kuskokwim river…? That’s cool. I just hope they don’t catch you smuggling in all those cases of Bartley’s & Jaymes wine coolers into a dry county.

Looks like your younger son and his wife are in Arizona now and going to have a baby…? Well, the IHS has a hospital in Phoenix, move down there — and don’t forget to move just two blocks away from where your kid lives. Cool.

Well, not long to be neighbors I guess. It looks like your only grandbaby and his parents are moving back to Denver — you might as well follow them. Besides, you’ll be closer to your Air Force lawyer son who loves in Omaha and who just got married.

Good news. Your Air Force lawyer son is leaving the service, leaving Omaha and moving back to Colorado. You’ll all be neighbors again.

Bad news. Your younger son, his wife, and your only grandchild are leaving Colorado and moving to California.

‘Sniff.

That’s cool though, the older son who just moved back to Colorado is going to adopt three kids from China. Not at the same time, but over a period of a few years. That’ll keep you busy and you’ll be a fantastic grandma to the three of them. They’re going to love slumber parties at your house, with bacon and Toaster Strudel on Sunday mornings.

Fast-forward a few years — like 20.

The sons are divorced and the grandchildren are all older. You’re in your 80s now and you worked much longer than you ever had to. You had the oldest active nursing license in the state of Colorado. Huge respect.

Remember all those times you picked your youngest son up at the police station for things like shoplifting, punching cops, and petty vandalism…? He’d like to pay it back if you’ll let him. Why don’t you come stay with and he can help you as needed…? Cool.

You were born during the Great Depression. You came of age during World War II. You raised two boys, helped out with four grandchildren, and you did so much in-between, like the netting silver salmon and hiking Canyon De Chelly.

Last month a giant spaceship flew over the earth and parked above us, leaving us all in its shadow, scared and wondering what to do. Things might get very bad for a while, but Bill Pullman is president so it’ll be alright. I was just kidding about the spaceship — it’s not above us, it’s being passed around between us. It is a virus that’s powerful enough to bring the planet to hold. Also, I was also kidding about Bill Pullman — he’s not really the president. Crap.

Next week you’re going to be 90. Earlier today I had to tie a mask around your face so you could take a short walk and you cried. You asked me how the world got this way and seemed very confused when I didn’t have an answer . You haven’t been in a restaurant or a store in over a month, and you probably won’t be anytime soon. Your son forces you to wash your hands every time you turn around, and he yells at you for touching anything outside the house. It shouldn’t be this way right now, but it is.

The Great Depression, World War II, and now The Time-out Grande. We’ll get through it. I’m learning from you as I go. All the stories you told me that growing up about life in the depression and World War II — I was listening the whole time, honest. You’ve been here before so I’m all ears.

Happy 90th, Mom. We’ll get through it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
167 miles
7,800’ climbing
14.8 mph avg
9,500 calories
11 hours 15?minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Eddy Arnold. Enjoy…

The New Secondhand Smoke…

A recurring theme in my thought-blender this week, while churning through the canyon communities of Rainbow, Pala, Valley Center, and here in Fallbrook, was the notion of secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke, as we all know, does peripheral damage to people who never light up. The extent of that damage can be hard to trace, but we can say with certainty that secondhand smoke has caused illness, birth defects, and even death in people who’ve spent significant time near smokers or in places were smoke gathers in excess — casinos for example.

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Somehow this week, pushing my way past roadside shrapnel, broken glass, and the uneven pavement of these rural San Diego roads, I connected the idea of secondhand smoke with other secondhand toxins.

These are everywhere these days, and we’re all breathing them in, whether we realize it or not.

In no particular order, they are…

Secondhand ignorance
Secondhand grandeur
Secondhand hate
Secondhand weakness
Secondhand prejudice
Secondhand intolerance

They are grown in the darkest places of the human psyche — where bacteria best take hold, and exhaled, sometimes with malice, but often innocently.

Secondhand fear though, is chief among them. Secondhand fear is the mortar that seals the gaps and holds the tiles of all the other toxins together. Sometimes when I ride — often when I ride, I’m simply trying to outrun all of these toxins. They are at the core of my people fatigue.

In the same way that people have gotten sick, and even died due to secondhand smoke, I’m beginning to wonder if all this secondhand hate isn’t adversely affecting my health — not just my mental health, but my physical health. I’m not trying to be clever when I pose that idea either.
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I ask myself regularly if, when I stand in proximity to others, as I interact with people on social media, and as I receive information via print and broadcast media, it isn’t similar to passing through casino, only to be quietly poisoned by all that secondhand smoke…?

Secondhand smoke is a legitimate public health concern — governments have regulated it, and those regulations have saved millions of lives. Secondhand hate though, and its lesser constituents can never be regulated because the implications in relation to our right to free speech are too significant. Still, as I ride my bike each day, often pedaling as fast as I can to outrun it all, I wonder if we can’t police this ourselves, just a little bit better.

This ride though, it works. I ride and I forget. Then I come back — to a society filled with gutless behaviors fronted by secondhand hate, and I sink back into myself, questioning whether the toxins from others are weakening my immune system. That’s when I begin to think about tomorrow’s ride. Is it tomorrow yet…?

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
204 miles
10,500’ climbing
15.1 mph avg
12,000 calories
13 hours 34 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Elbow. Enjoy…

What’s On My Mind…

I promised myself that I wouldn’t write about the current health crisis this week. People have had enough, myself included. I thought maybe, if I could work myself into a creative mode, I might be able to offer up a distraction.

Yesterday though, while stopped at an intersection on my bike, and looking at two older people in a silver Lexus beside me, both wearing masks, l burst into tears. It’s the only time I can remember freezing when seeing a red light turn green. I wasn’t able to move my feet or legs. I just gasped with deep breaths as a couple of tears fall from my cheek to my tongue. At some point, it dawned on me that green means go and I got back into the rhythm of the ride. But for the next 30 miles, I was stuck in that moment.

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A couple of nights ago I sent a note to a friend, a surgeon in North Florida, checking to see how he’s doing in the midst of all this. He replied by telling me he was doing okay. Like me, he lives in a rural area where things aren’t so bad. But he included this quote in his reply…

”Yesterday, I watched a doctor in Spain crying as he reported on how they are letting people over 65 die so the ventilators can be used for younger patients. That was hard.”

That thought was still fresh in my head when I broke down at the intersection and froze at the green light.

I had already been reflecting on stories I’d seen from Italy, New York, and beyond. I’ve been thinking about my friend Gayle who lives in India — I’m very concerned for their plight.

Two mornings ago I was entering the local market when I passed a grocery cart stacked so high with food and supplies that I couldn’t see the person pushing it from behind. It was a friend and client. She ducked her head as I passed, so not to be seen by me. I didn’t let on.

In California, for now anyway, restaurants can be open — for takeout only. I’ve seen a number of social media posts suggesting we support these small businesses by purchasing some of our meals from them. I’m sorry, but if things are really this bad, then restaurants should be closed. If grocery stores are open, people can eat. Having restaurants open might be good for the restaurant owners and the few employees getting any work out of it, but it puts more people into the mix and right now, I think that risk far outweighs any reward.
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The last day I worked was March 11th. I’m losing $300-$350 per day by not working. I can’t say I’m taking that loss with a smile, but I’ll figure it out because not working is the moral thing to do. I know of three fitness trainers/facilities that are still operating, despite the order that closed all gyms and fitness outlets. One is a multi-use gym, and the other two are private facilities like mine. One is directly across the street from me. I’m not bitter, truly, I just don’t understand.

Our often criticized governor, Gavin Newsom, was one of the first to invoke the shelter-in-place order. Whatever shortcomings he might possess as governor, taking that bold action so early has saved hundreds, and will ultimately save thousands of lives, though that may never be quantified. Newsom, in my opinion, has been an exemplary leader through this. Those participating in the effort to recall Newsom, might take a look at their children, spouses, or grandparents before taking another step.

I feel helpless. I have close ties to several nonprofits in the community. I’m on the volunteer call list for a few of them. However, I also care for my 90-year-old mother and need to keep my exposure limited on her behalf. I’m doing no volunteering other than for my own household.

In the meantime, the dog and the cat are happy and rarely without human contact. I’m giving mom more Coca-Cola than usual because, why not…? She’s 90 and is survivor of the great depression and World War II. Until further notice, Coke is a vegetable in this household — 3 servings per day.

As for me, my routine hasn’t changed much aside from missing work. I walk daily, taking dozens of pictures while Stroodle’s ‘hurry up’ eyes stare me down. I ride my bike because it soothes the chaos in my head, if only for a while. I write, because I feel compelled to do so and to share.

I’m hopeful, that this will be a turning point for our species. I’m not necessarily optimistic, but I’m hopeful. As I write this, I’m watching an episode of Love It Or List It. There’s a couple arguing about the color of backsplash above the granite countertop of the $900,000 home they’re considering. They’re a part of the reason I’m not optimistic.

The reasons why I’m hopeful though, despite not being optimistic, are all the people in the medical community who are literally putting their lives on the line right now and will be doing so for months, including my doctor friend in North Florida.

And when I contemplate what lessons, if any, we’ll learn from this, the only one that’s clear to me right now is to say I love you to everything that moves, because we truly are in this together.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
182 miles
7,800 climbing
15.0 mph avg
10,300 calories
12 hours 10 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this. After 12 years of waiting, a brand new album from Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks. Enjoy…

The Cleanup Crew…

Yesterday’s ride was spectacular. I pedaled up Rice Canyon — a two-lane farm road just east of the Pala Indigenous People community. A cool spring morning with broken skies recovering from an overnight rain. The shades of green right now are stunning. It’s a ride I’ll remember for a long time, as well as the story that took place in my head.

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I imagined a conversation between an expedition leader from a nearby planet and one of his lieutenants….

Expedition Leader: And what can you tell me about them, you know, as a species…?

Lieutenant: They weren’t like us. It appears they were an emotional people, overly reactive and lacked common sense. They put the individual ahead of the family, the family ahead of the tribe, and the tribe ahead of the species.

Expedition Leader: Did they have a golden age…?

Lieutenant: Oddly Sir, yes. It appears to have always been the one they had just come out of, or the one they were going into do next. Never though, does it appear to have been the one they were in at any moment.

Expedition Leader: What was their general behavior and what were their final actions like…?

Lieutenant: They appear to have spent most of their waking lives immersed in petty bullshit. They disagreed with one another on a regular basis and over little and unsolvable things, making it impossible for them to agree on the bigger things — the ones might have prevented their extinction.

They failed to learn from the past. They regularly looked beyond the obvious warning signs of danger, in favor of momentary relief. They liked shortcuts. They were relentlessly addicted to harmful forms of energy, easy credit, and cheap consumer goods.

They spent too much time focused on simple amusement, didn’t take the concept of work seriously enough, and had an inherent tendency to take more than they were willing to give.

Expedition Leader: Cool. Thanks for the hard work. I’ll arrange for a cleanup crew and see if we can get the remaining reefs, rain forests, rivers, and animal population brought back to good health and a complete comeback now that the humans are gone.

Lieutenant: Sir, would you like for me to archive their historical records…?

Expedition Leader: No, burn them. Our children should never know of such a species.

Lieutenant: Excellent point, Sir.

Expedition Leader: Oh, and euthanize all the monkeys and apes, just in case.

Lieutenant: Of course, Sir, right away.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Eleventeen Cupcake
31 miles
1,400’ climbing
14.4 mph avg
1,700 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Babylons Burning, by The Ruts

Neither Heaven Nor Hell…

Eternal is a ring — it has no beginning and no end. It’s a cycle, everlasting.

Never-ending is a line. It has a beginning, but extends without ever stopping.

Pointing out the difference between eternal and never-ending may seem like a small point, but when people talk to me about the prospect of an eternal hell, I’m quick to remind them the term they’re looking for is never-ending, not eternal. It often flusters them. I explain to them that hell has to have a day-one. I envision it something like this…
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You show up, get in line, and get your ID number, then there’s probably a lot of waiting around. Eventually some unfriendly being or beings begin to have their way with you and it never ends.

Apparently that’s God’s way of teaching you a lesson you’ll never be capable of learning, in an environment where you’ll never be able to apply it.
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Wait, what…? How could a god who created a human mind capable of logic wrap things up for us with a scenario that rejects it…? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course, the idea of heaven defies logic also.

I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I’ve been thinking about them both lately — because so many people keep bringing them up. Honestly, I might be as fearful of heaven as I would be of hell, depending on what memories we’d take with us as contrast for our new surroundings and our new chores.

By the way, it’s not the Covid-19 I’m worried about. My age and fitness level would likely get me through it. My concern is growing though, of a global collapse. Although I still see that scenario as very unlikely, this is our Cuban missile crisis and it’s going to last much longer than 13 days.

Facing uncertain and possibly catastrophic times, I’ve been trying to get my moral bearings straight and my principles lined up. I’m focusing on how I should live in these coming weeks and months, should I not make beyond 2020. I’m not doing this out of a fear of hell or a desire to enter heaven. I’m doing it because it’s the right way to be, but it always has been.

If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that I’m a much better person than I’ve given myself credit for. I say that based on my observations of all the people and all the nonsense which has taken place around me in an increasingly complex world.
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Being raised in a society inherent with religious fright as the foundation of most moral learning, has done little to make me feel good about myself. Set against the backdrop of the end of daze, I think I’m in pretty good field position.

In just a few short years we’ve gone from Francis Fukuyama‘s The End Of History to Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny. Heaven and hell not withstanding, I’m going to steer my current course and continue to be me — it’s all I know.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 7
203 miles
8,600’ climbing
15.1 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 21 minutes seat time
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from The Eurogliders. Enjoy…

On To The Next..

In this time of Passover, Easter, and in the midst what might be the most critical moment in modern human history, God has been on my mind a lot of this week. And yes, I believe in God, though I make no attempt to characterize or define him, her, or it. I just feel there’s something bigger than humankind.

Rarely an hour passes that I don’t think about purpose and meaning. Those thoughts always lead me to God.

God, to me, is wonder and that’s where I feel all discussions should end. The question of whether or not God exists does little for me. The more important question is where does he take us from here…? A lot of people, myself included, might be discovering that in the coming weeks and months, and in numbers we haven’t seen in a long time.

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I’ve never believed this is the only life we get, but like my feelings of God, I can only go on a hunch. My hunch is that we carry on. Where we land when we leave this world, I have no idea. Perhaps another body, another realm, into a different simulation, an alternate universe, or a new upload — I’ve got no clue.

I don’t believe in Heaven nor Hell, just continuation. I would simply hope that where and how we continue beyond this life is precisely correlated with how we lived here — graded on a curve of course. Nobody can predict how things will unfold in the coming weeks and months, but I’m somewhat at peace with it all — at peace with what might be next for me Apprehensive, but at peace.
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In recent years I’ve learned the value of the volunteering. I’ve discovered great meaning in putting the needs of others ahead of my own, animals included. I’ve felt the joy in giving my last dollar to a friend in need. I’ve made friends with the local homeless, and make sure to remember their names. I took in a kitty who was left on my driveway and told her she’s a Cohen now too — and I’ve treated her accordingly.

I’ve learned that argument is almost always fruitless and that insults are a sign of weakness. I’ve learned that there actually is a wrong time to make a joke. I’ve learned to listen, to put myself in the shoes of others, and to say I love you to everything that moves and many things that don’t. In this social media era, I’ve learned that you can call somebody ‘friend’ having never met them.
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I’ve often joked that in Mad Max world, I like my odds. I’m not sure I really believe that now, but in the next world, I think I’ll do okay — I hope so anyway.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Vasudeva
30 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
1,700 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Black Coffee, by Humble Pie

Waiting On That Final Day…

“The end of the world is just five years away — and it always will be…“ Every Optimist

I’ve never been a doomsdayer and I’m not now, despite legitimate concerns over the current global health crisis. It’s always bumping around though, in the bingo hopper of my head, that life as we know it might turn on a dime — to begin the downward slide that takes us out as a species.

In 1971, just before a Cub Scout meeting, my mom, who was also my Den Mother, showed me a newspaper clipping — an article about an earthquake in Los Angeles a few days earlier. The story told of a young boy, also a Cub Scout, who had been killed collecting soda bottles to raise money to buy a new uniform. It wasn’t her intent to alarm me, but I got the sense that all of Los Angeles had been destroyed by that earthquake.

Several years later in China, an earthquake was said to have killed 500,000 to 1,000,000 people. That number would later be amended down to roughly 250,000, though the exact number can never be known. Still, by the time I was 12-years-old, my science teachers and the nightly news convinced me that earthquakes were capable of killing millions. It just hadn’t happened yet. What a way for the world to end though.

Long before the movie Independence Day, in early elementary school, I often wondered if large spaceships might show up to annihilate us. That’s what happens when your 3rd-grade teacher makes the class listen to The War Of The Worlds on Halloween day, rather than practice addition and subtraction problems.

Each morning, when I step outside to retrieve the newspaper, before I return to the house, I always do a 360° pirouette, looking up for the spaceship that might be preparing zap us into infinity. I do that at other times during the day too, no joke, I actually do.

Just before Christmas in my 7th-grade year, The Missiles Of October aired on PBS. It was a well-made television show, which had actors, William Devane and Martin Sheen among others, use actual transcripts of meetings between JFK and his cabinet, to dramatize how Kennedy addressed Russia placing missiles on the island of Cuba. My brother and I watched it side-by-side in absolute silence. If the Cuban missile crisis had gone in the wrong direction, I might have died in a diaper 11-years earlier. Pfew…

In 2010, during the H1-N1 pandemic, I joked to a few clients that the Swine Flu couldn’t catch me because the Swine Flu wasn’t quick enough. After a short trip to Chicago to visit my daughter that year, I learned that the H1-N1 was not only quick enough, but had the stamina to go the distance with me. I ultimately won, but spent 11-days not ingesting a single calorie, and had a fever which hovered around 102° for over a week. The world did a good job keeping it at bay, but I had first-hand knowledge of what to expect if millions of people were exposed to it.

Today I live in Fallbrook California, less than a mile from the back gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Part of living adjacent to the base means that we hear waves of ordinance being detonated regularly, often so loud that windows, walls, and pictures on those walls shake. Every-so-often there will be an explosion hard enough and loud enough that, no matter how well conditioned I am to think it’s Pendleton, I still run to the nearest window looking for the mushroom cloud that came courtesy of North Korea or Russia. So far, so good.

It’s always there — thoughts that on any given day, it might be my last day on earth, or the first day of the big downward slide that eliminates our specie. So far, so good.

When I was a kid, my dad placed a hand-written note on the bulletin board of my bedroom. It was my father’s liberty with the words of Rudyard Kipling, and it read precisely as follows.

“If you can keep your head when those about you are losing their’s, then my son, you are a man…”

I can’t say I’ve been perfect with those instructions, but the older I get, the more I find value in trying, pandemics included.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
174 miles
8,000’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
9,700calories
11 hours 27 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from The Hoodoo Gurus. Enjoy…

Thought Recap March 2 – March 7…

A little something different this week. Since I write a daily version of this blog on Facebook, and many people who read this are not on Facebook, I’m going to share a recap of those original Monday through Friday thoughts here each Sunday.

If you’re interested in checking them out daily on Facebook, you can follow the the link here. If you’re not on Facebook but are interested in what goes through my head as I ride each day, you can read it here each Sunday.

Monday, March 2. Practicing Mistakes

One of the best parts about riding early on Sundays is the streets are nearly void of cars. As my ride winds down though and I return to town, I pass several churches along the way. Traffic backs up as the parking lots begin to fill for Sunday services.

I take it all in.

For much of my adult life I’ve drawn many comparisons, and cultivated much of my worldview by identifying similarities between religious culture and fitness culture. On the surface that may seem like a stretch. However, the similarities between religious culture and fitness culture are numerous, and in my opinion, very telling.

It all starts with expectations.

There are expectations in society that we take care of our souls. Houses of worship, we learn at an early age, are the best place to prepare our souls for all that will confront them. There are also expectations, albeit to a lesser degree, that we take care of our health and bodies. Gyms, yoga studios, and similar places of worship are as numerous as houses of the holy.

It continues with expectations.

For many, whether we’re talking about protecting our souls or our bodies, it’s those social expectations that create intent. Whether we have a deep calling or not, many attend religious services because they feel it’s expected of them. Similarly, many exercise regularly because they feel it’s expected of them.

Location and leadership.

Because nobody is born with inherent knowledge of religious doctrine, they seek locations of practice and leadership who can teach and cultivate progress toward an increasingly moral life. In the same way, someone seeking to improve their physicality must seek a location of practice and a leader to teach them how to improve.

Ritual Obedience.

Again, whether we’re talking about the soul or the physical being, ritual obedience is necessary to make progress. Obedience to the doctrine and leadership, and consistent ritual practice of what is taught.

You go, you light the candle, you say the words, and you eat the cookie, you leave.

You go, you program the treadmill, you take the steps, do you drink the smoothie, you leave.

Clearly I’m not a priest, a rabbi, or an imam. I have though, made my living teaching different aspects of fitness and exercise for much of my adult life. I’m fortunate inasmuch as I do no group training. My lessons are all one-on-one, which enables me to teach in a way that better secures the expected results.

If there’s one doctrine that I teach above all others, it’s to execute proper form in all the exercises. I regularly tell students that if they’re not using proper form when they exercise, they’re simply practicing mistakes over and over again.

Though I don’t have occasion to enter public gyms too often these days, when I do I’m always struck by how many people are exercising outside of proper form — entire communities reassuring one another that they’re doing a good job, when in fact they’re not.

I know people will take offense to this, but when I think about that — when I think about the entire population of a gym practicing mistakes over and over again, I have to believe that happens in houses of worship as well. It’s just human nature I suppose.

If there’s a message in this attempt to compare the need for spiritual growth with the need for physical development, it’s that if we’re going to practice something, it’s probably best to not practice mistakes over and over again. Eventually, those mistakes become part of who we are.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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Tuesday, March 3. Signs…

As if the joy and exhilaration of riding yesterday wasn’t enough, the skies were an additional reward for my effort. Gray, charcoal, varying hues of blue, and white combined to reflect the ground below in spectacular fashion. I know I say it all the time, but ‘stupid job…!’ I had to go back my stupid job.

I ride, in part, to escape the news of the day. These last few weeks though, the news has snuck in to my escape. Actually, it’s full-on molested me. The last 6-miles of my ride each day are a climb back into Fallbrook, up South Mission Road. Because it’s a steady climb, it’s the most ordinary part of my ride. I’m mostly head-down, churning, tired because it’s near the end, and this is usually where my feet begin to hurt. These days though, my eyes hurt more.

Leading up to Super Tuesday, South Mission Road gets transformed into The Alley Of Wasteful Politicians. It’s an assault to my psyche even worse than scrolling through my morning feed. Dozens of signs with the names of politicians or the numbers or letters assigned to the propositions this community should be voting for. The names Darrell Issa and Carl DeMaio pollute the 6-mile stretch. Not to be excluded is the good guy liberal candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar and some lesser judges, assessors, and so-on.

By the way, I’m not taking a political stand here, other than the fact that I believe these signs should be relegated to the past by way of a mutual agreement from all parties and by all causes.

For the second time in a few months I’ll run with my favorite quote from the 1972 book, The Limits Of Growth.

“If you want to protect the environment, stay out of it…“

Also, quit using it.

The game has changed. Political marketing has gone digital and I think that’s a good thing. I know these signs along people‘s driveways and on the sides of the roads buy bits of our brains that their sponsors hope register precisely when the ballot is in front of the voter, but but these signs are profoundly wasteful.

Signs require energy and multiple resources to be manufactured, need to be transported multiple times, and need to be disposed of when the campaign is over — if they’re collected at all. The only bigger waist than the signs themselves, are the wasted words of the politicians they pronounce.

Campaign signs should end tomorrow. The end, no justification, no rationalization, they should simply go away.

Crap. That’s just one more thing I have right that all the politicians in the country are still getting wrong.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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Wednesday, March 4. Wearing My Plants Wrong…

Fun ride yesterday. Sleeveless t-shirt. Middle of the day. Everything is green. I’m getting my tan back. A fun little lunch-break, indeed.

I’m taking my fitness a more seriously these days. I know that’s an odd statement coming from a guy who does fitness for a living. Despite my so-called fitness lifestyle, I’ve got a weak link in the chain these days that I need to repair.

I’m consistent on my bike. I’m consistent in the weight room. I’m consistent with my stretching and with my balance work.

So what’s missing…?

My eating has been for shit.

I don’t mean that I eat junk food, that I overeat, or that don’t take my eating seriously. It’s just that my eating has become an identical reflection of my lifestyle — loosely organized, haphazard, and anything goes just to make it to the next day. In the scope of my fitness life, I’m eating good enough to get by, but I expect better of myself.

Riding as much as I do, getting enough calories is the only priority I have in eating. Balancing my nutrients and micro-nutrients is an afterthought. Because of my busy lifestyle — working and taking care of my mother, I get my calories as efficiently and conveniently as possible. This means I’m over-depending on rice, pasta, peanut butter, tofu, and convenient fruits. If you noticed a big void there, yes, vegetables are woefully missing — they only find their way into my system by way of the Thai and Chinese takeout I eat for lunch or dinner most days. I eat almost not vegetables but for a small serving of mixed frozen vegetables every 3rd day or so. In my (mostly) plant-based diet, most of those plants are wheat, rice, nuts, bananas, and soy.

I’m attempting to change that.

The biggest thing I have working against me is time. Eating vegetables, especially the better ones, takes time. It’s easier and quicker to throw down a spoonful of peanut butter and a bowl of pre-cooked rice than it is to prepare and chew on enough broccoli, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, and asparagus to sustain a 1,700 calorie ride.

Really it comes down to organization and planning, and that’s where I hope to improve.

Don’t get me wrong, I can still tuck in my shirt and make it look okay, and the blood panel from my last physical was above average for an old guy. Still, I haven’t been completely dialed in with my eating since I left Colorado in 2015. It’s time to get back on it.

That’s it. My lack of veggies has been weighing on me, so to say. I’ll keep you posted.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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Thursday, March 5…

A Long Way From SeaWorld…

Second ride on the vintage Fuji yesterday. Not as fast as the first ride, but I faced a lot of wind heading west. Still, this bike is smooth and fun to ride. I’ll need to be cautious not to ride it too much — maybe twice a month or so.

I received a couple of unrelated emails recently, from two friends who live in separate parts of the country — each questioned me, asking why I say I live in San Diego when the pictures I show look nothing like the images they have. Let me clarify…

Most people, it seems, associate San Diego with Seaworld, Mission Beach, and our beautiful downtown waterfront. San Diego’s moniker is America’s Finest City, and I couldn’t agree more. However, I actually live about 50-miles north of downtown San Diego and 15-miles inland from the nearest beach. My home is in the unincorporated community of Fallbrook.

Fallbrook is a rural community known for its agriculture including avocados, plant and flower nurseries, citrus groves, and more recently, vineyards. And horses, we have a lot of horses. We are a community of 40,000 persons living sparsely among roughly 44 square-miles. We have a concentrated downtown with shops and restaurants.

If David Lynch built his own Mayberry, this would be it. I’m not citing this as an official statistic so just take my word for it, but we have more eccentric personalities per capita than any place on earth. We have a cross-dressing feed store manager, a cowboy poet who wears spurs everywhere he goes though I don’t believe he ever rides horses, and we have dozens more personalities who dress, speak, and behave just differently enough so they get noticed. We even have one guy who rides around town on a different bicycle, every day of the week.

Due to the hilly landscape and the large agricultural presence, there are only a few housing tracts here. Most homes have at least a little bit of land around them and some have grand properties. I often tell people the best way to see Fallbrook is to fly over it at low altitude, because there are so many homes and incredible properties that can’t be seen from the streets.

Most everyone grows some family fruit — avocados, citrus, and stone fruit, to be passed around and traded in a quasi-barter economy. Between March and early summer, it’s not uncommon for people to leave bags of fruit at the edge of their properties for anyone to take. Walk into out library or community center on any spring day and there might just be a bag of lemons or grapefruit with a sign beside it saying “take a few“.

Because this is the best growing climate in the United States, everything grows here — flowers, plants, fruits, vegetables, name it. The best part of that though, is there is visible Color 365 days a year. If fallbrook has a secret weapon, it’s the Bougainvillea. These transplants from India can be seen growing along fences brightening up the landscape in any direction one looks.

To ride a bike through Fallbrook, I often feel liked I’m on a tropical island. It’s truly that beautiful. Because most people have never heard of Fallbrook, I’m quick to say I live in San Diego. That’s true since I am in San Diego County. San Diego may be America’s finest city, but Fallbrook California is America’s most beautiful community.

Each day, when I could be doing many other things, I choose to spend a couple of hours in a bike, taking it all in at a speed which is on a more human scale than a car. This vehicle of choice, this bicycle, allows me to better appreciate all that captivates me. I smell the society garlic, the eucalyptus, and the citrus blossoms. If I see a blue heron standing in water or a turkey vulture sitting on a fence, I can stop without hazard and just take it in for a minute, and then move on to the next gorgeous scene. Fallbrook is my home.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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Friday, March 6. If I Never Die…

It’s not always rainbows and unicorns in my head when I’m on the road. My mind goes to some peculiar places. Not necessarily dark or even bad, just strange. As I’ve said before, it’s hard to get on a bike every day for a couple of hours and not think about mortality.

I think about what might happen if I get hit by a car or if something falls off a truck and hits me in the head. As those thoughts churn, I think about my family, my friends, and any legacy I might leave behind. Sometimes though, I go the opposite direction.

I’ve survived a half-dozen legitimate near death experiences. I don’t seem to be any worse off for that wear. And that bodes the thought, every so often, what if I just keep on living…? I mean, my track record so far is 100%. By all accounts, I probably shouldn’t be here. Broken vertebrae — skydiving accident. Head injury(s) — skydiving, bike, river escapades. Notwithstanding, I once had an ER doc tell me my brain was swimming in alcohol and he wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

What happens if I keep on waking up, ongoing…?

That’s a question I think about often when I ride. Fifty-eight years old, 64 years old, 78, 93. When does that final day come…? What if it never comes…? 142 years old…? 210…?

I don’t mean that in a messianic way — that I’m not human, invincible, or that I’ll live forever. I just wonder, maybe too often, if I’ll be like Stroodle and just keep waking up each day and running like a deer, with only a little more gray on my face as time goes on.

And then there’s that deeper thought, the one that pops in and out of my head all day long and has haunted me for years…

Maybe this isn’t a life at all, just my purgatory. Perhaps I’m trapped in a waiting game that will only end as I allow it to end, by offsetting my previous wrongs by the actions of my daily rights. Purgatory plays out like Groundhog Day, right…

Wake up
Do more good than bad

Write
Do more right than wrong

Walk
Do more good than bad

Work
Do more right than wrong

Ride
Do more good than bad

Work more
Do more right than wrong

Take pretty pictures
Do more good than bad

Go to bed
Wake up, do it all again.

Each day a rebirth, but toward what end…?

Eventually, I do enough good while weeding the bad and I get to move on. Maybe that takes me 72 years. Maybe, 113 or 175 — I dunno, I just keep tryin’.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
202 miles
9,,500’ climbing
14.8 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 36 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this. After 12 years of waiting, a brand new album from Cornershop — and it’s excellent. Enjoy…

Blah Blah Blog…

I’ve been writing daily for much of my adult life. For nearly 20 years I’ve been sharing that writing via several platforms, most recently this blog. In recent weeks though, I’ve been struggling to find new ideas — new thoughts to write about and to share. In considering that, it’s clear that I’m either running out of fuel for thought, or I’ve lost the creative ability to make more from less.

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Of course, it might also be that I’ve said everything I have to say. Nah, I don’t think so either. So like it or not, this is a brief piece of writing about my writing.

My reason for writing, more than any other, is to help me better understand my beliefs, or to talk myself down from them. Putting my thoughts into a digital record offers me the chance to distill them to their greatest purity and store them for future contemplation.
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Sharing my thoughts, on any subject, is never about initiating debate or changing anyone else’s mind. It’s about me showing my work in the calculations if life that take place in my mind. Writing, in that sense, is much like my physical exercise — it’s something I do to improve me, not others. In the same way I ride a bike to make my lungs stronger and do planks to tighten up my core, I write to make my mind more fit. If others find value in my writing, great. If not, no biggie.

Many suggest reading is the best exercise for the mind and the only way to broaden and strengthen one’s worldview. Clearly reading is an important exercise for the mind and I read or listen to books daily, average completing, 5-6 books per month. However, reading someone else’s and thoughts, I believe, offers a lesser platform for self-appraisal. Honest self-appraisal, in my opinion, is the best way to broaden and strengthen one’s mind. Writing and subsequently reading my own words, forces helps me distinguish the sensible from the wacky.

In this age of increasing complexity, with more voices than ever continually shouting from every direction, writing down my own thoughts helps me distinguish them from the thoughts of others, and perhaps that’s the best way to illuminate the road to self-discovery.

I’ve said for a long time that I believe the world would be a better place if people spent as much time writing Bibles as reading them. I stand with that, now more than ever. I blog, therefore I am.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
204 miles
9,600’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
12,000 calories
13 hours 09 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Supertramp . Enjoy…

Daily Nonsense Cap And Trade…

A big part of my riding is to offset the time I spend connected to the electronic world. Scrolling through social media, watching television, and streaming videos is what I refer to as my ’daily nonsense’. Nonsense, inasmuch as it does nothing to promote a better world and even less to create a better life for me personally. Electronic entertainment is among the cheapest and easiest forms of amusement — it’s the ultimate act of taking without giving.

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I first understood the idea of offsetting my inactivity when I was 14. My brother, four years older, had left for college and my father found me in front of the television increasingly. Until that point, having an older brother often kept me active and away from the TV. My brother and I shot baskets together, built snow caves, rode bikes, and we regularly walked along a foot trail near our house where we just talked about life. We ice-skated, swam, and played a lot of pickup football. With my brother gone to college, my activity partner was gone. After my brother left for college, my father noticed me watching television much more.

Dad did what he could to discourage my TV habit, but he also traveled a great deal and my mom was less concerned. By that point, I even had a television in my bedroom and I kept it going most of the time. One evening my father entered my room and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse…

He explained that he was going to monitor my television habits and require me to spend an equal amount of time reading or engaged in outdoor activities. I could watch as much television as I wanted, he explained, but for every hour of TV, I had do some combination of something physical or read books.

Guess what I clung to most…?
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Although he tried to emphasize the reading part of the deal, at that point it was clear that I was reading challenged, so he was content to let me play outside or ride my bike in equal portion to the television I watched. He even tracked my activity with a tablet of graph paper and a grease pencil on a clipboard he attached to his office door. This only lasted or a few months, but it was long enough that it became a habit. By the time my brother returned for the summer after his first year of college, I was probably spending more time on my bike or shooting baskets than in front of the television.

What can I say…? Habits learned through adolescence tend to stick, or at least have the potential to be reawakened later in life.

There’s a lot of talk these days about net-zero carbon emissions. In the business world, companies like Delta Airlines are taking massive steps to offset their carbon footprint in hopes of achieving net-zero carbon status by a certain date. Cap and trade is a hot topic in the business world and among world governments. Step lightly with our carbon footprints, they say, and fill them in as soon and as completely as possible.
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One could make an argument that I’m a digital media whore. I spend time daily writing for this blog, my Spoke And Word Page on Facebook, a fair amount of time scrolling through other peoples’ nonsense, and at night I watch a lot of YouTube videos on philosophy, religion, music, and cycling. I call this my ‘nonsense footprint’. It may not be as damaging to the world as a carbon footprint, but then again it might.

So I do my best, each day, to offset my nonsense footprint. I do what I did when I was a kid — I spend a lot of time outside, in equal portion to the time I spend with my nonsense. Of course I ride my bike, but I also walk twice daily, I spend time tending my gardens, and in-between clients sessions, I sit on my patio and stare at the trees and at the sky with my hands and mind free of nonsense. Although I use an audio format, I also listen to books daily for at least one hour, usually when I’m gardening or in the weight-room.
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I think this is a good way to be. Though I enjoy streaming videos, scrolling through other peoples’ nonsense, and watching Dan Rather interview musicians on AXS TV, I make sure that I detach from it all, offsetting my nonsense footprint.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
194 miles
8,900’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
11,000 calories
13 hours 01 minute seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Steve Earle. Enjoy…

The Faster And The Furiouser…

Another fun week of riding. I hit the 200 mile ballpark yet again. If I can maintain a minimum of 180 miles per week through June 14, 2020, then I will have a 10,000 mile year, beginning June 15, 2019. Though it’s not a calendar year, if I keep this pace, I will have ridden 10,000 miles in 365 days — a club I never thought I’d be a part of.

The first thing I do when I get off my bike is to click off my riding app to confirm my the time and distance. The app I use is Map My Ride. The instant I close the app though, I’m met with the faster and the furiouser — all the notifications I missed while I was detached from the world.

Between text messages, emails, and social media notifications, I might have 20-30 notifications to prioritize. As I walk through the door, take off my helmet, and lean my bike against the cedar chest in my living room, I attempt to triage the chaos of the moment.

My dog stares at me with the eyes of an 8th grade girlfriend as I walk right past him. He broadcasts a sense of…

“I won’t be ignored, Roy…“ in his best Glenn Close.

The cat sees me, jumps on the dining room table, which is reserved just for her, and prepares for me to feed her. I walk past her also. She meows and nudges her plate a single time with her left paw. Her eyes follow me as I head to my bathroom to change out of my sweaty gear.

My mother disrupts my path and asks me how my ride was. It’s her way of reminding me that she needs to eat too — every bit as much as the cat and dog.

Eventually, I make my way to the bathroom, change out of my sweaty clothes and into the dirty clothes I was wearing before my ride. I run a brush through my hair and put it back in a ponytail.

Through it all, I’m staring at the phone in my right hand trying to prioritize the messages and notifications I received while I was riding. I typically ignore the messages that matter most — those from my family. Sad, but true.

I put my phone down long enough to feed the cat, the dog, and my mom, in the order of whoever is making the most noise. This is typically the cat, though if mom is hungry, she’s capable of making some noise too. For his part, the dog is usually silent. Throughout the feeding process, I attempt replying to messages and notifications as I’m able.

Some of the messages that show up when I ride are work related — appointment confirmations, schedule changes, as well as eating and workout questions from clients. Work related messages take top priority. I might also get messages from family members, but unless they are noted as urgent, as mentioned, I generally reply to them later.

The social media notifications are the wildcard. There might be 15-20 of them popping up so quickly that they feel like grenades being lobbed in a war zone. Though I’m still focussed on feeding the animals and the old person, if a message warrants an immediate response, I’ll do my best to reply. If not, dismiss.

Once everyone is fed, the important messages have been returned, and if I don’t have a client waiting for me, I’ll take a minute and dictate a few bullet-points about my thoughts while riding. These highlights are put into a digital hopper, to be used in an essay to come, maybe. I have to do it though, or they’ll disappear from my mind immediately, never to be considered again.

Eventually, the chaos of my return eases. Everyone’s fed, important messages are returned, and I can catch my breath, if only for a while. Tomorrow, I’ll do it all again, just after I roll my bike through my front — the portal to the faster and the furiouser.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
198 miles
9,800’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
11,100 calories
13 hours 12 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from George Harrison. Enjoy…

Still Feeling Out The Wormhole…

Like many, after a more than a decade, I still wonder how social media, Facebook in particular, should fit into my life. I still wonder whether it should be a part of my life at all. And in my quietest moments, I’m often concerned about the influence social media has had on my personality.

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In 2006 my life and business were on autopilot. My days were evenly divided between working, exercising, and reading books on religion and philosophy. I didn’t even own a television and I wouldn’t have changed anything. Well into my 40s, for the first time in years, I felt like I was in a good place.

Around that time, I started a fitness blog, partially to bring credibility to my business, but also to speak out about an industry that had become so perverted that I no longer recognized it. One day a friend, a tech-industry insider, suggested that the up and coming social media platform, Facebook, would be a great vehicle to share my writing. She felt Facebook would become, in a short amount of time, the most used form of mass-communication the world had ever seen.

At the time, my internet use was limited to my fitness blog and email only. There was no Netflix streaming, YouTube was in its infancy, and my time on keyboard each day could be measured in minutes, not hours.

Subtly though, over a period of just a couple of years, I began spending more more time on my computer. At that time, I still used a desktop PC — this was 2007 or so. Checking my email, Facebook, and responding to comments on my blog usually took place at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day. If time and circumstance allowed, I might check these media in the middle of the day, but not often.

In 2008, I bought my first laptop. With Wi-Fi being more established in restaurants, coffee houses, and other public places, I began taking my computer with me just about everywhere, mostly so I could write if I was so inspired, and if had the time. I also checked email and Facebook messages more frequently.

In 2013, I got my first smartphone, an iPhone 3. That’s when the quantity of wormholes, and the gravity inside them increased. The camera on my iPhone was better than the point-and-shoot camera I took with me on my hikes. I developed an affinity for smartphone photography. As better apps and filters were being developed to support my photo habit, more platforms manifest to share those pictures, such as Hipstamatic and later Instagram. I began a seamless progression onto the social media road that I still walk today.

Facebook though, was a superior outlet because I could share both my writing as well as my photographs. Facebook was growing fast though and changing form from week to week. The increasing network of warmholes and tunnels were so easily drawn into, that at least a part of my psyche began to reside there, even when I was away from my phone or computer.

Viscerally, I was becoming aware of the negative impact this could have on my time, but I was also becoming concerned about any impact it might have on my personality. I regularly questioned whether this increase of screen time was health