The Facebook Prison Blues…

Facebook Prison changes a man. The moment that silicon door slammed behind me, a shudder ran up my spine — it came straight from the devil. When I heard that key slowly turn to close the cyber lock, my soul became void of love and emotion. Facebook prison is colder than a pimp’s heart.

I’d been there before — accused, tried, and convicted of so-called crimes I felt were innocent acts of simple amusement, misunderstood by the algorithms. There’s no judicial process in social media though, just an invisible kangaroo court that tilt the scales of justice toward the billionaires.

My first prison sentence was in June of 2021. I’d suggested in a Facebook comment thread that we should still burn witches. I received a six-day sentence. In hindsight, I see the foolishness of that remark. If I’d only suggested we drown witches, I probably could’ve gotten away with it. At the very least, if I’d used drowning instead of burning, I could’ve built a strong defense on my behalf.

In August of 2022, I got sent before the algorithms for the second time. I posted a GIF of the television character, Al Bundy, pretending to hang himself. That the GIF was available on Facebook to begin with, was never taken into consideration. I should’ve known better though — on social media, talking about anything violent, is as good as doing it. It’s like the algorithms are Catholic or something. Another six-day sentence.

Last week, someone posted a picture of a cat with a transparent cone on its head, showing its teeth in anger. I captioned the meme…

“I’m a martini, and I’ll kill you…“

I should have written…

“I’m a martini, and I’ll beat you up real real bad…“

Would’ve made all the difference.

On my first day in Facebook prison, my only meal was a meatball, with no sauce, just like Cosby got on his first day. I slept on a cold bed of stainless steel — with no blanket. My cell-mate was a deaf, mute with a nervous tick. He used his spork to carve the following sentence onto the cell wall…

“I’m in for using a potty word…“

All through my first night, I heard other prisoners coughing, crying, and lashing out — it was like in asylum in the third world. I just lay in my bed, shaking and wishing it were all a bad dream. The following morning I was issued me my first blanket — it was made of straw. Breakfast was a cucumber. I was shown to my job at the prison laundry, but given no instructions. I just sat all day, and huffed laundry soap.

On the fifth day, the algorithms contacted me via email — bad news. A seventh day had been added to my six-day sentence. I’d been caught attempting to create a false Facebook profile, as a way around my initial sentence. I was told that any further attempt, and I’d be given a life sentence. I thought of my brother, Mark, now in the third year of his life sentence, and the anguish my mother felt the day they closed the door behind him.

I’ve accepted my sentence and will serve it quietly. I’ll do my best to rehabilitate myself, and to resist the temptation to post questionable memes, use potty words, and make threats against witches. With good behavior I’ll be out Monday evening at 5:45 PST. 

To those who’ve stuck with me, and believed in my innocence, I thank you. To everyone who’s reached out; your support in this lonely time has been invaluable. I’ll do my best to honor the trust you’ve shown me, by not putting myself in this position again. Ah, who am I kidding…? I’ll be back — I am a recidivist, repeat offender.

This is what I think about when I ride…   Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers :

Bikes Ridden: 4

Miles: 146

Climbing: 6,500’

MPH AVG: 15.0

Calorie: 8,200

Seat Time: 9h 45m

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 Chesterfield Kings. Enjoy…

The Quiet Session…

Mondays are busy days. When they’re over, I hit the road and attempt to decompress from the conversations of the day. Conversations go with the gig, but talking with different personalities all day, on a variety of topics, can scramble my brain.

My last Monday client though, well, he doesn’t talk much. He’s apprehensive to speak — because he’s unsure of everything. He lives with Alzheimer’s. He’s the only client who doesn’t come to my studio. I go to his house, because he’s unable to drive.

Despite that I see him twice a week, he doesn’t remember my name. He recognizes my face though, when we meet at the front door. He smiles as we shake hands, and he shows me to his home gym like an old friend. The moment we make eye contact, I sense he’s comfortable with me, even if a little confused. On a visceral level, he recognizes routine, and senses safety.

I ask him if he’s ready to exercise. Without saying a word, he nods in the affirmative. I explain the first exercise to him as though he’s never done it before. I then demonstrate it, because that dials him in. And so it goes for the next 55-minutes. I explain the exercise, demonstrate the exercise, and he subsequently performs them — perfectly.

Part of my approach in putting clients at ease, is by making conversation in-between exercises. Sometimes it’s light, other times we try and solve the problems of the world. With this client though, every question is a surprise that he has no answer for. So in-between exercises, the only thing we talk about is the exercise itself. Small talk isn’t an option.

And the thing is, despite that he can’t name the exercises, or even the trainer, he’s committed and works out hard. He lets me push him, and he enjoys it. The familiarity of being pushed, and the routine of it is a portal away from his dementia, if only for an hour. I often think if he had the stamina and I had the time, he’d exercise with me all day long. Throughout the workouts, the only words he speaks are to ask me if he’s doing the exercises properly. I reassure him, and do so with sincerity. Did I mention he’s in his 80s…?

And that’s the extent of it. I show up, we make eye contact, he works hard for an hour, and I leave. And though other clients might read this, I have no problem saying, my workouts with this man are often my best Monday sessions. Two people connect for a common cause, and both benefit. I have a client whose express purpose is to exercise properly. And he has a companion he feels safe with. Win/win.

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

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 116

Climbing: 5,900’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 6,600

Seat Time: 7 hours 34 minutes

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 Grip Weeds. Enjoy…

Fighting Sadness With Gratitude…

Some things I think about when ride, I just can’t write about. Some good friends are currently dealing with unimaginable adversity in their lives. Their pain is not my pain though, and their story isn’t my story to share. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about them — and feeling secondhand pain, which quickly turns into sadness.

When I think about my gratitude, for all I have and all I am, it’s often rooted in the adversity of others. It comes from the pain, trauma, and turmoil that life throws at people, who in all cases, aren’t deserving of it. As tragedy has struck my friends recently, it was a reminder that tragedy could knock on my door any day, unannounced, and dressed in black.

It constantly bubbles in the depths of my thinking — the whole idea that I’m just one phone call away from a really bad day, and a life changed forever. Some friends have received such phone calls lately, and my heart breaks for them, daily. It also reminds me how fortunate I am. I’m not sure where this comes from, or if it’s even normal, but when I see others facing trauma, I find comfort in my gratitudes.  

Gratitude for my family, my pets, my home, and my livelihood. I have gratitude that I’m still able to dream and live to pursue those dreams, while others who’ve been struck by tragedy, find their dreams stifled, distant, and obscured by grief. Most days, I feel I have more than I deserve. I wish I could give that gratitude to my friends in need, but gratitude isn’t a form of currency.

I understand when tragedy hits somebody head-on, they’re not thinking in terms of gratitude, they shouldn’t be, and that’s not what I’m suggesting. What I am suggesting, is when somebody close to me experiences tragedy or trauma, and I’m tempted to glean their pain, I fight that temptation by embracing my gratitudes.

Anyway, I rode a bike yesterday and thought about some friends I love, and the phone calls that changed their lives forever. Be kind today, please. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 4

Miles: 123

Climbing: 6’100’

Mph Avg: 14.8

Calories: 6,900

Seat Time: 8 hours 20 minutes

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 Rusted Root. Enjoy…

2022: The Spoke In Review…

My final post for 2022. It’s been a fantastic year, on and off the bike. Rather than bore you with my usual end-of-year wrapup shtick, I’m simply sharing my favorite smartphone pictures from the last 12-months. 

Many of these were taken during my daily bicycle rides, others from walks with my dog, and any pictures that look like they’re from beyond southern California, were taken on the two cross-country trips I took during the summer. 

I thank you in advance for taking time to flip through these. You can click them to enlarge them, or just throw the whole thing in your trash file. All pictures were taken with an iPhone 11, and the only filters used were occasional contrast or brightness adjustments. There were no color adjustments on any pictures.

Wishing you all the very best in the coming year. Thanks again for taking the time…


The Best Thing On Earth…

Preface: I was born an East Coast Jew. My first job was as a sandwich maker in a Jewish deli, owned by an Austrian holocaust survivor. My father, also an East Coast Jew, ensured we had bagels each Sunday morning as far back as I can remember, up until I left home at 16. 

There’s that whole game we play — if we were stranded on a deserted island for a year, what’s the first thing we’d want to eat after being rescued…?

Most of the guys I know would say a steak, pizza, lasagna, a mug of beer — stuff like that. Most of the women I know would say a kale salad and wouldn’t mean it. What they’d really want would be a baked brie and a glass of wine, but they’d never admit it.

Me…? I’ll take a bagel, but probably more than one. And after a year on a deserted island, I’ll take all the bagels, please. 

Bagels are the best things on earth. Honest to God, I can’t think of a better thing to eat, whether I’m hungry or not. Not chocolate, not pizza, not a lobster tail, but a bagel. And just about any variety of bagel will do. The salt bagel is my preference, with plain being next, egg bagel, and then the everything bagel. But there’s no such thing as a bad bagel, only different levels of good. 

But if I’d been stranded on a deserted island for a year, I wouldn’t want a bagel that’s been tainted with cream cheese, whitefish, or lox. That’s stupid. I could live to be a thousand years old and never understand why somebody would ruin a perfectly good bagel with dead fish and milk paste…🤷🏼‍♂️

There’s only one best way to eat a bagel and I’m going to share that with you now, per my previously mentioned qualifications…

You toast a bagel. 

You toast it until it’s golden brown with a little black around the edges. Then, as soon as it comes out of the toaster, you cover it with butter — whipped butter, but not that unsalted shit. In fact, you sprinkle a little extra kosher sea salt onto the butter as it’s melting into the bagel.

Then you eat the bagel, and you eat it immediately. And in the case of a toasted, buttered bagel, it’s okay to eat it like a pig. You can make sounds that come from your mouth or nose — doesn’t matter. You can take enormous bites and tear the remaining portion away from your teeth like a caveman chewing the leg off of dead rabbit. Gosh, I’m getting worked up just writing about it.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about when I was riding yesterday. And I wanted to share my opinion with you, because I’m as qualified to tell you how to eat a bagel as anyone you know. Now go enjoy a perfectly toasted, hot, buttered bagel. You can thank me later. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

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 Big Head Todd And The Monsters. Enjoy…

Mischa Gets The Nod…

Before I leave to ride each afternoon, I put one of the critters in charge of the house while I’m gone — to ensure no intruders get in. I sit on the sofa between Mischa Kitty and Stroodle Dog and it goes like this…

“Mischa, you get the nod today. Stroodle will be your lieutenant and backup if needed, but otherwise it falls on you. Use your cunning first, and your ability to reason. Use your teeth and claws only if you need to. I’ll be gone for a couple of hours. When I return, you can have the evening off…”

On the days Stroodle gets the nod, Mischa is lieutenant and backup. On Sundays they both get the day off, but are essentially on-call when I’m gone.

Before I close the door, I ask if either one has any questions. Neither has ever asked me a question — a sign of their respect for my authority. As I pedal from the driveway I’m confident that, whoever’s in charge, my home is in good hands. Ehr, good paws.

Stroodle is 20 now, and slowing down. In our time together, we’ve shared seven homes. In that time he’s flawlessly protected each one. As I’m now contemplating my own retirement, it occurs to me that Stroodle’s working days should be behind him. He’s paid his dues.

Before I left yesterday, I sat with Mischa and Stroodle and had an overdue discussion. I explained to Stroodle that his working days are done. Mischa, now 9, was handed the torch. In time, I told her, there will be another critter, most likely a dog, to share the responsibilities. However, for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be her gig. She’ll still get Sundays off, and on the days Mischa’s not feeling well, Stroodle can pick up a shift here and there if he’s up for it.

It may seem eccentric or even crazy that I talk to my critters this way, and that they have assigned responsibilities. The ritual is good for all of us though — it’s a way that we bond through the sound of my voice, and it gives them a sense of purpose, And for a small portion of my day, somebody actually listens to me.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Billy Joe Shaver & Company. Enjoy…


It should go without saying that, after eight days off the bike, it felt good to get out yesterday. I wasn’t sure what I’d be thinking about or how my legs would feel, but it didn’t take long for it all to settle in.

I just drove from Philadelphia to San Diego — my daughter borrowed my car for a couple of months and I flew out to retrieve it. Though I logged a lot of interstate miles, I made sure to get off the freeway for at least a couple stretches of road each day. I drove some state and county roads, and even a few dirt roads used mostly by farmers in the Midwest. I wanted to be places I’ve never been and see things I’d never seen. Mission accomplished. Those stretches of road, off the interstate, were the highlights of my summer.

The landscape of this country has always inspired me. It’s as diverse as the people who’ve inhabited it through the millennia. So when I chose the audiobook 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2005), by Charles Mann, I thought it would be the perfect soundtrack as I traversed and viewed this thoroughly modern landscape.

I read 1491 from cover to cover shortly after it was published, and I’ve listened to the updated audiobook twice since. It’s a fascinating account of the Americas prior to the European influence. It dispells, and often times blows out of the water, many conceptions and ideas we have of pre-Columbian Americas. 

When the book was released in 2005, it was reviewed well by book critics, but academics — historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists pushed back. Academia suggested Mann took too many big leaps at once. In the decade and a half since being published, academia has caught up with Mann’s big leaps, and many support his far reaching thesis. 

Mann makes four major arguments in the book and subtly sneaks in two lesser ones toward the end…

  1. That the Americas were settled much longer ago than previously believed. Some estimates, based on archaeological evidence, suggest that human beings walked in the Americas as far back as 30,000 to 35,000 years ago.
  2. The population of the Americas was significantly greater at the time Europeans arrived. Estimates vary, but when they’re ammended, it’s always upward. Many scholars believe that the population of pre-Colombian Americas was between 80 million and 100 million.
  3. That pre-Columbian civilizations were greater, more complex, and interacted with one-another more than previously believed. 
  4. That American natives manipulated the land and wildlife to such a degree that they not only influenced, but created the landscape we know today. Assumptions that we’ve made about everything from bison population, to forests in New England, and the grasslands of the Midwest, are likely out of step with how they came into being. 

Two lesser arguments that Mann makes…

  1. The men who forged the documents that shaped our lives — the Founders, may have been influenced as much in matters of personal liberty, limited government, and personal responsibility by the natives they interacted with on a regular basis — more so even, than the enlightenment all-stars of France at the time. 
  2. That had the natives not succumb so quickly and in such large number to the diseases the Europeans gifted them, Europeans would have been no match for the natives in warfare and claiming eminent domain. At best, Europeans may have played a much smaller role in the advancement of the nation and exploitation of its resources. Mann presents evidence, from New England all the way to the Peru, that on an even playing field, natives of all varieties were better warriors and more prepared for battle and the Europeans. They lacked only the numbers due to the diseases that cut them down by as much is 85% in the first 150 years. 

As I said, 1491 was the perfect book to accompany me on a trip from the East Coast to Southern California. From the forests of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, through the farms of the upper Midwest, to the great plains and the grasslands, across the Rocky Mountains, and into the desert southwest, 1491 was a great tour guide, providing detail and meaningful lessons in how far we’ve come and how far we fallen — simultaneously.

This is what I think about when I ride — and drive… Jhciacb

It’s back to the bike for me this week. And as much I enjoyed my travels, it’ll be nice to get back into the routine again. Oh, and there’s this from Robert Jon & The Wreck. Enjoy…

(all images taken from an iPhone 11. No color adjustments, and only slight contrast adjustments on a few)

Shit Or Get Off The Blog…

From my Facebook page this morning, Sunday, September 4….

This is the 8th Sunday this year I haven’t posted an essay to my WordPress blog. Prior to 2022, I hadn’t missed a Sunday blog since I began it in 2017. I guess the WordPress blog has become a lesser priority.

The WordPress blog was intended to be a creative outlet for my writing, to share my smartphone photos, and as a platform to express how cycling helps me fight the depression and idiopathic sadness that I live with from day-to-day. I had no intention that it would blow up, get discovered, or be something I could monetize. Mostly it was just a digital postcard to let people know where I am and what I’m up to.

Hosting this page concurrent with that blog, I often wondered why I needed both, and didn’t just focus on one or the other. The short answer is that many subscribers of the blog aren’t on Facebook, and most of my Facebook connections are too lazy or technically illiterate to open a link to the blog 😜. I’m not talking about you though.

Anyway, the main reason I’ve kept the WordPress blog active is for the few friends and family I have that aren’t on Facebook. Facebook, for better or worse, are my people. Christ, I can’t believe I just said that…🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️

So the WordPress blog will remain, but probably be a once, maybe twice a month endeavor. Most Sunday mornings now, I can be found right here — the same place I can be found every other morning ending in the letter “y”.

Of course it would make sense that later today I actually post this on my WordPress blog, so the subscribers there will know to look for me here — which means this won’t be the 8th Sunday in 2022 that I failed to post on the WordPress blog, but anyways…

So if you’re reading this on WordPress today, and you want to read my stuff regularly, please check out my Spoke And Word page on Facebook.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

172 miles
7,600’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
9,700 calories
11 hours 32 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. 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 Deacon Blue. Enjoy…!

Exposing Myself…

When I sat down after last night’s ride, to bullet-point the thoughts which most consumed me, I didn’t get too far. You see, some of what I think about I’m afraid to share. After all, I’m someone whose self-worth is supremely correlated with how others view me. And the truth be told, I hold back a lot of what I think about for that reason. For example…

Most people reading this have no idea I’ve been privately studying Islam for a decade, and my interest in it goes back another decade beyond that. That’s not a joke. To date, I’ve completed nearly 30 books on the subject and have been to a local Islamic center a handful of times meeting with their education leader.

My interest hasn’t yet guided me to accept Islam as a faith, and I’m not sure it ever will. I do feel though, connected with it far better than the Judaism I was raised with or the Christianity that surrounds me. Whether I accept Islam into my life or not is a story for another day. I can only say that as a blueprint for community living, I’ve not seen a better one, and I’ve looked at most of them — in depth.

Just the thought of sharing that with an audience of dozens frightens me, though it’s been on my mind nearly every ride since I began this page four years ago, and since I began blogging and 2002. The Islamic faith, as a model for community living and how one should conduct one’s self privately, is what I think about as much cycling, fitness, and all the other nonsense that occupies my brain.

That’s as much as I’m going to share for now. Throwing this out there this morning, to people who will fix to strong opinions quickly, feels like jumping out of an airplane. And if you know my story, the last time I jumped out of an airplane, it didn’t go so well, but I did make a full recovery. Still, this morning I’m taking that leap.

We live in an age where we accept a president who says it’s okay to grab a woman by the pussy. We have state legislatures making it more difficult for poor people and people of color to vote. We have elected officials proposing legislation to minimize the rights of gay and transgender people. We have representatives and senators who are willing to make racist and homophobic statements to the cheers of the crowds which finance them. Yet in all of that, I’m afraid to show my true colors. Shame on me. Shame on us all.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This Week By The Numbers…

170 miles

7,300’ climbing

15.0 mph avg

9,700 calories

Seat Time: 11 hours 22 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. 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 Praise. Enjoy…!

Community Standards…

I created my first Facebook account in 2006. A friend, familiar with the organization, assured me it was going to be huge. I didn’t use that account much, but as Facebook grew in popularity and more people I knew were using it, I got increasingly drawn in. This was before the era of the smartphone and my desktop computer was my exclusive porthole into social media. I’d check Facebook for a few minutes each morning, again in the evening, and maybe in the middle of the day if I wasn’t too busy. It was far from being the center of my world. 

The evolution of my Facebook use was subtle, but increased over time. The more connections I made, the more time I spent using the platform. And as evolutions go, I barely noticed what was happening. With the advent of the smartphone and the Facebook app in 2008, the social network left my desktop for my hip pocket. On a dime, I went from checking it 2 to 3 times a day, to checking it in the grocery line, at traffic lights, waiting for a waitress to take my order, and anytime I wasn’t otherwise engaged — including airport bathrooms. It became central to my daily experience. 

As my use increased, I found value in the platform — I’m a people person and Facebook is made out of people. I’m also an introvert with a tendency toward social awkwardness, so it allowed me to fulfill my need for human connections, but from a safe distance. I enjoyed connecting with people over music, fitness, and art. I also participated in my share of sophomoric hijinks, including homemade videos of my talking dog.  

Between 2010 and 2015, as the tenor the nation began to sour, Facebook became more political, more volatile, and increasingly divided. Finger-pointing, abusive language, and vitriol became the the currency of exchange for many. As this manifest, it became a badge of honor for some to be sent to Facebook jail, to have their accounts suspended, or like my brother in 2020, banned from Facebook for life. During this time, many left the platform of their own accord due to the negativity. 

As the platform grew more negative, I leaned in with a more positive presence. I shared original stories, original photographs, and kept my interactions as positive as possible, though I still participated in some sophomoric hijinks — because in a nation absent of decorum and struggling to stand up straight, I never lost my sense of humor.

As interactions grew more negative, the call increased from governments, action groups, and parents for Facebook to minimize threats, abusive language, and people who abuse the platform. Facebook responded with the use of artificial intelligence (bots and algorithms) to determine who was violating their “community standards”. Those in violation would have their use limited or suspended, with little recourse on the part of the offender. As this continued, inconsistencies began to surface in how Facebook justice was administered…

Recently a woman photographed a dramatic image — her own shadow against low gray clouds. The image was magnificent and made it around the internet in a matter of days. When a friend shared it on Facebook last week, I made the comment…

“Witchcraft. Burn her…!“

Within 48-hours I was notified by Facebook my comment went against community standards and my account had been suspended for 3-days. This came just two weeks after a similar suspension for using the word “execute“ in a proper sentence. Keep in mind, no human being was a part of that judicial process. Justice was administered by artificial intelligence. The algorithm did give me the opportunity to appeal my sentence, but made clear the appeals process could take several weeks — for a 3-day suspension. 

With nearly 3-billion accounts, I understand why Facebook could never staff or pay enough humans to take on a task that bots and algorithms can do far more efficiently. I also understand that they’re working to minimize kinks in the process so innocent people don’t have their accounts suspended for using the word “execute” in a proper sentence. In truth, I really don’t have an issue with my account being suspended for those minimal infractions. 

The issue I have with Facebook though, is its repeated use of the term “community standards”. This is a company who’s representative have a lied under oath before the US Congress. It’s a company which has manipulated its algorithms in ways to make the platform more addictive for everyone, including and especially children. It’s gathered information for the benefit of selling it without user knowledge. It eavesdrops as a means of targeting and redirecting its advertisers. It has knowingly created divisions among users because those divisions have been proven, by Facebook‘s own staff, to keep users engaged longer and more frequently. 

In short, Facebook is a manipulative, devious, and self-serving enterprise which puts marketshare and profit ahead of all other concerns — including the mental health of children. I don’t need them preaching community standards when a part of their mission is tearing communities apart on behalf of marketshare and profits. Nearly all of what I’ve shared on Facebook, going back a generation now, has been positive in nature. I’m one of the good ones — one of the people who tries each day to make the experience positive, not just for me, but for those I interact with. 

What Facebook bots and algorithms don’t take into consideration when they suspend or ban users like me, is that they’re also separating families and friendships. I’m grateful each week I can connect with friends and family around the world. That experience has helped me during difficult times. Facebook is also a business tool for me — I use it to promote my small business, and always in a positive way. My Spoke And Word Page on Facebook has been the best therapy I’ve ever had for dealing with my mental health issues.

In a world where it’s reinforced daily that we shouldn’t take things personally, I take this very personally — I’m hardwired that way. I’ve been one of Facebook‘s biggest fans. Despite their corporate nonsense, the miracle of global interconnection can’t be overstated. The influence on my life, from people I’ve connected with via that medium, has made me a more rounded person and broadened my mind in ways I could’ve never imagined to 2005.

Being suspended for an innocuous comment negatively impacted my livelihood, my personal relationships, and even my mental health. I’ll accept this, my second 3-day suspension, and I’ll likely return to my Facebook routine when it expires — maybe. That said, if I find myself suspended for an innocent comment again, I’ll walk away and never look back, even at the expense of family connections, my business, and my mental health.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This Week By The Numbers…

153 miles

6,100’ climbing

15.1 mph avg

8,700 calories

Seat Time: 10 hours 12 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. 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 Leo Sayer. Enjoy…!

Four Wheels, Not Two…

Unfortunately I haven’t spent too much time on bikes this summer — not as much as I would’ve liked to. On the flipside, I’ve traveled more this summer than in the last 10-years combined.

Just closing out a 3000-mile road trip from San Diego to Mystic Connecticut. Going to do the same trip in reverse in about five weeks, and then hunker down hard to work through the winter — and to ride my ass off. 

No bicycle pictures this week, but here are some nuggets from the road this past week. All photos taken with an iPhone 11, no color adjustments, with only small light and contrast adjustments. In the comments, please let me know your favorites and why, and I’ll let you know where it was taken.

This is what I think about when I don’t ride… Jhciacb 

Shedding Meat…

Last month was the 48th anniversary of my first visit to a weight room. I still remember the 45-pound barbell falling to my chest — my muscles too weak to do much about it. I somehow managed to extended my arms and return the bar to the top position. The man spotting me was Officer Ray Bingham of the Denver Police Department. He was part of a program to help delinquent kids like me learn to lift weights. My parents thought it might be a better outlet than vandalizing neighborhood mailboxes and cars — something I excelled at as a 12-year old. 

Bingham told me to lower the bar again which I did, but it didn’t go much better the 2nd time around. Once again I returned it to the top position — my right arm doing most of the work. In addition to the bench presses, we did some leg extensions that day, some lat-pulldowns, and sit-ups. I was so sore the next day I couldn’t go to diving practice. With that soreness though, came a sense of purpose I’d not previously known. 

I’d spend the next 48-years lifting weights for an hour per day, nearly every day. I built my entire life around lifting weights and eating to support my workouts. Since pre-adolescence, getting the gym and getting enough protein each day have held more real estate in my head than any other ideals. Though I never developed a world-class physique, I’ve always had more meat than most.

This past March, after some 15,000 workouts, I made a decision I would’ve thought unimaginable even six months earlier — the time has come to quit chasing meat. That is, I’ve made the decision to back off on my strength training sessions, and the dietary support of required to gain/maintain muscle mass, and enjoy a more moderate lifestyle — and this time I mean it. 

I make my living teaching people my age and older that they shouldn’t worry about gaining more muscle mass. The focus, I suggest, should be on getting better at using the muscle they already have. Keep it active, keep it strong, not to worry about making more of it. I believe this is a good way to be over the age of 50. Still, when I’ve been in the weight room and as I’ve prepared each meal going back to preadolescence, my mindset has always been about increasing my muscle mass. 

Age though, and the law of diminishing returns have been asserting their will against me. By my early 50s, I possessed every gram of muscle I would ever have. It’s been a gradual decline since. That’s not to say I’m getting weak and frail. I just don’t have the meat I had in my 40s and 50s. And to be clear, I still enter the weight room every day — because being strong is a good problem to have. 

My workouts today are still challenging, but the intensity and the volume have decreased. The workouts are geared more toward everyday strength — the kind of strength that stays with me when I leave the weight room. In the modern age, physical autonomy is a virtue, but seems to be on the decline with many. 

Though I no longer look like an action figure, I do look athletic and that’s going to have to do. Most importantly, my workouts are less stressful these days, and walking into the weight room has been less daunting and less intimidating. Perhaps for the first time in a decade, my workouts fit me like a glove.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

Last week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 157

Climbing: 6,800’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 9,000

Seat Time: 10 hours 26 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Stevie Wonder. Enjoy…

Tour de Palomar…

Over the weekend I took a two-day bike tour to the top of Palomar Mountain — and back. After riding across the Mojave in May, I promised myself I’d do at least one overnight trip each month, and this was my first.

I went with low expectations. I’ve never even been to the top of Palomar in a car, let alone a bike, and didn’t take time to scout the ride. I watched YouTube videos of area cyclists and became aware that this is the climb in San Diego bike culture.

What I couldn’t find, despite using every key search term imaginable, was information about bikepacking on Palomar — riding to the top, but with camping gear like a bicycle tourist. I was surprised and began to question whether this climb was doable with gear.

Some common terms from cyclists who’ve documented their climbs of Palomar not carrying gear included hell, torture, pain, and never again. What would an extra 25-pounds do to my experience…? I dunno 🤷🏼‍♂️.

From my house, it’s just 40-miles to the top — a distance I ride regularly. And most of that ride was easy, with roughly 2000’ of gradual climbing to get to the base of the mountain. The 16-mile ascent though, took me nearly 4-hours. By comparison, the ascent the following morning took just under 30-minutes.

I booked a space at Observatory Campground, just a few miles from the observatory itself. I figured once I got my tent set up, I’d leave my gear, do a little hiking, and take some pictures. A funny thing happened on the way up…

It was the hardest physical challenge of my life. Just-3 miles into the climb, I decided I couldn’t do it — I quit. I took out my phone and called the Lazy H Inn, a country motel just a few miles from where I stopped. I was going to ask if they had a room for the night. Then I thought about my friend Andy, who in support of my ride, ran to the highest point in his community in northern England earlier in the day. I hung up my phone and continued my ride. For 13-miles I just kept repeating Andy‘s name. It was slow going and it was hard, but I wasn’t going to quit. I was also reminded of my friend Tim a few weeks back crossing the Mojave… “We’ll be fine…”

About 3-miles from the summit, my legs began cramping. With my experience in fitness, I knew how to minimize cramps. For the last few miles, I’d ride roughly a half-mile, stop, stretch, do some deep squats, and rest for about 10-minutes. That was the protocol to the top. I finished all my liquids in those last few miles.

When I arrived at the convenience store just beyond the summit, it seemed fitting that the attendant was closing the door as my bike entered the parking lot. I was less than 50-feet away when she flipped the sign in the window to CLOSED. So much for Powerade. When I arrived at my campsite, before setting up my tent or unpacking my gear, I went to the water spigot and drank two bottles and did a little more stretching. The cramps soon subsided. 

The campsite was a fun 5-mile descent from the summit, which felt good after climbing all afternoon. When I reached for my phone to text my love ones I’d made it, there was no service. I asked a fellow camper if he knew where the nearest service might be. He said the closest service was in the parking lot of the convenience store I’d just left. I didn’t want anyone worried about me so I got back on my bike, rode to the convenience store, and sent several texts letting people know I was okay.  

Back at the campsite, I setup my tent and sleeping roll. The other thing I failed to take into consideration, along with a lack of cellular service, was the profound infestation of flies and mosquitoes that have claimed Palomar. I didn’t count mosquito bites, but the fly bites hurt worse. I took caution to keep the door to my tent closed except when entering and leaving. Without bug spray, the tent would be my salvation. 

Of course with no cell service, there was no music, no YouTube, and no movies. Just writing and thinking — two of my favorite things. Since I needed one more frustration, along with the bugs and the lack of Internet to complete the trifecta, the campsite beside me had 6 matching sky blue tents — all filled with pre-teen girls from an area church. So help me God, everyone of them was named Morgan. After getting settled, I was tempted to face Mecca, bow, and pray for a while. I chose to just sit quietly for a moment and give thanks to God instead. 

Exhausted from the afternoon, I took a short hike as the sun was setting, but made it less than a half-mile before I turned around and climbed in my tent for the night. Dinner was two Annie’s vegetarian burritos and a Larry & Larry vegan cookie. From the window of my tent, I watched the moon pass through some pines and decided to turn the light out.

Photos below are from earlier in the week…

The church girls beside me giggled into the night, and the White Trash Family Robinson arrived at the campsite on the opposite side a little after 10pm. They listened to Foreigner and shotgunned beers as they set up camp. When I woke Sunday morning, there were actually three recliners beside their campfire — they simply took their living room for a drive.

At 5am I began stowing my gear. I was on the road by 5:45. Descending Palomar was spectacular. The morning light highlighted the views through every hairpin turn and overlook. From the time I left the summit, I didn’t take a single kick for 16-miles — it was a total freeride. I rode slow through the orchards and groves of the Pauma Valley with a sense of pride from what I’d accomplished. I was home by 10am. 

Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll do this again. I’m glad I did it — and glad that I didn’t quit. The ride was the epitome of Type A fun — the kind of fun that’s made up of exhaustion and determination, and doesn’t actually become fun until it’s over. Okay, I’ll probably do it again or something similar, but I’m definitely going to pack lighter.

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

Last week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 171

Climbing: 14,000’

Mph Avg: 12.6

Calories: 13,000

Seat Time: 13 hours 38 minutes

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

On The Adversity Of Others…

At some point during each ride, I find myself contemplating the trials and tragedies of others. Not for amusement, but out of humility. I think about those in my periphery — friends, family, and acquaintances, as well as those I’ve crossed paths with via social media.

As I stand out of my saddle and pedal up steep grades or glide down the other sides hoping to pass cars ahead of me, I chew on the adversity of others more than I think about my own. By comparison, I often think, I don’t even know what adversity is. This the exercise within my exercise — an excellent daily reminder of how blessed my life is.

Completing the adversity of others is a grounding reminder that many I know have interruptions in their own blessings, and that sometimes those interruptions are severe. I love them and I always pray for them.

It’s been a decade since Gretchen died. She was in her late-40s, a client and friend who I occasionally hiked with. One afternoon, while walking across a restaurant floor on her way to the restroom, Gretchen suffered a heart attack. The EMTs revived her, but she passed away the next morning. Only minutes before, she had texted another friend that she was having one of the best days of her life. There hasn’t been a week go by since, that I have not thought about that, at least a little bit.

A few years later, the 13-year-old daughter of another friend passed away suddenly, on her way to a family outing with her parents and two brothers. That loss has crossed my mind a few times a day ever since. Though I never knew Clara, the suddenness of her loss impacted me as much as any.

Several years ago a friend in Colorado allowed a tree to get between she and a fantastic downhill run she was having that day. She spent several weeks in the hospital, suffered multiple broken bones, a short term head injury, and some permanent scarring on the right side of her face. The scarring is minimal, she is skiing again regularly, and she has since finished college. She refers to the scars on her face as “The signature of good fortune“.

Because I ride past his house daily, I think of Dave. He was a client who was complaining about shoulder problems about a few years back. He was concerned our workouts were causing the pain he was having under his upper right arm. After a doctors visit and a couple of referrals, is shoulder pain turned out not to be workout related. The pain was coming from his lymph nodes, the result of lung cancer that he was unaware of. After a couple years of fighting it, the cancer won.

Those are just a few examples of adversities that have touched me, but have clearly touched those connected to them far more. With each passing year there’s always one or two more. At some point, there might be so many adversities that I’ll be able to think of little else.

The joke in my family is this…

I don’t have to get an annual physical. I just get my blood work done when I visit the emergency room each year. Though I do land in the emergency room frequently, I’ve been quite fortunate that nothing putting me there has caused me much difficulty. There have been setbacks, but nothing that approaches the term adversity.