Three Weeks Later…

Another lunch at the airpark yesterday. The usual Saturday cast of characters were there — a gray haired lady in a white SUV with her two dingo-looking dogs. There was an older couple in a Ford Escape sharing a hamburger and critiquing the landings. And of course, a few cars with tinted windows — teenagers smoking their boredom away.

There was a car I hadn’t seen previously though — a sporty black sedan. A skinny teenager with greasy hair sat in the passenger side staring at his phone while the driver, presumably his father, sat at the picnic table next to the car eating a burrito. He was a stocky man with a few tattoos. He looked like he worked out, but that he also ate a lot of burritos and knew his way around the beer aisle.

He was friendly as mom and I walked by, asking me where I worked out — musta been my sleeveless t-shirt. I explained that my home gym and that was is my domicile for making meat these days

“Yeah, me too…“ he said.

He looked to be my age. We made small talk about how the heavy toll iron takes on aging bones. He wished mom and I a good day and went back to his burrito. He seemed like a nice guy and I enjoyed talking with him. That’s when I recognize his car…

Several weeks ago, while riding out of town, I had an unprovoked altercation with a motorist. Below is my journal entry from that day…

About a mile out of town yesterday, a black Cadillac CTX passed me. The driver honked his horn several times as he cut in toward the bike lane. I caught up to him at a red light and looked in the open passenger side window. I never said a word. I was just curious who honked at me — if I knew the person. 

Before light turned green, the man left his car and ran toward me yelling obscenities. Startled, I stayed on my bike but prepared for an altercation. He stood a couple feet from me, and even at that distance I could smell alcohol — lots of it. He continued to scream. The passenger, apparently his teenage son, exited the car and caught the man from behind, putting him in a headlock. Without hesitation I took off on my bike. As I rode away, I heard the young man yelling…

“Get back in the car dad…!“

Moments later, I heard the same car honking behind me once again. He followed me at my speed, roughly 20 mph. I didn’t think he’d do anything other than drive away pissed when suddenly he drove into the bike lane ahead of me. I don’t think he wanted to hit me, just scare me. As this happened, a couple men in a Pathfinder wedged their vehicle between me and the Cadillac, shielding me at my speed. They signaled if I wanted them to call the police. I nodded yes.

They stayed with me as a shield, while the man in the Cadillac stayed behind them honking continually. At that point there were probably 20 cars behind the Cadillac — all wondering what the hell was going on, as was I. I’d never seen this man in my life, and don’t believe I did anything to offend him or start an altercation. It was as though he selected me at random as his target for a different rage.  

The passenger in the Pathfinder signaled that the 911 dispatcher wanted to speak with me if possible. With some hesitation, I stopped and the two men in the Pathfinder stopped along side me. The passenger handed me the phone through the window as the man in the Cadillac pulled over in front of them and exited his car — again. Again, he ran toward me. This time I prepared to leave my bike, aware that I not only wore a helmet, but wore gloves with armor protection over the fingers. The man’s son exited the car and convinced his dad to get back in the car before the cops arrived. He headed the kid’s advice and took off at a high rate of speed. 

The emergency dispatcher asked that I wait until a police unit arrived. I thanked the two men who shielded me and they went on their way. I waited for roughly 15-minutes for the police before I decided to continue my ride. I’d given my own phone number to the emergency dispatcher and figured the police would call at some point if they wanted to investigate the incident. I’ll follow up with the police later today.

(end of entry)

Once I realized the man I’d been enjoying smalltalk with at the airpark was the same man from the incident a few weeks earlier, I got cautious, though I was sure he didn’t recognize me. Mom and I continued to walk laps of the parking lot, and each time we passed by him, he’d smile and comment about the weather or how pretty mom‘s hat was.

This was a completely different man.  

He man was clear-eyed, present, and genuinely nice. I overheard him having a conversation with his son in the car beside him. They laughed and joked. As we passed him for the final time, I wished him well for the balance of his weekend… 

“You too, bro…“ he said. 

As I drove mom home, I tried to reconcile all of this — that this was the drunk who tried to run me off the road weeks earlier. Yesterday though, I considered inviting him to see my workout studio. Like the pregnant woman I saw smoking a few weeks ago, I know nothing about this man. I can only hope he spends more time as the man I saw yesterday — joking with his son and telling my mom she had a pretty hat. And I’ll hope his days of drinking, driving, and picking fights on the road are in the past — but I’ll keep my eyes open just the same.  

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 175

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.7

Calories: 10,000

Seat Time: 11 hours 06 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 Sundial. Enjoy…

A Holiday For All…?

We celebrated Thanksgiving in the United States last week. Like most holidays, it has evolved over generations to be something different from it’s original intentions. The Thanksgiving we celebrate today is different than the one past presidents and legislative bodies have advanced, canceled, and tweaked at their whim.

Scroll social media on Thanksgiving morning and you’ll see memes, cartoons, and outright proclamations declaring that, like Columbus Day, Thanksgiving was born from exploiting natives, setting them up for internment, slavery, and genocide. And certainly there’s truth to that at the roots. Yet I know of nobody who gathered around the table this past Thursday, held hands, and thanked the Lord Almighty for making the Indians such easy prey. Most I know were just glad to spend time with friends and family, and as is often the case, just as glad to hit the road as soon as the last bite of pie went down or the Cowboys lost — whichever came first. 

And don’t get me started on Christmas or Easter. Nothing is stagnant and everything changes, holidays included. Christmas, Independence Day, Passover, even Memorial Day are all different now than at their inception. Like religions, holidays evolve and mutate based on the ever-changing facts on the ground. And as a result, every holiday from Halloween to Valentine’s Day is celebrated differently today than it was just a few generations ago. And as holidays have evolved, they’re bound to draw more people in as they push others away, reinforcing divisions in culture. 

I’ve long believed we should drop one more holiday into the mix though, and probably the only one we need — because we could all use it. No, not Peace Day, Kindness Day, or even Hugs Day, but Decorum Day. Decorum Day would be secular, celebrated as a national holiday, and provide an opportunity for everyone to just be civil to one another for 24-hours. Who could argue with that…? A day of respect, right speech, and biting one’s tongue.

Of course Decorum Day would never work — not in the United States. It would have its detractors from the beginning. Decorum Day would limit free speech. Religious institutions would complain of its godlessness. It would have to be administered by the government — good luck there. And eventually, Hallmark, Lexus, and CNN would brand it and monetize it. 

But the real reason Decorum Day wouldn’t work, isn’t because of the reasons I just mentioned. Decorum Day wouldn’t work because most people wouldn’t be capable of adhering to it’s simple doctrine — to conduct themselves with dignity, act with decency, speak sparingly, and deescalate when in the path of verbal confrontation. We’re just not capable of it — or are we…? I dunno 🤷🏼‍♂️.

At the end of the day, I’ve come to realize that holidays are a lot like Frankenstein — they are created by man, grow to have a life of their own, and eventually become monsters that we can’t control. Why should Decorum Day be any different…?

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 152

Climbing: 6,600’

Mph Avg: 16.0

Calories: 8,800

Seat Time: 09 hours 31 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 Taj Mahal. Enjoy…

I’m Her Mrs. Horsley Now…

During my grade school years, my mother worked at a nearby nursing home, The Aspen Siesta. Mom was one of two RNs that worked the swing-shift, along with several medical assistants, and the kitchen staff. Mom was often the person in charge during her shifts.  

The Aspen Siesta was s small, but high-end facility. The owner, Ruthann Horsley, insisted on being called Mrs. Horsley — by everyone including the staff, the residents, and even her husband, Dr. Horsley, who was the co-administrator. 

Because the Aspen Siesta was close to  our home, I often spent my after school hours there. My brother, four years older, was usually involved in extracurricular activities or with friends, and mom didn’t want me home alone. So long as I wasn’t disruptive or a distraction to my mom, Mrs. Horsley allowed me to be there.  

I’d sit at a table in the corner of the dining room and pretend to do homework while I daydreamed about flying fighter jets, being the next Terry Bradshaw, or robbing banks — one of which was a more natural fit than the others. Each day at 4pm, a crowd of canes and wheelchairs would gather around the console television in the commons area to watch the Merv Griffin show.

Every so often, Mrs. Horsley would stop by my table to check on me. If I was lucky, she’d lay down a square of Pepperidge Farms coconut cake. Even as a kid I recognized the kindness in that gesture and always thanked her. Despite that kindness, Mrs. Horsley commanded the room whenever she entered it. Staff and residents alike listened to her every word and nobody dared talk back.

One afternoon while doing my homework, a female resident approached the table where I was seated. She quietly picked up a potted plant from the center of the table — and began taking bites from it. I was petrified. It was the first time I became aware of the vulnerability and lack of mental acuity in the elderly. Mrs. Horsley saw the woman and used her commanding voice to stop her, subsequently taking the plant from her hand. I was grateful she intervened, but her loud voice scared me just as much. 

After that incident, I found myself paying more attention to the behaviors of the residents. I noticed their trembling hands, food falling from their mouths, their clumsy feet, and their faint voices. I developed an aversion to the elderly — something that would stay with me for years.

I  asked my mom about it once — about how she could stand being around old people. They were so gross, I thought. She told me it was her job and taking care of them mattered to her more than the things she found offensive. She also encouraged me to see beyond it — to consider they were all children once, just like me. 

I’ve been thinking about all of this lately — reflecting on my time at the Aspen Siesta.

My mother is no longer the nurse in charge — she’s now the resident. I frequently wipe food from her mouth as she eats. Her voice, especially late in the day, is often too weak to understand. She hasn’t attempted to eat a floral centerpiece yet, but she recently had a conversation with a flashlight as though it were her friend of 20-years. In helping her get in and out of bed, I occasionally see her backside. I’ve even assisted her in the bathroom a time or two. And through all of this, it’s never been gross. I see beyond it, as mom encouraged me to do 50-years ago.

And in those moments when it becomes necessary to assert my authority or gain her trust, I leverage those visceral memories by taking her back in time with me. I say things like…

Think of me as your Mrs. Horsley now…

This is your own private Aspen Siesta...

What would nurse Willie do…?

Fifty-years ago — while sitting at a table in a nursing home adding fractions in a workbook as the Merv Griffin show played in the background, and with Mrs. Horsley barking commands at the staff and residents alike, I had no idea I was in a training program for the life that I now live. I’m honestly not sure though, if I’d handle the responsibilities of caregiving in the same way had I not spent those afternoons learning what elder care is all about — the good, bad, and ugly of it all.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 146

Climbing: 6,500’

Mph Avg: 15.8

Calories: 8,300

Seat Time: 09 hours 11 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 Fury In The Slaughterhouse. Enjoy…

No Rush To Judge…

As we do most days before I ride, mom and I headed to the local airpark the other day for lunch and a walk. Lunch is usually fast food from a local drive-thru. I do my best to order the healthiest options, but she gets more of a pass than I do.

The long narrow parking lot at the airpark parallels the 2,200-foot runway. There’s a half-dozen picnic tables where families, business people, and even teens can enjoy lunch while watching small planes in action. Most days there’s a handful of cars aimed directly west watching the planes takeoff and land from north to south. 

Children leave their parents to climb the short chain-link fence and get a better view, while their moms scurry to setup lunch at the picnic tables. There might be one or two aviation buffs in pickup trucks listening to scanners as they judge the quality of each landing. The cars with tinted windows, peeling Sublime stickers on the rear bumper, and smell like burning weed carry teenagers who’ve released themselves on their own recognizance from the high school a half-mile away. 

The airport sits on a plateau a couple hundred feet above town, so the onshore wind is strong. Mom and I prefer to stay in the car and eat while we listen to The World on public radio. After mom’s food settles, we get out and walk the length of the parking lot a couple of times. It’s her daily workout.

One day last week, toward the end of our first lap, I saw a woman with a long brown ponytail, maybe in her 30s, sitting on a picnic table smoking a cigarette. She was all alone. I said hello as we passed, and she nodded without speaking. I didn’t think much of it. My only thought was that she looked old enough to know the dangers of cigarettes. When mom and I returned for our second lap, the woman on the table stood up and began walking toward a well-worn Jeep Cherokee. It was then I noticed she was pregnant. 

I probably rushed to ten different judgments in just a few seconds, not the least of which was that I labeled her a bad person — I didn’t want to, but I did. She turned back as she opened the Jeep door and I could see in her face that she could see me judging her. It was a poignant moment.

When I rode my bike past the airpark later that day, I relived that moment of poignancy. She looked ashamed to be seen smoking while pregnant, and I felt sinful for judging her without knowing the whole story. And I’m certain there was a story far behind that moment.

Maybe it was just one cigarette. Maybe she’s had a healthy pregnancy, but had a stressful day and decided to have just one. Maybe she smokes 12 a day — maybe 20. Maybe she’s in an abusive relationship and smoking is a momentary refuge. Maybe she’s so stricken by the addiction of smoking that she can’t quit no matter how hard she’s tried. Maybe she has no support system — for the smoking or for the pregnancy. I’ll never know any of that. 

The only thing I know for certain is that I was quick to judge and I shouldn’t have been. I’ve never walked a single step in her shoes. But then, I’ve never walked a single step in anyone’s but mine. My lesson from the thought-chew that afternoon was to stay in my own lane — both on the road and in life. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 174

Climbing: 7,700’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9,900

Seat Time: 11 hours 03 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 Public Image Limited. Enjoy…

Keeping My Head…

Like most everyone else, my head has been spinning these last few years. Noise coming from every direction, voices getting louder, and the sense of urgency increasing with new crisis. And there’s a new crisis nearly every hour, each one with a little more gravity than the previous. And the crowd breaks as cleanly as two saltine crackers — between us and them, and the crumbs from the middle fall to the ground.

My political compass fluctuates just a few percent on either side of center. In matters of culture and social orientations, I lean a little bit to the left. In matters of fiscal accountability and defense (defense being defined as protecting our interests within our own borders), I lean a little bit to the right. In matters of conducting myself with decency and decorum, I lean straight in. 

If I’ve been disappointed with anything these last few years, aside from the behaviors of our elected officials and media pundits who illuminate them, it’s with the way my fellow citizens have conducted themselves in conversations with one another. We are a nation of middle-schoolers. 

I’m proud of a lot of things these days…

I’m proud that since January, I’ve taken just 12 days off riding. I’m proud that in that time I’ve hit my weekly goal of 100-miles — usually by Wednesday. I’m proud that I haven’t once looked out the window and thought it was too rainy, too windy, too hot, or too cold to ride. Okay, once. I’m proud that in the three years since I began this blog, I’ve missed only one Sunday.

Away from my bike, I’m proud of other things…

I’m proud that I’ve gotten my mom out of the house for a short walk or drive, all but a handful of days in four years — even during the pandemic. Same goes for my dog. I’m proud that I show up for work every day, even after my many sleepless nights. I’m proud that I treat each client as if they’re my only one. 

I’m proud that I never let my daughter’s calls go to voicemail, that I pay my bills on time, and that I spend time in contemplative prayer every morning of my life — even when I’m running late. I’m proud that I take time each day to listen to three songs I’ve never heard before.

I’m sure that all seems a lofty, but I’m proud of those things.

The thing I’m most proud of though, through these last few years, is that I haven’t lost my head — not once. I haven’t called anyone a name. I haven’t belittled anyone. I haven’t allowed my behaviors to get ugly in public or private. I’ve conducted myself with decency and decorum. 

I’ve remembered the one value my father instilled in me growing up, that mattered to him more than any other. In the words of Kipling, paraphrased, dad reminded me regularly…

“Son, if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, then you are a man…” 

I’ve certainly had my opinions in these last few years, and I’ve definitely run the gambit of emotions. I’ve wanted to throw my television set through the window. I’ve wanted to push some people down tall flights of stairs. I’ve wanted to set fire to some buildings, turn over some cars, and I’ve even wanted to drive through a crowd or two — but I’ve kept my head, because that’s what adults do.

Again, if this too sounds lofty, I get it — I’m lofty. But whatever the opposite of lofty is, I don’t want to be that — ever. There are far too many people filling that role as it is.

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

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 125

Climbing: 5,500’

Mph Avg: 16.0

Calories: 8,000

Seat Time: 07 hours 49 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 Blaze Foley. Enjoy…

Identity Crisis…

In a few weeks, it’ll be the 3rd anniversary of his blog. It began with a simple notion — that I have a love of cycling, smartphone photography, and writing. Since I practice each of those daily, it appealed to me to combine the three in a creative outlet.

The idea was that after each ride, I’d jot down a few thoughts I chewed on while riding, combine them with a picture or two I took along the road, and post it the following morning to the Spoke And Word page I created on Facebook. What actually happened though, is that each night for three years I’ve written a complete essay instead of a few passing thoughts. And for people who aren’t on Facebook, I created this platform so on Sundays I can select my favorite essay from the previous week and share it.

I often tell people that I write these in 20-minutes or less. That was true once, and still is occasionally, but usually these days I spend an hour or so working on them, reworking them, and getting them to flow and fit properly. Sometimes I do this before bed, but most often before the sun comes up — before my day job.

There’s also the time I spend cropping and editing photographs. I don’t edit pictures a great deal. I crop them according to proportion and symmetry, and I might adjust the light and contrast a little bit, but I rarely adjust the color or tint. That said, it still takes a few minutes to complete each photograph. 

Between writing and editing photographs, I probably spend 75 to 90 minutes on this each day. That, combined with roughly 2-hours on my bike, and that’s 3+ hours dedicated to this creative hobby — every single day. It can all be a little exhausting, considering I work full-time and am also a full-time caregiver.

The initial goal was to do this for one year. 

I had so much fun with it, and with my creative juices flowing, I continued into a second year. The second year came and went, and I noticed I had an extremely small but dedicated following. The whole thing started to become my identity. I’ve never had an identity before, other than being the eccentric old guy in the neighborhood that kids are told to avoid. I’ve enjoyed having this identity, even if I’m the only one that sees it. 

As I wind down my third year, catering to and preserving that identity has caused me to press a little more. I feel I have to get my rides in each day. I have to get a few good photographs each day. I have to think of something at least a little interesting or clever to write about. There’s almost a sense of obligation to that identity. 

The thought of beginning a fourth year next month is a little intimidating. I have this thing in me though, that if I start something, I have to see it through. If I go even one day into a fourth year, then I’ll need to complete it. I worry that all that pressing might actually be changing that identity — diluting it, weakening it, or causing it to veer off course. I dunno 🤷🏼‍♂️.

Riding, writing, and taking photographs — an identity I enjoy, but one I don’t want to do out of obligation or have come off the rails. Lots to think about in the coming weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

This is what I think about when it ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 154

Climbing: 6,700’

Mph Avg: 16.0

Calories: 8,900

Seat Time: 09 hours 42 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 Spooky Tooth. Enjoy…

The Influence Of Three…

When I was 12-years old I received the book Pumping Iron — a gift from my mom. Being reading challenged, and knowing I was already interested in bodybuilding, she thought it might pull me in to read more.

I’d keep that book within reach for the next five or six years — often looking through it daily. The photographs where my primary motivation to get into the weight room each night. By the age of 18 though, I still hadn’t read the book — not from beginning to end. I read the captions under the photographs, but that was it. 

When I was preparing to take my GED, and knew I needed to improve my reading comprehension, Pumping Iron was my starting point. I figured that reading about my primary interest would serve me better than picking up a book on physics or game theory. So I opened Pumping Iron and read it from beginning to end.

The book highlighted the the offbeat world of competitive bodybuilding, focusing on several local and international bodybuilding competitions in the early 70s. The true subject of the book though, was a compelling figure named Arnold Schwarzenegger and his preparation for the 1973 Mr. Olympia competition. 

I wouldn’t know it as a 12-year-old or even as an 18-year-old, but that book would influence me throughout my life, and for different reasons during different decades. Pumping Iron ultimately lead me far beyond the rusty iron plates and torn vinyl benches of the weight room. It was a three-tiered influence that helped forge the creative me. 

The first influence was that I wanted to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m still waiting for that to pan out, but don’t hold your breath. I skipped my workout last night to write this, and dinner was a half-dozen egg rolls soaked in sweet-and-sour sauce — but I did take my creatine. 

As a creative outlet, bodybuilding became front and center to my life. It’s fair to say I’ve built my entire life around the weight room. I may not have become the next Arnold, but bodybuilding has been my primary form of expression for 48-years. 

The second influence of Pumping Iron was writing. When I opened the book to actually read it, something changed in me. Charles Gaines is an artist with words. Every page include at least one phrase or sentence that was so clever that I wanted to keep reading until the next page — and the next page always led me to another. I wouldn’t realize it for a few more years, but Charles Gaines made me want to be a writer — every bit as much as Arnold inspired me to be a bodybuilder. To this day, a primary objective is to include at least one well-turned phrase in each essay. 

If Pumping Iron had a secret weapon though, it was the black-and-white photography of George Butler. For the photographs in the book, Butler used a vintage Leica camera and Tri-X film which he developed himself. There are only two (non-historic) photographs in the book not taken by Butler, both taken by Annie Liebowitz. Leibowitz, after the book’s publication, sent Butler a note apologizing for dumbing down the quality of the photography. Imagine that. 

When I started my business in Fallbrook in 2001, I built my own website, created my own marketing materials, and used only my own photography. Being true to Butler’s influence, I took only black-and-white photographs in my weight room, and only in natural light. To this day, whenever I take or edit a black-and-white photograph, I think of George Butler. 

I never created anything close to the physique of Arnold. I’m proud of my writing, but it’s amateurish at best. And my photography…? I’ve taken a few gems, but nothing worthy of any awards. That’s cool. 

George Butler passed away last week. When I was riding after learning of this, I got to thinking about the influence that he and his friend Charles Gaines, and the object of their creativity, Arnold Schwarzenegger have had on my life. And in truth, the influence Gaines, Butler, and Schwarzenegger have had on popular culture is far greater than one might see on the surface.

In reflection, I remind myself that creativity is like a message in a bottle — you throw it out there, but you never really know who’s going to open it and how it’s going to influence them. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 180

Climbing: 7,900’

Mph Avg: 15.3

Calories: 10,300

Seat Time: 11 hours 45 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 Coleman Williams. Enjoy…

Brief Thoughts From The Road…

It’s been a busy few weeks in my Spoke And World. Still, I’ve managed to get on the road every day. Below are a handful of my shorter thought-chews from the last seven rides. I put these blurbs up on Facebook each Monday through Saturday mornings. If you enjoy them, please follow me there for daily updates. Trust me, it’s the best thing on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/SpokeAndWordJhciacb/ 

Daylight Dying Time: 

I’ve been obsessing on some remarkable statistics that I only recently learned. That each year, on the Monday after the spring time change, when we lose one hour of sleep, emergency room heart attacks increase by 24%. Conversely, on the Monday after each autumn time change, when we gain an hour of sleep, there’s a 21% decline in emergency room heart attacks. In the two states that don’t observe Daylight Savings Time, Arizona and Hawaii, emergency room heart attacks don’t spike in either direction. 

I have nothing to add to that. I just find it remarkable that we know this and do nothing about it. 

Gosh Yang It:

I just completed Andrew Yang‘s most recent book, Forward. Whatever your feelings might be for Yang, he sees the future in more realistic terms than any American politician — in my opinion. He recognizes that the world has changed more in the last 10-years than in the last 40-years combined. It’s time the rest of us acknowledge that too.

Yang understands that the bread and butter issues which have driven conversations, campaigns, and subsequently policy for decades are being overtaken today by issues which many politicians don’t even acknowledge — or are afraid to. Job loss due to automation, climate change, and expanding income inequity are among his top priorities. But that’s not what I want to talk about. 

The mid-chapters in Yang‘s book explore and tie together the impacts of social media, changes in journalism, technology manipulation such as deep fakes, bots, algorithms, and the impact that the mining and the sale of data and personal information all have on political campaigns — and he does it in a way that would be beneficial for everyone to read. I don’t care what your political slant is or what your values are, everyone can learn something from this book.

The Responsibility Of Curtness:

A few months back I released a client. She was good in the weight room — strong, generally focused, and capable. She was also passive-aggressive and a bit mouthy — often to a fault. When she entered my studio for what would be her final session, among the first thing she said to me that day was…

“I know I can be curt. So you have to tell me — you need to let me know when I overstep any professional boundaries…”

So far as I’ve ever been taught, that’s not how bad behavior works, and certainly not in a business environment. She had literally just put the onus of her own bad behavior on me. After the session I sent her a note letting her know I wouldn’t be renewing her sessions which had expired that day.

I’m normally able to let go of things like that, but this one’s still lingering. Anyway, it showed up a couple of times riding this week. 

Clear The Land — And The People: 

Transformed by years of drought, what was once the San Luis Rey River, is more or less the San Luis Rey Woodlands these days. The river still runs when it rains, and if there’s enough rain, it’ll run all winter, but only through a small swath of the once wide river bed. Through the last decade or so, each year a young forest springs up through the sands beneath the river that is no more. And the channel people once kayaked and canoed in, is now home to hundreds of homeless. 

This is the time of year when the county, in preparation for a possible rainy season, begins clearing that growth in the riverbed with bulldozers and heavy equipment. All of this, to allow the river to flow freely and minimize risk from flooding. However, in clearing the growth, they level dozens of shelters, tents, and barriers which protect the hundreds who call the riverbed home. 

This is a seasonal event, so I’m certain nobody was taken by surprise. And there’s still enough growth in the periphery of the riverbed that people can find shelter, put up tents, and be protected. It’s just my annual reminder of how fragile it is to be homeless. I wish them all well in their forced relocations. 

The Breezes Are Heaven:

Las Brisas is a Mexican restaurant I pass on my homestretch. It’s an institution in Fallbrook. I don’t eat there often due to limited vegan and vegetarian options, but I’ll say this…

Las Brisas is the best smelling restaurant on the planet. It sits between a BBQ restaurant and an Italian restaurant. Despite this, and as I ride past, all I can smell is Las Brisas. If heaven smells like steamed corn tortillas, I might have to straighten up my act — that I get in and get a good seat.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 180

Climbing: 7,300’

Mph Avg: 15.2

Calories: 10,200

Seat Time: 11 hours 49 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 Don Walker. Enjoy…

Ed’s Last Flight…

Shortly before heading out the other day, I read that Ed Beauvais had passed away. He was 84. Beauvais was a giant in the aviation industry, and was a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame.

Beauvais was best known as the founder and CEO of America West Airlines. Prior to that, he had an extensive career as an aviation executive and consultant with Frontier Airlines (the original incarnation), Western Airlines, and Continental Airlines. However, in the 1980s and early 90s, Beauvais put Phoenix on the aviation map. 

I was fortunate to work for America West in the early days. I was hired as a security guard when the company had just 900 employees. Within a few years, the company grew to nearly 10,000. Because of that phenomenal growth, I was able to coax my way into an analyst position in the Pilot Planning department, despite my lack of experience, and I remained there for the next couple of years. My analyst gig was my first adult job after leaving the Coast Guard, and changed my life in many ways. But back to Ed…

The thing I remember most about Ed Beauvais, and something I still think of often, is that he was a people’s CEO — in the same way Tommy Lasorda was a player’s coach in major league baseball.

Every other Tuesday, unless he was legitimately unable to do it, Ed worked a 6-hour shift throwing bags on the ramp at Sky Harbor Airport. He wore the burgundy coveralls that all America West ramp employees wore. He wore steel toed boots. He wore ear protection. He threw bags. He rolled up his sleeves. He even ate crappy chicken salad sandwiches out of cellophane wrappers. And he kept up with the best of them. 

A part of my job was to run pilot scheduling information from my office to the ramp a couple times each day. Occasionally I’d see Ed cutting it up in the break room with other ramp employees. I might also see him standing under a 757 offloading bags and covered in sweat. 

Ed was the most passionate person I’ve ever known in a business environment, and was relentlessly positive. I have few memories of seeing him without a smile on his face. Ed was a visionary. He started the first in-house travel agency of a major airline — Ameriwest Vacations. He also created the concept of fully cross-trained and cross-utilized CSR (all ground personnel). As he used to say…

“There are only CSRs…”

Ticket agent

Baggage handler

Gate agent

Flight attendant

Reservation agent 

There were no specialists. Every person hired in at that level was cross-trained in all of those positions, and therefore could be utilized at any of them. People could bid their seniority — a senior employee who wanted to work in-flight could do that, but they had to take at least one rotation off per quarter and work a different job. The thing America West was most known for, was also Ed’s idea… free cocktails on all flights. No wonder America West took over Phoenix in just a few years.  

Ed Beauvais personally signed off on me, a low-level analyst with no aviation degree, to help start a crew-base in Honolulu, in preparation for regular service to Nagoya Japan. Shortly after I returned from that assignment, I left America West to return to Colorado. It was a bittersweet departure, because America West was the first corporate family I’d ever had — and Ed Beauvais was the patriarch. 

There’s a handful of business leaders who influenced my early adult life. Ed Beauvais is at the top of that list.

There’s something else though, something I couldn’t find in any of the obituaries and articles I read about him after he passed, but I can speak to it personally…

Ed Beauvais told a joke to somebody every day of his life — or at least he did during my time at America West. He believed that humor in the workplace was a gateway to better morale, and to this day, I believe that to be true. To underscore Beauvais’ sense of humor I’ll throw one more at you before I close this…

My partner in the Pilot Planning department and I spent so much time there during a particularly difficult phase, that we actually pitched a tent in the middle of the office — as a comical protest. We even hung out there in our downtime. One morning Beauvais walked past the tent, and without slowing or looking down, he dropped a paper bag at the tent door. It was a bag of marshmallows, some graham crackers, and a few Hershey bars — for making s’mores. 

Ed Beauvais got his final pair of wings this week. If he’s as true to his form in heaven as he was on earth, I’m certain he’ll try and start an airline there. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 175

Climbing: 7,900’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 9,900

Seat Time: 11 hours 33 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 Bellrays. Enjoy…

Can I Get A Witness…

I rode up Alvarado Street the other day. It’s a road I don’t take often due to a steep, and I’ll confess, uncomfortable climb. It’s one of the few roads that keeps my speed in the single digits — generally about 9 mph. However, I wanted to work off the french fries I stole from mom at lunch, so I took a left where I generally take a right.

There’s a house I pass on the way up Alvarado — owned by some of my first clients in Fallbrook, nearly 20-years ago. It’s a family of three — a father, his wife, and their (then) teenage daughter. I trained the parents for general fitness and for their daughter, a competitive tennis player, I was a private strength and conditioning coach. 

They invited me over for dinner one evening, maybe a few months after our professional relationship began. I was new to town and grateful for the invite. I even wore long pants that evening — which doesn’t happen more than a few times a decade. I arrived at dinner with a bottle of wine and some flowers for my hosts. We sat in the living room and caught up for a few minutes, but they were quick to serve dinner.

I was escorted to the dining room and to a table which more resembled a holiday meal than a casual dinner. Something among the fabulous place settings stood out though — on one dinner plate was a stack of books and pamphlets. The book on top, A Purpose Driven Life, was making its way through churches across the nation at the time. 

As I sat, my host turned the deadbolt on the door leading from the dining room to the back patio. It occurred to me only later, that might have been for effect. As his wife began bringing dishes from the kitchen into the dining room, my host began talking about his journey into Christianity. I immediately felt uncomfortable.

Dinner was served, and forgive the expression, but the sales-pitch continued through the entire meal. It was loud, relentless, and I was afforded no time to speak or reply on my own behalf. I was being witnessed to — a concept I was familiar with, but had never experienced. After dinner we settled in the living room for a continuation of the same. 

Feeling less comfortable, I made attempts to change the conversation or suggest it might be time to go. I was met with scenario after scenario that might benefit my soul, and was asked repeatedly for a commitment to join them at church the following Sunday. I gave the same vague excuse each time I was pressed — that I was unsure whether or not I’d be working that Sunday. I didn’t have anything against church, but I didn’t want to be coerced into going. 

Their schpeel continued into the evening and I was getting weary. I wanted nothing more than to get in my car and drive away, but felt trapped. It must have been as clear to them I wanted to leave as it was to me that they weren’t willing to release me. I sat for a couple of hours, listening to all their brand of Christianity could offer my life. The evening came to conclusion just before midnight, but not without a couple more attempts to get me to commit to attending church with them. 

I couldn’t drive home fast enough. I felt dirty as I drove away — like my mind had been violated, because it had been. To this day it was the most uncomfortable I’ve been in the presence of social contemporaries. I didn’t feel violated because of the content of their offering, but from their method of delivery.

The church they were associated with, I learned in subsequent weeks, one of the larger ones in this area, was known for this pressing sales approach. I’m not sure if any perks, credits, or heavenly incentives are offered for each soul brought to the table, but they got no bounty for me that night.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m religion’s biggest fan, though I subscribe to none. More than half the books I own have to do with the world’s religions, both historic and current, and their value in society.  I will argue until my dying breath that the world needs religion — it’s the mortar that holds the bricks of culture together. 

We live in a time when far too many people are critical of or are outright against religion. It’s not religion we should be against, not ever. It is the abuse of religion which gives all faiths a bad name — in the same way that it’s the abuse of any institution that gives those institutions bad reputations. And I can think of few worse abuses of religion, than trying to get somebody to commit to it against their will — over chicken cacciatore and a raspberry vinaigrette salad. 

I didn’t let that incident sour me on Christianity, Christians, or the upside of that tradition. It did though, reinforce my stance on propagating any religion — that it should be made available, but never forced down anyone’s throat.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 171

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 9,800

Seat Time: 11 hours 07 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 Los Cenzontles. Enjoy…

Spitting On History…

It was the winter of 1987. My mom worked for the Indian Health Service in Chinle Arizona. Trudy and I lived in Denver and made the trip to see mom for a long weekend. We split the drive into two days, spending our first night in Durango, and driving into Chinle the following morning. 

Chinle is a small community near the center of the Navajo reservation. Home to Canyon De Chelly and some of the most spectacular scenery in the American southwest, the town exists in complete isolation — the kind of isolation one might feel if they were in Antarctica or on Mars. That kind of isolation was as much the attraction for me as the scenery.

We left Durango under cloudy skies and in sub-freezing temperatures. The forecast through the desert was more of the same. As we approached Chinle on Highway 191, 30-miles or so from town, we began to see the occasional dirt road leading to a hogan, a mobile home, or some combination of the two. These are called Navajo Suburbs. 

As snow began to fall, we came across a sign reminding us how isolated we were…

 YEILD TO LIVESTOCK

The Navajo reservation is open-range, so it’s not unusual to see cattle, sheep, and horses crossing the road — or even gathering in it. As we slowed to yield the intersection, we noticed an elderly Navajo woman, in traditional dress with a shawl across her shoulders, standing beside the road with her thumb out — hitchhiking. It might’ve been 30° and large flakes of snow were falling slowly to the ground.

We slowed down to offer the old woman a ride, but before we came to a complete stop, and upon looking at us, she spit on the ground in front of her and turned her back to us — indicating she didn’t want a ride. Not from Anglos anyway — or at least that’s how we perceived it. 

I honestly don’t remember if we pursued offering her a ride beyond that, but I don’t think we did. I know we were both humbled and saddened, but we knew why. I remember making the comment that the old woman wasn’t spitting at us — she was spitting on history. I’m pretty sure Trudy and I didn’t talk again until we arrived in Chinle. 

At least a few times a month I ride through some of the local Indian communities in North San Diego County. A few of those roads are similar to the Navajo suburbs — long dirt driveways cutting through dry chaparral, with the occasional mobile home a few hundred yards in the distance, though there are no hogans around here. It takes me back. 

Nearly 35 years later, I still think about it — about the old woman who would rather stand and let snow fall on her shoulders on a frigid morning than accept a ride from a couple of white folks in a Renault Alliance. Somehow, I don’t think much has changed.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 173

Climbing: 7,300’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9,900

Seat Time: 11 hours 12 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 David Lindley and Wally Ingram . Enjoy…

Rising Above My Darker Feed…

I’ve been among social media‘s biggest fans. From the beginning, I’ve seen the benefits and the upsides of it in ways I think most people don’t, and perhaps can’t. In the chronological blink of an eye, the world connected in a way that would have seemed like magic only 100-years ago.

And because I’ve seen and focused more on the positive aspects of social media, I’ve been resistant to criticize it, let alone estrange myself from it. That’s not to suggest I don’t recognize the downsides of it all. It’s just my perspective has been that social media, like any tool, is only as good, or bad, as the intentions it’s used with. For my part, I’ve tried to use it with good intentions. 

I’ll admit though, it’s getting harder these days. Social media, Facebook in particular, has become an outlet for so much hate, negativity, and ignorance that, at times, it overwhelms and depresses me. I truly don’t know what people are trying to accomplish by using it in these ways, but my feed has taken a noticeable tilt toward the darker side. 

And the thing is, my friends and connections haven’t really changed through the years. What’s changed has been the world around us — and how (ordinarily) good people are reacting poorly to those changes. How we respond to the changing world defines who we are. I don’t know, I guess we just all need somebody to hate — and a place to scream. 

And no, this isn’t where I’m going to say I’m walking away from social media or taking a break for a few weeks. I still see the upside, and I’m still grateful for the interactions I have with like-minded people in matters of philosophy, humor, and the arts.

It’s interesting though, and this is not new…

Much of what I think about when I ride my bikes through the hills of North County each day is the interactions I have with others on my social media platforms. I think about it as I pedal — the good, the bad, and the ugly of my feeds. 

Oh, and there’s this…

If I get hit by a car later today, and not survive, I’d be very proud of the social media legacy I’d leave behind — my digital imprint on the world. It’s honest. It represents me well. It involves no malice. It’s all been done with good intentions. I’m not sure how many people can say that. Some days, I’m not sure any people can say that. I can only say that I wish more people used social media this way. 

Funny — in a life where I’ve fucked up pretty much everything I’ve ever done, it’s ironic that social media is one of the few things I do well. At least I think I do it well.  

This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 168

Climbing: 7,100’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9,600

Seat Time: 10 hours 45 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 Ryan Adams. Enjoy…

Secretly Jealous…

The last thing I see as I ieave my driveway each day is my neighbor’s backyard. Well, it’s more complicated than that…

The people who reside next to me, once occupied the house I now live in. They owned it, but got foreclosed on. Because I live in the house they once owned, they’ve shunned me for the last six years. They avoid eye contact, don’t reciprocate when I offer a hello, and have pretended they don’t speak English when I’ve attempted to speak with them.

The thing is, they don’t live in the house next-door. They live in the backyard next-door. When they were foreclosed on seven years ago, and with no place else to go, the elderly woman who lives in the house next-door agreed to let them set up temporary shelters in her backyard.

They are a family of five — a mother and father, probably in their mid-50s, and their two adult children, a daughter and a son, who look to be in their mid-20s. The daughter has a toddler who’s maybe 3-years-old. 

The family lives in windowless plywood shacks, roughly 12’x12’. Each hut has electricity run by extension cords from the main house. The yard itself has been reduced to dirt, though they do have several gardens of vegetables, fruit trees, and even some flowers decorating the periphery. There’s a fence that divides their yard space from the main house. So far as I can tell, this is a business agreement and they don’t intermingle with the lady who owns the property and lives in the main house. They simply rent her backyard.

The mom and dad share one shack, with the two adult children each having their own. In-between the structures, in the central part of the yard, are a couple of easy-ups they use for common living spaces. Under one easy-up are lounge chairs and end tables. Under the other is a family-size picnic table where they dine. Behind the living spaces and towering over the dirt is a freestanding refrigerator, also powered by extension cord. Beside it is a gas powered grill — with side burners. This is their kitchen. 

The patriarch is independently employed in landscape maintenance. He works seven days per week, generally leaves about 5am, and returns about 3pm. His wife stays home, tends the gardens and her toddler grandson, and spends much of her day preparing the evening meal. The two adult children also leave early for jobs in town, and return in mid-afternoon also. 

At home, they seem to spend most of their non-sleeping time in the common areas under the easy-ups, where they cook, listen to traditional Mexican music from a boom-box, and play with the lone grandchild. When they’re not working, they’re together most of the time. I overhear a lot of conversation, laughter, and music. 

I admire it — and don’t mind saying I’m secretly jealous. It’s a simple life, not complicated. From a distance, it’s all so charming. They aren’t hung up on granite countertops, 80-inch wall-mounted televisions, and the latest heat resonating cookware. This is the epitome of functional minimalism. Each day as I roll my bike past the gate that secures them, I think to myself…

I could do that — I could totally live like that. And I mean it — I even aspire to it.  

I admire a man who wakes up early, works long days, and does so seven days per week. I admire the mom who stays home all day, tending the garden and preparing the evening meal. I admire that, despite they each have an improvised bungalow they could hide away in, they spend their time outdoors conversing, laughing, and listening to music. They even host social gatherings on occasion, where a dozen people or more show up with food, drink, and occasionally play live music. 

And I’ll be so bold as to say this…

If more of us live like that — lived minimally, spent our free time together as generationally undivided families, and conversed more, the world might be a better place. I don’t want to suggest what they have is utopia or that they even aspired to be were they are. Again, they once lived in the house I’m in now, with liberty and hardwood floors for all. But they seem at home in their circumstance and surroundings and not forlorn. They truly don’t seem to want for more.

If I’m being honest, I kind of don’t like the people next-door. I want to like them, but they’ve been rude to me, ignored me, and even hijacked my garden hose once to fill their water tanks. It’s hard to like somebody who treats me poorly — all for the crime of living in the house they couldn’t hold onto. Still, I’ll keep waving to them, smiling at them, and saying hello — even if ignored. And as I smile my neighborly smile, I have no idea if they can see through me — if they know I’m secretly jealous of the life that they live.

I’m certain I’ve offended more than a few with this viewpoint, even some close friends and family members. This wasn’t my desire and I hope you’ll forgive me. I just never bought into the dream — not completely anyway. Contrary to my father, good enough has always been good enough for me. If we all lived a little more minimally, even a little bit, I just think that would be nice.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 132

Climbing: 5,800’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 7,600

Seat Time: 8 hours 35 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 Otis Gibbs. Enjoy…

Casualties Of Hate…

Like everyone else who’s witnessed what’s happening in Afghanistan, I’m saddened and feel lifeless. In the hours after seeing this unfold on both the big and small screens last week, I began to feel like I got sucked into a narrow vacuum hose and stuck with no way out.

The horrors in Afghanistan notwithstanding (that sentence in-itself is wretched), what’s crushing me just as much is how people are claiming exclusive rights to their strong opinions, and name-calling those they disagree with in the aftermath of it all. 

Once the war of opinions began, the war in Afghanistan became monumentally insignificant to them, though they’ll never admit this. It didn’t take long for the hate grenades to be lobbed back-and-forth across media platforms, including social media. And as usual, the insults and hate speech were lobbed without much thought. 

Boom — explosion!  

The insult landed. A direct hit. The damage was done. But how much damage, do you even know…?  Hope you feel better now. 

Insults are the weapons of discussion that people choose when their intelligence weakens. I frame it that way because most everyone has the intelligence not to use insults and hate speech. Of all the reasons I can think of not to insult somebody or belittle their opinion, chief among them is this…

That when people use the media and social media to project insults and hate speech, people who aren’t being targeted also get hit. You see, there’s collateral damage in being a dick. We’ve all heard the following cliché or something like it:

You never know what somebody else is battling, so be kind. 

The damage that can be done to somebody who lives with hidden turmoil and who hides it behind a strong face, may be far greater than the person throwing the insults know. I can speak to this first-hand. An insult or abusive speech might truly be the difference in a person’s bad day, bad week, or God willing, hopefully not in their life.

Everyone has their right to expression — to throw insults, use hate speech, and to express unsolicited strong opinions. And everyone else has their tipping point. And those who throw insults blindly, regularly, and the name of feeling more intelligent or superior to another, probably have no idea whether the person they are aiming at is approaching their tipping point — or what innocent bystanders might also receive that hate grenade. 

Ready. Aim. Insult…

Don’t worry about the casualties, so long as it makes you feel good. 

With that in mind, I have two (rhetorical) questions for anyone who has insulted anyone else in relation to what’s happened in Afghanistan…

What, specifically, did you get out of being mean to another person…?

How does the world become a better place for your verbal malice…?

And I’m not just singling out social media warriors and water cooler prophets here. Media personalities, pundits, senators, representatives, and retired military leaders have used language on national television, radio, and the internet recent days that is inconsistent with the esteem those positions (should) warrant. And the men who hold high places…

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 157

Climbing: 6,900’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 8,900

Seat Time: 10 hours 25 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 Mari Boine. Enjoy…

The Wolves…

Last week, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band on earth, Los Lobos, released their most recent album. Of course when I call them the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, that’s just my way of saying that I have a great deal of appreciation for them.

Native Sons, their 18th album, is a collection of songs covering California artists who influenced their musical sensibilities early in their career. Over the last several months, Los Lobos released bits of the new album on YouTube. I liked what I heard, but was looking forward to putting the CD in my car stereo and taking it for a drive. Last Saturday I got to do that.

I can’t say that this is their best album, but it’s certainly well-made and it didn’t disappoint. Perhaps time will prove it to be a top three or four album of theirs for me. In recent years, artists I’ve appreciated for decades such as James McMurtry, Cornershop, and The Waterboys have delivered albums I’ve enjoyed, but consider subpar. Native Sons is far better than that. 

The intentions behind this album can be felt immediately. The care that went into recording it is evident right away. Singer, David Hildalgo, who has a history of clunker vocals both live and on their recordings, is smooth on each of his vocal tracks. The recording fidelity is excellent — better than any of their previous albums. There’s ample space between the sounds, and the instrumentation and vocals are crisp and distinct. 

Something the band attempted to do on this album was be true to the original song, but also put their own signature on each. That’s no easy task. Very often with covers, a band will try to duplicate the original song or take it in another direction altogether. Los Lobos walked a fine line and definitely achieved what they set out to do. Each track is true to the original, but there’s no doubt who’s performing it.

The song selection took me by surprise, but in a good way. Several of the songs are rock standards that I knew word-for-word, while others are songs I’m scarcely familiar with. 

Bluebird (Buffalo Springfield) and Sail On Sailor (Beach Boys) are standouts for me. Again, true to the originals, but no doubt the guys from East LA are at the helm. Where Lovers Go (The Jaguars) takes me back to a simpler era of music — one that took place while I was still a toddler, and is probably my favorite song on the album — for now.  

The musicianship, as always, is stellar. Hidalgo is one of the great guitar players nobody talks about. He demonstrates his usual outstanding playing throughout the album, but it’s kept a bit further back in the mix on most songs. However, on The World Is A Ghetto (WAR), Hidalgo’s guitar playing is prominent, precise, and clean. Cesar Rosas’ vocals and guitar work throughout the album are as good as ever. Louie Pérez sings, plays guitars, and adds some percussion. 

Pérez, the original drummer for the band, gives up the kit on this album for David Hidalgo Jr. (Social Distortion) and Jason Lozano, who play superbly on their respective tracks. Steve Berlin (Saxophone) and Conrad Lozano (Bass) are like piecrust holding the band together. Their supporting roles are at the heart of the thing, and each gives the album a character that can’t come from anyone else.

After I listened to the album the second time, one line kept going through my head, over and over, from the movie Tender Mercies, starring Robert Duvall… 

“Sing It The Way You Feel It…”

It’s evident on every track that the guys from East LA sang and played every song the way they felt it. 

Footnote: I first wrote this for my Facebook page 2-weeks ago. I’ve since listened to the CD nearly a dozen times and compared each track to the original. For my money, I’ll take the Los Lobos cover over each of the originals, including the two Buffalo Springfield songs. Yes, I said it. 

This has quickly become a top-3 album of theirs for me, just behind Kiko and The Town And The City. My standout tracks, as of this morning are, Farmer John (The Premiers) and For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield). At some point, I’m guessing every song on the CD will be my favorite, at least for a while.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 179

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 10,100

Seat Time: 11 hours 52 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 greatest rock ‘n’ roll band on earth, Los Lobos. Enjoy…

Here In My Mold…

I truly wonder who I am sometimes. Just as often, I wonder who I should be. I was thinking about that when I went out the other day — about whether I’m the me I’m supposed to be or if I’m actually the me I’ve created. And no, this isn’t an exercise in freshman philosophy. It’s something I think about quite a bit. I worry that I’ve invested too much of myself and given up too much of my soul in creating the character I play when people are looking — because I’m afraid to just be myself.

I wonder who I’d be if I wasn’t influenced by the expectations I think others have of me. 

I wonder who I’d be if I wasn’t influenced by entertainment — stories, music, television, and movies. 

I wonder who I might be if I wasn’t influenced by the expectations I have of myself — and I wonder further where those expectations come from.

I wonder who I’d be if I was brave enough to say what’s on my mind 100% of the time — or even 50% of the time. 

I wonder who I’d be if I put others ahead of myself more often than I do.

I wonder who I’d be if I didn’t choose play over work as often as I do. 

I wonder who I’d be if I listened to the ‘do-right’ voice in my head more than I do. 

And I don’t just wonder who I’d be on the surface, but I wonder all kinds of wonders…

I wonder if I’d sleep better.

I wonder if my financial status would be more stable.

I wonder if my social and personal relationships would be stronger.

I wonder if I’d worry less about an afterlife.

And the thing is, this goes through my head all the time. On my bike, off my bike, when I’m awake, and even when I sleep I have dreams about the influence everyone and everything outside of me has on me.

Of course, I guess that’s our mission as human beings — to absorb the good from the outside, filter out the bad, and charge-on being the best we can possibly be. Some days though, I question whether I’ve absorbed too much of the wrong things, and whether I’ve filtered out too much of what I really need. 

I just think about it all the time. All the time. 

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

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 180

Climbing: 5,800’

Mph Avg: 15.2

Calories: 10,200 

Seat Time: 11 hours 55 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 Richard Ashcroft. Enjoy…

That Six Minutes…

I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. Between Vietnam, Kent state, and Watergate, my television didn’t have much good to offer each evening. Sure, there were the Apollo missions every-so-often, and Fractured Fairytales on Saturday mornings, but during the dinner hour, television was our household conduit to the fearful and foreboding atmosphere of the day.

Every four years though, dad would relinquish the large round knob on the upper right-hand corner of the Admiral television set in our living room, and let my brother and I watch as much Olympic coverage as we wanted. That was the golden age of the Summer Olympics. 

To this day, when people speak of Mexico City, Munich, or Montreal, before I think of anything else, I think of the summer games. I think of John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Mark Spitz, Dave Wottle, Steve Prefontaine, Olga Korbut, Bruce Jenner, and Ray Leonard, among many others. Those were just a handful of people who made the summer games of that era iconic.

When I watched the Olympics, there was no Vietnam, there were no race riots, and Nixon was an afterthought. Those were the first times I remember escapin