Uncritical Mass…

Anyone who began recreational or competitive bodybuilding in their youth and continued it well into their adult life will tell you, you don’t really learn how to train until you’re in your 40s. And for those who continue it into their 50s, with an emphasis on right-diet and consistent training, the results are often as good as men and women much younger.

To be clear, I’m talking about bodybuilding without pharmaceutical enhancement. No drugs. 

In 2013 I was 52, and coaching a female bodybuilder, among my other clients. Having let myself get out of shape, or what I call emphasizing loosely packed muscle, she remarked to me one morning about my “soft physique” and asked if I had “given up” on it. I assured her that with eight straight weeks of training and proper eating, I could get in the best bodybuilding shape of my life. When she snickered, I asked if she would put her money where her laugh was. A bet was made for $500 and I got to work.

In the coming weeks she saw my progress, and it became clear to her, possibly for the first time, I really knew what I was doing when it came to coaching bodybuilding and fitness. By the end of the eighth week, I was walking everywhere in town with my shirt off. When the day came for her to pay off the bet, her pocketbook was nowhere to be found. Cool. I proved my point. 

I maintained that shape for the next couple of years, until early 2015 when I returned from Colorado to California. That’s when I began to emphasize my cycling, loosened my diet, and the weight room became secondary. I still lifted weights 3 to 4 days per week, but not with the intensity I’d been maintaining since my early teens.

A couple months back I was reflecting on that bet I made in 2013, and the shape I got in as a result of it. With little fanfare, and no mention of it to anyone, I began an earnest attempt to get in, not just good shape, but possibly the best bodybuilding shape of my life. I retooled my diet, stepped up my strength training sessions, and began a course of supplementation I haven’t adhered to since I was in my 30s.

The only difference in my day-to-day training between 2013 and now is at that in 2013 my only cardiovascular activity was running 2 to 3 miles 5 days per week. Also, today I eat almost exclusively plant-based protein.  

After eight weeks of training — of grinding it out in the gym day after day, of increased supplementation, and a significantly retooled diet, I’m proud to say I have made no progress — none. To look at me, you might not even think I lift weights at all. I have muscle tone, but it’s the kind you might get by living in a Salvadoran prison for 18-years.

So what’s gone wrong…?

First, I’m on a bike for nearly 2-hours every day. It’s just something I’m not willing to sacrifice. The calorie expenditure and the lack of recovery that cycling creates, is completely inconsistent with adding muscle mass. In fact, my weekly photographs to disclose progress suggest my muscle mass might have slightly declined in the last eight weeks.

In 2013, I was sleeping a combined 6 to 7 hours every night. Not great, but adequate for exercise recovery. Today, primarily due to my caregiving responsibilities and my relentless addiction to 4am writing, I get 4 to 5 hours of broken sleep — on a good night. 

Also, I’m entering my 60s. Though it varies from person to person, male strength athletes tend to have a noticeable decline in muscle mass and muscular quality over the age of 60. This is largely due to a decline in the production of testosterone. This doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to maintain some degree of muscle mass and strength, but it’s unrealistic to expect the same results today that I was getting 10-years ago and 10-years before that.

Lastly, I began early — I’ve been in the weight room regularly since I was 12-years old. After 48-years of regular strength training, there’s no place for the body to really go.

So where do I go from here…?

I still enjoy being in the weight room — it’s my sanctuary. I value the physical autonomy that being strong provides me. I also know that strength training, done properly, promotes flexibility, balance, and slows down the inevitable loss of bone density — even if I do look like a Salvadoran prisoner.

I’m just slightly bummed that the guns of old and the quads that once popped with every step are beginning to fizzle. I’ve known though, for a long time, that I would get to this day. For now, I’m going to give it another couple of months and see what happens. After that, I may take my own advice and just strength train a couple days a week. The cycling though, is here to stay.  

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 193

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 11,000

Seat Time: 12 hours 41 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 Sean Costello. Enjoy…

Exhilarated…

Within minutes of posting this, I’ll be headed to the coast on a bicycle once again. It’s my Sunday morning ritual.

Morning rides are the best. In part, because they breathe life into me at a time of day when any exhilaration is welcome. I may get up at 4am, but I don’t come life until mid-morning. Spinning my legs and pushing my heart as early fuel for my day puts coffee to shame. 

I’ve been thinking about that word lately — exhilaration. While riding last Sunday morning, under a fading sunrise, I thought about as many synonyms for exhilaration as I could. The word that most closely resembled exhilaration, I thought, was joy. When I returned home, I used the Google to search for synonyms for exhilaration, and joy was among the first that came up. Funny though, every subsequent synonym would also be appropriate for what I feel when I ride.

I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am that I get to feel exhilaration most every day of my life. Of course that exhilaration isn’t with me all day, but it’s a great equalizer for other emotions that sneak into my day…

Sadness

Frustration

Rage

Fear

Anger

Depression

Confusion

Fright

On consideration, and if I’m being honest, there are more negative emotions which guide my mood in the course of a day than there are positive ones. The positive ones though, seem to carry more weight, and among them all, exhilaration carries the most.

And no, this isn’t a how-to about how you can build exhilaration into your own day. If you want it, you’ll find it — or create it as I do. I just can’t imagine living without a dose or two of exhilaration each day to fend off those lesser emotions which strive to bring me down.

I honestly don’t remember thinking too much about the word exhilaration before. I’m not sure it’s even crossed my mind until this week. My takeaway from this contemplation though, is this…

Without some daily exhilaration, my world would be a much darker place.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 199

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 11,200

Seat Time: 13 hours 10 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 Leonid And Friends (Steely Dan cover). Enjoy…

Independence Day…

Since beginning this daily cycling endeavor in 2016, a handful of recurring memories cross my mind when I ride. They might involve people, places, or situations I’ve found myself in. Some of those memories are negative, some positive, but if they are there at all, it means they’re indelible. There’s one memory though, that has visited me more than any other. It never stays long, but it shows up nearly every day.  

In 1967 I lived in Morris Plains New Jersey. My father, a marketing executive in the banking industry, was one of the original members of United Airlines 100,000 Mile Club. Dad often left town on Monday or Tuesday and would return on Thursday or Friday. It was just the way of life for the man in the gray flannel suit. 

Every so-often I’d need my dad for some kind of dad-chore during the week. If he was out of town though, I’d as my mom. If she couldn’t fulfill the request, she’d come straight at me with…

“You’ll just have to wait till your father gets back…”

That was always enough to dissuade me from badgering her further. If dad wasn’t around to do it, and if mom couldn’t do it, I usually found a way to get it done anyway. 

I was 5-years old and went to half-day kindergarten in the mornings. After school I usually hung out with my two friends, Ben and Gail — classmates from kindergarten and each lived a few houses away on my street. We would play on the swing-set in Gail‘s backyard, watch the black-and-white Zenith television in my rec room, and ride our small bikes on the street between our driveways. Among the many things Gail, Ben, and I had in common, were training wheels on our little bikes. 

One day, after Gail and Ben left my driveway back to their respective houses, I decided I didn’t want training wheels any longer. I went inside and asked my mom if she could take them off. That’s when I got the…

“You’ll just have to wait till your father gets back…”

My father was out of town and wouldn’t return until the weekend. I don’t remember exactly how long it took, but after my mom declined to remove my training wheels, I found myself in the garage — with my bike tilted up on one side.

I found a small brick in back of the garage. I held the brick with both hands and began striking the exposed training wheel to bend upward — until it would no longer be capable of touching the ground. It only took a few strikes. I then flipped the bike over and did the same thing with the opposite training wheel. Moments later I was on the street attempting to ride my bike with no training wheels — for the very first time.  

It didn’t go so well. 

I more or less walk/rode my bike several houses up to Gail’s house, where she and her dad were standing in their driveway. I showed them what I had done to my training wheels. Gail‘s dad stepped away briefly and returned with some wrenches. Within a few minutes, my training wheels were properly removed. A couple minutes later and Gail’s dad was holding my shoulders and helping me balance while I rode without training wheels for the first time. It didn’t take long before Gail‘s dad let go and I was rolling, however awkwardly, on my own. I never looked back. 

A few days later, when my father returned, I explained that Gail‘s dad had removed the training wheels. I expected him to be upset, but if he was, he showed no sign of it. After I told him, he took me outside and wanted to see me ride. I made a few passes up and down the street in front of the house. I clearly remember him clapping as he told me how proud he was of me. That is precisely where my memory of riding that bike stops. 

It was a small red and white bike, possibly a Schwinn. I have no memory of riding it after that day — none, though I’m certain I rode it most every day. A couple takeaways from that experience are these…

1- Along with my first visit to a weight room, that was probably the most significant day of my life.

2- I remember riding my bike that day, but I have no memory of riding any day after. It’s amazing, the things we remember — and the things we forget.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 209

Climbing: 7,900’

Mph Avg: 14.9

Calories: 11,800

Seat Time: 14 hours 04 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 Joan Armatrading. Enjoy…

Life Inside The Coin…

Last week I had one of those rides that made me feel good about humanity. Everywhere I looked, I saw social progress — man working toward the betterment of man. Don’t get me wrong, that almost never ends well, but the continuation of the process is what gives me hope. We keep trying. 

I love riding past the tomato fields of Oceanside. I find their aesthetic stunning. And beyond how they look, that millions of people get fed from tomato fields all over the world is also beautiful. And beyond that — beyond those large fields of tomatoes that feed millions of people and look so good doing it, they don’t just bring nutrition, they bring happiness. There’s happiness in pizza, and you can’t have pizza without tomatoes. 

And that highway I rode — alongside those tomato fields…? What an absolute miracle. Roads are the arteries that allow thousands of people, every day, to see other people, to get to work, to get to the beach, and to get away from home, if only for a while. And virtually everything I look at in my house, as I write this at 4am, spent time on a highway, just like the one I rode my bike on yesterday. Like tomato fields, roads and highways are miracles.

Not far off that highway is a sea of red ceramic roofs. These are little boxes where children grow up, come home to after school, have parties, kick balls in the backyard, and eat pot roast made by their mothers. Houses are aware sibling rivalries are formed, evening movies are enjoyed, and where the family pet is laid to rest under the rose bush in the backyard. Houses too, are miracles.

And above and below all of those houses with red ceramic roofs, there are lines of electricity, of water, and cables of communications that make all of this work. Those are the nervous system of social structure — a network of miracles. 

Of course it’s easy to be critical of monoculture tomato fields, of highways and the vehicles that fill them, of the houses we escape to each evening, and of power lines, sewer lines, and fiber optic cables. It’s been studied and documented for decades, that all of our advancements are lining up to destroy us. 

On some level though, to me anyway, they are still advancements and they are still miracles. Appreciating them — that takes work. On some level, I trust that millions of people, every day, are working hard to make all of those things better, cleaner, and more efficient, for all of us. Some of those people will certainly fail. Some though, will actually succeed — they’ll make the world a better place by contributing to the next lineage of miracles.

There are two sides to every coin, including the coin of humanity. On one side of the coin we have the slow biological evolution of the primate that is us. On the other side of that coin, we have the fast, increasingly complex evolution of social structure and all the trappings that go with it. And we — we who are living in this time and at this moment, are living our lives between two sides of the same coin.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 184

Climbing: 8,800’

Mph Avg: 15.2

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 hours 08 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 Christopher Coleman. Enjoy…

Cancel The Woke…

There’s no such thing as Woke Culture or Wokeism. The term is a construct, created to spin the inevitable arc of moral progress over time. I’m embarrassed that it gets thrown around as often it does, and by intelligent people who should know better. But agenda is an intoxicant that can put alcohol to shame, especially in the veins of the media and politicians.

An archaeologist sees the head of a nail sticking out from the dried earth. He digs a little deeper and exposes the stem of the nail. Further still, and he realizes the nail is held fast to a board. Brushing away more dirt, he exposes the length of the board — which is connected, by other nails, to a series of other boards. 

As the dirt is cleared away, a form takes shape. What appears to be a wooden wall is exposed — until the archaeologist finds a curve in it. Over time, and with the help of others, the large section of wood is exposed to be the hull of an old ship. Just hours earlier all that could be seen — all that was known was just the head of a nail.

Exposure, layer by layer and over time, tells a more complete story. It’s not that the ship suddenly grew under the nail — it was there all the time, waiting to be discovered. The archaeologists, and subsequently the people who learned about the ship, weren’t woke, they were educated about what was already there. 

Honestly, I’m glad for the increasing exposure to the moral inequalities that plague society — racism, gender bias, and social and economic disparity, etc. To be clear, I cringe when bad things happen to good people. I don’t want to see property destroyed. I don’t want to see people get threatened, injured, or killed. But the more that hatred and ignorant bias step into the light and the louder they announce themselves, the better off we’re all going to be in the long-term. I truly believe that. 

More recently, it’s as though the ship itself is clearing the dirt away. Let their voices be heard. Let their ignorance be observed. Let the fruit of their hateful minds be on display for everyone to see. Let’s clear the streets and give ‘em all microphones. Allow them to gather in large numbers and speak without interruption. 

Morality, like mathematics, isn’t something man invented. It’s been there since time began, woven into the fiber of the universe — to be discovered and used for the advancement of the species. The moral progress of man is a treasure. Social equality, over time, is taking shape. It won’t be fully exposed in my lifetime or yours, but every day we need to keep wiping the dirt off of it and allow it to be exposed further — and we need to keep others from burying it once again.  

Woke isn’t the act of creating something new. Woke is exposing something that’s been there all along. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 195

Climbing: 7,900’

Mph Avg: 15.3

Calories: 11,100

Seat Time: 12 hours 44 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 Jake Bugg. Enjoy…!

The Toll…

It’s harder to get moving these days, and when I do, I more resemble Detective Fish from Barney Miller than an advocate for fitness over the age of 60. My body is feeling the effects of an absence of sleep. 

If there’s a weakness in my physical life, it’s that recovery isn’t an option. I still do all the physical things I’ve done since my teens, I’ve simply given away on those hours when exercise recovery takes place. Due to a variety of reasons, I get just 4 to 5 hours of broken sleep each night.

I’ve struggled with sleep since I heard that first trashcan lid make contact with its base on my first morning of Boot Camp. That noise came as such a shock, I immediately began developing a system of anticipating subsequent trashcan lids, alarms, and anything else which might intend to wake me. By the time I completed my term in the United States Coast Guard, I had lost the ability to sleep for more than 4-hours at a stretch.

From the Coast Guard, I would go through a series of jobs involving shift work — very often swingshift and graveyard shift, with sleep taking place during the day in bits and pieces as I was able. Eventually I’d settle into a career of fitness training, but that involved taking clients as early as 4am and and often as late as 8pm. 

A fear of oversleeping worked against me. In time I was able to weed out the early and the late client sessions, but years of being a poor sleeper created synapses in my brain and body that manifest for life. 

In 2005 I saw a sleep specialist. When I described my sleep habits, combined with my physical lifestyle, he suggested I cut significantly back on the physicality of my life. I explained that exercise is primary in my life, as much for mental stability as it is a physical outlet. He said he understood, and told me to expect my body to break down in time. For a long time I fought that — successfully. I just did what I did, ate what I ate, and slept when I could. I did okay with that. 

In time though, I’d add into my life the hobbies of writing, photo editing, and actually expand on daily exercise — all while accepting my role as a caregiver for my aging mother. What could possibly go wrong…? Actually, I’m kind of proud that I make it all work, and I do. With one problem though…

I sleep less than ever and I feel myself breaking down. 

Caregiving has put me in a position where I need to stay up a little later and wake a little earlier each day, in order to accomplish the things that fall through the cracks in my hurry-scurry day-to-day. I do most of my writing and photo editing either before my mother wakes up or after she goes to sleep. Notwithstanding, the administration of my business, workout planning for clients, correspondence, and just finding some quiet time.

To paraphrase George H. W. Bush…

The Jhciacb way of life is not negotiable. 

I’m beat up these days. I ache, crackle, and move slowly if I’ve been seated too long. Wrapping my fingers around a barbell at 6am requires a mental coaxing that’s new to me. When I walk into my bike room each afternoon, my mind spies the  bike of the day while my body cries for a nap instead. Each morning, when I could attempt to sleep for another hour, I wake up and write. I choose movement. I choose creativity. 

I’ll continue to do the things that feed my mental health, my confidence, and my need for physical and creative outlets — at the expense of the sleep which I also need. Besides, nobody ever died from a lack of sleep. Well, not immediately anyway.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 170

Climbing: 7,200

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 9,700

Seat Time: 11 hours 02 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 Ray Wylie Hubbard. Enjoy…!

No Meat For That Dog…

When I turn my bike from East Mission Road here in Fallbrook, onto Live Oak Road, I’m like a kid. Know that I get to glide downhill for the next for the next 3-miles. Just three or four kicks after I make that turn, and I can let the gravy and good wheels do the work. 

Live Oak Road is a meandering descent along the eastern edge of Fallbrook. As the name indicates, it’s lined with dozens of old oaks, a handful of which form tree tunnels along way. Riding this road can be transcendent, depending on my mood, and is often the cherry on top of my day.

Live Oak comes to an end when it reaches Reche Road — another beautiful 2-lane road, with more oaks and some beautiful homes as well. As I transitioned from Live Oak to Reche one evening last week, and as I passed one of those beautiful homes, I was startled when I heard several dogs barking. I’ve turned that corner hundreds of times and never heard dogs there before.

I looked over my right shoulder and saw three unleashed dogs, all stocky and looking to be (approximately) in the 60-pound range. They were different colors, appeared to be mixed breeds, and certainly had some fighting dog in them — because they were charging me at full speed. It took only a moment to realize they were running faster than I was pedaling. 

The dog closest to me, a tan big-head, was running faster than I could ride. He looked hungry, and I have a lot of leg meat. Fortunately the gradient of the road increased, and going downhill allowed me to stay ahead of him. As I created some distance between me and the big-head, he slowed and turned back toward his two companions. At his closest, he was within 5 or 6 feet of me.

Once clear of any danger, I stopped, drank some water, and took in what had just happened. Experience has taught me that some dogs can run upwards of 25 to 30 mph. If I’m riding on a flat road, the fastest I can ride is roughly 25 mph. That is, if that road hadn’t turned downhill when the dogs began chasing me, they probably would’ve caught me.

That was the only time I can remember seeing dogs off-leash while I was riding, that I didn’t stop to try and find their homes. It was a busy road, they appeared aggressive, and I felt vulnerable. When I got home, I checked a couple of ‘lost pet’ pages for this area on social media, but found nothing similar. I’m hopeful they were local dogs whose steward left them unattended or left a gate open.  

For the rest of the ride though, I kept imagining what would’ve happened if big-head dog had caught me. The last thing I’d ever want is to have to defend myself from a dog that’s the product of poor stewardship. I drove by that area later that day to see if I could find the owner or which yard the dogs came from. No luck.

I’ll still ride by that street in the future, but a lot faster, and without looking back. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 185

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 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 Oasis. Enjoy…!

The Art Of Being Scarcely Informed…

I haven’t been checking the headlines much recently, and not at all this morning. War could’ve been declared overnight and I wouldn’t have known about it until someone mentioned it to me. And if I did know about it, would it have have made a difference in my day…? Not much, honestly.

My information triage each morning goes something like this…

– Check Reuters headlines

– Check AP headlines

– Check NPR headlines

– Correlate those three sources for common impactful stories

Stories which I think might have an impact on me directly, I read immediately.

Stories relevant to my clients, which might come in conversation during my workday, I skim.

Stories of interest which I’m sure won’t impact my day, my lifestyle, or my finances, I bookmark for a possible read later in the day.

I guess this makes me scarcely informed.

I’ve come to believe this is a good way to be — to be (at least) partially informed of the big stories and scarcely informed about smaller news stories. In truth though, unless a missile is headed to the United States, the banking system collapses due to a cyber-attack, or a river of lava is flowing down Main Avenue, I could probably make it through the day without knowing what’s going on in the world — I could probably make it through most of my life without knowing what’s going on in the world. I mean, unless a pandemic breaks out, but what are the odds of that…?

And that was my convoluted mind-chew for much of my pedaling week…

I’ve never believed that being informed is as critical to our day-to-day lives as so many make it out to be. For most, being informed is a justifiable form of entertainment.

– It’s good to be informed, yes.

– It’s good that information comes from credible sources, yes.

– It’s good to process that information in a way that applies appropriate context and perspective to the reader, yes.

In his book, Why We’re Polarized (2020), Ezra Klein tells the story of a friend, a bay area businessman, who goes to great lengths to avoid all news. He does this under the pretense that no matter what the news is, it will affect only his mood. Any news so significant it would impact his life or his business, he’d learn from the act of just living.

At least half of me believe there’s some value to that, and that’s not so small-minded. It’s been studied from many angles, and suggested that a lesser demand for news would result in a better quality of information. In The Elements Of Journalism (2014), by Kovach and Rosenstiel, the authors suggest that quality information becomes more distinct and more available when the demand for all information decreases. One of the strains, they suggest, on today’s journalism is the demand to feed the masses what they think they need — information about things which aren’t impactful in their day-to-day lives.

I’m just a chimp with a smartphone, but I think there’s something to that — so I stay moderately informed about important things and scarcely informed about the little things. But I wonder increasingly, if there’s any benefit to being informed at all. As I’ve said before, if there’s a missile headed my way, one of my neighbors is probably going to tell me anyway.

As an exercise in what I’m suggesting, next time you look at the main page of your favorite news and information site, scroll from top to bottom, reading the headlines only, and before digging in to read any story, ask yourself how knowing that information is going to make you a better business person, a better parent, a better friend, or a better neighbor. Then, again reading the headlines only, ask yourself how knowing the information contained in each story is going to influence your mood — stories about the arts notwithstanding.

Many will argue that an informed electorate is the foundation of a strong democracy. An electorate that’s over-informed about insignificant things, might just be the reason we’re in our current situation.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 186

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 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 Poi Dog Pondering. Enjoy…!

Hitting The Pool…

If last night’s ride was any indication, I’ll be eating a lot of peanut butter and Benadryl sandwiches for the next 3-4 months. Ladies and gentlemen, allergy season is here. As spring merges into summer, in addition to all the pollen floating through the air, our seasonal clouds of non-specific flying bugs have returned. I think I inhaled as many calories in the form of gnats last night, as I burned pedaling. Push. 

I thought about Karen Pool last night while riding. I think about Karen Pool often. She and I were classmates in kindergarteners in 1966 — in Morristown New Jersey. She had short blonde pigtails, always wore dresses, and we actually spoke of getting married someday. In fact, I was planning on it.

Just outside the back entrance to our kindergarten classroom was a playground, exclusive to the two kindergarten classes that occupied that side of the building. The playground had a gravel surface, with a swingset and slide on one end and a jungle gym and a sandbox on the other end. In-between the swingset and the jungle gym was the main attraction — a wooden mock-up of the Batmobile, based on the popular television show that began that same year.

Every recess and lunch break Karen Pool and I, along with a few friends, would make a beeline directly to the Batmobile. I would be Batman and Karen would be Catwoman. Our friends would take turns playing different characters — the Joker, the Penguin and so-on. 

As distant as those days are from today, I still possess a handful of clear memories from conversations Karen and I had and of the plans we made together, nevermind that I can’t tell you what I ate for dinner last night. The most indelible memory I have though, is of the kids being called back into the classroom after recess one morning, and Karen and I were having too much fun playing Batman to return. Soon we would be the only two kids who remained on the playground. We stood facing each other beside the Batmobile.

She looked at me with a serious expression, and with no warning whatsoever, told me she wasn’t going to marry me after all. Before she could turn to walk away, I punched in the stomach as hard as I could. She buckled over and began to cry. When the teacher came running out, I lied and told her I didn’t know what happened. Three minutes later I was sitting on a three legged stool with my back to the class, facing the corner of shame. I would spend the rest of the morning sitting in that corner, with plenty of time to think about what I did wrong and why it was wrong.

And what I felt and what I thought about was pure shame. So much so, that I’ve never gotten over it — it’s still haunts me. When I reflect on that moment, I feel more guilt and disgust than I did as a 5-year-old. I still think of the physical pain I caused Karen and the emotional pain I might have caused her. I hope things turned out okay for her. I guess they turned out okay for me. Although I would go on to cut the pigtails off a girl named Mary Reckart in the 5th grade, and shoot Beth Rosen in the right breast with an improvised blow-dart in the 9th grade, I never hit a girl again.

Thinking back on this last night, I began to think about the millions of other kindergarten boys that also hit girls — each day and all over the world. A lot of them never got caught like I did, and never learned that’s not how human beings behave, even at age 5. I thought about how the older a boy gets, the harder he hits, and the harder it must be to unlearn the habit of hitting, and I cringe. Teach your children well, especially if they’re boys. 

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

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 194

Climbing: 8,500’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 11,026

Seat Time: 12 hours 53 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 Joan Osborne. Enjoy…!

Falling Down…

I got word last week that another friend had been hospitalized due to a fall. That’s the fourth time in 6-weeks someone I knew fell and needed care beyond Band-Aids and Bactine.

It stands to reason that anyone hospitalized due to falling is probably older. We all know the story — an elderly person loses their balance, falls, fractures their hip, and ends up in a skilled rehab facility, assisted-living, or worse. However, two of the four people I know who recently fell are my age. 

Falling isn’t just something elderly people do. Falling is something that can happen to anyone who is in a hurry and isn’t paying attention to their surroundings. 

Since teaching balance is a big part of what I do for a living, and that I’ve conducted workshops on balance and fall prevention, it’s a topic I can speak to with authority. 

There are certainly physiological reasons why people fall — inner ear deficiencies, low blood pressure, compromised skeletal structures, muscular weakness, medications, etc. Often falls related to these can’t be helped.

I’ll argue though, to my dying breath, that most falls can be avoided — at any age. If I can use this platform to offer some suggestions on how we might all avoid falling, these are the three that matter most…

1. Know where your feet are…

I say it to clients every day of my life…

Know where your feet are…!  

Create the habit of thinking about your feet — all the time. It’s really that simple. Think about your feet when you’re walking. Think about them when you’re standing. Think about your feet when you’re seated — yes, even when you’re seated. Falling often happens while standing from a seated position, or in the first steps after standing. 

Create an awareness, over time and by regular practice, of where your feet are. Develop a relationship between your brain and your feet. Creating that bond isn’t hard, and it can go to great lengths in avoiding debilitating falls.  

2. Slow down…

This is probably the most stressed-out and hurried generation of human beings, ever. In all things physical though — in cleaning, doing yardwork, hauling things from the car, carrying laundry, cooking, performing work duties, and even in most exercising, slow down. 

It may be overstating the obvious, but unless somebody is standing beside you with a stopwatch and there’s a gold medal waiting at the end of the race, there’s no reason to hurry through any physical action — especially around the house or in the yard.

3. Be aware of your surroundings…

Falling often happens when people are distracted and aren’t paying attention to their surroundings. End tables, changing floor surfaces, sprinkler heads, partially opened doors, small pets, and objects left on the floor are common contributors to falling. They are not causes of falling, they are contributors.

Carrying something while distracted increases the risk of falling. It doesn’t matter if it’s groceries, a broom, a bucket of tools, or a toddler. If one isn’t paying attention to what’s around them and their hands are full, the likelihood of falling increases. 

That’s it — all I got. I’ll suggest that most falls are the result of one or a combination of these three aspects of daily movement.  

1. Know where your feet are…

2. Slow down…

3. Be aware of your surroundings…

If, over time, you can turn these into habits by practicing them regularly, it will reduce your  likelihood of falling and in-turn reduce the risk of becoming injured from a fall.

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

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 190

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 10,800

Seat Time: 12 hours 37 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 UFO. Enjoy…!

The Marshall Plan…

Riding out of town one evening last week, I passed Club Paradise Gym. That’s where I hung out my shingle as a fitness trainer when I arrived here 20-years ago. Passing the gym, and it being Friday, I flashed back…

On an afternoon in 2001, while in-between clients at Club Paradise, a large man with gray hair, in his mid-50s, burst through the door. He slammed his checkbook on the counter and exclaimed…

“I want the oldest male trainer you have, and the one who has the broadest shoulders…!”

The hungover girl behind the counter woke long enough to point to me, who was standing beside her, before she dropped her head and fell back asleep. 

As the man introduced himself, he crushed my fingers with his handshake. It was clear he was a guy who knew what he wanted. He explained that he travels quite a bit so when he’s in town he wants to workout every day.

Cool.

I told him we’d first need to review his goals, do a kinetic assessment, and discuss any limitations he might have. His eyes looked right through me as he explained he didn’t have time for that, and just wanted get a schedule set.

Not so cool.

The schedule was set, but before the conversation was complete, I felt a twinge of regret in agreeing to work with him. At that point though, anyone who wanted to workout every day would be a good client. His name was Marshall.

The feeling out process didn’t take long. Within a couple weeks I was pushing Marshall hard, he was making progress, and within a few months we actually became workout partners. We started by doing 30-minutes of daily cardio together and then, due to my tight schedule, I started jumping into his strength workouts. It was adversarial at first, but camaraderie found its way in over time. A friendship was born.  

Perhaps we’d been working out together for a few months when we found ourselves unmotivated on a Friday afternoon and both of us starving. I suggested we blow off the workout and get something to eat. Marshall almost agreed, but came up with a quick workout idea first. 

He suggested we go through every machine in the fitness circuit, with three-quarters of the weight stacks selected. We’d each do a single set of as many repetitions as possible on each machine, and total our reps up at the end of the workout. Whoever had the highest repetition total would be the winner. 

I won. 

After our quick but competitive workout, we walked across the street to a taqueria, and Marshall bought carne asada burritos for the two of us. This became a Friday ritual, which he dubbed Challenge Day. We would continue Challenge Day for the next 5-years or so. If he was in town, we’d meet at the gym, pick 6 to 8 exercises, and whoever got the fewest number of repetitions bought the burritos. 

I’d love to say I won all of the time — I was 10-years younger and a lot stronger, but Marshall was a self-made man and hated to lose at anything. There were times when he’d find ways to get more out of an exercise than me through sheer will and spite. 

Marshall relocated from Fallbrook around the same time I began rotating through a series of commercial spaces, and it became prohibitive for our workout partnership to continue. Eventually he began splitting time between California and Argentina where he had a business interest, and I became so full of my own nonsense that we lost touch.

It would take me a few years, only after we parted ways, for me to realize what an important relationship that was in my life. Marshall took me to NASCAR races in Fontana, concerts in Del Mar, theater in LA, and some local rodeos. In the years we worked out together I learned much about business from him a portion of my success came from advice he gave me along the way. 

The best lessons Marshall ever taught me though, were about fatherhood, and at a time when I need it to learn them. For the entire time we worked out together, when he handed me a check each month, the notation on the memo was Chelsea’s College Fund (Chelsea being my daughter). When he’d hand me the check he’d always say “this isn’t for you…“ It was a reminder I should be thinking about my daughter first in how I spend my money.

One of the best aspects of my job as a fitness trainer is the relationships I’ve cultivated along the way. I haven’t seen Marshall in a decade now, but the lessons he taught me are still with me each day — and I’ll go so far as to say, if we hadn’t crossed paths, I don’t know that I would’ve been as successful at business or at fatherhood. 

This is what I think about when I ride…  Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 201

Climbing: 7,100’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,500

Seat Time: 12 hours 58 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 Stranglers — an ode to keyboardist Dave Greenfield who passed away one year ago this month. Enjoy…!

The Wisdom Years…

I don’t have many memories left of my mother when she was young. They’ve been covered up by the memories I have of her now. For the last six years mom has been a lot like my smartphone and my critters — never more than 50-feet from me, unless I’m on a bike.

Just a few memories of my younger mother remain — visions of her standing over the stove, apron around her waist, and stirring a large pot of spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon. Her bangs falling into her face as the steam rose upward. The kitchen I grew up with, like the cook who ran it, is the only one that matters.

I remember her manning the gift shop at the synagogue, before and after services on the Friday nights of my youth. Not bad for Christian girl from Alabama. I’m not sure she knew how often I stole things when she wasn’t looking. In hindsight, yeah, she probably knew. 

Shortly after she and my father separated for the final time, I was 15, a man showed up to serve foreclosure papers on the family house. As she stood in the door and screamed at the man to get off the property, I stood in my second story bedroom window and shot an arrow at the rear tire of the man’s car. She took me out for nachos that night. I remember her reassuring me that we wouldn’t have to leave the house.

When she was the age I am now, and worked for the Indian Health Service in Chinle Arizona, I’d visit her often and we’d hike Canyon de Chelly together, followed by a lunch of Navajo tacos at the Thunderbird Inn. I still remember those hikes in the conversations we had as we walked.

I remember my mother as my Cub Scout Den Mother, as a horrible driver taking me to school, as somebody who baked the best apple coffee cake ever, and as a nurse who was always willing to work overtime when needed. 

That’s about it though. I don’t have too many memories of her younger years other than those. Mostly I remember her from last year, last month, and last week — I remember her as she is now. 

She’s aged, unsure on her feet, slow, wrinkled, and increasingly frail. Those terms might seem unflattering or even insulting, but I recognize them as the mile markers of the long trip she’s taken, from the Great Depression to the Internet — from the polio epidemic to the COVID pandemic.

And when that day comes — when she’s no longer around and memories are all I’ll have left of her, the memories I’ll carry forward and the ones which will stick with me the most, will be those of today — of the wisdom years. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there — you are the bubble-wrap of humanity.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 134

Climbing: 5,900’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 7,565

Seat Time: 09 hours 01 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 Old 97s. Enjoy…!

The Monsters In My Head…

The monsters I create in my head are always more foreboding than the ones I actually meet — should I meet them at all.

A friend had a family emergency this week and had to leave town with little notice. She asked if I would keep her two small dogs for the week. Without hesitation I agreed. I know the dogs well, love them both, and they brighten up the house when they’re here.

Sadly though, among my first thoughts when I agreed to take them, was questioning whether my daily riding would be impacted. Two additional critters, along the current critter inventory, and an elderly woman with dementia might make getting on the road each day more difficult. 

The more I thought about it, the worse my concerns grew. I began imagining scenarios where, if I were on my bike, my mom would accidentally let the dogs out — never to be seen again, drop chocolate which might harm them if ingested, or get one caught between her legs, subsequently falling and breaking her hip. And that was just scratching the surface of my wretched imagination.

Not wanting any harm come to the pups, and increasingly believing that leaving them alone with my mom would set up for disaster, I made the decision to take a week off of cycling. I haven’t taken a week off since 2015. The decision was bittersweet, but it was the right thing.

Me being me though, it wasn’t long — minutes actually, before I was twitching, nervous, and bitchy. I began thinking of ways to safely secure the pups while I got out and rode for a couple of hours. 

I made the decision to leave the dogs crated in my fitness studio, close the door leading into the house, and put a chair in front of the door. They would be okay crated for a couple of hours, and in an emergency, my mom would be able to move the chair. I felt selfish and a bit guilty for this decision, but not so much that it kept me from riding yesterday.

Once the dogs were crated, I put a thin sheet over the crate to darken their environment, closed the door, and taped a note above the chair reading…

Please don’t open the door — Jesus is watching you

Old people get scared when bring Jesus into any scenario as leverage. 

Moments later I was on a bike, trying hard to let go of all the scenarios in which my mom would poison, step on, or lose the pups. That’s when I started thinking about the possibility of a house-fire. Shit. 

Notwithstanding to any of this, is that I’ve ridden a bike every day for the last six years and left my mother alone with a dog, a cat, occasionally a neighbor dog, and there have been no incidents in which the critters got harmed — and the house has yet to burn down in my absence.  

Still, I imagined every possible negative scenario as I rode. I pushed my legs harder than usual, stopped only briefly to take a couple of pictures, and cut my route a little short to get back sooner. All the while looking upward and ahead on the road, half expecting to see my friend’s dogs running toward me — 15 miles from home.

When I arrived home, I entered the house quickly, moved to the chair away from the room where the dogs were crated, let them out to go potty, and took a deep breath. All had been just as I left it, and mom was on the sofa doing a crossword puzzle.

Breathe

Breathe

Breathe 

All was good with the world…

Once again, I had created monsters in my head which, with my eyes open and walking toward them, were nowhere to be seen. This, by the way, is the epitome of being raised Jewish.

I’ll go out and ride later today, feeling a little more confident that the dogs will be safe in my absence. I don’t know, perhaps I should let the dogs have the run of the house, and keep my mom crated 🤷🏼‍♂️.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 187

Climbing: 8,100’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 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 The Staple Singers. Enjoy…!

Earth Day After…

I saw a lot of nods to Earth Day this week, on social media and beyond. Climate change is on my mind daily, though I know I could do more to lessen my impact on the planet. 

I saw many of the usual suggestions for Earth Day…

– Eat less meat

– Recycle more

– Use less water

– Conserve household energy

– Drive less, and do so in more efficient vehicles

– Travel less

– Use less paper

– Eliminate single-use plastics

– Vote for politicians who champion fighting the climate crisis

These are all important individual steps, and if we all practiced them, it might benefit climate change over time. I’m not sure we have that kind of time. 

I have my own thoughts on what might make the most immediate impact on climate change, but these are large-scale group efforts which, to be impactful, need to begin immediately…

First, no reasonable conversation about climate change should exclude the idea of nuclear energy, if only as a 100-year (or so) bridge until the use of sustainable renewable energy is mastered and maximized. 

Two, is to accept that we can live without most printed materials. This would include business and legal documents, books, newspapers, magazines, compact discs, pamphlets, correspondence — virtually anything that is now printed but can be otherwise created and distributed digitally. It’s been suggested by some climate scientists, including Sir John Houghton, that replacing printed materials with digital copies of the same could, in itself, create a measurable slowing of CO2 levels within a couple of decades. 

But none of this really matters. Because the most important thing we can do to combat climate change is something we are increasingly unwilling to do — to prioritize bridging the gaps between political, cultural, and social divisions. 

No significant steps in addressing climate change can be initiated from a divided populous and the divided leadership selected by that populous. At the most grassroots level, we need to grow up, quit pointing fingers, quit name-calling, and listen, even if we don’t like what we’re listening to or who’s speaking it. We also need to elect people willing to do the same.

We understand the changing ecology and climate through science. So too, do we understand cultural and political polarization — through science. Scientists study the impact of name calling, arguing, and refusal to participate in discourse, in the same way they study CO2 levels.

It’s been proven mathematically that when we insult somebody — when we call someone a name, shut them out of the conversation, or refuse to listen to them, it widens and reinforces the gaps which divide us. 

Or to frame it this way…

There’s no moral difference between throwing a plastic bag into the ocean or disparaging somebody we disagree with. One-off, it’s no big deal. However, when everyone is doing it, the oceans soon become clogged, and the waters of discourse are unnavigable.

It’s not a joke. 

There’s no need to recycle, conserve energy, or cut back on meat consumption if, when we interact with those of opposing values, we choose to give them the middle finger over an ear or acknowledgement.

There’s a science to understanding social and political polarization. If we’re willing to embrace climate science, we should also pay attention to the science of getting along. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 193

Climbing: 8,600’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 11,000

Seat Time: 12 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 Matthew Sweet. Enjoy…!

Bang Bang Bang…

Our love of guns began when the first Indian fell backwards, as we worked our way west to exploit every possible resource and take possession of all lands. And if those resources or those lands became threatened, we depended on guns to assure our possession of them — because we valued the resources and lands more than the humanity which was already a part of them. 

And in the decades and centuries to follow, as we asserted our providence over all which lay before us, we became culturally inseparable from our guns and the idea that killing is an acceptable aspect of progress. 

Guns became costars in the American story. First in books, then radio, movies, television, and subsequently in every aspect of popular culture. No American story is complete without guns and killing, even if we have to peel back the layers to find them. Behind every innocent story there’s a gun or a killing waiting to break through and be seen. 

Guns are in our dreams, our toys, our games, and and even in our fantasies. Killing, as a way out of an unwanted circumstance, is part of our cultural DNA. Don’t like where something is headed…? Kill whatever’s in the way. We even use guns against our own bad days — 52% of suicides come with bullet holes.

This isn’t going to end anytime soon because we accept it with open arms. As soon as were done complaining and sending thoughts and prayers, we binge watch the next violent television series, with liberty in killing for all. We do far too little — almost nothing to discourage our children from the enjoyment of killing and guns as a form of entertainment. 

As long as our mass shootings remain in the single digits, double digits, and triple digits, we’re going to be cool with it. Want to get America to pay attention to our acceptance of killing culture…? It’ll take thousands of people going down in just a few seconds. Even then, the so-called conservatives in Congress would defend every aspect of gun and killing culture. Forgetting, of course, that the word conservative comes from conserve — to use sparingly, to act sparingly, to allow sparingly. 

I’m certainly not the first person to point any of this out. This is the first time though, I’ve been willing to share my deepest feelings on what’s going on. 

Gun culture and killing will be part of the American story so long as we, the authors, keep writing it. We cling to guns and killing, above all, because they were the midwife to our birth.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Post Script: 

I’ve been sitting with these thoughts for a while — keeping them to myself for fear of offending friends and associates. 

In December 1993, my wife, my three-year-old daughter, and I had lunch at a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora Colorado. The following evening a man entered the building and shot four people, all employees. Though the killings took place was after hours, I had been in that room with my three-year-old the day before.

Six years later I was in San Diego, looking to purchase a house. My wife and then nine-year-old daughter stayed behind in Littleton Colorado — home of Columbine High School, to pack up and sell our home there. I was driving down Interstate-8 in San Diego when the announcer on NPR broke the story of the Columbine shooting. I was shaking and crying so uncontrollably, I had to pull off to the side of the road and gather my emotions before calling home.

Last month in Boulder Colorado, in the King Soopers grocery store where 10 people were shot and killed, I knew people who were in there that day. That was my community once upon a time. 

I’ve trained with guns for military and law enforcement purposes. I grew up with BB guns, learned to shoot .22s in Boy Scouts, and qualified on several pieces during my time in the military.

My statement above is more about the fact that, in popular culture, historic and contemporary, guns, killing, and entertainment are intertwined. The influence of guns and killing in popular culture has contributed to the increase of mass shootings, beyond any doubt, and has been studied and documented for decades.

I don’t see guns as being evil. I would like to see gun use and safety taught at the high school level, and students given PE credit for the class. Put a real gun in the hands of a 14-year-old, and he or she is far more likely to respect its power than somebody who’s 23 and holding one for the very first time.

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 186

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 10,620

Seat Time: 12 hours 13 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 Jeff Beck And The Big Town Playboys. Enjoy…!

Prime Directive Vs The Golden Rule…

I stopped the other day to take a picture of some wild grasses. They extended over the iron rail of an old wooden footbridge. To frame the shot correctly, I broke some of the grasses off at their stems. The photo turned out to be a dud — too much glare from the sun. As I rode away though, I felt a sense of guilt for killing the some grasses in order to better frame the photo. 

I began thinking of the Prime Directive. Although killing the grasses wasn’t an interruption in the development of an alien civilization, I did disturb what nature had put before me, and did so without any real need. I disrupted the evolution of a system I wasn’t a part of, and in some way changed its destiny.

I soon connected the Prime Directive to the Golden Rule. For the next 15-miles I compared the two and contemplated the fundamental differences between them — which has more value, and if I had to choose only one to live by, which would it be. 

The Prime Directive, if you’re not familiar, prohibits Starfleet personnel and spacecraft from interfering in the normal development of any society, and mandates that any Starfleet vessel or crew member is expendable to prevent violation of this rule. 

The Golden Rule, if you’re not familiar, suggests that we treat others as we wish to be treated. Its earliest iteration was practiced by Zoroastrians in the form of a negative — that we should not do to others what we would not want them to do to us.

I began to see the difference between the Prime Directive and the Golden Rule in the same way I view the differences between eastern and western philosophies. 

The Prime Directive suggests that societies, alien or domestic, are more important than the individuals which comprise them. It’s very Confucian in nature inasmuch as our moral responsibilities should be directed to society first, and then to the individual.

The Golden Rule is about individuality. We correlate it with others, but only as a backdrop for what’s in it for the individual. We want to be treated well, so we treat others well. The Golden Rule is inherently selfish.

Of course there’s value in the Prime Directive and the Golden Rule. Rabbi Hillel argued thousands of years ago that the Golden Rule is the whole Torah and everything else is just commentary. Had Starfleet been around in his day, the rabbi would have felt the same about the Prime Directive, relative to other Starfleet doctrine.

I put societies ahead of individuals. Individual liberty means nothing within a society which is broken and corroded. What breaks and corrodes societies, far more than anything else, is the pursuit of liberty at the expense of the society. I believe this to my core.

It’s hard to look around these days, for me anyway, and not see all the damages imposed on our guiding structures — churches, schools, Government institutions, relationships, and even our hallowed corporate structures, which are the direct result of people putting their individual liberties before the needs of our society.

For societies to succeed, people must put societies first. For individuals to succeed, people must still put societies first. I just don’t see it happening as much as it should.  

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 164

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 9,3333

Seat Time: 10 hours 57 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 REM . Enjoy…!

Sidekick…

It feels a little more selfish each day. He’s nearly 18-years old now. He spends most days within 20-feet of me. That I willingly leave him for two hours, to go ride a bike, says a lot about my selfishness. It gets harder, but I still do it. 

I should have named him, Sidekick. In hindsight, that seems so obvious. Our relationship resembles two guys in a ‘buddy’ movie. I’m De Niro and he’s Charles Groton. I’m Felix and he’s Oscar. I’m Bill and he’s Ted. We just play off each other like that.

Our relationship might seem adversarial to outsiders, and at times it is. With no warning, he’ll jump from the sofa, run to the refrigerator, stand fixed looking back at me. His eyes say…

“I want ham and I want it now…“

Our relationship is largely based on animal protein.

I respond by reminding him he just ate two hours ago, he’ll eat again in two more hours, and he’s not getting any ham…!

His gaze gets more intense. It only takes a minute before I cave. 

I’ll begrudgingly stomp to the refrigerator muttering expletives under my breath. I reluctantly tear a few small pieces from a slice of ham and leave it on the empty plate beside his water dish. Despite the expletives and my poor attitude, he knows I love him more than anything. 

He’s walked off-leash since the beginning. He stays within 10-feet of me, even when we have the park to ourselves. I can tell when a scent has him by the nose — he wants to run, but he won’t. I can almost feel the smell pulling him away from me, and equally feel his determination to stay by my side.

Go, I tell him, go…!

As soon as I say it, he runs toward the hole where the scent draws him. It’s always a gopher hole. Excited, he guards the hole and waits for me to catch up. I tell him he did a good job and complement his professionalism. With no gopher to be found though, I tell him there’s another scent up ahead and it’s his job to find it. As we walk, I thank him for not being one of those undisciplined leash dogs.

Back in the car and preparing to head home, I see a little schmutz on his face…

How many times I gotta tell you, I say, NO SCHMUTZ…!

He looks unapologetic, but slightly nervous. I remove the schmutz with one of many Jack-In-The-Box napkins on the floor of my car. Every time this happens, he snaps at me. The good news is, he doesn’t have any teeth. Once he’s schmutz-free, he forgives me by kissing me on the nose.

On the way back from the park, he rides on my lap with this front paws on the door and his face looking out the window. We listen to NPR and discuss whatever Lakshmi Singh is talking about. He’s particularly concerned about voting laws these days. Don’t laugh, some things you just know.