Pray The Straightaways…

Along with making to-do lists in my head, thinking back my first Pop-Tart, dreaming about retirement, and enjoying the sights and the nature around me, something I get to do when I ride each day is give thanks.

Who I’m thanking, I have no idea. Vishnu, Shiva, Yahweh, Crom, The Flying Spaghetti Monster…? I dunno. I only know that I’m compelled each day to give thanks for this wonderful life I’ve been given. Hopefully somebody is listening.

When I use the term ‘Lord’ in my gratitudes, it’s less a divine term, and relates more to packaging and delivery. Just trying to get my thanks to the right address. Sometimes, I think, giving thanks is like placing a message in a bottle and tossing it into the sea. Maybe somebody gets it, maybe not, but at least I’ve left a record of my intentions.

Somewhere in the straightaways of Highway 76, North River Road, or Old Highway 395, when my rhythm settles in, the road ahead of me is straight, and my mind is clear, I give thanks with the following prayer…

Lord, I thank you for a new day and a new chance to walk on the right path.

I ask forgiveness for the sins I’ve committed and the mistakes I’ve made. Help me have awareness that I learn from those sins and from those mistakes, that they not become repeated.

I thank you for the blessings and opportunities which surround me. Help me to recognize and appreciate the blessings. Help me fulfill the opportunities for the betterment of this world, the people in it, and the people in my life.

Help me speak the truth this day. Regardless of what situations I find myself in or what thoughts swirl through my head, help me remember it’s better to stand in a room empty of words than to fill one with lies or exaggerations.

Help me remember that my place is not to judge — that what somebody looks like or what they don’t look like is not a reflection of who they are. Help me remember that behind every pair of eyes is a heart, a soul, and a life‘s worth of experiences that I know nothing about.

Help me be a good steward to the planet today. Help me be mindful of the environment, its resources, and help me give more than I take.

Thank you for the critters that touch my life. Help me be better to them today than they are to me.

Help me be a good man today. Help me walk tall, me speak few words, and be far in my reach. Help me be kind.

I thank you for hearing these words. Amen

And the thing is, I don’t just run through it quietly in my head. I whisperer these words in a scarcely audible voice as I pedal, to ensure my intentions extend beyond my lips and project into the universe.

This is not a religious prayer so much as it is a thank you note and a to-do list — all in one. It’s a way to give thanks, and a daily reminder of who I’ve been and who I’m attempting to be. Giving thanks in this way makes at least a portion of my ride to church — a church not made by hands, with a congregation of one.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 204

Climbing: 9,100’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,623

Seat Time: 13 hours 16 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 Bats.  Enjoy…

Riddled With Doubt…

From the time I roll out of bed each morning, until I crawl back in at night, I experience moments of doubt, often paralyzing, all day long. Of all my underlying psychological disorders, doubt tops the list. 

Doubts about everything.

My doubts are like landmines, buried in indiscernible patterns and scattered throughout my days. Sometimes I have to hit my doubts pretty hard before they explode. Other times though, they trigger with barely a touch. 

It usually begins with the ones I love.

I’ll just be moving along, seemingly in a peaceful day, when suddenly I hit a doubt. 

Boom…!

I’ll take a look at my mom, for example, and out of nowhere I’ll begin to question the ways I care for her. I’ll think about all the things I could be doing better on her behalf, but don’t. Then I’ll think about all the things I could do better in future, but know I won’t.

The shock of that concussion might keep in a fog for hours, despite my need to function as a businessman and as a caregiver. Eventually, it’ll give way to more peaceful moments. But then, the next one… 

Boom…! 

In the course of a day, I’ll  doubt I’m a good businessman. 

I’ll doubt I’m a good steward for my pets. 

I’ll doubt I’m a good friend. 

I’ll doubt I’m a good father.

I’ll doubt I’m a good neighbor.  

And in a week’s time, I’ll question most every decision I made that week and wonder why I don’t put more effort into making better decisions more often — and take better actions. 

Where these doubts come from and why they show up when they do, I can’t say. And this isn’t a ‘woe is me’ party.  I wouldn’t wish these feelings on anyone. When these doubts strike it can be hard to breathe, hard to move forward in the day, and they’re always accompanied by sadness. Sometimes the sadness is subtle. Other times it’s overwhelming.

And then there’s the greatest doubt of all — whether or not even exist. And if I do exist, how much control do I really have over any of these actions and inactions which I spend so much time doubting…? Those doubts can knock me off my feet.

My doubts control me like a pimp.

By the time I walk out the front door with a bike in one hand and a helmet in the other, I’ll have experienced a handful of doubt explosions, each doing a little more damage to my psyche. Is that damage is permanent…? I don’t know. I only know that the older I get, the less I glow and the slower I move from all the mental contusions caused by doubts.

I get out on my bike and the doubts subside, if only for a while. I feel peace, exhilaration, and wonder. I don’t question anything and I enjoy everything. The days I feel the most doubt, are the days I tend to have the most meaningful rides. And if it weren’t for having to make a living, the most doubtful days would host my longest rides. I could ride for hours on a heavily doubtful day.

But all painkillers wear off, and so to does the bike ride. I’ll put the bike back in the stable and I’ll towel down. I’ll eat a handful of grapes and as I begin walking about my post-ride evening, I’ll walk on eggshells, everywhere I go, knowing at some point, I’ll trigger another doubt — I just never know when.

Boom…!

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 205

Climbing: 9,100’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 11,645

Seat Time: 13 hours 36 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 Shuggie Otis. Enjoy…

The American Mirror…

“Beginning with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, the occupant of the White House has become a combination of demigod, father figure and, inevitably the betrayer of inflated hopes. Pope. Pop star. Scold. Scapegoat. Crisis manager. Commander in Chief. Agenda setter. Moral philosopher. Interpreter of the nation’s charisma. Object of veneration. And the butt of jokes. All rolled into one…”

The Limits Of Power (2008), by Col. Andrew Bacevich, PhD

Before we slam the door shut on one President, and break out the anointing oil for another, let’s take a good look in the mirror…

Our policies, domestic and foreign, are not simply conceived and implemented by people in Washington D.C. and imposed on us as if we had nothing to do with their creation. Our policies are conceived and implemented in Washington D.C., but reflect the desires of our personal agendas — what ‘we the people’ want.

And what we want, to paint a broad brushstroke, is a continuing flow of cheap consumer goods, unlimited energy, and easy credit. We want to be able to fill our cars with gas, regardless of how big they are, in order to drive wherever we want to be. We want to walk into any store and fill our carts with as much as we desire, and know that if we don’t have the cash for those things at the register, we can buy them anyway and pay the bill down the road — probably. 

And we want to drive to these places and buy these thing in the name of status, and without having to think about whether or not the ecological or fiscal books balance at the end of the day, the end of the month, or even the end of the generation. That will be for others to figure out, because America, loosely translated, means to kick the can down the road.

And we ridicule, point fingers at, and have great and frustrating arguments about the people we elect to ensure and protect these policies so that we can continue this lifestyle. That is, when we’re not celebrating them as the celebrity saviors of our best interests. And we believe each of these elected officials are there for the express purpose of helping us maintain this lifestyle of cheap consumer goods, cheap energy, and easy credit. All the while though, they tell us what we wish to hear so they can keep their easy jobs and their exalted status, and we foolishly believe them. 

And the pursuit of these ‘freedoms’, as defined in this age of consumerism, has induced a condition of additional dependence on imported goods, on imported oil, and on foreign credit. And the chief aim of the elected officials is to satisfy that desire, which it does in-part through its foreign policy. Thus, our foreign policy, by and large, is the result of our dependence on consumer goods, energy, and credit. 

And no President, no Senate, and no House Of Representatives will change this direction until there is a massive — a profound and overwhelming movement among and by ‘we the people’ to limit our dependency on those consumer goods, that cheap energy, and that credit. 

And at the end of the day, it feels good to blame legislative bodies, the individuals within them, bureaucrats, and the President himself — whoever he might be, for our weakness, our desires, and our selfishness.

Set Thine House In Order

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 209

Climbing: 9,100’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 12,008

Seat Time: 13 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 Ian Hunter. Enjoy…

The Fall Of Beauty…

A client was talking to me the other day about the beauty of Fall — the trees, the leaves changing color, the autumn breezes and so-on. I think she was surprised when I flipped her thoughts around. That’s not the beauty of Fall, I said, that’s the fall of beauty, but not necessarily the end of it.

Huh…?

I chewed on that heavily during my ride later that evening — on my appreciation of things that are often seen as past their prime by a culture obsessed with material goods and the newness of everything. 

I like older things, weathered things, and things with stories and histories behind them. 

I like bare trees beside piles of leaves on the ground, rusty metal fences, and human faces with wrinkles that tell their stories.

I like long gray ponytails, old hand-written letters with coffee stains on the edges, and record sleeves with faded large circles imbedded in them permanently. 

I like raspy voices, tarnished jewelry, and wooden furniture that’s lost portions of its stain.

I like cars with dents, black-and-white movies that flicker, and songs played on vinyl with audible scratches. 

There’s just a dignity I appreciate in the aging of nearly anything, except for lettuce, milk, and bad ideas. 

I like a dog with a frosted face, a copper bell that’s mostly green, and the faded Cross pen & pencil set my dad gave me for my bar mitzvah. 

Material things, just like people, have a wisdom about them when they’re older — when they’ve survived the scratches, bumps, and abrasions that come with time. 

The wooden spoon in my kitchen, that I’ve known since childhood, tells a story that a brand new one cannot, but only if I’m listening. 

That’s not to suggest I don’t like new things too — younger people with fresh ideas, a new coat of paint on the walls around me, or a new knife set with clean handles and sharp edges.

It’s just that given the choice between older and newer, very often, I prefer the older. 

I’ve worn the same tank-top for most every workout since before my daughter was born — she’s now 30. If I ever have the money, I’ll find that ‘74 Chevy Vega once again and it will be my everyday car.  M*A*S*H vs Breaking Bad…?   I’ll take M*A*S*H every time. 

I appreciate Courtney Barnett, Modest Mouse, and Stone Horses, but I always come home Traffic, The Allmans, and Herb Alpert. 

And the hand I trust the most…? It’s the one that’s the most weathered, most wrinkled, and has the most spots, of course.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 184

Climbing: 7,100’

Mph Avg: 15.3

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 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 here’s a nice little corona theme song from The Living End. Enjoy…

Boom Boom Boom…

Pendleton has been going off lately — a lot.

If you’re not from Fallbrook California, that sentence might seem cryptic or not mean nothing at all. However, if one has lived in Fallbrook for any length of time, they know immediately what that means — we’ve heard a lot of explosions lately. Big explosions — the kind of explosions one can feel when riding a bike at 20 mph. 

These explosions regularly rattle windows, tilt pictures on walls, scare critters, and occasionally cause humans to turn to the horizon and look for a mushroom cloud. But there are no mushroom clouds, just the sounds of powerful concussions that rattle and shake the canyons, hills, and flatlands of this area. 

The Camp Pendleton Marine Base shares an 18-mile border with our little bedroom community. Though the live-fire training takes place a safe distance from town, the noises and heavy concussions that go with these weapons of measured destruction can be heard and felt for miles. 

As a veteran, I support what our Marines do in preparing for the worst in matters of defense. As a citizen though, I will always hope we do our best in matters of diplomacy, so our means of defense are used sparingly — as well as our means of offense. Our military needs to be well trained and well-rehearsed, and they are. Pendleton is one of many locations around the country and around the world where our military practices with things that go boom. 

The explosions often occur when I’m least expecting them — as I’m reaching for a tomato, opening the door for a client, or letting my dog out to pee. Although the middle of the night is off-limits, they will fire as early as 5am and as late as 11pm, so it’s fair to say they do wake people up on occasion. Imagine waking up to an explosion. 

Even after living here 20 years, these boom grandes can still be unnerving. It’s one thing to hear the windows rattle and feel the floors vibrate when I open the refrigerator door. It’s something different to see a picture to go sideways on the wall as I’m tucking my 90-year-old mother into bed.

The explosions can also be humbling — to me anyway. When I hear and feel them, I know they’re taking place in a controlled environment, and far enough from town that I feel safe. I always take a minute though, to reflect on how I might feel, think, and react if the explosions weren’t controlled — if they were random, hostile, and not the fruit of practice. 

I imagine what people in other parts of the world might feel when they hear similar explosions. They might fear for their lives. They might take cover within door jambs, under tables, or throw themselves over their children. Or maybe they grow accustomed to them, like a Marine friend on tour in Iraq explained to me when he got home in 2005…

“If I know the explosions aren’t a threat to me, but they’re close, my first inclination is to pick up my coffee so it doesn’t spill…”

A real quote from a United States Marine.

When I’m riding south on Mission Road and feel a boom, I get to just keep rolling and enjoy the wind in my face. A cyclist in Israel, Afghanistan, or Syria might take cover under a bridge if there’s one nearby. Or worse, might find no cover at all, and pedal even faster as his best option, totally exposed.

Surrounded by explosions all day, knowing they’re safe, scheduled, and contained, reminds me just how lucky I am. It also reminds me daily, about those who aren’t so lucky. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 204

Climbing: 8,900’

Mph Avg: 14.8

Calories: 11,505

Seat Time: 13 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 Enigma. Enjoy…


Bookends Of Idiocy…

“When I watch television, I well understand why Arabs fly jets into our skyscrapers…“ Me

At the age of 90, my mom divides her time between reading, doing puzzle books, and watching television. And even when she’s reading and working her puzzles, the television is always on in the background. 

Mom doesn’t care what’s on television so much, she just enjoys having background noise and some company around that’s not named Roy. The only shows that are required watching each day are Dr. Phil, Wheel Of Fortune, and Jeopardy. Dr. Phil and Wheel do little for me, but I’ll admit I occasionally enjoy watching Jeopardy, Final Jeopardy in particular. 

I spend most of my day working with clients in my fitness studio. When I’m not in sessions, I sit with mom on the sofa and make small talk while she watches Let’s Make A Deal, The Bold And The Beautiful, Judge Judy, and the like. I attempt to ignore the idiocy of such shows, but it’s hard to ignore a fat man in a bumblebee costume hoping Wayne Brady gives him the brand new Chevy Volt and not the donkey.

Sometimes it’s all too much for me.

When I hear Judge Judy condescending to the white trash in her faux courtroom, as though she’s actually making a difference in the world, I might ask my dog to snuff me out with a pillow later, after I fall asleep…

“Make sure you get a good seal around my nose and mouth, Stroodle, then press real hard. When daddy’s lungs quit moving in and out, you’ll know you did a good job…“

He looks at me quizzically, but I think deep down he gets it. Mom, I think, understands it’s a joke.

I haven’t owned a television myself since 2005. The television in the living room belongs to my mom. Certainly if one has a laptop or a smartphone today, they are in possession of some kind of television. I use my laptop to watch documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and I watch lectures and interviews on YouTube, but I don’t consider that television, I consider it education light.

Before I ride my bike though, and when I return, I also spent time with my mom sitting and watching whatever she’s watching. Those are the bookends of my daily rides. Idiocy before I go out, idiocy when I return, and trying to make sense of any of it as I push my body through the hills and past the groves of this community. 

I occasionally harken back to a moment from my childhood — my dad stood silently in the corner of the room as I was watching Gilligan’s Island after school one day…

“I’ve never seen such idiocy…!” He screamed.

“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid…!“

I still remember how insulted I was by that and how demeaning I thought it was. It sticks with me all these years later. Nobody wants to be called stupid by their father. In hindsight, I can see now that he wasn’t calling me stupid, he was calling television stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

There will come a day when mom is no longer around. I’ll give her television to a family member or to person in need. A part of me will miss it because it’s one of the few things we’ve been able to do together, especially during these stay-at-home times. What I won’t miss though, is the idiocy that beams out of it all day long. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

This is what I think about when I ride…Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 203

Climbing: 9,100’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,600

Seat Time: 13 hours 18 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 Chuck Prophet. Enjoy…

In Those Early Days…

Riding into a gorgeous sunset Friday evening, I was thinking about how much I miss the early days of the stay-at-home mandates. There was so much we didn’t know. The streets were nearly empty, even during rush hour. The skies were as clear as they’ve been in 70 years. Wildlife was taking over school courtyards and parking lots. Because the stay-at-home mandates coincided with springtime bird migrations, birds were everywhere. I’ve never heard or seen so many birds. 

There was also the scary side of it all. People were literally stepping out of their way when passing others in the grocery store aisles — for those who were brave enough to actually go to the grocery store. In the beginning people wore gloves, hid in their homes, and there was a natural distrust of anyone who wasn’t family. I personally sprayed all of my mail with 70% alcohol for the first five or six weeks, then let it dry before opening it. I’ve sneezed in public exactly twice since March.

I found myself telling anyone who would listen that I love them, including the snails that attempted to devour my succulent garden each morning. I began talking to the trees each morning on my daily walks, and introduced myself to squirrels, hawks, and even coyotes. I thanked them for their service. I treated every day as though it might be my last, for fear that it really might be. I spent more time with my pets, walked more frequently with my mom, and extended my meditation routine a little longer each morning to include more time for prayer. 

There was a haunted serenity to it all.

Then the division came — the chasm that developed between those who took the virus seriously and those who didn’t. As the months went on, the chasm became politicized and grew wider and deeper. Slowly businesses began to reopen, and almost as immediately many states, counties, and municipalities dialed back the reopening. The chasm grew. 

At some point we quit noticing the cleaner air, the animals taking over parking lots, and the invisible traffic. We quit noticing them because things were getting back to normal, kind of. Normal enough so that it wasn’t special any longer, only inconvenient. Then the fires and hurricanes came, and the political strife erupted. And in social media, all of this became a laxative.

The early days of stay-at-home had an eerie calm about them, reminiscent of being housebound during a blizzard or hunkered down before a hurricane. I miss those early days so much. There was a hidden hope in them lurking within that overwhelming fear. 

I’ve always believed that when the stakes are high and the facts are unknown, the best course is to proceed with caution. For several weeks in March and April, the whole world agreed with that. Then millions of people abandoned caution in favor of a presumed good luck. Some have a found and will continue to find that good luck. Others though, will experience devastating outcomes.

And that growing chasm…? Its growth seems to be slowing, but there are no signs that people have any willingness to look to the other side of it, let alone reach across it. I liked everybody a whole lot more in those early days. I know I liked myself more.

This is what I think about when I ride…  Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 162

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9,180

Seat Time: 10 hours 19 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 Robin Trower and James Dewar. Enjoy…


Daily Self-Appraisal…

It’s not so small minded, to get out on a bike each day and ride. On the surface it may seem like it’s about fat burning, fitness, freedom, or to soothe an aching soul. And it is. I might even argue that, depending on the day, any one of those is the main reason I go out. 

There’s one reason though — one aspect of why I ride that I don’t talk about too much, that’s as important as any of the other reasons I ride. The benefit, I think, is greater than all the others combined. Given the social climate we’re navigating these days, I thought I’d share it this week. 

For a couple of hours each evening, as I pedal my way past the groves, orchards, and vineyards that decorate this area so well, I have a chance to reflect on the day I’m trying to leave behind. It’s a nightly meeting of the Roys within — the business man, the family man, the citizen, and the social guy. 

I review my day in a linear fashion. I examine as many of my actions and interactions from the day as I can remember. I make note of what I think I did right, but more importantly, I attempt to take inventory of the mistakes I made and to consider ways I might improve. This is a daily process of honest self-appraisal. 

I reflect on conversations with clients and consider what I might have said better or done differently. I think about ways I could’ve been a better fitness trainer or a better businessman. I review my social interactions from the day and how I might improve on those as well. I even consider how I treated my animals, and based on that, how I might treat them the following day — so that they feel even safer. 

Me being me, I’m not likely to make the improvements I direct myself to, at least not immediately. This is a cumulative undertaking — like Gladwell’s 10,000 hours hypothesis. I figure if I do this daily, and I do it consistently over time time, I might actually improve in those areas that matter most — business, personal relationships, community, and family matters.
 

There’s one other benefit that this rolling ritual provides to me, and I can honestly say it’s made a big difference in my life over the past few years. Taking inventory of my day like this, is an excellent reminder that my world is much less about me, than the people who enrich it so well.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 204

Climbing: 9,200’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 11,613

Seat Time: 13 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 Junior Brown. Enjoy…

Brandy (you’re a fine song)…

Most days my head is all over the place when I ride. Other times, I’m hyper-focused on just one thing — to the point that I can think of little else. Two nights ago was one of those nights.

Earlier in the month, Big Todd and The Monsters released a recording of the song Brandy, via YouTube. Originally recorded by Looking Glass in 1972, the song was a huge radio hit when I was 10 years old. Brandy was subsequently released on a K-Tel compilation album the same year. I owned Brandy both as 45 RPM single, and on the K-Tel album which included it.

In 1972 I had a portable record player that could close up and could be carried by a handle — like a small suitcase. Brandy, along with Harry Chapin’s, Taxi were the only two records I owned for a while. I would later add Don Mclean’s American pie, which had been recorded a year earlier in 1971, and Elton John’s Rocket Man, also from 1972.

Brandy remains one of my favorite songs, a regular earworm, and a song I still listen to digitally at least a couple times a month. I think it’s a near-perfect pop song. I also think my affinity for shipping ports and harbor communities is in large part due to that song working its imagery into my young brain.

Last week when I saw the Big Head Todd cover of Brandy I was blown away. The Boulder-based band are hometown heroes, and I’ve been a fan since day one. Brandy is a hard song to cover, which is why it hasn’t been done successfully to this point. Todd Park Mohr’s voice is a perfect fit for the song. The inclusion of the brass arrangement and the added background vocals put this song in a rare category for me — better than the original.

I’ve watched the video probably 20 times now, maybe more. Each time it gives me chills. Last night when I was riding, I sang Brandy in my head, from beginning to end, over and over again. It’s pretty much all I thought about for 29 miles.

I did think about one other thing while I was riding the other night, in-between the rolling karaoke in my head. I remember being with my mother at a Kmart at East Evans Avenue and Monaco Boulevard in Denver when I was 10. I begged her to buy me that portable record player, which was light blue with gray stitching for the trim. I also asked for two records, Taxi by Harry Chapin and Brandy by Looking Glass. Mom being mom, she caved and I got my wish. I would sit in my room and listen to those records again and again for hours.

That little record player was the first portal I ever encountered — the one which allowed me to leave my house and leave my life, without ever leaving my bedroom. Give a kid a record player, and he’ll always have a doorway to a better world.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes ridden: 7

Miles: 205

Climbing 9,100’

Avg Mph: 15.5

Calories: 11,713

Seat time: 13 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 Big Head Todd And The Monsters. Enjoy…

Flip And Circumstance…

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

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

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

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

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

“I will not give cops my middle finger”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

201 miles

9,100’ climbing

15.1 mph avg

11,372 calories

13 hours 19minutes seat time

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

Stay Put…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know I’m not alone.

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

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

I’m sharing these feelings today for two reasons:

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

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

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

The World Day Of Staying Put

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

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

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

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

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 6

199 miles

8,750’ climbing

15.3 mph avg

11,390 calories

13 hours 04 minutes seat time

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


Building A Good Day…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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

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

Middle Mac…

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

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

Fleetwood Mac – 1975

Rumours – 1977

Tusk – 1979

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

Mick Fleetwood
John McPhee
Christine McVie
Lindsey Buckingham
Stevie Nicks

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

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

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

But this isn’t about Peter Green either.

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

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

The lineup for Bare Trees consisted of…

Danny Kirwan
Bob Welch
Christine McVie
John McVie
Mick Fleetwood

This will always be my favorite Fleetwood Mac lineup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

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

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

Coffee And Carpet Tacks…

I’ll set the scene…

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

Ahhhhh…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then there’s the carpet tacks.

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

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

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

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

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

This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

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

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

From Now Until 2790…

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

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Consider this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week By The Numbers…

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

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

Let The Music Be My Master…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

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

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

Bringing Fun Home…

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

I’m grateful.

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

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

I was having fun.

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

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

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

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

Being airborne is a kid thing.

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

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

Morning Pins And Needles…

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

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

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

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

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

All was good with the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

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

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

 

Dogs Are Love…

For Sparkie and Baxter

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

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

“Dogs are love…”

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

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

“Dogs are love…”

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

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

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

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

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

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Sparkie…

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

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

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

Red White & Kablooey: We Can Do Better…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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

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

Self-Reckoning…

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride…

Yesterday’s Ride…

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

It Ain’t Easy…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

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

Ugh, That Sentence…

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

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

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

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

God, I hate that sentence.

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

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

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

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

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

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

Once again, Confucianism gets it right.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

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

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

To Be A Better Father…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody told me.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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

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

A Missed LaChance…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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

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

Life Like Piecrust…

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

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

Wait, what…?

Piecrust is the ultimate support system.

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

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

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

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

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

Blend in.

Be strong.

Pursue appreciation, not stardom.

Be simple.

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

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

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

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

Something ‘Bout Inner Peace…

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

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

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

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

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

This Week By The Numbers…

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

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

 

Speaking Of Priorities…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uh oh.

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

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

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