Gimmie Shelter…

It ain’t all broken skies, avocado groves, flower fields, and acre after acre of citrus orchards. Yes, those are the kinds of things I see each day as I look up in wonder when I ride, but the balance is kept, perfectly, when I look down — into the nooks and crannies of it all. From my posture high on my rolling perch, I’m at a speed and in a position to see things that anyone driving a car on the same road would likeky never see.

Example…

Along Old Highway 395 there is a golf resort, Pala Mesa. It combines a hotel, restaurant, golf course, traditional golf course housing, tennis courts, swimming pools, and all within a picturesque setting that rivals any I’ve seen.

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Bike of the day: Tang…

Just behind one section of the patio homes adjacent to the golf course though, there is a ravine that slopes down about 40-feet below these houses and is roughly 1,000 yards in length. The homes above are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I’m certain are well worth the investment. What’s at the bottom of that ravine though, cannot be seen from the fenced backyards of the residents above, nor by anyone driving by in a car. With the bike lane being just a little closer to the edge of that ravine, and with a bicycle seat placing me up a little higher than the driver’s seat of a  car would, I can see the makeshift shelters down below.

There is old furniture there, several tents, and visible signs that multiple persons live down there — perhaps groups of persons. I can see a couple shopping carts, a baby stroller, some 5-gallon water containers, and even a couple of weathered bicycles, which are a far cry from the one I ride past on.

Oh, and I see many well-hidden communities like this one, all over the area. There are slopes and ravines by the thousands around Fallbrook, and while that doesn’t mean that each one comes with an encampment of homeless people, it does suggest that there may be more than a fenced yard or a passing Tesla will ever see.

Doing a little crude math in my head, I calculate that there might be a couple of hundred people living like this in and around the Fallbrook area. I think that is a conservative estimate.  A recent article in the local paper stated that precisely 46 homeless people currently call Fallbrook home — precisely 46.

I will argue that while there may be 46 visible homeless residents currently in Fallbrook, these are the squeaky wheels among the many more who remain silent and hidden, and for a variety of reasons.

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Living off the land…

The ravine behind the Pala Mesa Resort is just one pocket of many well hidden spots I ride past regularly in this community — pockets that some less fortunate people call home. I refer to them as less fortunate, not because of the circumstances that brought them there or the way that they are forced or choose to live. I referred to them as less fortunate, because it seems few people even know they are there.

They are invisible, except to each other.

As a rule of thumb, whether I come across them on my daily walk or my daily ride, and if I stop and have conversations with them, the salutation I always extend is this…

“Hello, neighbor…“

Because no matter the circumstance, they are my neighbor.

This is what I think about my ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
23 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.4 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Good To Be On The Road Back Home Again, by Cornershop

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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 Cornershop. Enjoy…!

Cock-a-doodle-doo And Other Rooster Myths…

Ninety-percent of my daily ride takes place in rural surroundings. I live in a region of Southern California were commercial agriculture reigns supreme. Avocados groves, citrus orchards, flowers, plants, and greenhouses dominate my riding landscape.

Many residents here dabble in personal agriculture as well. Most homes here are on multiple acres of property and among the more fashionable trends in this community, along with ‘family fruit’ trees, massive bougainvillea hedges, and the ever-increasing front yard vineyards, is the keeping of chickens.

Where there are chickens, of course, there are often roosters.

Like you, I was raised to believe that roosters wake early and are nature’s alarm clocks — that every rooster gets up with or just before the sun and announces to anyone or anything in proximity that a new day is about to begin. His mechanism for this…? His cock-a-doodle-doo.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer…

Riding my bike in the middle of the day I have learned that roosters, at least the ones around here, could give a frog’s fat ass what time of day they cock-a-doodle-doo. I often ride in the late mornings, the early afternoons, and even after dark on occasion. As I ride around this community, turning corners, buzzing the straightaways, climbing the hills and taking in this earthy rural scenery, I hear roosters at every possible time of day.

So I sort of feel like I’ve been fed a bag of lies since childhood. Roosters, like wealthy white men it seems, crow all day long and into the night.

Underscoring this, two of my three adjoining neighbors keep chickens and roosters and never, NEVER, do I hear them early. Being one who gets up early each day, I would take note if they did. I do though, hear them as I am working in my studio — all day long.

But the real lie that I’m coming to terms with, the one that has been forced upon me since childhood, the lie that school teachers, children’s books, cartoons, and movies have all perpetrated is that roosters go cock-a-doodle-doo.

They do not.

Roosters, at least the ones around here, very clearly go Aroot-aroot-aroooooo. This is inarguable. If one listens, breaks it down phonetically and tries to duplicate through our human vocal abilities, the sound a rooster makes can’t be anything other than Aroot-aroot-aroooooo.

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Outside my studio. My neighbor’s Chicken — or Rooster, checking in on me…

Try it — just try and sound like a rooster. Do it right now, and as loud as you can. Don’t worry about your workmates, your fellow students or your family, just stand up and at the top of your lungs go Aroot-aroot-aroooooo.  You’ll see that I’m correct.

When those close to me take exception with my propensity for constantly challenging the leadership, I’m going to use this as another example of why we should always question authority, and why we should question everything we’re taught in school.

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Mischa: On Rooster Patrol…

We have all been lied to about roosters, and far too many have been willing to accept those lies — I guess because it’s just easier that way.

Roosters don’t wake up early, and roosters don’t go cock-a-doodle-doo. It’s just not true.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…
Bike: Cortez The Killer
23 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.2 mph avg
1,500 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: The Sun Do Shine, by Glen Campbell

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 Glen Campbell. Enjoy…!

The Other Immigrants: A Butterfly Collective…

It’s hard to go anywhere in Southern California right now, and not be taken a bit by the sight of the painted lady butterfly migration. They are everywhere, by the millions, enroute from Mexico to the northwest.

Riding through and among them at roughly 15-20 mph, they hit my helmet, bounce off my hands, and one even ended up in my mouth a couple days ago, but it didn’t stay there long. He was quickly uninvited, and his departure was followed by a long swig of water, a swish, and a spit.

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Bike: Bella…

I confess, I’ve become more vulnerable as a cyclist due to the presence of the painted ladies — they’re just captivating. When I should be looking at the road in front of me, spying carpet tacks, thorns, twigs, and bottle caps, I find myself looking up in wonder as they flit about. In some instances the concentrations of painted ladies has been so thick that they’ve appeared as clouds overhead. My eyes fixed to them, I fail to see the aluminum can that my tire will eventually strike. So far so good though — a few bumps, but no bruises and no flat tires at the expense of the painted ladies.

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Glancing up at these butterfly clouds, with God present but invisible in the background, I begin to think about consciousness — individual and collective. With so many millions of butterflies, and with me trying so hard not to run into them, I begin to wonder if it hurts when I do hit them. I question whether they feel pain as their wings hit my handlebars or as their bodies get churned up in my spokes.

I contemplate what they might contemplate — or whether contemplate at all. I wonder if they’re looking down to guide themselves and are navigating by landmark or if they’re flying with eyes closed and listening to signals in their head from another source or another dimension. And as they head to their northern destination, I question whether they are thinking at all, and if they do think, do they do so as individuals or as a group…

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After dozens of attempts, only one mediocre picture…

I understand that some swarm animals — birds, insects, even some migrating mammals can act as a collective during their migrations. They move and respond as a group, but I wonder if there might be discontent in this. Is the butterfly in the back of the swarm sharing an identical thought with a butterfly in the front…? Or, is the butterfly in the back wondering if the Padres are going to make a run at the pennant this year, while the butterfly in front is bitter because he has to do the dirty work by cut through the wind.

When I have stopped at intersections and traffic lights or to drink water, I have attempted to photograph one of these critters. However, they don’t stop that frequently and when they do, it isn’t for very long. They are elusive. To this point, I have only taken one successful photograph, and it’s not that good.

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Stoke Signals…

For my part, I’ll just keep pedaling through the painted ladies, dodging them and admiring them — simultaneously, in these waning days of their migration. I’ll try hard not to hit them or breathe one into my mouth again. I’ll continue to spend time wondering if insects think, feel, or have souls at all, as I contemplate this about other animals, to a point of madness most days.

I’ll miss the painted ladies once the migration is through, but I might feel better, at least a little bit, for knowing that I’m not killing any more of them with my helmet, my elbows, and my spokes.

This is what I think about when I ride…

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 3
138 Miles
6,800’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
9,300 calories
Earworm Of The Week: Pretty Pink Rose, by Adrian Belew and David Bowie

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 Adrian Belew and David Bowie. Enjoy…!

Tiny Rolling House…

Headed north into Riverside County yesterday. A 26-mile out-and-back for some quick climbing, good vistas, and a fun stretch of downhill switchbacks dropping into Temecula, where I can often glide upwards of 45-50 mph on a good day, though I only hit 38 yesterday.

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The only hiccup on my way out of town occurred about a mile from my house. A man in a white pickup-truck with scraggly hair and a beard that wasn’t even trying to be kept, flagged me down because he needed help. This was on E. Mission Rd. headed towards I-15. Normally I don’t get off my bike, even for friends, but when somebody needs help, that’s a no brainer.

“Hey man, do you know where the weed store is…?“ He asked.

Huh…? Feedstore…? I replied. I’m deaf in my left ear and I really thought he said feedstore.

“No! The weeeeeeed store, man…!”

Oh, I said, it’s in that building over there. I pointed in the direction of the only commercial building nearby, assuming it was somewhere in there, though I honestly had no idea where it was. I just wanted to get back on the road. I hope he found his weed. I found hillsides covered with wildflowers that would serve me just as well, probably better.

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I was thinking about used motorhomes for much of my ride. I almost bought one two nights ago, and I mean, I almost bought one. An ‘86 Winnebago with 32,000 original miles on it, in pristine shape, for only 6K. This was my dream house. I opted not to pursue this one, but the fact I am looking at and considering them more frequently — daily, confirms to myself that I really am getting closer.

When I do buy one — a used motorhome, it isn’t going to be for weekend recreation or as a desert, beach, or mountain toy. This rolling tiny house I’m searching for, which I have not bought yet, will be my forever home.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I plan on living in a small motorhome for an extended period once I get into retirement or semi-retirement. A minimalist for much of my adult life, and now in my late 50s, I’m beginning to see the headlights at the end of the tunnel. In an unstable world with an ever-changing economy, a house that is suitable to live in, that also gets 20 miles per gallon, is my kinda house.

I have no intention though, of going to grand or pursuing anything fancy — spending $50,000 or more on such a thing. When that day comes when I do make the purchase, I want to be able to pay cash for it. Not having any debt is a big part of my retirement plan. I will make sure that it is in good condition, has been well-maintained, and ensure that I continue to maintain it well once it becomes mine.

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Though tiny houses are now all the rage, the ridiculousness of how complicated they are becoming increases each year. Hint: if you require granite countertops for your tiny house, you’ve missed the point of tiny house. Besides, I’ve done the math 100-times over, it makes much more sense for me to live in a small motorhome than in a tiny house.

I grew up fascinated by the story of Dorian Paskowitz, the Stanford educated physician and surfer, who along with his wife, raised nine children in a series of pickup-truck campers, at the San Onofre beach here in Southern California, among many other places they traveled in those campers. To me, Doc Paskowitz is the patron saint of minimalism.

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So when I ride up and down these roads each day, occasionally glancing up at the  exaggerated tract homes, the million dollar homes, and the weekend motorhomes that are often in those driveways, and as glance into traffic, occasionally seeing an old motorhome from the 70s or 80s, and one that’s in good condition, my eyes light up. I think to myself, someday that’s gonna be me — that’s my dream house.  And of course, I’m talking about the old motorhomes, not the huge houses up on the hills. I’ll just have to figure out how to store 6 or 8 bikes in or on it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…
Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
25.5 miles
1,900’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
1,700 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Delta Dawn, by Tanya Tucker.

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 Tanya Tucker. Enjoy…!

Spontaneous Involvement And Being Consistently Consistent…

Out early yesterday, a bit cold, and with a severe time-change hangover. Hard ride. Fun ride. When I got back I sat down on the sofa for just a minute to dry my face and take off my shoes, and I fell asleep for nearly an hour. When I woke up, I was starving. I dropped my mother off at the local Dollar Tree, walked four doors down and ate Thai food alone at Thai Thai. I had the #54 — The Vegetable Lover’s Delight, with extra tofu for protein.

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps

I was thinking about Dale Webster yesterday while I was riding, but the truth is, I think about Dale Webster every day of my life, whether I’m riding, writing, praying, walking or doing anything ritualistically.

For about 15 minutes in 2003, Dale Webster became famous for something he worked over 40-years to accomplish. In Bruce Brown’s movie, Step Into Liquid, Brown dedicated a segment of the film to Webster’s quest to surf every day of his life, catching at least 3 waves per day, between the two Septembers in his lifetime which would each have (5) Sundays in them. The first of those two Septembers was in 1975.

Webster eventually fulfilled that objective in September of 2015 and surpassed it by a month, until kidney stone surgery kept him out of the water in October of 2015. Webster surfed every day of his life between those two Septembers, catching at least three waves per day, for 40-years.

In the movie, Webster offered the most striking sentence I’ve ever heard…

“Surfing is the ultimate spontaneous involvement in a natural medium…”

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Dale Webster surfed every day for over 40 years…

Though Dale Webster and I have never met, he’s been with me on every ride, hike, or workout since I first became aware of his story in an issue of Surfer’s Journal back in the early 1980s. He’s been with me for a couple of reasons…

One: I attempt to ride every day, at least 20-miles per day, and more when time permits. In 2018 I road 359 of the 365 days.

Two: Although pavement isn’t a natural medium, the “spontaneous involvement” of cycling is the hook for me.

Every ride is a little different. Each ride requires me to think and act quickly, and often to do so in an instant. Cars, objects in the road, and even pieces of broken truck tire flying through the air and past my head, require me to act quickly. Riding brings me joy and keeps me on my toes — simultaneously.

Not withstanding, the different hills, different routes I choosee, the different scenery, different conditions, and the joy I find each time I speed downhill at 40 or 50 miles per hour. And riding takes place outdoors, so pavement notwithstanding, I’m in somewhat of a natural medium.

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Thai-ing one on, post-ride…

More to the point though, Dale Webster should be the global poster child for consistency in anything — the worldwide ambassador of no excuses. He should be an inspiration to anyone, young or old, male or female, athletic or artistic, who wishes to accomplish any goal or activity  requiring consistency.

I’m certain that had I not been familiar with Webster’s story for so much of my adult life, I probably would’ve skipped a lot more hikes, a lot more workouts, and a lot more rides. I’m not sure I would write every day, pray every day, or observe any of my other daily rituals, without Webster’s influence. Dale Webster is a name and a story  we should all be more familiar with.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
32 miles
1,500’ climbing
16.4 mph avg
2,100 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Back Door Man, by Soul Asylum and Iggy Pop

No Need To Duck, It’s Only A Slow Moving Watermelon…

I’m very big on firsts. That is, I value the idea of participating in things that have never happened before — in the history of mankind. I think I’ve participated in a few, and yesterday‘s ride might have added one to the list.

Approximately 3/4s of the way through an otherwise ordinary ride on another beautiful day in Fallbrook California, a 1990s Saturn station wagon full of teen boys passed me slowly from behind. The car was gold in color and weathered. There were two boys in the front seat and two more in back. Seeing their profiles in my peripheral vision as they pulled along side of me, each one looked like a skinny Muppet.

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps   Took a break on some outdoor furniture…

As one might expect with a car full of kids, the thumping of heavy bass announced their presence to me 30 or 40 yards before they pulled along side. The smell of weed leaking from the car’s open windows might have been enough to distinguish them in my mind and amuse me for the next hour or so while I pedaled onward, but there was more. Much more.

How I will remember them, why will I remember them, and what it was that will distinguish them in my mind as co-perpetrators of a unique moment in human history, unfolded in an instant as they passed me. I will remember them for the rest of my life, for the moment they attempted to and failed, to chuck a watermelon at me through the car window.

Worth repeating: They attempted to throw a watermelon through a car window at a cyclist, me, as they drove past.

Depending on how you define human beings, we’ve been around for roughly 500,000 years. In that time, approximately 100 million human beings to have ever lived. Among those people and within that time, I’ll suggest I’m the first person to ever be the target of an attempted watermelon tossing and subsequent failure, by a car full of stoners.

I was not only the witness, I was the cyclist.

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Early birds…

I’ve had bottles thrown at me before, been honked at, yelled at, and have even had cars intentionally swerve in my direction to scare me. I’ve had a drunk guys in pickup trucks challenge me to pull over and fight them. In these instances, I usually experience some combination of frustration, rage, or disappointment in my fellow man. I’ve had interruptions like this not only ruin my ride, but ruin my day.

However, to see four stoned teenagers in a ratty, smoke filled car, fail in attempting to throw a watermelon out the window at me, absolutely made my day, and will probably be the highlight of my riding in calendar year 2019.

Why they were driving with a watermelon, and why they were willing to sacrifice it, I have no idea. But they did. Perhaps they were running an errand for mom, and just didn’t give a crap — they felt simple amusement was worthy of dumping mom’s fruit. Maybe they had bought it to plug, fill with grain alcohol, and serve at a party later in the evening. I’ll probably never know.

The watermelon did make it out the window, but barely. They giggled as the melon hit the pavement, yelled someone unintelligible words in my direction in their Wayne and Garth voices, and sped away. For those who may question the validity of this story, the remains can be seen on somewhere in the vicinity of Gird Road and Lake Trees drive here in Fallbrook.

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Fallbrook California: The  most beautiful community in America…

In a small town, I’m confident I will see this car again, and some combination of these boys. When I do, I’m going to offer to buy them lunch at Taco Bell, to thank them, because I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of the story, and for many years.

It may be possible that in some region of China, Idaho, Portugal, or on the North Island of New Zealand, that other stoned boys driving a beat up Saturn station wagon also attempted to chuck a watermelon at a cyclist as they passed him by. If it has happened somewhere else, forgive the momentary grandeur. Until it gets proven to me that it has happened, I’m going to assume that yesterday I participated in another first in human history.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
25 miles
1,050’ climbing
16.9 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: One More Time, by Redbone

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 Redbone. Enjoy…!

Cry Me A River…

It had been too long since I had seen the ocean, so I left Fallbrook yesterday and headed west until I could head west no more. It was a beautiful ride along the San Luis Rey riverbed through Fallbrook, Bonsall, and into Oceanside.

Wildflowers were blooming everywhere. The trees along the river bed have never looked greener nor more full, and certainly not this early in the season. In the usually dry riverbed, running water was cutting a swath 60 to 70 yards wide on either side of the recreation trail leading to the coast, the result of all the rain we’ve had in recent months and days. I must have seen 20 egrets along the way, another 20 roadrunners, and a half-dozen Osprey.

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Mixed in with all the growth and the wildlife though, was an inordinary amount of manmade debris. Unusually high and rapid moving water had forced sheets of plastic, large pieces of plywood, and corrugated tin up against tree trunks, fence posts, and against the walls of the overpasses that line the river trail.

What to do these items have in common…?

They are what homeless people use to create shelters, lean-tos, and makeshift tents in the riverbed. Since I ride the riverbed often, I have a good mental inventory of where many of these tents, shelters, and social complexes are located. And since I interact with some of the local homeless folks from time to time, I have a good understanding of how valuable these shelters are to them, and how people will go out of their way to protect them. After all, they may be made out of plywood and plastic, but they are a person’s home.

Since the rains that filled the dry riverbed with water were the same rains that have been falling on my own backyard in recent months, I know some of the more sudden storms have occurred overnight. It’s easy to surmise that some of these shelters may have been taken out by fast rising waters suddenly, and while people were sleeping in them. That’s why they were pushed up against tree trunks and bridges, because it can happen so quickly.

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That is, if any of the residents in the riverbed had any advanced notice that the water would have been rushing down, I’m certain they would’ve done their best to relocate their shelters to higher ground, which is available alongside most of the riverbed. That these got caught in the flow of the water is a good indication that the water came quickly.

I may be wrong about that, but with the sheer number of makeshift shelters along the river bed, it’s a safe bet that more than a few people woke up to rushing water and had to run to escape it. I’m just grabbing a number, but I would estimate that in the 10-mile stretch between Bonsall and Oceanside, there might be as many as 1000 people living down there, probably more.

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After catching my breath at the coast, enjoying the view, the smell of salt air, and the simple amusement of observing pasty kids from Omaha splashing around in the 53° water, I turned around and headed home.

I felt like the epitome of arrogance though, riding past torn up homeless encampments on my fancy bike and headed back to my fancy house. It was and remains very hard to reconcile. I guess some days privilege and of the lottery of birth both weigh a little bit more than on other days.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer
32.5 miles
950’ climbing
16.8 mph avg
2,200 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Failed Christian (Nick Lowe) by Henry McCullough

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 Henry McCullough. Enjoy…!

 

The Currency Of Cool…

Let’s go down the list…

Jesus Christ
Mohammed
Zoroaster
Confucius
The Buddha
Moses
Fonzie

Wait, what…?   Yeah, Fonzie.

Despite the influence that all these prophets would have at different times in my life, there’s one that has contributed to my day-to-day more than the others.

In 1974 I was in middle school. That was the year that Happy Days premiered on ABC.

As an awkward pre-adolescent, with few friends, a father that traveled, and a mother that worked swing shift, much of my life was spent in my own little world. The thing about living in my own little world was this; I didn’t get out much except to be picked on, beat up, or completely ignored by my contemporaries, which can hurt just as much as a beating at the bus stop.

Up to that point my only savior was The Six-Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin. Looking up to and emulating Steve Austin though, came with its own set of baggage. For example, Austin wore leisure suits, the trend in men’s fashion at the time. To be more like him, since I lacked bionic parts, I wore leisure suits to middle school thinking I would be cool. Let the bus stop beatings begin. The leisure suits didn’t last long.

Enter Arthur Herbert Fonzerelli.

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I like the night life, Baby…

I received my first leather jacket as a Hanukkah gift the same winter that Happy Days began its 2nd season. In the first season, you may remember, Fonzie wore a cloth jacket. He still made it look cool, but it wasn’t leather. His leather jacket though, in the 2nd season, put him on the top rung on the ladder of cool. My new leather jacket was my first evolutionary step in the long process of becoming cool — or cooler than a guy wearing a leisure suit in the 8th grade.

The evolution would be slow.

Something I recognized from the get-go though, was that when I wore my leather jacket to school, people treated me differently — better. I might not have been the coolest guy in school, not by any stretch, but there was something about that jacket that gave me a currency which provided entrée into places, situations, and with people I had not previously had access.

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This was also around the time I began lifting weights. And though it would take years for physique to fully develop, my biceps grew almost immediately. This served me well, because when the summer came and the leather jacket became too hot, having well formed arms underneath those sleeves was another aspect of cool.

I would not add another arrow into my quiver of cool for nearly a decade. That’s when I joined the United States Coast Guard. Being in the military is one of those things can seem very cool to some people and not cool at all to others. But there’s something different about the Coast Guard. The mission of the Coast Guard being so unique, gives it a cool that the other armed forces don’t experience.

Around this time, my physique did start to develop beyond just my biceps, so I had the fact that I was in the Coast Guard, I was fairly well-built, and that I could make a Coast Guard uniform look as cool as a leather jacket going for me. After all, a good physique is what made those leisure suits work for Steve Austin.

Buy my estimation at this point, I was about 50% up the ladder of cool.

However, my cool would flatline for the next decade or so, as it should have. This was the period when I got married, began working adult jobs, and started a family. But there was this one thing…

A fortunate twist of fate was that after I left the Coast Guard, I was hired as a security guard for America West Airlines in Phoenix. America West was just starting out and wanted their security guards to be corporate employees, not outsourced. From that position, it didn’t take me long to work my way into an analyst position in the pilot planning department. This was in the late 1980s, when working for an airline made you cool by default. I continued up the ladder.

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Though my career path in aviation wouldn’t last long, having the title of Scheduling Analyst and the pay that came with it gave me confidence in the working world. My recreational bodybuilding gave me confidence in everything else.

Confidence = cool.

Something significant happened as a result of this increased confidence — I began to share my sense of humor more. My father and brother cultivated a good sense of humor in me while I was growing up, but I didn’t share it too often for my lack of confidence. As I began to let it out though, people talked to me more and let me in a little closer. As cool as having an airplane job, big biceps, and broad shoulders might have made me, being funny took me up a couple of more rungs.

Even cool people struggle, and by the time I was in my 40s, I was divorced, somewhat broken, but not altogether defeated. Time to grow my hair. Straight up, guys with long hair may or may not be cool, but when guys have muscle and long hair, it’s a slam-dunk. Conan, Tarzan, and Chicago Bears defensive tackle, Steve McMichael were all cool.

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Milestone: This bike, Vasudeva, went over the 10,000 mile mark with me this week…

And since my hair was long and I had a decent physique, this was a time I could get away with wearing a lot of bracelets, torn pink tank-tops, and going barefoot everywhere I went.

What..? Is that the top of the latter I’m reaching for…?

It was roughly 2006 when the social media began to unfold. It was important to me, from the beginning, to stay unique. Though I have participated in my share of sophomoric hijinks in social media, for the most part the things that I have shared have been as unique and original I could have them be. Few things are more cool than being original and unique.

And all of this brings me to riding a bike — bikes actually, since I currently own six. My biking is something that I do daily, and in all conditions — rain, shine, or tonsillitis. And though I don’t ride expensive bikes, my bikes are cool, mostly because I keep them clean and decorate them with colorful water bottles. When I stop at the ocean, next to a pasture, or in front of a vineyard to take pictures of my bikes, people often complement them, and very often those complements include the word cool.

If it sounds lofty, arrogant, or like I’m high on my own grandeur to refer to myself as cool, forgive me. But I do think I’m pretty cool and that’s no accident. My coolness has been by design and has served me well.

I’m not an Ivy League scholar, I can’t do math in my head, I don’t have much money, and I don’t speak Portuguese. Despite these, I’m regularly granted access to people, places, and situations that a guy in a leisure suit might never find.

People give me the time of day because they perceive me as being cool, and whether you realize it or not, cool is a form of currency. At times it can be as valuable as intelligence, scholarly achievements, occupational status, and many of the things we use to value human worth. Cool has gotten me into places that a PhD never would.

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Spring has sprung in SoCal…

Make no mistake, cool is not who I am. Cool is how I portray myself. Cool is a shell, no different than a Porsche 356, an Armani suit, or shiny white teeth veneers. Cool gets me through the door, but what keeps me there is appreciating that I ever got there at all. And I hope I do that better than anything else — to show appreciation that I’ve been accepted into nearly every room, every situation, and with every person I have ever connected.

Since I put on that first leather jacket towards the end of my 8th grade year, I have recognized the power of cool.  And I owe all of this to Arthur Fonzerelli.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 3
151 miles
8,200’ climbing
16.6 mph avg
Night rides: 3, for 75 miles
10,200 calories
9 hours 4 minutes in the saddle

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 Jackson Browne. Enjoy…!

 

On The Adversity Of Others…

At some point during every ride, I find myself contemplating the trials, tribulations, and the tragedies of others.  Not out of amusement, but out of humility. Mostly, those in my periphery — my friends, family, and acquaintances as well as those I cross paths with via social media.

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

More so, it’s a grounding reminder that many I know have interruptions in their own blessings, and that sometimes those interruptions are severe. I love them and I always pray for them.

It’s been 6 years since Gretchen died. She was a friend, in her late 40s, who I often hiked with. One afternoon while walking across the floor of a restaurant on her way from her table to the restroom, she had a heart attack. The EMTs revived her, but she passed away the next morning. Only minutes before, she had texted another friend that she was having one of the best days of her life.

There hasn’t been a week go by in the six years since, that I have not thought about that, at least a little bit.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer…

Several years later, the 13-year-old daughter of another friend passed away suddenly, on her way to family outing with her parents and two brothers. That loss has crossed my mind at least a few times a day, every day sense.

Other adversities start off bleak, but fare a little better, and some ultimately leave the realm of adversity as a description.

Several years ago a friend in Colorado allowed a tree to get between she and one of the better downhill runs she was having that day. She spent several weeks in the hospital, suffered multiple broken bones, a short term head injury, and some permanent scarring on the right side of her face. The scarring is minimal, she is skiing again regularly, and she has since finished college, despite the accident.

She refers to the scars on her face as “The signature of good fortune“.

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Because I ride past his house daily, I think of my friend Dave. He was a client who was complaining about shoulder problems about a year ago. He was concerned that our workouts were causing a constant pain he was having under his upper right arm.

After a doctors visit and a couple of referrals, it turned out not to be workout related at all. The shoulder pain was the result of inflamed lymph nodes, the result of of lung cancer that had spread. The initial diagnosis was stark, and he’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s responded to treatment much better than expected. I am hopeful he will deemed cancer-free in the next few months.

For the last few weeks, as I’ve been riding the hills, gliding the straightaways, and dodging broken glass and cars on the roads of North San Diego county, I’ve been thinking about a young man I’ve never met. His initials are G.E. His parents are social media friends who I’ve come to know and appreciate. G.E. was in an automobile accident recently.

One month since his accident, G.E. is now in a rehab facility with a fantastic staff, is making great progress, and recovering from his injuries. G.E.’s  current challenges include struggling with balance, a desire to leave his room and wonder, and short-term memory loss. I have a feeling that G.E. is going to make a great recovery. His wonderful parents are committed to helping him overcome the difficulties that lay ahead.

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Micky Zen loves fire “Th i i i i i i i i s” much…

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

The joke in my family is this…

I don’t have to get an annual physical. I just get my blood work done in the emergency room each year when I’m there.

Though I do land in the emergency room every so-often, I’ve been quite fortunate that nothing which has landed me there has caused me too much difficulty. Oh, there have been setbacks, but nothing that approaches the term adversity.

Maybe it’s because I ride by markers each day of my life that display where other cyclists have been struck by cars. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen more than a handful of gurneys being loaded into ambulances driving away from the remains of mangled motorcycles, bikes, and cars. Most likely though, it’s because I know the risks involved with daily cycling, that I think about the adversity of others and the impact it has had on their families and friends.

As much as anything, these daily thoughts remind me of just how good my life is, and how I should strive to protect and appreciate it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer
31 miles
1,500’ climbing
16.4 mph avg
2,100 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: He’s Misstra Know It All

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 Stevie Wonder. Enjoy…!

Unplanned Routes And Freewill For Beginners…

Yesterday was the shortest ride I’ve had in a while — just a hair over 20-miles. I intended to ride between 24-27. It was cold, rainy, and a bit windy. About 10-miles out, I found myself riding in some of the heaviest rain I’ve ever ridden through. Despite being appropriately dressed and biked, I was getting soaked, chilled, and frustrated. I made the decision to cut it short and head home.

This is when I started thinking about freewill — yet again.

I think about free will often, especially when I’m on my bike. I think this is because riding a bike, above all things, is a continual decision making process…

– How I should position myself within the lanes.
– What road obstacles to avoid.
– Which direction I want to look to check on traffic.
– Which gear to be in.
– Which scenery to look at.
– Is that a bee on my knee, or a piece of gravel…?

And so-on.

When I leave my house to ride, I always know whether I’m going to go north or south, and I have a rough idea of how many miles I’ll ride that day. However, as I pull out of my driveway, other than going left or right, I don’t know for certain the precise route I’m going to ride.

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Bike Of The Day: Tang…

I have roughly a half-dozen courses that I ride regularly, and within those courses, there’s probably 20 or more variations of each. Every ride is unique to itself, even if only slightly from the previous one.

As I navigate my chosen course each day, and as I make last-minute decisions to go left or go right, up or down, or of where to stop and take a pretty picture and of what, I think about freewill.

Contemporary physics suggests that there is no freewill. Mathematics, apparently, doesn’t provide for it. Sean Carrol, Brian Greene, and Jana Levin among others, suggest that freewill is just an illusion. For his part, Greene says we should enjoy the “imaginary control” we believe we have, but viscerally not get caught up in it.

I have my doubts about this.

At least a few times on every ride, I’m forced into a decision to go left, to go right or to choose a prong on a fork taking me in entirely different directions, knowing that I can’t ride on two prongs at once.

In one instance, there is a fork that divides Live Oak Road from Reche Road here in Fallbrook. When I arrive at that fork, I often don’t make the decision of which way I’ll go until the very last second. If I go left, up Reche, I’ll get me home sooner, but I’ll pay for it with a steeper and more challenging climb. Conversely, going right, up Live Oak, will add a couple of miles to my trip home, but with a much gentler climb, and one that is more beautiful.

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On the drying rack, after its post-ride and bath…

Many times though, has my front tire been pointed left up Reche, when at the last possible second, I turn right up Live Oak for the longer but prettier climb. A last-second ‘choice’.

That those decisions happen multiple times on every ride, and that they often happen so suddenly, sure seems like freewill to me.

Maybe I am a pawn in a greater or lesser game that I have no ownership in. I think about a giant in different realm or in a far away universe, sitting in a chair, staring at a screen, and controlling me with a joystick.

Cosmologist and mathematician George Ellis argues against the more recent speculation that all reality is just a projection or a holographic image.

Part of me likes the idea that there might not be free will. If there’s isn’t, if I tell a nun to screw off, I’m not gonna have to pay for it in my next life. But I don’t buy it — not the holographic projection for the absence of freewill.

Every time I go left where I generally take a right, I feel myself making that decision. I just know it’s me, and only me.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
20.1 miles
1,100’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
1,300 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: For Beginners, by M. Ward

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 M. Ward. Enjoy…!

Me Time: In Case Of Emergecy…

I spend roughly 90-minutes on my bike every day. A little bit less when life has me hurrying on behalf of others, and a little bit more on the weekends and on days when extra time actually finds me. It’s my Me Time.

I never squander extra time, I invest it.

In a perfect life, I would ride for about 3-hours every day — that would ideal. Maybe when I retire I can do that. Or when I semi-retire, since I plan to work at least part-time so long as I’m able.

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Vasudeva…

More than a few people have asked me about that red and gray bag I have on the top-tube of my bikes — that thing that has the appearance of a small gas tank.

It’s my tool/utility bag.

A lot of cyclists don’t like this style of bag because they break up the aerodynamics of the bike, they add a little bit more weight, and they break up the aesthetic of the bike’s appearance.

I appreciate this style of tool bag though, so much. It may influence the weight, the aerodynamics, and the aesthetic, but it’s a great insurance policy when I’m 20-miles from home. It’s larger than most cycle bags, but allows me to carry just about everything I might need on my rides.

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In the bag I keep…

– A spare inner-tube in case of a flat
– Levers to help remove a tire in case of a flat
– A CO2 pump and (2) CO2 cartridges in case of a flat
– $20 bill in case I need food/drink or a taxi (in case of a flat)
– My insurance card in case I need an emergency room
– On the back of the insurance card is my emergency contact information in case I can’t speak for myself in the emergency room
– A multi-tool with a small socket set, hex wrenches, screwdrivers, a knife, and a bottle opener — this tool can work with any fitting or fastener on any bike I own.
– A Ziploc bag to protect my phone in case it rains
– Reading glasses — to see what I’m doing during repairs

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Bike tool was a Hanukkah gift from my friend Cliff…

Also, it appears that I have 2 water bottles, one on my down-tube in the other on my seat-tube. In warm weather, they are filled with water.

In the winter though, and on cold days in particular, the bottle on the seat-tube actually contains spare gloves, a spare beanie to wear under my helmet, and spare socks. These might get used if I’m out for an extended period and rain soaks the ones I’m already wearing. I’ll just stop under a tree, swap out the wet garments for dry ones, and continue about my way.

Or, they might get used if I drop into a colder elevation which happens frequently this time of year. In a matter of several miles I can go from 50°F down to 30°F. If this gets the better of me, I can just double up my gloves, socks, and beanie to keep a little warmer — or to keep from getting too cold.

I also keep a few peppermints just under the cap, for a quick sugar in case I start to bonk.

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For longer rides, I’ll put one more tool bag on the top tube and include a little food, a spare tire, some chain lube, and usually have enough room left to add an item that might be relevant for a longer ride, such as a windbreaker or a headlamp to be clipped on later,  should my ride continue into darkness.

So that’s it. That’s what goes with me when I ride.

Be prepared.

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t reflect on my Boy Scout days, and all these years later, those lessons serve me well.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Vasudeva
31 miles
1,500’ climbing
2,100 calories
17.1 mph avg
Yesterday’s earworm: Josephine, by Chris Cornell

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 Chris Cornell. Enjoy…!

Friends, Copilots, And Conspirators…

Though I always ride alone, one constant when I ride is that I’m never really alone. I have friends, copilots, and conspirators who ride along with me, if only in my mind. They just pop in and out of my psyche while I ride, as my thoughts and mood weave ideas, new and old.

Depending on what I’m looking at and what I’m thinking about as I pedal, I have different conversations with different people. There is always some combination of friends, family members, associates, and even some whom I have never met, but have admired.

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Bomer The Kreeps…

During an average ride, I might converse with as many as a half-dozen different people. I confess that some folks show up more than others, but if I’ve been connected with someone for any length of time, either in person or via social media, there’s a good chance that person has appeared beside me on one or more of my rides and  been an unwitting participant  in these conversations in my head.

There are times when I ride with people I’ve never met. Roberto Clemente, Steve Earle, Colin Powell, Robert Wright, and James McMurtry have all ridden with me at one time or another — and many more like them. And yes, Donald Trump has even been on a ride or two with me, but his presence is always forced, and the result of his own permeating bad behavior.

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My copilots aren’t just in my head. They are always on bicycles, and right beside me traveling at the same speed, no faster or slower. My imagination paces us side-by-side so perfectly that it’s easy to converse. It’s as though we are always at identical fitness levels.

We chat. We laugh. I listen. They speak. I speak. They listen. We learn more about each other as we ride. Sometimes we talk of what we already know, while others times we talk of what should or could be — what we might want for the future.

We talk about art. We talk about how we can save the world. We always talk about how things can be improved. Occasionally, we tell jokes and might even sing.

Paul Weller and I sing quite well together.

The only time I take a leadership role during our rides is in explaining what’s ahead on the routes we are riding. You see, we may be riding side-by-side, but this is my turf, so I have to explain the how to prepare for every obstacle. It might go something like this…

– This is going to be a steep hill…
– Might get a little bit curvy up ahead…
– Going to need to do a little shifting just past that tree…
– Hit it just right, and we could reach 50-mph going down this slope…

Things like that.

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There may be gaps when we don’t speak to each other at all — when just enjoy the scenery, occasionally looking over to one another and silently acknowledging what beautiful surroundings these are or the thrill of breaking the 50 mph barrier.

We don’t talk about politics too much when we ride, but when we do we are sure to agree on things. That’s the beauty of my friends being with me on my imaginary terms; we’re pretty much in agreement on everything. Or should I say, they are in agreement with me…

We agree on music. We agree on sports. We agree on the beauty of the landscape around us. We agree that the world would be a better place if we all treated one another with more kindness. We agree that a successful outcome for man is supremely dependent on religious acceptance, as well as putting all animal life on an equal plane with human life.

Go ahead, ask me if I ever ride with God, I dare ya…

Like so many others, God pops in and out. He’ll spend a little time with me, maybe has something to say or gets me thinking about something in a new way, and on a good day, maybe he listens back just a little bit. Other times, he just sits on my shoulder  with the wind in his hair and enjoys the scenery as I do.

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I love riding with my friends. It’s actually a big part of why I ride — I can spend quality time with Todd Snider or Retief Goosen every day. Goosen is great on the hills. Snider…?  Not so much.

I ride alone, but I’m never alone when I ride. So thank you for riding along with me.

This is what I think about my ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
29 miles
1,200’ climbing
16.7 mph avg
2,000 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Ain’t That Peculiar, by Fanny

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 Fanny. Enjoy…!

 

The Emotions Go To The Observer…

Got out early yesterday. By San Diego standards it was very cold — 38°F when I left the house. Double socks. Double gloves. Beanie under my helmet. Three long sleeve shirts. I still get a bit nervous about whether I’m dressed properly before I ride in winter here. I’m in proximity of several microclimates, and often have temperature fluctuations in winter of 10 to 20°. I’ve made good clothing choices so far this season.

A good rule of thumb: In winter, I dress for the downhills. Despite the cold temperatures, there’s a lot of heat and even sweat generated riding uphill. Reach a crest, go over the top, and with downhill speeds up 40 mph, 38°F, becomes roughly a 20° windchill.

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Don’t let the sunshine full ya. It was about 30° at the time I took this picture…

Was thinking about art and emotions on yesterday’s ride…

I often wonder why some songs makes me cry, that otherwise shouldn’t. Conversely, I wonder why songs that should make me cry, often don’t. I got to thinking about the balance of emotion between the artist and the observer. I say observer and not listener, because this also applies to paintings, movies, and literature. It’s just that music is my primary form of literature.

As I was peddling alongside citrus orchards and acres of vineyards, I contemplated how fragile the exchange of emotion is between artist and observer. That’s what makes art so beautiful.

There’s the external emotion — the essence of the artist, crafted and projected outward from his art, like a message in a bottle. And the internal emotion — the essence of the observer, yearning, needing, and stirring within. Those emotions meet and blend in the head, the heart, and in the soul of the observer.

I thought further about other influences in this dance.

The first time I heard the song Bad, by U2, I was driving down College Avenue in Tempe Arizona in my blue Renault Alliance. My white and gold Lhasa Apso, Scooter, was in the passenger seat. Maybe 3/4 of the way through the song, I  got a lump in my throat and began bawling. So overcome with emotion, I pulled off to the side of the road to finish listening, but more so to be less a danger in traffic. Scooter just stared quizzically.

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Since that day, I’ve listened to that song, maybe hundreds of times, and I always reflect back to the emotions I felt the first time I heard it. However, in all the times I’ve listened to it since, not once has it brought me to tears, though it still evokes an emotional response every time.

Now here’s the thing: I was scarcely listening to the lyrics the first time I heard that song. I didn’t know what the song was about. So where did those tears come from…?

Maybe it was the beauty of the day — sunny with my dog at my side and the windows rolled down. Maybe I had just gotten paid and felt a sense of relief that lightened my heart — no more ramen for a while. Certainly the way the song builds sonically was a factor in pulling me into it. Maybe it was that I was just so young and hyper-aware that I had so much of my life left ahead of me. I dunno.

Some combination of all of those things is probably what brought me to tears. And let me be clear, they were tears of joy. Now I’m certain Bono and The Edge had no idea who I was or that their song would bring tears to me that day. But along with my environment and internal emotions, the emotions they felt when they wrote and recorded that song were mitigating aspects of the dance in my soul that day.

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There are still some songs that bring tears to my eyes, but they are fewer and fewer these days. Perhaps that’s because I’m just so deep into life, and to scarred to feel as I once was able to feel.

Emotions are like clouds. They are the result of many influences, circumstances, and chemistry. And like clouds, emotions ebb and flow. They change shape, they change sizes, they change moods, and they sometimes disappear. Never though, do they stay in one place for very long.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer
26 miles
1,300’ climbing
16.6mph avg
1,800 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Bad, by U2

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 U2. Enjoy…!

Calling In Sad…

An all-out glorious ride yesterday. The skies were as beautiful as I’ve ever seen them around here. I got off the highway and rode light gravel and dirt trails for about 8 miles of a 25-mile ride.

Nearly every day I ride past an underpass and a sign above it that reads…

Wildlife Crossing SR76

The underpass is expressly for wildlife to cross under State Highway 76 in Bonsall.

More freedom, less roadkill. Makes sense.

Although it’s intended primarily for coyotes, raccoons, possums, rabbits and the like, I’m certain mountain lions and bobcats have crossed under the highway on this trail from time to time.

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I’ve wanted to explore the trail for a while now, but on this route I’m usually on a road bike, not suited for trail riding. Today I was appropriately biked, so this was the day to veer off the path and get dirty for a while.

I left the highway, used the underpass, and followed the trail as far as it went toward the San Luis Rey river bed. I was surprised at how well worn the trail was, but when I looked up to see two men in the underpass seated on a weathered mattress and leaning against one another sharing a bottle of tequila, I knew bipedal varmints also use the underpass and the trail.

Once I cleared the underpass, I was wholly invigorated and inspired by the scenery and by the skies — and just in time too.

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At this point, I was about 8-miles out from my house and only a few hours removed from one of the heavier depressive episodes I’ve had recently. It was a Sunday morning and I only had one client session, but I was having a pretty bad start to my day.

I sat there, with roughly an hour to go before my only session and I just stared into the glow of the fireplace. As much as I appreciated the expected client, I didn’t really want to do the session. I was just too sad.

I just sat there, holding my dog and crying, and for reasons that were beyond my grasp. I wanted to call my client and tell her that wasn’t feeling well enough to train her, but that seemed unacceptable for many reasons.

I ran through all the clichés in my head…

-Buck up!
-Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!
-Crash through it!
-Get over it!
-And a few others…

I knew I’d get it together, put my game face on, take her through a rigorous workout, and that she would leave my studio better for her efforts. Nobody ever walks away from a workout and says ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’.

And maybe after her session, for the efforts and dynamics of me getting her through it, I’d feel better myself. History tells me that could be the case.

Still, the depression was stifling at that point. But we’re not allowed to call in sad.

If I had some tangible germ, virus, condition or disorder and cancelled the session, my client wouldn’t have questioned it. The words ‘I have strep throat’ are more acceptable to a consumer than ‘I want to sit on my closet floor with the lights off and the door closed’.

And that’s too bad.

I don’t think that will ever change either, not in my lifetime, despite all we now know about depression. Calling in sad will never be an option.

When we are carrying germs that can spread to others and cause them sickness too, we are told to put up hard and fast borders — do not let those germs out and don’t let anyone in. Notwithstanding that when we’re sick, we are often too weak to work and likely to be less productive so staying home is acceptable.

When it’s tears though, that were carrying, rather than germs, we’re expected to hold them in and do so in a way that we aren’t expected to do with germs. We trust that with the right amount of effort, our sadness won’t be contagious.

Maybe there will be a day when I can call in sad and it will be acceptable. A part of me hopes that day comes, but a larger part of me hopes it never does, because my income might be cut in half.

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I’m glad did the session and as I reckoned, I felt a little better for having done it. It was one of my favorite clients. She works hard, and that helped me out my sadness — some. I’m as glad though, that I took my bike out immediately after the session because by the time I was done riding, my sadness was long gone — if only for a while.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
25.5 miles
1,100’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
1,700 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Womb, by Toni Childs

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 Toni Childs. Enjoy…!

Hard Working People Sooth The Savage Breast…

After a week of bad weather, 4 flat tires, and one cracked frame, I ended the week with a great ride. Very cold this morning and a bit rainy still, but I felt good to be trouble-free again, if only for a day. More bad weather headed this way later in the week, and these rural roads aren’t bicycle friendly after heavy rains.

As is often the case, I was thinking about music while riding this morning. Not songs, not albums, not styles, genres or even technologies. I was thinking about the dynamics that lead to music — the circumstances that lead somebody to learn an instrument, to take up writing or to form a band. But beyond that, I was also thinking about all the music that never gets heard.

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It’s amazing what can happen when a little sunshine follows a little rain…

Early on in my life I worked for Felyine Concerts in Colorado. My job was primarily at the Rainbow Music Hall in Denver, where I was a Junior Assistant to the Junior Assistant in charge of backstage security. I was also the Managing Director of strolling the parking lot to ensure car stereos didn’t get stolen once the concerts began.

On rare occasions, I might find myself at the Feyline corporate offices though, to do an errand for somebody, pick up a paycheck or a drop off time cards. One of my jobs prior to working for Feyline was as a sandwich maker in a local deli. Barry Fey, the founder of Feyline, was a regular customer at the deli. In my time there, I waited on Fey often and made dozens of sandwiches for him, so he knew me a little bit.

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All hail the Pollenator…

While in the Feyline offices one day, Fey’s office door was open. I peaked my head in a little bit and just waved while he was on a telephone call. He didn’t wave back or even acknowledge me. Behind him though, was a wall that was essentially a giant cassette holder. There were literally dozens, if not hundreds of cassette tapes lined up on the wall behind Fey’s desk.

Several weeks later, Fey showed up backstage for a gig at the Rainbow — might have been the Greg Kihn Band, and I commented on the magnificent cassette collection I had seen behind his desk. He laughed and explained to me that that wasn’t his music collection. It was all the demo tapes he had received through the years from managers, bands, and producers looking for him to use a particular band as an opening act at the Rainbow, McNichol’s Sports Arena, and his other little concert outlet, the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Not usually giving employees like me the time of day, he actually stopped and talked to me about it for minute in an ‘I have a lesson for you kid’ kind of way. He took a minute to let me know that those were all bands I’ve never heard of and probably never would. He then moved onto the next important thing, which was probably scoring drugs, ice cream or both.

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I think the brief lesson or impression Fey was trying to leave me with, was that most bands never make it. He continued on about his business that day, but left me to chew on that idea for about 40-years and I’ve never been able to let it go.

Most bands never make it.

It’s never forgotten by me, ever, that the bands that I hear on the radio, see on TV, whose concerts I attend, albums I purchase or that I look at on YouTube, probably started by sending their demos out to everyone they possibly could, including promoters like Fey.

I think about that every day of my life.

I know the means and the platforms of exchange have changed, but the idea is still the same — the starving artist with starry eyes and the enormous odds stacked against him, knocking on doors and hoping to simply be heard.

Long before they were produced, overproduced, glorified or dumbed down by the likes of Ric Ruben, most artists were passionate, shabbily dressed kids playing on meager instruments, and who practiced practiced practiced.

So last week, when Maroon 5 headlined the Super Bowl halftime show, in what may go down as the single biggest piece of crap musical performance I’ve ever seen, I still took the time to think about how they started and where they came from.

That at one time in his life, Adam Levine was a kid from LA with a guitar and a dream, and that he practiced practiced practiced. And whatever I may think of Levine or however I might interpret his band’s performance at the half-time show, he started young, remained committed to a goal, and with the benefit of some good luck and good timing, fulfilled a dream that he might never have actually dreamt to begin with. I wish I had.

I also remember though, that for every Adam Levine, there’s 10,000 more just like him that practiced just is hard or harder, but maybe didn’t have the good luck or the good timing to reap the larger rewards. And may God bless those bastards, because they are the ones who give music a good name.

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

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
24 miles
1,100’ climbing
16.0 mph avg
1,600 calories
Today’s earworm: The Black Cowboy, by Larry Robinson

The Firecrackers And Landmines Of Caregiving…

Another flat tire yesterday, 9-miles out. It was the 4th flat in 72-hours. All the recent rain has washed a lot of debris into the roads. Most of my flat tires take place in late winter and early spring here.

After a roadside repair, I limped home due to uncertain tire pressure, exchange bikes and headed out again. Every ride is a new stoke, and most rides are the best ride I’ve ever had.

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The bike I began on, would not be the bike I finished on. 4th flat in 72-hours..

I was thinking a lot about caregiving today…

A firecracker, unexpectedly detonated in your proximity might startle you, make you pause, and even take you out of your rhythm for a moment, but would otherwise be harmless. After a firecracker explodes, life carries on within a few seconds, as if it never happened.

A landmine exploding unexpectedly, can kill you. If you’re lucky enough to trigger a landmine and actually walk away, the consequences of the concussion can still be profound and often life-changing.

In assuming the care of my aging mother, I spend most waking moments apprehensive of the firecrackers and landmines which surround us. More firecrackers than land mines at present, but I know as her dementia advances, they will come into equal portion and at some point, the number of landmines may exceed the firecrackers.

Since my mother lives with me, and I work from home, my mother is within 50-feet most of the time. The only exceptions to this are when I walk my dog, go to the store or am on my bike.

Though I attempt to keep distinct separation between my mother and my business life, a big part of why I have them both in my home is so I can toggle between them and assist Mom in-between my appointments and when I’m not working.

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My mother, a retired federal worker, is in her late-80s. She walks exclusively with a cane, is in the early stages of dementia, but is lucid most of the time, just not all the time, and rarely when it’s convenient.

Mom is capable of engaging in normal conversations which might include gossip, current affairs, and the events of the day for each of us. She’s also capable of some light housekeeping duties, enjoys TV and reading, but naps in equal portion to anything she does when she’s not napping.

There are some quirks and idiosyncrasies which come with old age that can be disruptive, but are relatively harmless. There are also some heavier eccentricities that can stop a peaceful moment in its tracks. Those quirks are like firecrackers. The eccentricities are the landmines.

Sometimes, for no reason I’ve been able to understand, my mother will separate Oreo cookies from their main package and individually wraps them in paper towels, places them in coffee mugs, and put the mugs back in the cupboard — without making any mention of this to me. Imagine my surprise when I reach for a coffee mug, fill it with water and put it in the microwave to heat up the water for tea. Only after the fact do I realize I’m steeping my tea in Oreo water. I’ve learned to inspect the coffee cups before I do this. Still, if I’m in the rhythm of my day, I might forget to look in the cup first.

That would be an example of a firecracker.

A landmine, on the other hand, might be when I’m coming in for just a moment between appointments and I am confronted by Mom with the following information…

“I’m certain I’ve just seen the neighbors throw a baby into the dumpster in their backyard…“

I don’t believe this actually happened, but I don’t stand in front of my window for hours at a time looking to see what the neighbors might be up to. I do though, need to take time to discuss this with my mother.

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If I have just a couple of minutes in-between appointments when she advises me about the baby murdering neighbors, negotiating that conversation might take a little more time than I actually have, and I might be late for my next appointment.

No Mom, I assure her, I don’t believe the neighbors did put a baby in the dumpster. Would you like me to call the police…?

It just doesn’t set up for a quick conversation. Again, that’s a landmine.

Seeing Mars in the western sky one evening, Mom told me she thought it was the space station and that they were looking down on Fallbrook spying, but not on her specifically, at least not yet.

There was nothing else going on in my life that evening, so that was more of a firecracker, but certainly had the potential to be a landmine. Still, she met me with absolute disbelief at the thought that it might be Mars and not the space station. She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the evening.

Occasionally she leaves bed in the middle of the night to unplug all the appliances — so they don’t start a fire overnight. Of course, she does this in the dark so not to wake me — what could possibly go wrong with that…? If she were to fall in a darkened room, which she hasn’t done yet, that would be a landmine. Waking to hear her knock over a lamp or two in the process, is still just a firecracker.

When I’m in a session with a client and I hear the smoke alarm go off in the kitchen, a semi-regular occurrence, and I have to interrupt my workday to open windows, fan smoke out the door, and clean up any messes that might be caused by splattered grease — that’s a landmine.

Those are just a few instances of how my mother sees and negotiates the world differently than I do. Instances like these, however ord, are a semi-regular occurrences. These can be a little funny, sometimes entertaining, occasionally a nuisance, often frustrating, and at times dangerous. All in a day’s care.

These firecrackers and landmines — these sudden pops and explosions I navigate between each day, can wear me down. Occasionally, I catch her still attempting to do things I’ve asked her not to do, like use the stove or the vacuum cleaner. When an adult child has to discipline his parent for what is in-essence, misbehaving, both are sure to have heavy hearts, at least for a while.

There is one more landmine though, that comes up every 4-weeks as though it scheduled. It’s the day we deposit her retirement check into the bank.

Some months ago, my mom received a check from an insurance rebate for roughly $4,000. I asked her if I could hold the check overnight so it didn’t get lost — my mother has a habit of allowing the important documents and checks to end up in the recycling bin. She agreed  to let me hold the check overnight. The next day we deposited the check and that’s where the story should have ended.

Every month since the day we deposited that check, on the day that we deposit her monthly retirement check, she asks me if I have the insurance rebate. When I tell her that we deposited it 6-months ago, she disbelieves me and asks over and over where that check is.

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The bike and tires I would finish on. God bless Gatorskins…

So once a month I have to convince my mother that I haven’t stolen $4,000 from her. She never fully believes this, and despite that we have this discussion every 4-weeks, we have it again 4-weeks later. That’s dementia, high-fiving me.

And the worst thing about these landmines is this…

As immediately as they explode and are cleared, they return again, in the exact same place.

I am frustrated with firecrackers, but I am haunted by landmines.

Confessing all of this might help you understand that if my only break from this is walking my dog, going to the store, or being on my bike, then these things are the methadone of my existence.

To be continued…

This is what I think about when I ride…

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Vasudeva
29.5 miles
1,500’ climbing
16.9 mph avg 😁
1,900 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: The End Is Not In Sight, by The Amazing Rhythm Aces

Life With Chip…

It was raining steadily, but not hard when I left for my ride yesterday. I stepped outside prior to getting on my bike and scanned the sky in 360° fashion. I easily made the decision to go out. At worst, I would come home wet and a little more tired than usual, but perhaps a little bit cleaner behind the ears.

There was little wind and the temperature was in the low 50s, so it wasn’t like anything bad was going to happen. I have all the appropriate rain gear for cycling so this would be just another ride.

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The rain stopped long enough for a picture and a pee…

Besides, it’s not like rain pierces the skin, attacks the central nervous system, ceases muscles from functioning or causes sudden blindness when it touches the eyes. It’s just rain. It hits the teeth some — that’s kind of a funny sensation at 25 mph, but it’s never caused me to crash. It causes me to blink a little bit more when it hits my eyes, but that’s okay. It might make my feet a bit heavier on the pedals, but it’s just rain.

I don’t know that this has ever been tested, and I’ve never discussed it with other cyclists, but when I ride in the rain, I always feel like my drivetrain — my gears and my chain run more smoothly for the moisture that flows through them.

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A flat in the rain and a warm place to repair the tire…

In truth, I enjoy riding in the rain. As long as there isn’t much wind and it isn’t too cold, it’s fun. Another aspect of why I enjoy it is because I know most people would never do it. People question me and caution me against it. Some openly question my intelligence when I ride in the rain.

Not to be judgmental, truly, but not riding in the rain or not riding at all is easy. Riding in the rain is a test of my fortitude, and that translates to many other things in life. I become mentally stronger from riding in the rain, better skilled at riding when it’s not raining, and more confident in my ability to stand up to discomfort.

Standing up to discomfort, by the way, is a character trait that I began developing when I was a teenager, have never quit trying to improve on, and has served me well. Too many people I know struggle with standing up to discomfort.

At some point I will ride from coast to coast, and regardless of what time of year I do that in, there will be days when I will ride in rain, wind, snow, and possibly worse conditions. So going out for 25 or 30 miles when it rains is honest work toward that goal.

And getting a flat tire on a rainy day ride…? Well, that’s also a test, and one I passed yesterday — with flying colors.  Another mile-marker on the road of hardening me against discomfort.

This is also why I ride at night at least one or two nights per week — in the dark, but on a very well lit bike. I like to do things that other cyclists — that other people would never do.

I guess I’ve just got a chip on my shoulder. A Chip, actually. His name is Chip.

I spent much of my early life, well into midlife, being doubted and written off by others, even by people close to me. As far back as I can remember, few people have believed in me, and many more have doubted me in most all of my ambitions. As a result, I’ve spent the latter part of my adult life giving people reasons to never doubt me. I dare you to tell me I can’t do it — I double-dog dare ya.

That’s why I intend to live in a camper someday — to retire in one actually, and a small one at that. I want to prove to people who live in 5,000 square-foot houses or even 1,500 square-foot houses that I can absolutely live in an 80 square-foot camper and be happy doing it — just as I can be happy riding my bike in a rainstorm while somebody else is inside binge watching Game of Thrones in front of a fire.

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Not that there’s anything wrong with Game of Thrones or a 5,000 square-foot house. That’s just never been my priority. Okay, Game of Thrones is stupid, but there’s nothing wrong with 5,000 square-foot houses. It’s just not my shtick.

I like living my life with Chip. He sits up there quietly on my shoulder. He’s always there. He doesn’t speak often, but when he does, I listen. Chip not only reminds me who I want to be, but daily he also reminds who I don’t want to be.

Chip oversees my independent streak. I will be the Captain, but he will draw the chart, sailing into destiny…

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Last Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 4
172 miles
9,600’ climbing
16.0 mph avg
12,000 calories

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 Rush. Enjoy…!

 

The Mind Drifts…

Truth be told, if I ride for 1-1/2 to 2 hours each day, I’ll probably think about a lot of things — anything — most everything. I’m at the beck and call of free association.

If it’s a beautiful day, not too hot and not too cold, and if my surroundings are aesthetically pleasing, which they always are, my first thought will probably be about something beautiful that I’m looking at. That will lead into my next thought, which will take me to another thought still, and so-on.

Before I know it, I’m playing connect the dots, thought to thought, and piecing together my entire life — what it was or what it might still be.

Hardly a ride goes by that I don’t think about my childhood; friends I hung out with, the things we did together, and the places where we did them.

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Bike: Tang….

Daily while I am riding, and without exception, I think about my time spent in the US Coast Guard. Again, the friends, places and the things we did.

I think about the first time I did an inward 1-1/2 somersault from the 3-meter springboard at Skyline Acres Swim & Tennis Club in Denver when I was 14.

I think about arguments I witnessed between my mother and my father when I was small — of hiding under the bed when their voices got too loud.

I think about jobs I’ve had and jobs I’ve quit. Daily, I think about my first job as a sandwich maker in the deli when I was 15. That remains the best job I’ve ever had. To this date, I’ve had exactly one more job than the number of jobs I’ve ever quit.

I think about mistakes I’ve made and regrets I have. I think a lot about my mistakes and regrets. Someday a form of math will be developed that might actually be able to tabulate all my mistakes and regrets, but until then, I’ll just refer to them as many.

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The rainbow connection…

I think about music an awful lot when I ride, and I’m constantly reciting lyrics of songs as my feet push me forward — occasionally even biting my tongue or lip when I hit a dip or an object in the road.

I think about dying honestly, but I think about living more.

I think about Carlton Fisk.

I think about my dog and my cat — and I still think about all of my dogs from the past, but not cats from my past because Mischa is my first cat.

I think about my daughter of course. I think about how lucky she is to have the mother that she has. I think about that a lot also.

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Stroodle, age 15   This is what I think about it when I ride…

Sometimes, for no reason whatsoever, I might think about the Lindbergh baby. I really do. I don’t know why, it’s just a story I’ve always been fascinated with.

I think about Professor Pausch.

I think about movies. Today I thought about the movie, Once Were Warriors. As the kids say, highly recommend…

I think about the men flying the many helicopters I see flying overhead each. Living this close to Camp Pendleton, I see Marine aircraft all day long. Sometimes I think about what they might be thinking about while they’re flying. Hopefully, they’re thinking about flying, and little else.

Of course I think about politics, but probably in a different way than most people. More on that in another essay.

I think about systems a lot, and have a great reference and respect for them — that we are all passengers, beneficiaries, and casualties in the many systems that carry us in different directions all day long. I think most people don’t give much thought to these systems, and most don’t realize that systems, not politicians, are our true leaders, and the systems get elected by the many choices we make each day.

I might think about cartoons some days. The Flintstones was my favorite. I also like to Quickdraw McGraw an awful lot.

I really do think about all of these things each day when I ride, and many more than this.

I’m always thinking when I’m riding. Always thinking. That’s my disease, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but at the end of the day, thinking is what makes me me.

You see, riding a bike isn’t just about escaping, though that’s certainly one aspect of it. It’s about riding towards things, riding back to things, riding around things, and gliding.

Riding a bike is about gliding as much as it is about anything. The body glides, yes, but the mind glides also.

Above all things, for me, riding a bike is about being alive.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
22.5 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Ship Of Fools, by Bob Seger

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 Bob Seger. Enjoy…!

Soreing With Eagles…

 

My legs are sore today, quite sore. More on that later.

On a winter night in 1981, my friend Mike Wolf and I took a leg workout, after hours, at the Nautilus Fitness Center in Littleton Colorado. Mike and I, a couple of young bodybuilders at the time, were both trainers with Nautilus.

We were there for 3-hours that evening and did nothing but squats. Inspired by Arnold  Schwarzenegger and guided by youthful stupidity, we had decided we would each do a set of squats every 3-minutes for the entire 3-hours. This, we thought, would coax our legs into new growth.

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38 years later, still squatin’…

I don’t remember too much about the weights that we used at night other than we started heavy and by the end of the night we were using just the 45-lb. bar on our backs.

Barely able to walk, we stepped out of the gym into snowy single-digit temperatures, got in Mike’s Volkswagen and were on our way when Mike noticed the car was low on gas. It was probably some kind of guy thing but since it was his car, it would be my job to get out and pump the gas in the frigid air.

Though I had been sitting in the car for only a couple of minutes, my legs had gotten cold quickly after 3-hours of squats and were not responding to the signals my brain was sending them.

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Standing beside the fuel door, with the gas pumping away, I suddenly collapsed onto the sheet of ice below my feet. My legs weren’t cramping, they were just unable to move and I was unable to control them in any reasonable way.  For a moment, I honestly thought I had become paralyzed. Eventually the gas pump clicked off and I was still on my side next to the rear wheel of the Volkswagen, unable to stand.

Eventually Mike would step out of the car and begin looking for me. I can still recall the chuckle he gave when he saw me sitting on the ice trying to get up — kinda like Bambi on the frozen pond.  Mike would help me to my feet, get me into the car and deliver me home where I could sleep and eat dozens of eggs over the next couple days in hopes of growing larger quads.

For the next few days my legs felt a profound soreness that they haven’t known since — until yesterday.

Since I’ve been riding my bikes upwards of 150-175 miles week for the past year, I’ve cut back on my leg training some and have been okay with that. In particular, as somebody who has always squatted ass to the grass deep, for the last year or so I’ve been doing only parallel squats rather than deep squats.

By parallel, I mean squatting to the point where my femur is parallel to the ground, pausing for a 1-count and returning to the top. For most of my weight training life — 40+ years, I have squatted deeply but always safely.

Recently I noticed my quadriceps, just above the knees, look a little thin. Despite my cycling and that I still train legs with some intensity, I didn’t like what I saw.

Now this could be an age thing. Strength trainers and bodybuilders over the age of 50 and approaching 60, often lose leg development first. Very often this is due to  cutting back on or abandoning leg training after a certain age, but it is also part of the aging process. In my case, I attributed this to a lack of deep squats for the past year. The legs of older bodybuilders just don’t pop, and popping quads was my calling card for about 30-years.

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Nilla: Equal parts marshmallow cream, styrofoam, meringue…

Considering that squatting deep again might help fill out my quads over my knees, last week I began squatting deep for the first time in a year. For a day or two after that first session, my legs were more sore than usual and it felt good. It was even an indication that I might be on the right track.

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Three nights ago I did a second workout including more deep squats and much heavier this time. The next morning I felt a soreness in my thighs that took me back to that squat marathon with my friend Mike nearly 40-years ago. Today it felt like the entire Chinese Army walked by me and one by one, and kicked me hard on each thigh.

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps…

Every step I have taken today has felt like electricity and sledgehammers were attacking my thighs simultaneously.  And then it was time to get on my bike…

I actually thought about skipping my ride. In truth, it was a great ride as it always is, and my legs loosened up quickly once I began to ride.

However, with the type of symmetry that can only be part of a divine and humorous universe, as soon as I got off my bike today, I collapsed and fell to the ground — exactly like I did at the gas station in 1981.

And that my friends, is a true story.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps

24.5 miles

1,100’ climbing

16.5 mph avg

1,600 calories

Today’s earworm: Paper Late, by Genesis

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 Genesis. Enjoy…!