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…!

The Road List…

Great ride today. Got out early due to some cancellations, and spring is definitely springing here in SoCal. The picture shown is not the bike I started out on today. More on that later.

Beyond trying to save the problems of the world, clear my head, or just take inventory of the beauty which surrounds me, at least part of my time riding each day is spent thinking about bike maintenance.

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It doesn’t take long before I start noticing adjustments that I need to make on whichever bike I’m on; brake adjustments, derailleur adjustments, handlebar adjustments, spokes and so on.

Though there is a tremendous upside to owning multiple bikes, the downside is that there is more maintenance involved to keep them all running smooth and to have them available.

When I notice a component which requires adjusting, I make a mental note of it, repeat it to myself several times so I don’t forget, and as soon as I return home, I write it down.

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I am certain I never hit 77.9 mph today.  Certain…

On occasion though, I might have to turn back after a mile or two if something isn’t adjusted properly and if I don’t have the proper tool to fix it on the road.

Today I never left the driveway.

I had just installed aero-bars on yet another bike — one of my gravel bikes. Although gravel bikes don’t ordinarily get fitted with aero-bars, in this case I ride to the gravel, and that ride often takes me into a 15-knot headwind from the sea.  Aero-bars, I have recently come to learn, are the single best defense a rider can have against the wind.

I’ll be honest, I’m the king of over-torquing bolts. So, when I mounted my bike this morning, and put my left hand on the aero-bar, I wasn’t too surprised when one of the bolts snapped instantly.

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L’il fella rode on my shoulder for nearly 3-miles today, until I released him back into the wild…

Without missing a beat, I took the bike inside, put it on my work-stand, and traded it out for a road bike which was prepped and ready to go.

A change of bikes would mean a change of routes, but I would figure that out on the fly.

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It was a great ride, but for 23-miles all I could think about was how my going to get that broken bolt out…?   Truth is, I still don’t know, but I’ve got other bikes to ride in the meantime.

This is what I think about my ride…. Jhciacb

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Bella
23 miles
1,300’ climbing
16.3 mph avg
1,500 calories
Today’s earworm: Bounty Hunter, by Molly Harchet

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 Molly Hatchet. Enjoy…!

Jim And Maury…

Mention the name Jim Croce, and people over the age of 35 probably know who he was. They might even be able to associate a song or two with him. Mention him to people over 55, and not only will they know who Croce was, but they might quickly recall the distinct facial and vocal characteristics that set him apart from other singer/songwriters of his day. They would probably even be able to associate a handful of songs with him.

Mention Maury Muehleisen though, and people might say ‘gesundheit’.

Croce was a storyteller for the workingman. He wrote clever songs with lyrics that were easy to follow and that painted clear images for the listener. Croce’s songs were often crafted around blue collar characters and the way they went about their lives. He also wrote tender songs, straight from the heart. Muehleisen was his collaborator, co-writer, and accompanist.
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Sadly, both Croce and Muehleisen died in a plane crash in the fall of 1973. At the time, I was in middle school and was listening to them regularly on 8-track tape. Croce’s lyrics captured my young imagination.  For a moment in time, he gave the big girls from the roller derby a good name.

In truth, I didn’t really know who Muehleisen was when I was 12. I only knew of Croce. But Maury was the heart of the thing, and somebody I would come to learn more about and better appreciate later on in my life.

Last evening I watched a video compilation of 15 or so of their better songs. The setting was always the same: Croce and Muehleisen either standing or seated on two stools, Muehleisen set slightly behind Croce by a foot or so, acoustic guitars in their hands, and both clad in the faded denim of the 70s on a well-lit stage.

I could watch those two all night long. Last night I watched that video twice.

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While Croce played chords, Muehleisen played notes on his acoustic guitar without much flair, but with surgical precision. The timing of his subtle background vocals was just as accurate. But he remained otherwise quiet and blended into the background so Croce could be the show.

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I can’t imagine how hard that must’ve been, because Muehleisen too was a songwriter and had aspirations of a career beyond accompanying Croce. Muehleisen had a splendid voice, though it did not have the character of Croce’s, and perhaps it was his lack of standing out that held him back. We’ll never know.

Most days, within a half-mile of leaving my house, my daily ride takes me past the local carwash. Almost always, and I mean going back years, even if it’s just for a moment, I’ll start thinking about and humming Croce’s song, Working At the Carwash Blues.

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So as I rode by there this morning, and as I reflected on watching Croce and Muehleisen last night, it didn’t take long for the day’s earworm to set in.

We’ll never know the kind of music that Croce and Muehleisen would have gone on to make together or individually, had that plane crash never occurred. We have the gift though, of what they did give us while they were here — two musical soulmates who performed seamlessly together. What a gift indeed.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes ridden: 4

Miles: 175

Climbing: 8,500’

Mph Avg: 16.6

Calories: 12,000

Hours in the saddle: 10:30

Character Matters…

I hate the wind. I hate it with all the hate you can possibly hate something with. If it’s possible to hate the wind with more hate than that, then that’s how much I hate the wind.

Rough ride today, but I got it done. It was windy.

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Cortez The Killer

Was thinking about character today…

I am a better person for the Trump presidency. At least, I hope so.

If I’ve learned anything over the last couple years, beyond the fact that nothing, and I mean NOTHING tangible is ever produced from the tiresome disagreements over policy, process, and politics which take place on social media, it’s that I’ve learned to lean in a little bit more with each new day, reach a little bit further, and work a little bit harder to be the best possible me.

Character matters.

In determining weakness and flaws in others, I ask myself if I suffer in the same areas. Quite often, I do.

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Fresh rain on a blade of grass. I named it, Veronica…

The last two years have helped illuminate weaknesses in me I had not previously seen or not wanted to acknowledge — character flaws and shortcomings which I don’t want to be associated with. Seeing these, not just in the president, but in the many people who argue against or in favor of his policies, his demeanor, and his process, has led me to take a closer look at myself.

If nothing else, I’ve always tried to correct my weaknesses once I’ve identified them. Hint: I haven’t always been successful at this, but I always try.

I am a different person today than I was two years ago, and I have the president to thank for that. I should also thank many other people — the screaming children in my proximity for their hollering, angst, and reactive behaviors that have helped me see those in myself.

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First Oro Blanco of the season. Backyard candy…

In how I speak to people, how I listen to people, and even in how I look at people today, I do so more from the heart than I did two years ago. At least I try to. In matters of empathy, sympathy, and in trying to understand, I believe I have improved. In how I carry myself in general, I think I have improved.

Two years into this presidency, I have discovered flaws in me that are easily correctable today, and I’ve learned much more about the person I don’t want to be tomorrow.

When somebody brings to me tangible proof that their hate speech, vitriol, screaming or finger-pointing to the other side has produced something positive in this world, I will be contrite and walk back my comments about these arguments being meaningless, wasted, and outright corrosive.

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Bella. High tide Sunday morning…

Until then, I’ll stand quietly in the forest, between the screaming trees as they are whipped by the the warm winds that they generate themselves from blowing so hard yet so futilely. I’ll stand tall and unafraid, my roots to sink a little bit deeper each day so that I can grow further in the directions I’m supposed to grow.

Character matters.

And let’s be clear here, that anyone arguing against my stance is arguing against character. And the men who hold high places…

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer
24.5 miles
1,100’ climbing
16.2 mph avg
1,600 calories
Today’s earworm: Make Out Alright, by Divinyls

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 Divinyls. Enjoy…!

Music On My Mind…

After not riding at all yesterday, my first day without riding in several weeks, it felt good to get out on the road today. After nearly a week of rain here in Fallbrook, everything is green, bright, and clean. This scenery never looks or smells the same from a car as it does from a bike. For a cyclist, this community is pure magic.

Once again today, I was thinking about music.

For much of my life, I’ve thought of myself as a music fan. At times, to the point of arrogance and snobbery, having wished many times that I could be the exclusive DJ to the world. In recent years though, this false confidence has been toned down.

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Cortez The Killer

Through social media, I’ve gotten to know and appreciate some genuine music fans. I am humbled by their knowledge, their collections, and their commitment to the artists and genres they follow. Their knowledge of analog and digital technologies used to play music is also worthy of respect.

I’m not in that league. Not even close.

Though I have always loved music, my priorities have changed over time, and I’m not the fan nor the audiophile I was 30-years ago. I probably began veering away from that place during my mid-20s.

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My front yard post-rain…

Music is still a part of each day, but it’s rarely a priority. My listening these days is less inspired by passion. Music has become stimulation, amusement, background noise, distraction, and at times still thought provoking and transformative, but not as frequently.

While my life was once all about seeking out new music, I don’t reach out for much new music too often these days, though occasionally I still try. Searching for new music has become intimidating and often confusing — for a variety of reasons.

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There’s so much going on with music in the digital era. New bands pop up more frequently than ever, as do new genres and sub-genres. New platforms to hear or share music arise almost as frequently and magnify the complexity that much more.

While there are many more choices in music today, or because there are so many more choices, finding new music takes more work. Who has time for that searching and sampling in a world where I have to remember to eat most days, as I’m running from room to room and moment to moment.

Through social media, I’m often inundated with new music, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, with my ADHD being what it is, the fewer choices for me, the better off I am. I can pull my hair out trying to decide what to listen to or what to try next.

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When I am craving music, I most often default to music from my past. Perhaps this has something to do with trust — I’m more comfortable giving my ears to familiar voices. It might also have to do with time — if I’m craving music in a busy life, I don’t necessarily want to squander time exploring new music that might disappoint me or that I might not fall in love with instantly. History tells me that I can be liberated by Live Rust or Steely Dan in a matter of seconds.

And when I do take the leap toward new music, it’s often new music from older artists that I know and am familiar with. Once again, trust.

It comes down to trust so much in music. In music and in life, trust.

So here I am, still thinking about — still listening to music daily, but not as passionately as I once did. Respecting and appreciating new music, but not pursuing it all that much. Listening to the old music, but not being moved by it as I once was.

Same dances in them same old shoes.

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

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer

24 miles

1,100’ climbing

16.8  mph avg

1,600 calories

Today’s earworm: I Went Dust, by J. Mascis

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 J. Mascis. Enjoy…!

 

My First (and last) Job…

Hanging in there this week. Don’t let the blue sky in the background fool ya, most of today’s ride took place in a steady rain. With the exception of a couple of days last week though, we’ve had little wind here for nearly 2 months. Riding without wind makes me feel like I’m on EPO — powerful, all the time.

Dodging the raindrops today, I was thinking about my first job.

My first job, at the age of 15, was making sandwiches and working the meat counter at a Jewish deli in Colorado. Forty-two years later, rare is the day I don’t think about that job. Looking back even now, it was the perfect job for me. Well, almost.

It wouldn’t be the perfect job for me today because, fundamentally, making deli sandwiches is about slicing animals, already killed once, and placing them symmetrical patterns between two pieces of rye bread and ensuring they hold together by stabbing them one final time with fancy toothpicks.

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As if the initial killing of an animal isn’t enough, we have found many ways to keep on killing it once it has already fallen. Seems a little unsavory to me, but I’m just a chimp with a smartphone.

The rearranging of once living flesh notwithstanding and the subsequent final toothpick stab, making sandwiches and working the meat counter was a great job for me. It involved movement, rhythm, banter, humor and familiarity.  It was also a great release for my active energies.

I was born to be a sandwich maker, or something like one.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be able to do what I do today and in the way I get to do it. Though it may seem odd to suggest, there are a lot of similarities between being a fitness trainer and being a sandwich maker.

Still, I think about that job nearly every day of my life. I’ve often believed I’d go back to the deli counter in retirement as a part-time gig. Hopefully by the time I retire, there will be vegan delis offering synthesized roast beef, pastrami, corned beef and Muenster cheese pressed from tofu or kale.

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The first of the Oro Blancos

Well, hopefully pressed from tofu, because nothing good comes from kale.

Otherwise, I’ll probably just be a part-time dishwasher, which is also a perfect job for me — movement, rhythm, banter, humor, familiarity and a great release for my active energies. Yup. Deli work and washing dishes aren’t that far removed from being a fitness trainer.

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I even write jokes when I ride, not always good ones though…

Yes, when I retire, I believe I will wash dishes part-time, just to stay active and engaged.   Or maybe I should just be a part-time fitness trainer.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
24 miles
1,100’ climbing
16.2 mph avg
1,600 calories
Today’s earworm: Riders On The Storm, by The Doors. Seriously, that’s what it was. I hate The Doors and I hate this song. But that’s what an earworm is/does.

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 The Doors. Enjoy…!

Hungry For Decency…

Good ride today. Cold to start, but climbing is the great equalizer when it comes to freezing temperatures. If climbing is a furnace though, high-speed descents combined with sweat lingering from the climb is a rolling ice bath.

I was passing through the living room this morning to fetch a bike from my bike room when the TV caught my eye. One of the news stations was replaying Julián Castro’s announcement that he was going to run for the presidency of the United States.

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I stopped dead in my tracks. Initially, because I thought it was his twin brother, Joaquin, who is a US representative from Texas and who I am more familiar with. It only took a minute though, to realize it was Julián, but I liked what I was hearing.

Just a few inches from the TV, I stood and listened.

I want to make clear that I don’t know much about Julián Castro. I know who he is, the positions he’s held, but his deep political ideology is foreign to me.

Still, I was riveted and kept listening.

Within a couple of minutes I began to get a little warm. A hand in my pocket trembled slightly and I became a bit teary-eyed. These sensations didn’t make sense at first, but they were present and even on the increase. I didn’t understand why was becoming emotional over the words of a politician I know little about. It took a minute.

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Trying to listen to Castro, and also trying to understand what was happening to me, time began standing still. As I processed it all, I realized that I was overcome, not so much because I was connecting with what Castro was saying. More so, because of how he was saying it.

There was this man, who I knew very little about, but was speaking eloquently, clearly from the heart and I believe honestly, and doing so quite positively about the influence he felt he could have on this nation.

Riveted.

My emotions, I realized, were not the product of enthusiasm for his message or his politics. I was crying, simply because I was being fed with positive nutrition for my soul for the first time in a couple of years. I have been starved for decorum — for somebody — anybody in or aspiring to be in a leadership position speak like this.

I have been so hungry for dignity in politics and I have gotten so accustomed to its absence, that my first taste of it in a couple of years brought tears of appreciation to me, if not tears of joy.

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Understand, I’m not onboard with Julián Castro‘s presidential bid, and I may never be. But he won my ear. So too, will win my ear, anyone who speaks eloquently, honestly and from the heart.

We need this right now.

Winning my ear though, will not necessarily win my vote. I still plan to leave that up to my brain. However, the distance of the path from my ear to my brain is short and it’s clear.

Say what you mean and mean what you say, and I will give you a listen. These days, you might even stop me in my tracks. Lie to me or tell me you’re going to do what you already know you can never do, and game over.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
30 miles
1,900’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
2,000 calories
Today’s earworm: Always The Sun, by The Stranglers

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 share. Oh, and there is this from The Strsnglers. Enjoy…!