Nobody Told Me…

It’s not always about chewing on philosophy, pondering my future, or taking pictures of breaking waves and lipstick sunsets. If I’m on a bicycle for 90-120 minutes per day, theres plenty of time to contemplate my regrets — those regretful actions, regretful moments, and regretful words that I have created and cast upon others. I don’t have many, but those I do have carry a great deal of weight.

I’ll just be pedaling along, in tune with the rhythm of the road, enjoying the freedom of the glide, and taking it all in when they just pop into my head — regrets from days gone down. Most of what I regret has to do with divorce, being a father, and being a son. I’ve made many mistakes beyond those, but when it comes to family, there’s a clear line between mistakes and regrets.

Bike: Tobio Obsession

I make mistakes every day of my life, and honestly, I don’t beat myself up too much over them. I simply aim to not repeat them. Most of the mistakes I make daily are forgivable, if not excusable. I try hard though, to keep my regrets to a minimum, because they always seem to involve people I love, and their residue lingers for years.

I heard some advice the other day that I had never heard before and I’ve been chewing on it these last few days while riding. It cane from the philosopher, Jonathan Rowson, in an interview for the radio show, On Being. Rowson was reflecting on advice somebody gave him before the birth of his first child. It went something like this…

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

Now as simple and straightforward as that sounds, I had never heard it before. I know I hadn’t heard it, because if that advice had been given to me as an expecting father, I’m certain it would have impacted me, whether I headed it or not.

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


So as I pedaled my way through the hills last night, sped down the descents, and past vineyards attempting to run away from the day, sooth my soul, and to convert a half-dozen Reese’s peanut butter cups into movement, I contemplated a single regret — that I, as an expecting father, didn’t realize the most important thing I could do to be a good father would have been to become a better husband.


So if you’re reading this as an expecting father, as a recent father, or if you know anyone that falls into that category, please share this advice…

The best thing a man can do to become a good father is to become a better husband.

Hearing that in advance might truly shape the life of a child, the life of a father, and extend the life of a family.

Nobody told me.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…
Bike: Tang
26 miles
1,200’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
1,400 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 The Who Enjoy…

Ignition Sequence Start…

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Though it’s been on my mind recently due to all the media attention, it’s never been that far from my mind. When I think of the formative moments and events that have shaped and influenced my life, the moon landing has to be placed at the very top.

Below is a two-part essay —two separate writings from earlier this year on my daily Spoke And Word Facebook page. If you’re not already following that page, please take the time to do so. My daily Spoke And Word Facebook posts are brief and informal musings I write each morning, reflecting on my bike ride from the day before.

Apollo 11

Part I: One And Not Quite The Same…

I was roughly the same age on the day The Eagle landed on the moon as my brother was on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated earlier in the decade.

My brother is now in his early 60s, and I’m in my late 50s. We live roughly 1,000 miles apart, he in Colorado and me California. He is an attorney and I’m a fitness trainer.

Throughout our lives I have considered us to be close. We communicate regularly, see each other when we can, and we consider each other good friends.

My brother and I share a handful of similarities that are probably rooted halfway between our common genetics and the social influences we shared growing up — parental influences notwithstanding.


We both enjoy drinking Diet Coke. We like to wear Oxford shirts even as casual attire. We love dogs. We find humor in dark places and at dark times. We both enjoy jumping off rural bridges into the rivers below. We both hate the Oakland Raiders with all the hate you can possibly hate something with.

We each see the world a little differently though.

With so much in common, I often wonder why I lean toward optimism in matters of social cooperation and the political landscape we currently live in, and why he leans more towards a negative outcome for mankind.


I blame John F Kennedy, but not directly.

My brother was roughly 6-years old when President Kennedy was assassinated. Six years old — that’s a very formative time in most everyone’s life.

When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, I was only a little older than my brother was on the day Kennedy was killed. A formative time in my life as well.

When I think about those two world events, and that it’s fair to say they are two of the more significant events in American history, it makes me wonder how significant each of those events might have been in influencing the respective sensibilities of my brother and I.

As I rode my bike to the coast yesterday, after reading an article about the social influence of the Moonlanding compared to the social influence of the Kennedy assassination, and with my blood pumping hard, the serotonin exchange increasing my mental acuity, and as I was taking it all in, I wondered if those two events — the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Neil Armstrong taking “one small step for a man” might be the primary events that established our respective outlooks on life.

Viscerally, I know that many things have contributed to forming and shaping the sensibilities of my brother and I. On some level though, I think there’s something to this.

My brother has read nearly every book and probably invested more thought into the Kennedy assassination than anyone I know. And for my part, rarely a week goes by, especially in these seemingly divided times, when I don’t look back on a time when the world stood still, took a deep breath, and watched a manmade miracle unfold before our eyes.

I think we need another moon landing.


Part II: Chasing Michael Collins…

As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on the Moon, Michael Collins had become the most distant human being, proximate to the earth, ever. That record would later be ‘eclipsed’ by the crew of Apollo 13 during the lunar orbit they required to get back to earth — but at least they had each other.

I think about Michael Collins often though — all the time actually, for having done something no human being had ever done before and something most people have not given enough consideration to. For a moment in time, Michael Collins was the most isolated human being, ever.

God how I envy and even aspire to that some days — most days.


In these days of lifeless discourse, relentless argument, and fruitless conversation continually wearing down my psyche and my spirit with so much caustic intention, I often long to be Michael Collins — the most distant person from earth.

As close as I will ever get though, to the glorious isolation Collins alone experienced, is being on my bikes. Perhaps I am on the ground and proximate to others, but as I am absorbed into the rhythm of my ride, as my breath draws deep, and as my legs turn repeatedly to get me the hell out of the moments that too often eat me alive, I am as far from this earth as I could possibly be, or at least from the people in it.

“I knew I was alone in a way that no earthling has ever been before“. Michael Collins

In that sense, Michael Collins took a risk even Armstrong and Aldrin did not have to face. For a moment in time, he was lonelier than God.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes ridden: 4
195 miles
7,200’ climbing
15.6 mph avg
11,200 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 Three Dog Night. Enjoy…

I Light Up My Life, Kind Of…

I can’t call myself minimalist anymore. Once upon a time I lived in the utility closet of my fitness studio. I didn’t own a car. I owned little clothing — a few shirts and a few pairs of shorts. I didn’t even have a kitchen — just a hot plate and a microwave oven. I owned a single plate, a bowl, a knife, fork, and a spoon.

Times were good and I felt like I wasn’t draining the world — I was taking less than I was giving.

Though I owned all the equipment in my fitness studio, that was my livelihood. When the day came to move both my studio and my residence to my current house, I needed a truck to move the fitness equipment, but my living possessions — those things I needed to get by from day-to-day, fit into a single box.


The Transition…

Four years later not too much has changed. Still, I feel less like a minimalist today than I did when I made this transition. The vacuum created by living in a house versus a utility closet has called for me to own more. More on that later.

I qualify this by saying if not for the addition of hosting my mother, I would probably still live in that utility closet or in a small motorhome. However, elderly parents don’t usually do too well in motorhomes and even worse in utility closets. This was a compromise I made with myself on my mother’s behalf and I have no regrets.

Much of what fills the house we share belongs to her. For me, there has been little temptation to add more. Since my mother is currently in training to become a hoarder, and is doing quite well with that, she supplies our basics and beyond. As I feel guilty that I even live in a house rather than a closet, I don’t carry that guilt too far since mom is the one who has made a hobby out of collecting candlesticks, jewelry boxes, coffee mugs, shoulder bags, crappy oil paintings, and cheap statues from the local thrift shops.

The last time my mother threw anything away, other than a food rapper, was in 1968. I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of minimalism. Still, we’re doing okay despite different values with regard to owning things.


The Bedroom And The Bikes…

I now have a bedroom for the first time in years. That means  I also have a closet for my clothes. With such an expense in my storage options, I have purchased a few extra pairs of shorts and a few extra shirts, though I generally wear the same things from day to day.

Wanting to keep my connection to minimalism real, rather than move into that bedroom, I use the closet only.  For the last few years I’ve continued to sleep on an air mattress at night on the floor of my fitness studio, just as I did  when my home was a storage closet. Each morning, before my workday begins, I deflate the air mattress and tuck it away where it can’t be seen — in my shower behind the curtain.

With all that unused space in my bedroom, and with me only using the closet, I found it to be a great place to store my bikes. And that’s where the breakdown in my minimalism has mostly manifest — that I now have a bedroom full of bikes. Let’s be honest, it’s not a bedroom, it’s a bike room.

I guess I somehow I’ve rationalize that owning 6 or 8 bicycles is acceptable since I don’t own much of anything else. When I think about it though, I probably don’t need more than 2 or 3 bikes. Well, maybe 4.  Okay 5, but nobody needs to own more than 5 bicycles, of that I’m certain. I mean, unless they all get used. If they all get used then you probably need all of them. Eight bikes max, but that’s it. Okay, the 9th one might be on its way, but please don’t tell my ex-wife.

The Car…

I did purchase a car after mom moved in with me. It’s the first car I’ve owned since I gave away my Jeep in 2006. I purchased the car, a used Prius, so I can get mom around — to get groceries, to medical appointments, to thrift stores, and so-on. I vowed when I purchased the car that I would use it only for my mother and to transport my dog back-and-forth for our daily walks at a local nature preserve. Aside from those tasks, I would remain a bicycle commuter.

Since the local grocery store and hardware store are each less than a couple thousand yards from my front door, I had planned to always walk or ride one of my bikes when I needed to purchase something. In the nearly 4 years I have lived here, I have not once walked or ridden for local errands — not once.

That needs to change…!

I can dedicate at least one bike and equip it with racks to haul anything I might need from any of the local shops. This will happen before the week is over.

The Tools…

Since I have more of a yard and then I did living in the utility closet, and because I enjoy gardening, I have begun to purchase yard tools. Nothing fancy and nothing with engines or motors, just a standard rake, shovel, hoe, hedge clippers, etc. I’ve even had to carve out space to store the yard tools.


The Other Tools…

For most of my adult life, I have owned a small socket-set that fits in my hand, a hammer, and a reversible Phillips-head/flat-head screwdriver. That has been my entire collection of tools. Take away my man-card if you must, but that’s all I’ve ever needed. I think I owned a drill once, but can’t remember where I left it or if I ever even used it.

Own a lot of bikes though, and if you start collecting bicycles, you’re going to need a lot of bicycle tools. I now have a tool bench in my bike room and another one out back on the patio, and I own pretty much every required bicycle tool, including some duplicates so I don’t have to walk back-and-forth between the bike room in the patio.

The Goal…

I’m not sure how I feel about any of this, except maybe a little bit dirty because I feel like I own too much, and that seems to be on the increase.

My goal is still to retire to a small motorhome, and to do so within the next 7 or 8 years. Retiring to a motorhome has been, not just a goal, but a dream since I was a teenager. I’ve just never wanted anything more in minimalism than that — to simply live with the smallest of footprints.

A lot of people I know will roll their eyes at what I consider a dream. That’s okay. I’ve got a screw loose, I’m certain, but the idea of finding it and tightening it at this point, is far beyond me.

Someday that minimalist retirement will be here for me. I won’t have a need for yard tools. I won’t have a need for a yard. I’ll still have a need for 8 or 9 bikes though, so I guess it’s not gonna be that small of a motorhome after all.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5
176 miles
9,000’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
10,000 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 the incomparable Chris Whitley. Enjoy…


I’m fading away — growing smaller and more distant to many people I know and love, and who I also know love and appreciate me. I wish that weren’t the case, but I see no end in sight. I’m not sure I’ll disappear altogether, but I know I’m getting smaller in the eyes of some, and others no longer see me at all.

I am becoming less communicative.


It’s my hope that anyone reading this and who might be affected by my withdrawing from socialization will take these words at face value — will recognize my sincerity.

In the last few years of being a caregiver for my mother, I’ve learned that the more truths I share about my mom’s cognitive decline, no matter how true they are, the worse I sound as a person. So I hope that in writing this, I will not be perceived as saying negative things about my mom. Rather, this is an explanation — an expression as to why I’ve been withdrawing from so many relationships.

My mom lives in a state of cognitive and physical decline. There are no cures for, and few treatments, for these. She’s simply aging and wearing out. This will only get worse. Of course that’s not her fault, and she’s not doing anything wrong. Through it all, my mother has been brave, strong, and dignified. And in her quietest moments, when she’s able to see it  clearly, she is aware.

As her caregiver, it’s my primary job to act as a buffer between the realities of life, and the departures from reality which form her mind. Or as I often frame it…

Dementia isn’t forgetting things that actually happened. It’s remembering things that never happened at all.


Unfortunately, caregiver is a full-time job and doesn’t pay too well. The only reward is the job itself. Caregiving isn’t just about helping her find her cellphone or the TV remote control 10 times per day, though things like that do take up a portion of each day. Caregiving, for the most part, is about listening, processing, and subsequently negotiating.

Though caregiving might be about listening to the same story 4 times in one day, it might also be on agreeing that Moon Pies are a vegetable and therefore adequate for dinner.

Caregiving, above all other things, is about safety, hygiene, health, and entertainment. Mostly it’s about entertainment. Not that being a caregiver is akin to being an entertainer, but more like being a cruise director. I keep the entertainment flowing — always looking for activities to occupy her mind and keep her stimulated.

When I’m unnable to do that, I often become the entertainment and make a lot of bad jokes. I’m not very funny.


That said, I still have to make a living to sustain myself, and that also takes up a great deal of my day. It’s in navigating between those two jobs — between caregiver and business person, where I find myself shrinking away from and becoming more distant from my friendships and human relationships.

Of those who I correspond with from a distance, I’ve realized in recent years that I’m rarely the one who initiates contact. When I get phone-calls or emails from friends checking in on me, I always ask myself why I am not the one who is checking in on them. I hate that about me.

When I get invited to an event, an activity, or a social gathering with friends, I know before the invitation is fully extended, that I won’t be attending. Still, people keep inviting me to do things and I appreciate that. Unfortunately, it’s just not a part of the plan right now.

So for a guy who’s been very social and very outgoing for much of my adult life, I’m beginning to fade for some, and disappear entirely for others. I wish this weren’t the case, but it’s my reality.


Someday, my mother won’t be with me. When that time comes, I’m certain I’ll look back feeling as though I did everything wrong on her behalf. That’s what being Jewish is like. And at some point thereafter, opportunities to be social will hopefully come my way again. We shall see.

This is what I think about when I ride…

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 5
178 miles
8,200’ climbing
15.6 mph avg
10,500 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 The Rainmakers. Enjoy…