One Hand On Optimism…

For the first time in years, I’ve got nothing good to say this week. My mind has been so cluttered with information and opinions that I can’t think straight.

Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise…

From the plumbers who are experts in public health, to the journalists who are experts in economics, at this point I’m ready give myself up to the virus or to drink the bleach and inject the isopropyl just to get it over with.


These two hours I get each day, on my bikes and in my rhythm, haven’t been enough to distance me from the chaos between my ears. What makes that funny is that it’s not my chaos, it’s everyone else’s. It’s like my mind appears to be the perfect receptacle for everyone to throw their ignirance, fear, and hatred into.

I wonder if people ever think about that — that when they throw hate, ignorance, and fear out there, do they consider that has to land somewhere…?

I’ve even considered giving up my optimism. I just don’t know if I should blame the news cycle, the people who create it, or the people who feed it.


Regardless, people are to blame. Shame on me for saying that, but it’s not my dog nor my toaster that’s lying, exaggerating, and screaming all day about subjects they know so little about.

I’ve spent much of my adult life believing the world is becoming a better place. Intellectuals such as George Ellis, Robert Wright, and Steven Pinker have demonstrated to me, supported with data, that the moral progress of man and the societies man has created, have been on an upward trajectory for 15,000 years.

For the last few weeks though, it feels like that upward trajectory isn’t just slowing down, but might possibly be reversing directions — like a rocket running out of fuel. The only question is, will the fall back to brutishness of our past be slow, or will the velocity increase as the decline continues…

The current health crisis, intertwined with our expanding social/political divisions, have created the first chink in the optimistic armor which has been protecting my mind for decades.

In the aftermath of the last few election cycles, I’ve viewed most social/political disagreements as small bounces in that otherwise upward trajectory of social cooperation — but then the yelling, finger-pointing, and distrust just keep getting worse.

Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise…

Like most everyone, I acknowledge the global health crisis as being real, and worthy of taking every necessary precaution to mitigate. The fact that I had to include the word “most” in the previous sentence though, makes me shudder.

I’m reminded of a woman I saw at the beach a few years back. She was juggling a bottle of sunscreen with one hand, as she was trying to apply it to her arms and shoulders. With the other hand, she was juggling a cigarette and a lighter. While one hand was working tirelessly to keep cancer at bay, the other hand was inviting it in. That woman, with the sunscreen in one hand and a cigarette in the other, was the embodiment of man’s duality.

Though I’ve been considering giving up on my optimism, I’ve decided to keep it — for now, but I’m only going to hold onto it with one hand. Like the lady with the sunscreen in one hand and the cigarette in the other, my other hand will be holding on to my new found pessimism — my belief that everything that I think I’m doing right is actually meaningless.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
194 miles
9,600’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,000 calories
12 hours 37 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Credence — was, it is, and will always be my favorite blues song. Enjoy…


Anything Else…

Like many, I think almost nonstop these days about our global health crisis and all that goes with it. For a guy who’s addicted to thinking about as many things as possible in the course of a day, that’s frustrating. I’ve been trying to think about other things, but I’m struggling.

My bike time — this 2-hour escape hatch I fall through each day is when I open any one of a thousand doors in my mind, and go down any one of a thousand rabbit holes, leading to a thousand more still. It’s free association at an 80 rpm’s and 15 miles-per-hour and I never know where my thoughts will end up.

The things I most think about when I ride, not necessarily in order, are friendships, music, religion, philosophy, and cycling itself. A single thought on any one of those can take me on a journey to the most distant places in my mind. That reflects my cycling itself — that as my bike travels both new and familiar roads, so too does my mind.

As I pedal lately though, I’ve been stuck thinking about the same things everyone else seems to be — masks, hand sanitizer, finances, divisiveness, protocols and boundaries, etc.

When I’m riding down Fallbrook’s beautiful Rice Canyon and should otherwise be reflecting on the tie-dye dress my daughter wore in kindergarten or first kisses with a freckled-face girl, I’m now asking myself banal questions like…

Am I cleaning off my groceries the right way…?

Am I going to kill my mother by breathing on her…?

Do the neighbors think I’m a dick because I won’t walk across the street to say hello anymore…?

Is using hand sanitizer on my plastic gloves good enough to clean them…?

How many of my clients will be willing to wear a mask when they workout with me in the future — will they workout with me in the future…?

Is this country ever going to heal…?

Of course these questions are worthy of consideration, but I get on my bike to escape this type of mundane thinking, not to fine-tune it.

When I attempted to turn my thoughts back to the things that most interest me, within seconds, those very interests lead me right back to the pandemic.

Part of the joy in writing here each week, and each morning on my Spoke And Word Facebook page, is that I get to share what goes on in the mind of a guy who spends two hours a day on a bike, and how how varied those thoughts might be.

Most everything I want to write these days goes something like this…

Hello world. Today I rode a bike and spent the entire two hours convincing myself not to put a Glock in my mouth. Success! Stay tuned, I’ll be back tomorrow with more…

People keep talking about what they look forward to most as the restrictions become lifted — hugging loved ones, dining in restaurants, getting back to the gym, etc. I’m just looking forward to thinking about anything else — all things non-pandemic.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
199.96 miles
9,800’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
11,000 calories
12 hours 54 minutes seat time

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


Conspiracy Theorist Dearest…

Today’s entry is supplemental. I’ll be back tomorrow with my blog of the week. As always, thanks for tuning in… rc

Headed south yesterday, to the Deer Park Winery in North Escondido. The skies where amazing so I figured I could take some good pictures. The place was locked up tight as a drum though. I couldn’t access the vineyard nor the old car museum. Still, it was fun getting there. Old Highway 395 is like California’s version of Route 66 — except we also get Route 66.

I was thinking about logic versus conspiracy theories as I pedaled down that historic road. I need to quit looking at Facebook at least 30-minutes before I ride.


I don’t know where to begin when it comes to people who think they have the answers — or more specifically, those who think they know more than the leaders establishing policy and creating protocols and boundaries during a global crisis.

Simply put, most global heads of state, most provincial governors, most mayors, and most corporate CEOs are onboard with social distancing and other protocols which are being suggested by the scientific and medical communities. There are some outliers, but a great majority of these leaders believe that what we are doing is not only correct, but see clear evidence that it’s working.

A quick memo to all the conspiracy theorists out there…

The leaders making these decisions are better informed than you, they have access to more and better information than you, and they are being advised by some of the brightest and best minds in science and medicine. Like with heads of state, there will be some outliers in the medical and scientific communities, but a great majority of these educated professionals are in support of these inconvenient, but necessary protocols and boundaries we must adhere to.


If you think Dr. Phil is a better resource than the dozens of doctors and scientists advising governors Cuomo, Newsom, and the others, I want you to wear a tinfoil hat with a Play-Doh logo on it so I know who you are.

And if you’re one of those special conspiracy theorists who also thinks the media is corrupt and should be silenced, please consider this…

There is no such thing as ‘the media’ as a collective, any more than there’s such a thing as the ‘founding fathers’. Media is term which applies to many institutions involved in a variety of work. Media institutions, like corporations, schools, and even churches, can be corrupted and can have bad players pervert them. By and large though, we accept those other institutions as being valid and necessary, though we may have difficulty with their occasional perversions and corruptions. The media is no different.

More or to the point though, and please consider this carefully, if it weren’t for the media, tens of thousands — possibly hundreds of thousands more people would be dead right now, including people you love and possibly somebody sitting next to you at this moment.

As much as anyone, I attempt to see both sides of an argument and to always consider I might be wrong. However, when I ask myself if the leaders at all levels of government are conspiring with the leaders in the medical and scientific communities so that they can take away people’s guns, shut down their churches, and have more access to their data, it seems unlikely.

You may not like what’s going on right now, I know don’t. I want to work, I want to go to the beach, and I want to take my mom to lunch. But this is real — virtually every person on the planet has a stake in this. Your conspiracy theorist peer groups and perverted sources are not smarter nor better informed than the experts advising heads of state, governors, mayors, and CEOs.

Please bite your tongue, please. Voicing your opinion is certainly your right. However, sharing those opinions and spreading falsehoods at this critical time is outright dangerous.

Close memo.

This is what I think about when I ride, so I would much rather think about anything else… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Eleventeen Cupcake
28 miles
1,400’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Earth’s Gonna Shake, by Hellsingland Underground

Ninety Years In A Flash…

You grew up dirt poor on a farm in rural Alabama. You were the eldest daughter of a handful of siblings born over an 16-year span. You arrived at the peak of the Great Depression and you come of age during World War II. By the time you were 20 though, the world was starting to get good.

Brave and bold, you decided to become the first in your family to attend college. Nursing school, why not…? As if that wasn’t good enough, you subsequently apply for a commission in the United States Air Force and overnight you became a lieutenant.


The cards were in your favor — Victorville California in 1952 had to have been better than sewing up wounds at a military hospital in Seoul. Wait, who’s that guy…? Christ, your dad’ll kill ya if ya marry a Jew. Or more likely, he’ll try and kill the Jew.


The war is over, you’re married, and hello Massachusetts…! Hospital work sounds good. Worcester General…? Why not…? You can work there for a few years and then when you’re ready, you can have your first of two sons there in 1958.

Go ahead, do the stay-at-home thing — raise that boy right. Who knows, he might grow up to write a couple of award winning novels or even become a judge, but probably not both.

Teaching college didn’t work out for your husband so he jumped into the business world. Good call on his part, he’ll be a great provider. Time for another kid. To make it easy, give this one a single syllable name with only three letters in it. Make sure it starts with R. Yeah, that’ll work.

Head west…? Why not…? Pack up the family truckster and move to Colorado — better than raising those two boys on the East Coast. You can camp, ski, and enjoy the majesty of Mt. Evans from out your front window all day long.

Well, the boys are getting older and are in school all day — time to go back to work. Nurses gotta nurse. Nothing too demanding though, how ‘bout the swingshift at a nearby nursing home…? Perfect.

The ugliest word in the English language: divorce. The bills are now going to increase and so will the stress. Time for a government job.

Hey, there’s that big Army hospital at the edge of town. What’s it called, Fitzsimmons…? Yeah, try that place. Great pay, great benefits — remember, you still gotta get that older kid through college, never mind that the younger one dropped out of high school to be a sandwich maker at a deli. He’ll be okay — you just won’t know it for about 20 more years.

Well, now the older kid wants to go to law school. Time to get a part-time job in addition to that government job. Why don’t you go back to that nursing home part-time on your off days…? Cool.

And at almost the exact same moment, the older son becomes a JAG in the United States Air Force while the younger son enlists in the United States Coast Guard. They are truly on their own, time for you to get the hell out of town. I hear the Indian Health Service is hiring.

Where on earth is Chinle Arizona…? In the prettiest part of nowhere — freaking beautiful. You actually get to walk canyon to Canyon De Chelly any morning you want to, so you do. Why would you ever want to leave a place like that…?

Oh, because Alaska. They have Indian hospitals there too so you can just transfer. Cool. Whatchya do for fun while you’re in Alaska…? Hanging out with natives and netting silver salmon on the Kuskokwim river…? That’s cool. I just hope they don’t catch you smuggling in all those cases of Bartley’s & Jaymes wine coolers into a dry county.

Looks like your younger son and his wife are in Arizona now and going to have a baby…? Well, the IHS has a hospital in Phoenix, move down there — and don’t forget to move just two blocks away from where your kid lives. Cool.

Well, not long to be neighbors I guess. It looks like your only grandbaby and his parents are moving back to Denver — you might as well follow them. Besides, you’ll be closer to your Air Force lawyer son who loves in Omaha and who just got married.

Good news. Your Air Force lawyer son is leaving the service, leaving Omaha and moving back to Colorado. You’ll all be neighbors again.

Bad news. Your younger son, his wife, and your only grandchild are leaving Colorado and moving to California.


That’s cool though, the older son who just moved back to Colorado is going to adopt three kids from China. Not at the same time, but over a period of a few years. That’ll keep you busy and you’ll be a fantastic grandma to the three of them. They’re going to love slumber parties at your house, with bacon and Toaster Strudel on Sunday mornings.

Fast-forward a few years — like 20.

The sons are divorced and the grandchildren are all older. You’re in your 80s now and you worked much longer than you ever had to. You had the oldest active nursing license in the state of Colorado. Huge respect.

Remember all those times you picked your youngest son up at the police station for things like shoplifting, punching cops, and petty vandalism…? He’d like to pay it back if you’ll let him. Why don’t you come stay with and he can help you as needed…? Cool.

You were born during the Great Depression. You came of age during World War II. You raised two boys, helped out with four grandchildren, and you did so much in-between, like the netting silver salmon and hiking Canyon De Chelly.

Last month a giant spaceship flew over the earth and parked above us, leaving us all in its shadow, scared and wondering what to do. Things might get very bad for a while, but Bill Pullman is president so it’ll be alright. I was just kidding about the spaceship — it’s not above us, it’s being passed around between us. It is a virus that’s powerful enough to bring the planet to hold. Also, I was also kidding about Bill Pullman — he’s not really the president. Crap.

Next week you’re going to be 90. Earlier today I had to tie a mask around your face so you could take a short walk and you cried. You asked me how the world got this way and seemed very confused when I didn’t have an answer . You haven’t been in a restaurant or a store in over a month, and you probably won’t be anytime soon. Your son forces you to wash your hands every time you turn around, and he yells at you for touching anything outside the house. It shouldn’t be this way right now, but it is.

The Great Depression, World War II, and now The Time-out Grande. We’ll get through it. I’m learning from you as I go. All the stories you told me that growing up about life in the depression and World War II — I was listening the whole time, honest. You’ve been here before so I’m all ears.

Happy 90th, Mom. We’ll get through it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
167 miles
7,800’ climbing
14.8 mph avg
9,500 calories
11 hours 15?minutes seat time

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

The Future Of Your Gym And Your Exercise…

As much as I was able to focus on anything while being tossed around by the wind and rain during yesterday’s ride, I spent a good part of it thinking about content for my next cheesy fitness video. I’ve been doing one video each morning since the Timeout Grande began.

I’m not able to work right now, so doing the videos has given me a sense of purpose, as well as helped me stay connected to the skill-set that earns my keep. The videos are cheesy, I’m not very good on camera, and most people scroll right past them. That’s cool, but doing them gives me a reason to roll out of bed and run a brush through my hair each day.

While riding yesterday, and while I was thinking about ideas for the next video, I got to thinking about the fitness industry in general. Many gyms and fitness facilities will go out of business as a result of the global shutdown. Some larger chains will survive, but will be forced to change, adapt, and reduce the number of facilities they operate. Some smaller chains, as well as many independent gyms, will go under completely.

As a result of this, many who’ve depended on their gym as an outlet for their physical and mental wellness, will learn to workout from home and never look back. Others though, will quit exercising altogether. For them, not only will there physicality suffer, but their mental health will also.

There are certainly going to be fewer options. My guess is that the home fitness equipment industry is going to have a boon. One of the more common pieces of home exercise equipment, and one that I own and use daily, is the Bowflex adjustable dumbbell set. They are central to any home workout space.

Three weeks ago, these were available via Amazon and retailed for roughly $265. Today they can be found on eBay for nearly $1500, though the price is dropping, and I’ve seen some as low as $800. For their part, Bowflex has them back ordered on their website, but has already upped the retail price to $365 as of yesterday.


There’s this old joke I tell people when buying a lifetime gym membership…

Before you make the investment, I suggest, you should consider whether you’re buying the membership for your lifetime, or for the lifetime of the gym. That’s a question thats going to be answered for millions of people in the coming weeks.

My guess is due to the addictive nature of exercise, some portion of the population will run back to the gym as soon as the doors open. However, those hardcore enthusiasts, gym rats as they’re often called, don’t pay the bills for the gyms.

There’s a rule in the fitness industry called the 75/25 rule. That is, 75% of the people who join a gym never use it — their monthly dues though, which are auto-drafted from their bank accounts, support the 25% of the members who actually use the facility regularly.

In simple terms, that suggests that 25% of the members who use the gym will be back as soon as the doors open. The 75% that cover the overhead and pay the salaries of the employees, may be gone for life. That’s just speculation on my part, but with millions of people out of work, the gym industry needs to prepare for a large number of membership cancellations. They also need to prepare for a large percentage of their devoted members being afraid to return due to concerns over the spreading of germs, as well as having figured out how to workout on their own.

This is just one aspect of the many things that will change, culturally, in the coming weeks and months. I would look for the fitness industry in general, and how people exercise, to change for forever.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride….

Bike: Tobio Obsession
26 miles
1,200’ climbing
13.5 mph avg
1,400 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Yonder, by Donna The Buffalo

The New Secondhand Smoke…

A recurring theme in my thought-blender this week, while churning through the canyon communities of Rainbow, Pala, Valley Center, and here in Fallbrook, was the notion of secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke, as we all know, does peripheral damage to people who never light up. The extent of that damage can be hard to trace, but we can say with certainty that secondhand smoke has caused illness, birth defects, and even death in people who’ve spent significant time near smokers or in places were smoke gathers in excess — casinos for example.


Somehow this week, pushing my way past roadside shrapnel, broken glass, and the uneven pavement of these rural San Diego roads, I connected the idea of secondhand smoke with other secondhand toxins.

These are everywhere these days, and we’re all breathing them in, whether we realize it or not.

In no particular order, they are…

Secondhand ignorance
Secondhand grandeur
Secondhand hate
Secondhand weakness
Secondhand prejudice
Secondhand intolerance

They are grown in the darkest places of the human psyche — where bacteria best take hold, and exhaled, sometimes with malice, but often innocently.

Secondhand fear though, is chief among them. Secondhand fear is the mortar that seals the gaps and holds the tiles of all the other toxins together. Sometimes when I ride — often when I ride, I’m simply trying to outrun all of these toxins. They are at the core of my people fatigue.

In the same way that people have gotten sick, and even died due to secondhand smoke, I’m beginning to wonder if all this secondhand hate isn’t adversely affecting my health — not just my mental health, but my physical health. I’m not trying to be clever when I pose that idea either.

I ask myself regularly if, when I stand in proximity to others, as I interact with people on social media, and as I receive information via print and broadcast media, it isn’t similar to passing through casino, only to be quietly poisoned by all that secondhand smoke…?

Secondhand smoke is a legitimate public health concern — governments have regulated it, and those regulations have saved millions of lives. Secondhand hate though, and its lesser constituents can never be regulated because the implications in relation to our right to free speech are too significant. Still, as I ride my bike each day, often pedaling as fast as I can to outrun it all, I wonder if we can’t police this ourselves, just a little bit better.

This ride though, it works. I ride and I forget. Then I come back — to a society filled with gutless behaviors fronted by secondhand hate, and I sink back into myself, questioning whether the toxins from others are weakening my immune system. That’s when I begin to think about tomorrow’s ride. Is it tomorrow yet…?

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
204 miles
10,500’ climbing
15.1 mph avg
12,000 calories
13 hours 34 minutes seat time

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