Boom Boom Boom…

Pendleton has been going off lately — a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A real quote from a United States Marine.

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 204

Climbing: 8,900’

Mph Avg: 14.8

Calories: 11,505

Seat Time: 13 hours 44 minutes

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

Bookends Of Idiocy…

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

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

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

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

Sometimes it’s all too much for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid…!“

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride…Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 203

Climbing: 9,100’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,600

Seat Time: 13 hours 18 minutes

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

In Those Early Days…

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

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

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

There was a haunted serenity to it all.

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride…  Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 162

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9,180

Seat Time: 10 hours 19 minutes

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

Daily Self-Appraisal…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 204

Climbing: 9,200’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 11,613

Seat Time: 13 hours 31 minutes

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