The Toll…

It’s harder to get moving these days, and when I do, I more resemble Detective Fish from Barney Miller than an advocate for fitness over the age of 60. My body is feeling the effects of an absence of sleep. 

If there’s a weakness in my physical life, it’s that recovery isn’t an option. I still do all the physical things I’ve done since my teens, I’ve simply given away on those hours when exercise recovery takes place. Due to a variety of reasons, I get just 4 to 5 hours of broken sleep each night.

I’ve struggled with sleep since I heard that first trashcan lid make contact with its base on my first morning of Boot Camp. That noise came as such a shock, I immediately began developing a system of anticipating subsequent trashcan lids, alarms, and anything else which might intend to wake me. By the time I completed my term in the United States Coast Guard, I had lost the ability to sleep for more than 4-hours at a stretch.

From the Coast Guard, I would go through a series of jobs involving shift work — very often swingshift and graveyard shift, with sleep taking place during the day in bits and pieces as I was able. Eventually I’d settle into a career of fitness training, but that involved taking clients as early as 4am and and often as late as 8pm. 

A fear of oversleeping worked against me. In time I was able to weed out the early and the late client sessions, but years of being a poor sleeper created synapses in my brain and body that manifest for life. 

In 2005 I saw a sleep specialist. When I described my sleep habits, combined with my physical lifestyle, he suggested I cut significantly back on the physicality of my life. I explained that exercise is primary in my life, as much for mental stability as it is a physical outlet. He said he understood, and told me to expect my body to break down in time. For a long time I fought that — successfully. I just did what I did, ate what I ate, and slept when I could. I did okay with that. 

In time though, I’d add into my life the hobbies of writing, photo editing, and actually expand on daily exercise — all while accepting my role as a caregiver for my aging mother. What could possibly go wrong…? Actually, I’m kind of proud that I make it all work, and I do. With one problem though…

I sleep less than ever and I feel myself breaking down. 

Caregiving has put me in a position where I need to stay up a little later and wake a little earlier each day, in order to accomplish the things that fall through the cracks in my hurry-scurry day-to-day. I do most of my writing and photo editing either before my mother wakes up or after she goes to sleep. Notwithstanding, the administration of my business, workout planning for clients, correspondence, and just finding some quiet time.

To paraphrase George H. W. Bush…

The Jhciacb way of life is not negotiable. 

I’m beat up these days. I ache, crackle, and move slowly if I’ve been seated too long. Wrapping my fingers around a barbell at 6am requires a mental coaxing that’s new to me. When I walk into my bike room each afternoon, my mind spies the  bike of the day while my body cries for a nap instead. Each morning, when I could attempt to sleep for another hour, I wake up and write. I choose movement. I choose creativity. 

I’ll continue to do the things that feed my mental health, my confidence, and my need for physical and creative outlets — at the expense of the sleep which I also need. Besides, nobody ever died from a lack of sleep. Well, not immediately anyway.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 170

Climbing: 7,200

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 9,700

Seat Time: 11 hours 02 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 Ray Wylie Hubbard. Enjoy…!

No Meat For That Dog…

When I turn my bike from East Mission Road here in Fallbrook, onto Live Oak Road, I’m like a kid. Know that I get to glide downhill for the next for the next 3-miles. Just three or four kicks after I make that turn, and I can let the gravy and good wheels do the work. 

Live Oak Road is a meandering descent along the eastern edge of Fallbrook. As the name indicates, it’s lined with dozens of old oaks, a handful of which form tree tunnels along way. Riding this road can be transcendent, depending on my mood, and is often the cherry on top of my day.

Live Oak comes to an end when it reaches Reche Road — another beautiful 2-lane road, with more oaks and some beautiful homes as well. As I transitioned from Live Oak to Reche one evening last week, and as I passed one of those beautiful homes, I was startled when I heard several dogs barking. I’ve turned that corner hundreds of times and never heard dogs there before.

I looked over my right shoulder and saw three unleashed dogs, all stocky and looking to be (approximately) in the 60-pound range. They were different colors, appeared to be mixed breeds, and certainly had some fighting dog in them — because they were charging me at full speed. It took only a moment to realize they were running faster than I was pedaling. 

The dog closest to me, a tan big-head, was running faster than I could ride. He looked hungry, and I have a lot of leg meat. Fortunately the gradient of the road increased, and going downhill allowed me to stay ahead of him. As I created some distance between me and the big-head, he slowed and turned back toward his two companions. At his closest, he was within 5 or 6 feet of me.

Once clear of any danger, I stopped, drank some water, and took in what had just happened. Experience has taught me that some dogs can run upwards of 25 to 30 mph. If I’m riding on a flat road, the fastest I can ride is roughly 25 mph. That is, if that road hadn’t turned downhill when the dogs began chasing me, they probably would’ve caught me.

That was the only time I can remember seeing dogs off-leash while I was riding, that I didn’t stop to try and find their homes. It was a busy road, they appeared aggressive, and I felt vulnerable. When I got home, I checked a couple of ‘lost pet’ pages for this area on social media, but found nothing similar. I’m hopeful they were local dogs whose steward left them unattended or left a gate open.  

For the rest of the ride though, I kept imagining what would’ve happened if big-head dog had caught me. The last thing I’d ever want is to have to defend myself from a dog that’s the product of poor stewardship. I drove by that area later that day to see if I could find the owner or which yard the dogs came from. No luck.

I’ll still ride by that street in the future, but a lot faster, and without looking back. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 185

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 hours 20 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 Oasis. Enjoy…!

The Art Of Being Scarcely Informed…

I haven’t been checking the headlines much recently, and not at all this morning. War could’ve been declared overnight and I wouldn’t have known about it until someone mentioned it to me. And if I did know about it, would it have have made a difference in my day…? Not much, honestly.

My information triage each morning goes something like this…

– Check Reuters headlines

– Check AP headlines

– Check NPR headlines

– Correlate those three sources for common impactful stories

Stories which I think might have an impact on me directly, I read immediately.

Stories relevant to my clients, which might come in conversation during my workday, I skim.

Stories of interest which I’m sure won’t impact my day, my lifestyle, or my finances, I bookmark for a possible read later in the day.

I guess this makes me scarcely informed.

I’ve come to believe this is a good way to be — to be (at least) partially informed of the big stories and scarcely informed about smaller news stories. In truth though, unless a missile is headed to the United States, the banking system collapses due to a cyber-attack, or a river of lava is flowing down Main Avenue, I could probably make it through the day without knowing what’s going on in the world — I could probably make it through most of my life without knowing what’s going on in the world. I mean, unless a pandemic breaks out, but what are the odds of that…?

And that was my convoluted mind-chew for much of my pedaling week…

I’ve never believed that being informed is as critical to our day-to-day lives as so many make it out to be. For most, being informed is a justifiable form of entertainment.

– It’s good to be informed, yes.

– It’s good that information comes from credible sources, yes.

– It’s good to process that information in a way that applies appropriate context and perspective to the reader, yes.

In his book, Why We’re Polarized (2020), Ezra Klein tells the story of a friend, a bay area businessman, who goes to great lengths to avoid all news. He does this under the pretense that no matter what the news is, it will affect only his mood. Any news so significant it would impact his life or his business, he’d learn from the act of just living.

At least half of me believe there’s some value to that, and that’s not so small-minded. It’s been studied from many angles, and suggested that a lesser demand for news would result in a better quality of information. In The Elements Of Journalism (2014), by Kovach and Rosenstiel, the authors suggest that quality information becomes more distinct and more available when the demand for all information decreases. One of the strains, they suggest, on today’s journalism is the demand to feed the masses what they think they need — information about things which aren’t impactful in their day-to-day lives.

I’m just a chimp with a smartphone, but I think there’s something to that — so I stay moderately informed about important things and scarcely informed about the little things. But I wonder increasingly, if there’s any benefit to being informed at all. As I’ve said before, if there’s a missile headed my way, one of my neighbors is probably going to tell me anyway.

As an exercise in what I’m suggesting, next time you look at the main page of your favorite news and information site, scroll from top to bottom, reading the headlines only, and before digging in to read any story, ask yourself how knowing that information is going to make you a better business person, a better parent, a better friend, or a better neighbor. Then, again reading the headlines only, ask yourself how knowing the information contained in each story is going to influence your mood — stories about the arts notwithstanding.

Many will argue that an informed electorate is the foundation of a strong democracy. An electorate that’s over-informed about insignificant things, might just be the reason we’re in our current situation.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 186

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 hours 25 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 Poi Dog Pondering. Enjoy…!

Hitting The Pool…

If last night’s ride was any indication, I’ll be eating a lot of peanut butter and Benadryl sandwiches for the next 3-4 months. Ladies and gentlemen, allergy season is here. As spring merges into summer, in addition to all the pollen floating through the air, our seasonal clouds of non-specific flying bugs have returned. I think I inhaled as many calories in the form of gnats last night, as I burned pedaling. Push. 

I thought about Karen Pool last night while riding. I think about Karen Pool often. She and I were classmates in kindergarteners in 1966 — in Morristown New Jersey. She had short blonde pigtails, always wore dresses, and we actually spoke of getting married someday. In fact, I was planning on it.

Just outside the back entrance to our kindergarten classroom was a playground, exclusive to the two kindergarten classes that occupied that side of the building. The playground had a gravel surface, with a swingset and slide on one end and a jungle gym and a sandbox on the other end. In-between the swingset and the jungle gym was the main attraction — a wooden mock-up of the Batmobile, based on the popular television show that began that same year.

Every recess and lunch break Karen Pool and I, along with a few friends, would make a beeline directly to the Batmobile. I would be Batman and Karen would be Catwoman. Our friends would take turns playing different characters — the Joker, the Penguin and so-on. 

As distant as those days are from today, I still possess a handful of clear memories from conversations Karen and I had and of the plans we made together, nevermind that I can’t tell you what I ate for dinner last night. The most indelible memory I have though, is of the kids being called back into the classroom after recess one morning, and Karen and I were having too much fun playing Batman to return. Soon we would be the only two kids who remained on the playground. We stood facing each other beside the Batmobile.

She looked at me with a serious expression, and with no warning whatsoever, told me she wasn’t going to marry me after all. Before she could turn to walk away, I punched in the stomach as hard as I could. She buckled over and began to cry. When the teacher came running out, I lied and told her I didn’t know what happened. Three minutes later I was sitting on a three legged stool with my back to the class, facing the corner of shame. I would spend the rest of the morning sitting in that corner, with plenty of time to think about what I did wrong and why it was wrong.

And what I felt and what I thought about was pure shame. So much so, that I’ve never gotten over it — it’s still haunts me. When I reflect on that moment, I feel more guilt and disgust than I did as a 5-year-old. I still think of the physical pain I caused Karen and the emotional pain I might have caused her. I hope things turned out okay for her. I guess they turned out okay for me. Although I would go on to cut the pigtails off a girl named Mary Reckart in the 5th grade, and shoot Beth Rosen in the right breast with an improvised blow-dart in the 9th grade, I never hit a girl again.

Thinking back on this last night, I began to think about the millions of other kindergarten boys that also hit girls — each day and all over the world. A lot of them never got caught like I did, and never learned that’s not how human beings behave, even at age 5. I thought about how the older a boy gets, the harder he hits, and the harder it must be to unlearn the habit of hitting, and I cringe. Teach your children well, especially if they’re boys. 

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

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 194

Climbing: 8,500’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 11,026

Seat Time: 12 hours 53 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 Joan Osborne. Enjoy…!

Falling Down…

I got word last week that another friend had been hospitalized due to a fall. That’s the fourth time in 6-weeks someone I knew fell and needed care beyond Band-Aids and Bactine.

It stands to reason that anyone hospitalized due to falling is probably older. We all know the story — an elderly person loses their balance, falls, fractures their hip, and ends up in a skilled rehab facility, assisted-living, or worse. However, two of the four people I know who recently fell are my age. 

Falling isn’t just something elderly people do. Falling is something that can happen to anyone who is in a hurry and isn’t paying attention to their surroundings. 

Since teaching balance is a big part of what I do for a living, and that I’ve conducted workshops on balance and fall prevention, it’s a topic I can speak to with authority. 

There are certainly physiological reasons why people fall — inner ear deficiencies, low blood pressure, compromised skeletal structures, muscular weakness, medications, etc. Often falls related to these can’t be helped.

I’ll argue though, to my dying breath, that most falls can be avoided — at any age. If I can use this platform to offer some suggestions on how we might all avoid falling, these are the three that matter most…

1. Know where your feet are…

I say it to clients every day of my life…

Know where your feet are…!  

Create the habit of thinking about your feet — all the time. It’s really that simple. Think about your feet when you’re walking. Think about them when you’re standing. Think about your feet when you’re seated — yes, even when you’re seated. Falling often happens while standing from a seated position, or in the first steps after standing. 

Create an awareness, over time and by regular practice, of where your feet are. Develop a relationship between your brain and your feet. Creating that bond isn’t hard, and it can go to great lengths in avoiding debilitating falls.  

2. Slow down…

This is probably the most stressed-out and hurried generation of human beings, ever. In all things physical though — in cleaning, doing yardwork, hauling things from the car, carrying laundry, cooking, performing work duties, and even in most exercising, slow down. 

It may be overstating the obvious, but unless somebody is standing beside you with a stopwatch and there’s a gold medal waiting at the end of the race, there’s no reason to hurry through any physical action — especially around the house or in the yard.

3. Be aware of your surroundings…

Falling often happens when people are distracted and aren’t paying attention to their surroundings. End tables, changing floor surfaces, sprinkler heads, partially opened doors, small pets, and objects left on the floor are common contributors to falling. They are not causes of falling, they are contributors.

Carrying something while distracted increases the risk of falling. It doesn’t matter if it’s groceries, a broom, a bucket of tools, or a toddler. If one isn’t paying attention to what’s around them and their hands are full, the likelihood of falling increases. 

That’s it — all I got. I’ll suggest that most falls are the result of one or a combination of these three aspects of daily movement.  

1. Know where your feet are…

2. Slow down…

3. Be aware of your surroundings…

If, over time, you can turn these into habits by practicing them regularly, it will reduce your  likelihood of falling and in-turn reduce the risk of becoming injured from a fall.

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

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 190

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 10,800

Seat Time: 12 hours 37 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 UFO. Enjoy…!

The Marshall Plan…

Riding out of town one evening last week, I passed Club Paradise Gym. That’s where I hung out my shingle as a fitness trainer when I arrived here 20-years ago. Passing the gym, and it being Friday, I flashed back…

On an afternoon in 2001, while in-between clients at Club Paradise, a large man with gray hair, in his mid-50s, burst through the door. He slammed his checkbook on the counter and exclaimed…

“I want the oldest male trainer you have, and the one who has the broadest shoulders…!”

The hungover girl behind the counter woke long enough to point to me, who was standing beside her, before she dropped her head and fell back asleep. 

As the man introduced himself, he crushed my fingers with his handshake. It was clear he was a guy who knew what he wanted. He explained that he travels quite a bit so when he’s in town he wants to workout every day.

Cool.

I told him we’d first need to review his goals, do a kinetic assessment, and discuss any limitations he might have. His eyes looked right through me as he explained he didn’t have time for that, and just wanted get a schedule set.

Not so cool.

The schedule was set, but before the conversation was complete, I felt a twinge of regret in agreeing to work with him. At that point though, anyone who wanted to workout every day would be a good client. His name was Marshall.

The feeling out process didn’t take long. Within a couple weeks I was pushing Marshall hard, he was making progress, and within a few months we actually became workout partners. We started by doing 30-minutes of daily cardio together and then, due to my tight schedule, I started jumping into his strength workouts. It was adversarial at first, but camaraderie found its way in over time. A friendship was born.  

Perhaps we’d been working out together for a few months when we found ourselves unmotivated on a Friday afternoon and both of us starving. I suggested we blow off the workout and get something to eat. Marshall almost agreed, but came up with a quick workout idea first. 

He suggested we go through every machine in the fitness circuit, with three-quarters of the weight stacks selected. We’d each do a single set of as many repetitions as possible on each machine, and total our reps up at the end of the workout. Whoever had the highest repetition total would be the winner. 

I won. 

After our quick but competitive workout, we walked across the street to a taqueria, and Marshall bought carne asada burritos for the two of us. This became a Friday ritual, which he dubbed Challenge Day. We would continue Challenge Day for the next 5-years or so. If he was in town, we’d meet at the gym, pick 6 to 8 exercises, and whoever got the fewest number of repetitions bought the burritos. 

I’d love to say I won all of the time — I was 10-years younger and a lot stronger, but Marshall was a self-made man and hated to lose at anything. There were times when he’d find ways to get more out of an exercise than me through sheer will and spite. 

Marshall relocated from Fallbrook around the same time I began rotating through a series of commercial spaces, and it became prohibitive for our workout partnership to continue. Eventually he began splitting time between California and Argentina where he had a business interest, and I became so full of my own nonsense that we lost touch.

It would take me a few years, only after we parted ways, for me to realize what an important relationship that was in my life. Marshall took me to NASCAR races in Fontana, concerts in Del Mar, theater in LA, and some local rodeos. In the years we worked out together I learned much about business from him a portion of my success came from advice he gave me along the way. 

The best lessons Marshall ever taught me though, were about fatherhood, and at a time when I need it to learn them. For the entire time we worked out together, when he handed me a check each month, the notation on the memo was Chelsea’s College Fund (Chelsea being my daughter). When he’d hand me the check he’d always say “this isn’t for you…“ It was a reminder I should be thinking about my daughter first in how I spend my money.

One of the best aspects of my job as a fitness trainer is the relationships I’ve cultivated along the way. I haven’t seen Marshall in a decade now, but the lessons he taught me are still with me each day — and I’ll go so far as to say, if we hadn’t crossed paths, I don’t know that I would’ve been as successful at business or at fatherhood. 

This is what I think about when I ride…  Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 201

Climbing: 7,100’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,500

Seat Time: 12 hours 58 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 The Stranglers — an ode to keyboardist Dave Greenfield who passed away one year ago this month. Enjoy…!

The Wisdom Years…

I don’t have many memories left of my mother when she was young. They’ve been covered up by the memories I have of her now. For the last six years mom has been a lot like my smartphone and my critters — never more than 50-feet from me, unless I’m on a bike.

Just a few memories of my younger mother remain — visions of her standing over the stove, apron around her waist, and stirring a large pot of spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon. Her bangs falling into her face as the steam rose upward. The kitchen I grew up with, like the cook who ran it, is the only one that matters.

I remember her manning the gift shop at the synagogue, before and after services on the Friday nights of my youth. Not bad for Christian girl from Alabama. I’m not sure she knew how often I stole things when she wasn’t looking. In hindsight, yeah, she probably knew. 

Shortly after she and my father separated for the final time, I was 15, a man showed up to serve foreclosure papers on the family house. As she stood in the door and screamed at the man to get off the property, I stood in my second story bedroom window and shot an arrow at the rear tire of the man’s car. She took me out for nachos that night. I remember her reassuring me that we wouldn’t have to leave the house.

When she was the age I am now, and worked for the Indian Health Service in Chinle Arizona, I’d visit her often and we’d hike Canyon de Chelly together, followed by a lunch of Navajo tacos at the Thunderbird Inn. I still remember those hikes in the conversations we had as we walked.

I remember my mother as my Cub Scout Den Mother, as a horrible driver taking me to school, as somebody who baked the best apple coffee cake ever, and as a nurse who was always willing to work overtime when needed. 

That’s about it though. I don’t have too many memories of her younger years other than those. Mostly I remember her from last year, last month, and last week — I remember her as she is now. 

She’s aged, unsure on her feet, slow, wrinkled, and increasingly frail. Those terms might seem unflattering or even insulting, but I recognize them as the mile markers of the long trip she’s taken, from the Great Depression to the Internet — from the polio epidemic to the COVID pandemic.

And when that day comes — when she’s no longer around and memories are all I’ll have left of her, the memories I’ll carry forward and the ones which will stick with me the most, will be those of today — of the wisdom years. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there — you are the bubble-wrap of humanity.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 134

Climbing: 5,900’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 7,565

Seat Time: 09 hours 01 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 Old 97s. Enjoy…!

The Monsters In My Head…

The monsters I create in my head are always more foreboding than the ones I actually meet — should I meet them at all.

A friend had a family emergency this week and had to leave town with little notice. She asked if I would keep her two small dogs for the week. Without hesitation I agreed. I know the dogs well, love them both, and they brighten up the house when they’re here.

Sadly though, among my first thoughts when I agreed to take them, was questioning whether my daily riding would be impacted. Two additional critters, along the current critter inventory, and an elderly woman with dementia might make getting on the road each day more difficult. 

The more I thought about it, the worse my concerns grew. I began imagining scenarios where, if I were on my bike, my mom would accidentally let the dogs out — never to be seen again, drop chocolate which might harm them if ingested, or get one caught between her legs, subsequently falling and breaking her hip. And that was just scratching the surface of my wretched imagination.

Not wanting any harm come to the pups, and increasingly believing that leaving them alone with my mom would set up for disaster, I made the decision to take a week off of cycling. I haven’t taken a week off since 2015. The decision was bittersweet, but it was the right thing.

Me being me though, it wasn’t long — minutes actually, before I was twitching, nervous, and bitchy. I began thinking of ways to safely secure the pups while I got out and rode for a couple of hours. 

I made the decision to leave the dogs crated in my fitness studio, close the door leading into the house, and put a chair in front of the door. They would be okay crated for a couple of hours, and in an emergency, my mom would be able to move the chair. I felt selfish and a bit guilty for this decision, but not so much that it kept me from riding yesterday.

Once the dogs were crated, I put a thin sheet over the crate to darken their environment, closed the door, and taped a note above the chair reading…

Please don’t open the door — Jesus is watching you

Old people get scared when bring Jesus into any scenario as leverage. 

Moments later I was on a bike, trying hard to let go of all the scenarios in which my mom would poison, step on, or lose the pups. That’s when I started thinking about the possibility of a house-fire. Shit. 

Notwithstanding to any of this, is that I’ve ridden a bike every day for the last six years and left my mother alone with a dog, a cat, occasionally a neighbor dog, and there have been no incidents in which the critters got harmed — and the house has yet to burn down in my absence.  

Still, I imagined every possible negative scenario as I rode. I pushed my legs harder than usual, stopped only briefly to take a couple of pictures, and cut my route a little short to get back sooner. All the while looking upward and ahead on the road, half expecting to see my friend’s dogs running toward me — 15 miles from home.

When I arrived home, I entered the house quickly, moved to the chair away from the room where the dogs were crated, let them out to go potty, and took a deep breath. All had been just as I left it, and mom was on the sofa doing a crossword puzzle.

Breathe

Breathe

Breathe 

All was good with the world…

Once again, I had created monsters in my head which, with my eyes open and walking toward them, were nowhere to be seen. This, by the way, is the epitome of being raised Jewish.

I’ll go out and ride later today, feeling a little more confident that the dogs will be safe in my absence. I don’t know, perhaps I should let the dogs have the run of the house, and keep my mom crated 🤷🏼‍♂️.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 187

Climbing: 8,100’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 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 The Staple Singers. Enjoy…!

Earth Day After…

I saw a lot of nods to Earth Day this week, on social media and beyond. Climate change is on my mind daily, though I know I could do more to lessen my impact on the planet. 

I saw many of the usual suggestions for Earth Day…

– Eat less meat

– Recycle more

– Use less water

– Conserve household energy

– Drive less, and do so in more efficient vehicles

– Travel less

– Use less paper

– Eliminate single-use plastics

– Vote for politicians who champion fighting the climate crisis

These are all important individual steps, and if we all practiced them, it might benefit climate change over time. I’m not sure we have that kind of time. 

I have my own thoughts on what might make the most immediate impact on climate change, but these are large-scale group efforts which, to be impactful, need to begin immediately…

First, no reasonable conversation about climate change should exclude the idea of nuclear energy, if only as a 100-year (or so) bridge until the use of sustainable renewable energy is mastered and maximized. 

Two, is to accept that we can live without most printed materials. This would include business and legal documents, books, newspapers, magazines, compact discs, pamphlets, correspondence — virtually anything that is now printed but can be otherwise created and distributed digitally. It’s been suggested by some climate scientists, including Sir John Houghton, that replacing printed materials with digital copies of the same could, in itself, create a measurable slowing of CO2 levels within a couple of decades. 

But none of this really matters. Because the most important thing we can do to combat climate change is something we are increasingly unwilling to do — to prioritize bridging the gaps between political, cultural, and social divisions. 

No significant steps in addressing climate change can be initiated from a divided populous and the divided leadership selected by that populous. At the most grassroots level, we need to grow up, quit pointing fingers, quit name-calling, and listen, even if we don’t like what we’re listening to or who’s speaking it. We also need to elect people willing to do the same.

We understand the changing ecology and climate through science. So too, do we understand cultural and political polarization — through science. Scientists study the impact of name calling, arguing, and refusal to participate in discourse, in the same way they study CO2 levels.

It’s been proven mathematically that when we insult somebody — when we call someone a name, shut them out of the conversation, or refuse to listen to them, it widens and reinforces the gaps which divide us. 

Or to frame it this way…

There’s no moral difference between throwing a plastic bag into the ocean or disparaging somebody we disagree with. One-off, it’s no big deal. However, when everyone is doing it, the oceans soon become clogged, and the waters of discourse are unnavigable.

It’s not a joke. 

There’s no need to recycle, conserve energy, or cut back on meat consumption if, when we interact with those of opposing values, we choose to give them the middle finger over an ear or acknowledgement.

There’s a science to understanding social and political polarization. If we’re willing to embrace climate science, we should also pay attention to the science of getting along. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 193

Climbing: 8,600’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 11,000

Seat Time: 12 hours 52 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 Matthew Sweet. Enjoy…!

Bang Bang Bang…

Our love of guns began when the first Indian fell backwards, as we worked our way west to exploit every possible resource and take possession of all lands. And if those resources or those lands became threatened, we depended on guns to assure our possession of them — because we valued the resources and lands more than the humanity which was already a part of them. 

And in the decades and centuries to follow, as we asserted our providence over all which lay before us, we became culturally inseparable from our guns and the idea that killing is an acceptable aspect of progress. 

Guns became costars in the American story. First in books, then radio, movies, television, and subsequently in every aspect of popular culture. No American story is complete without guns and killing, even if we have to peel back the layers to find them. Behind every innocent story there’s a gun or a killing waiting to break through and be seen. 

Guns are in our dreams, our toys, our games, and and even in our fantasies. Killing, as a way out of an unwanted circumstance, is part of our cultural DNA. Don’t like where something is headed…? Kill whatever’s in the way. We even use guns against our own bad days — 52% of suicides come with bullet holes.

This isn’t going to end anytime soon because we accept it with open arms. As soon as were done complaining and sending thoughts and prayers, we binge watch the next violent television series, with liberty in killing for all. We do far too little — almost nothing to discourage our children from the enjoyment of killing and guns as a form of entertainment. 

As long as our mass shootings remain in the single digits, double digits, and triple digits, we’re going to be cool with it. Want to get America to pay attention to our acceptance of killing culture…? It’ll take thousands of people going down in just a few seconds. Even then, the so-called conservatives in Congress would defend every aspect of gun and killing culture. Forgetting, of course, that the word conservative comes from conserve — to use sparingly, to act sparingly, to allow sparingly. 

I’m certainly not the first person to point any of this out. This is the first time though, I’ve been willing to share my deepest feelings on what’s going on. 

Gun culture and killing will be part of the American story so long as we, the authors, keep writing it. We cling to guns and killing, above all, because they were the midwife to our birth.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Post Script: 

I’ve been sitting with these thoughts for a while — keeping them to myself for fear of offending friends and associates. 

In December 1993, my wife, my three-year-old daughter, and I had lunch at a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora Colorado. The following evening a man entered the building and shot four people, all employees. Though the killings took place was after hours, I had been in that room with my three-year-old the day before.

Six years later I was in San Diego, looking to purchase a house. My wife and then nine-year-old daughter stayed behind in Littleton Colorado — home of Columbine High School, to pack up and sell our home there. I was driving down Interstate-8 in San Diego when the announcer on NPR broke the story of the Columbine shooting. I was shaking and crying so uncontrollably, I had to pull off to the side of the road and gather my emotions before calling home.

Last month in Boulder Colorado, in the King Soopers grocery store where 10 people were shot and killed, I knew people who were in there that day. That was my community once upon a time. 

I’ve trained with guns for military and law enforcement purposes. I grew up with BB guns, learned to shoot .22s in Boy Scouts, and qualified on several pieces during my time in the military.

My statement above is more about the fact that, in popular culture, historic and contemporary, guns, killing, and entertainment are intertwined. The influence of guns and killing in popular culture has contributed to the increase of mass shootings, beyond any doubt, and has been studied and documented for decades.

I don’t see guns as being evil. I would like to see gun use and safety taught at the high school level, and students given PE credit for the class. Put a real gun in the hands of a 14-year-old, and he or she is far more likely to respect its power than somebody who’s 23 and holding one for the very first time.

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 186

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 10,620

Seat Time: 12 hours 13 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 Jeff Beck And The Big Town Playboys. Enjoy…!