Three-Minute Scripture…

At least half of my thoughts while riding center around music — song lyrics in particular. Most often, lyrics show up in fragments. Though the whole of the song is always present, it’s those well-turned phrases that capture my thoughts and guide my moral sensibilities. A good lyric can remind me who I should aspire to be. It might also, by comparison, remind me who I don’t want to be, and which roads to avoid.

Lou Reed famously referred to a well-crafted song as the “three-minute novel”. Indeed. I’d extend that though, to suggest a well-crafted song lyric can be three-minute scripture.

When I was 16, I walked into the bathroom of a recreation center where I’d been exercising. On the gray concrete wall, just above the paper towel dispenser and written in crayon, were these words…

“And the men who hold high places

Must be the ones to start

To mold a new reality

Closer to the heart…”

It’s a verse from the song Closer To The Heart, by the Canadian band Rush. I’d heard the song dozens of times, and the album had actually been on my turntable the day prior. There was something about reading those words that day, that changed the way I think about lyrics.

That’s when I began regularly reading song lyrics from the album liner notes, to better understand them, as I listened to the corresponding songs simultaneously. It was also the day I realized lyrics offered me more than the Torah ever had. 

There have been dozens — maybe hundreds of formative moments in my life, just like that one, which have resulted from reading and re-reading lyrics while listening to music. On or off my bike, I don’t go more than 15-minutes without a formative lyric showing up in my head, usually getting my full attention. 

I often tell the story of sitting on a seawall in Oceanside California in the months after my divorce. With earbuds in and facing the spit blowing of the tops of waves, I listened to music by the band The Call, while simultaneously reading the printed lyrics of their songs. Those were religious services to me, every bit as much as listening to Rabbi Krantzler was on Friday nights in the 1970s. Listening to those songs, reading those lyrics, and staring into the sea humbled me and helped me come to terms with some bad choices in my life. 

Another lyric that stays with me daily is from the band Social Distortion. Reading the lyric regularly, while listening to the song Ball And Chain, has given me strength, over and over again, to stay away from alcohol — when nothing else I tried ever could.

And those formative lyrics — those fragments of moral philosophy which come and go in my head all day long, every one has been as impactful on me as any religious scripture ever has. In a very real sense, song lyrics have been the religious scripture that’s most shaped me. 

I know people will make the argument that there’s some pretty bad lyrics out there too. Pick any page though, in the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the Qur’an, and you’ll find some pretty bad lyrics there as well.

In my life, good lyrics have been the fingerprints of God. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 201

Climbing: 8,750’

Mph Avg: 15.7

Calories: 11,481

Seat Time: 12 hours 43 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 Call Enjoy…

Crib Death, Redux…

Every so often I’ll be pedaling down the road and look up to see a mid-70s Chevrolet Vega. It’s a treat, since there aren’t too many out there. When I saw one the other day I began thinking about Crib Death. Honestly, there’s hardly a week go by that I don’t think about Crib Death. Crib Death brings back so many memories — wonderful memories of my restless adolescence. The Crib Death I speak of though, is the name of a car, not the unexplained medical condition that occurs with human infants.

In February of 1979 I was 17-years-old. I worked full-time as a sandwich maker at The Bagel Delicatessen in Denver. After the sudden passing of my ‘67 Ford Falcon, I needed another car to get me to and from work. I had a budget of $400 — cash I had saved in a hollowed out copy of Treasure Island. 

Scanning the classifieds in the Rocky Mountain News, one of the first cars I saw was a 1974 Chevy Vega panel wagon — for $400. Bingo. I knew Vegas had a reputation as oil burners because they had aluminum engine blocks, but the $400 price tag made it the perfect car for me. I had a friend drive me across town to take a look at it. 

A panel wagon is a compact station wagon, but with no seats in back, just a flat bed. The rear/side windows were covered over with aluminum panels. It was essentially a small truck with an enclosed bed — the type of vehicle a plumber, carpenter, or electrician might use.

I lifted the hood, opened the doors, and sat in the driver’s seat where I was captivated by the underdash Pioneer stereo. Four corresponding speakers were mounted throughout the car. That stereo was all I needed to confirm my decision. Without even bargaining, I agreed to buy the car. I taught myself to drive the 4-speed stick shift on my way home. Drab green in color, and with two bucket seats upfront, this would be my car for the next four years. 

So where did the name Crib Death come from…? My friend Jeff, who took me to look at the car that day, remarked that it looked like a hearse for little kids. I can’t remember which one of us came up with Crib Death, probably Jeff, but it stuck. And from day one, that car was known as Crib Death, by friends and family alike.

The Vega’s reputation as oil burners was well deserved. From the beginning I kept a one-gallon container of motor oil in the back of the car at all times. About every 500 to 600 miles or when the smoke from the tail pipe got blue enough, I’d stop and put in a quart of that oil.

Crib Death was a road trip warrior for my friends and I. Having no seats in back, but just the flat bed, it was  like a tiny motorhome. If I got too tired to drive, I’d just pull off at a rest stop and crash in the back. If I was driving with friends, we’d rotate taking turns napping in back while the other drove. 

In its time with me, Crib Death made trips into Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kanas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada, and Arizona. All, without a major repair needed — just a lot of motor oil.

I wasn’t big on maintenance beyond the tires, brakes, and the engine. In four years, I might have washed that car just two or three times. When the windshield wiper motor went out in 1982, rather than replace it, I cut a piece of wood to the length of a wiper blade, wrapped it in plastic, and glued a squeegee strip along the bottom. If it rained, I’d open the driver’s side window and every few seconds sweep the water away with my handmade windshield wiper. When I drove my girlfriend home from college for the first time, and it began snowing as we ascended Vail Pass, she was mortified to learn this is how I kept my windshield clear during snow storms. It was a cold ride home. 

During a midnight run to Taco Bell one evening with a group of friends, as we loitered in the parking lot telling jokes and stuffing Enchiritos down our throats, somebody used taco sauce packets to write Crib Death on one of the green side panels. Since I never washed my car, the acid in the taco sauce ate through the paint over time and my car had been permanently branded with the words Crib Death.

When I reflect on all the cars I’ve owned, Crib Death wasn’t the best — not the fastest, the prettiest, or even the most dependable. To this day though, it remains my favorite car. Every so often I look online to see if I can find a ‘74 Vega Panel Wagon. They are few and far between, and I have yet to see one for sale in Southern California. If I ever find one though, and it’s proximate enough to be feasible, I’ll buy it in an instant.

Owning Crib Death also cultivated one hard and fast sensibility which remains with me to this day — that I’ll never buy a car I can’t pay cash for and also sleep in. I think that’s a good way to be.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 169

Climbing: 6,750’

Mph Avg: 14.8

Calories: 9,509

Seat Time: 11 hours 21 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 Willy DeVille Enjoy…

Painting With Words…

I’ve been chewing lately on creativity — of where mine fits into my life and what get lost when I over-prioritize it. Something I’m coming to terms with is that my creative impulses increasingly consume me. 

I have this compulsion to write, though the story is never primary. However compelling or impactful a thought might be, it’s secondary to forging it into something larger. Choosing and arranging the words to grow the story is what fulfills me. I enjoy selecting words and placing them into a story like a painter might place colors onto a canvas. 

A little more of this — a little less of that. I might rearrange a sentence a half-dozen times before I get it just right. I’ll place a paragraph higher or lower in the story, depending on how it all unfolds. I never know if a word, a sentence, or a paragraph will make it into the end product — until there is an end product. As choppy as all of that sounds, there’s usually a flow to it.

Writing, much of the time, is like swimming the breaststroke in warm calm water — its a gentle pleasure. Other times, it can be like swimming the backstroke upstream with one arm tied behind my back and a tennis ball stuck in my mouth. That usually means I’m trying to force something though, and it’s time to step away. Most writing sessions are more breaststroke than upstream backstroke.  

Turning little thoughts into bigger stories is always on my mind. It’s gotten to where I don’t seek or enjoy simple amusement anymore. Writing itself has become my primary form of entertainment.

I do make time for television in the form of online lectures, interviews, and documentaries, but I interrupt them frequently to pick up my phone and dictate. It might be an idea for something new, a change I wish to make to an essay in the works, or just a phrase that strikes me from nowhere that I want to store and save for later. I often wonder if this is healthy.

It seems like I should be able to enjoy a movie or go for a walk without needing to work through a thought and speak it into my phone. When I walk my dog, I write. When I drive, I write. When I watch television, I write. When I lay in bed, I write. The only time I don’t write, in the physical sense, is when I’m on my bike, and then I’m writing up a storm in my head, in hopes I can remember it to be written down later.  

I’ve never been someone who needs to document and expand on every thought that crosses my mind — just the ones that matter. Seems lately though, more of my thoughts do matter. Or maybe that’s just my rationalization to justify me painting with words — every chance I get.

This blog is a journal — a place where my thoughts can be stored, shared, and resurrected long after I’m gone. It’s a digital headstone stating that, in my mind, I was here and that I mattered. 

This quote caught my eye recently, by Seth Godin…

“Even if no one but you reads it, the blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts…”

The creator gods were working hard the day I read that in Seth’s column. Just a few hours earlier I had renewed my domain name and my web host for two more years. I guess I’ll just keep writing, and see if anything comes of it.

This is what I think about when I ride…Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 191

Climbing: 7,900’

Mph Avg: 14.8

Calories: 10,873

Seat Time: 12 hours 56 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 Soul Rebels. Enjoy…

20 + 20 For 2020…

I’ve been told that I’m long-winded. Verbose. I use a lot of words. I say too much. I over write. I can’t even write my name in less than 360 words. I never met a superlative I didn’t use immediately. I’m only happy when I’m heard. Totally.

That said, I’m going to leave words behind this week, and share my 20 favorite pictures from the trail in 2020, along with my 20 favorite bike pictures from 2020. I want to start the New Year with a big thank you to everyone who has supported this platform. Words can’t express…

My 20 favorite pictures from the trail…

My 20 favorite bicycle pictures…

To all who have supported this, thank you…! May 2021 find you riding toward your own adventures, regardless of your vehicle.

You are who I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me this year. 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 Eskimo Joe.   Enjoy…

Ten Truths Of 10,000 Miles…

Tomorrow afternoon I’m going to ride across the 10,000 mile mark in a calendar year for the first time. For context, the world record for cycling mileage in a year is 86,000 miles, set by Amanda Coker in 2017. Still, I’m proud of my 10,000 mile effort.  

Chances are you know a handful of people who have run marathons. Chances are also, you don’t know anyone who’s ridden a bike 10,000 miles in a calendar year. Although I don’t plan to match this effort in 2021, if retirement and I meet at a reasonable age, I would like to try for 15,000 miles in a year. That remains to be seen.  

To to close out my blogging year, I thought it would be fun to share 10 truths of my 10,000 miles in 2020. I hope you enjoy it. 

Truth 1: COVID-19

Although 10,000 miles in a calendar year has been on my radar since 2016, the COVID-19 pandemic gave me some wiggle room. I didn’t change my riding habits due to the pandemic, but it did force me to scale back my work schedule. Working less provided me with more time to prep for rides and to recover from them. The ability to nap more frequently contributed to achieving this goal. 

Truth 2: Nocturnal Calories 

From a metabolic perspective, my rides usually caught up with me 10 to 15 hours after completion. It wasn’t unusual for me to wakeup during my sleep and consume upwards of 1,500 calories, usually in-between midnight and 3am. Most often it was sleeves of Saltine crackers, tablespoons of peanut butter, and sugary candies like jellybeans, gummy bears, and candy orange slices.

And tortillas — I often woke up at 2am, ate an entire bag of flour tortillas, and went right back to sleep.

Truth 3: My 2-Wheeled Children 

I wouldn’t have achieved this without a variety of bikes to ride. When the calendar year began, I owned 14 bikes. The ‘stable’ as I call it, now contains 16. I had the option of riding a different bike every day for two weeks. This was significant.

Each bike has a different geometry, placing my body in different riding postures and positions. Each bike also has its unique characteristics for riding in different conditions, on different surfaces, and each brings a different feel to every ride. Combining different bikes with varied routes kept it fresh from day-to-day. 

Truth 4: Goodbye Muscle Mass

The only negative in pursuing this achievement was my inability to put good effort into my strength training workouts. For 46 years, recreational bodybuilding has been the methadone of my existence. This year it had to take a back seat. In truth, I was never able to reconcile the internal struggle which prioritized cycling over lifting. At times, it tore me apart. 

Still, I got into the weight room 3 to 4 times a week, but my output was a fraction of what it’s been in recent years, and my body suffered noticeable losses in muscle mass and strength. As I scale back my mileage in 2021, I intend to reprioritize the weight room. 

Truth 5: Chip On My Shoulder

I rode over 350 times in 2020, missing just a handful of days. Each ride averaged 28.5 miles. I rode in the rain, the cold, after sleepless nights, on days when I was in a foul mood, and very often I rode after dark on a well-lit bike. 

The rides I’ll member most though, were the rides in the rain, in the cold, after sleepless nights, in the dark, and when I was in a foul mood. I’ll remember them because to go out in those conditions means I had something to prove. 

I grew up surrounded by people who doubted me. Teachers, friends, employers, and even family members often expected the worst for me, or expected nothing at all. I invited those low expectations by bring a screwup for much of my youth, but that ain’t me no more.

Perhaps because of that, when I set out to do something today, I make sure it gets done — and I make sure anyone who ever doubted me about anything knows about it.

Truth 6: Time Not Effort

If somebody is in reasonable cycling condition, riding 28.5 miles daily isn’t a big deal. Although I had a handful of difficult rides during the year, those were mostly the result of heavy winds, lack of sleep, or just being mentally rushed to get it done and get back to work.

The most challenging aspect of riding 10,000 miles was managing the time to get it in daily. Each ride takes roughly 2 hours. Beyond that, there’s the preparation of the bike, my clothing, and my back bag — I pack it differently each day, according to the bike I take and the weather conditions. My 2 hour rides were roughly a 2 and 1/2 hour chunk out of each day.

Truth 7: I’m Still Fat

You’d think a guy who rides a bike 28.5 miles nearly every day and still finds the weight room a few nights a week would be reasonably lean. I’m not pushing maximum density, but you wouldn’t want to see me with my shirt off — it’s not a sight for kids.

In hindsight, I rationalized that I could get away with eating a lot of empty calories since I was riding daily — a bite of this here and there, an extra spoonful (or 6) of peanut butter at night, and the occasional box of vanilla wafers add up. If I had cut my nighttime calories in half, I probably would’ve leaned-out more.

Truth 8: I Now Own Tools

I never set out to be a good bike mechanic, and I’m still not. That said, I knew if I was going to do this, I’d have to take ownership of all my repairs since the nearest bike shop is 25 away. With the help of instructional videos on YouTube, The Global Cycling Network in particular, and a little more patience than what I inherited from my father, I managed to make every repair needed in 2020.

Truth 9: Pushed By Ignorance And Hatred

For as much as I was running toward the goal of 10,000 miles in a calendar year, I was also running away from something — people, or maybe just the worst traits of some people. 

A few years back I created the hashtag #keepsmefromkillingpeople on Instagram and WordPress. The fact that I created it, underscores my frustration with so much of the ignorance and hatred being pushed by so many in the social media era. 

Deep in the rhythm of my ride, and as my thoughts turn past memories of people and places that have touched me, I’m able to let go of the ignorance and hatred that pelts me daily. 

Truth 10: Just My ‘Magination

I don’t read fiction — there’s plenty of it already in my head. Each day a friend, a celebrity I’ve never met, a significant figure from history, or even my dad rides beside me. I just imagined them on another bike to my left. We make small talk. We solve the problems of the world. We discuss physics, fitness, or write poetry and songs. There’s even been conversations about forgiving Bill Buckner. 

There’s a dozen or more people who pop in and out of my head in a week of riding. Most of them are people I have interactions with in everyday life, either in person or on social media. Sometimes, those imaginary conversations are the most meaningful ones I have.

Many will remember 2020 as a year of negativity — of social corrosion and political division, global pandemic notwithstanding. I don’t want to minimize the tragedy of the pandemic or any damage to our political and social structures. When I’m 90 years old though, and can’t remember my middle name, I’ll remember that in 2020 I rode a bike 10,000 miles. Beyond that, I’ll remember that I had more fun doing this than any other physical pursuit — and I actually achieved it. In a lot of ways, 2020 was the best year of my life — so far.

This is what I think about when I ride…

This Year By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 16

Flat Tires: 27

Seat time : 656 hours 50 minutes 

Climbing: 430,000’

Average Speed: 15.1

Calories Burned: 565,000

Raviolis:706

Total Miles: 10,008 

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me this year. 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 Style Council — of course.   Enjoy…

Earth, Wind & Fiyah…

Yesterday began for me at 12:52am. That’s when I received the first of three mandatory evacuation notices, via text message, from San Diego County. A fire, fueled by dry air and heavy winds, was burning just a few miles away.

I stood in my front yard and looked west. The horizon had an orange glow from north to south. Above the glow billowed gray smoke which was back-lit by the flames. The whole scene looked like a Hollywood soundstage.

The wind was blowing the fire away from town though. The wind charts on Weather Underground showed no expected change for at least 12-hours. I made the decision not to evacuate, but going back to bed wasn’t an option. The fire-line appeared to run the length of the border between the town of Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton.

I’d spend the next 6-hours looking out my window while toggling back and forth between the social media pages of several local fire authorities and a couple weather websites. During this time the fire grew from a few dozen acres to 3,100. At no time did I feel the town was in danger.

At 2:00pm, I was confident the fire was well enough contained that I put my wheels on the road, despite not getting any sleep. The wind had died completely, the sky was overcast, and it was 65°. All was good.

I’d been on the road just a few miles when ‘overcast’ morphed into pouring rain. Not really sure how that happened since rain wasn’t in the forecast. Fire can create its own weather though, or sometimes just re-organize what mother nature had intended. The rain lasted long enough to soak me to the core, and immediately gave way to falling ash from the fire — which stuck to my wet clothing like feathers to tar.

After the rain, the wind came back with a vengeance. All the while, I was riding toward the fire so I could see if it shifted. The wind riding home was the worst I’ve experienced since I left Boulder County in 2015. For the first time in 5-years, I rode a 5-mile split in single digits — 9 mph. I was grinding on flat ground.

As I transitioned a three-way intersection in Bonsall, I experienced something else for the first time in years — I was struck in the shoulder by Tumbleweed. That sounds harmless and even a bit funny, but the last time it happened, it knocked me off my bike and into a ditch. I stayed on my bike this time, but decided to stop and photograph the tumbleweed.

With the sky clearing again and the wind dying, I thought the worst of it was over. And just like that, the wind rain returned — just in time for my 7-mile climb back into town. My green jersey and shorts were gray with soggy ash.

The setting sun was eclipsed by storm clouds and smoke from the fire. It looked like a scene from a Cecil B DeMille film. I knew my average speed for the ride was was going to be crap. I didn’t care. In fact, I wasn’t even put off by any aspect of the experience. I rather enjoyed it all.

It was Christmas Eve. I had ridden through rain, heavy wind, falling ash, toward fire, and was hit by a tumbleweed. It occurred to me that a lot of people were home laid out on the sofa — drinking eggnog, eating cheese logs, watching television, and making smalltalk they wished they could get out of. I was doing I wanted to do — what I would rather be doing than anything. The smote failed. The ride continued. It was a holiday miracle.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer
28 miles
1,200’ climbing
14.6 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Tell Me That You Love Me, by Eric Clapton

Always On My Mind…

The thoughts begin in my driveway as I’m about to head out each day — that the very act riding this bike increases my odds of dying too soon. 

I check my brakes, my tires, and make sure everything on the bike is solid. I pause for a moment and remind myself to be careful. I think of loved ones. 

Going out this past Wednesday, I knew I’d be riding directly over the spot where a cyclist was hit and killed by a truck the day prior. It was like paddling into a wave the day after somebody got bit by a shark — something I’ve also done.

As I rode past the scene of Tuesday’s fatal accident, I couldn’t help but think that a man actually died there just 24-hours before. It didn’t help, knowing the man who was killed and I were the same age. 

I wondered if he was one of the local cyclists I see regularly. He and I might have exchanged waves or nods as we passed one another going in opposite directions.

I wondered if he saw it coming.

I wondered how severe his pain was during the impact.

I wondered how quickly he died.

I wondered what his life would have been had he survived — what injuries or disabilities he might have have lived with. 

I wondered who’s mourning for him.

I wondered how his loved ones and friends will carry on.

I think about the driver of the commercial truck who struck him — I wondered how his life will be impacted, ongoing, as well as his loved ones. The newspaper said he tested positive for “a drug“.  

And of course in all of these things, I wondered what if it had been me who was hit. 

I wondered how well I would do as a paraplegic, a quadriplegic, or what my life would be like living in a head injury center.

I wondered about spending prolonged time in a coma, being kept alive by tubes snaked up my nose and needles in my arms while family members argued about whether or not to pull the plug.

I wondered if there’s a life beyond this life. 

I wondered about how my loved ones and friends would carry on if it had been me.

If I’m being honest, I also wondered if I would’ve just walked away. I kind of have that history.

I thought of cycling friends who’ve been been hit by cars through the years. Some have fared better than others in their recovery. For a few, their injuries and pains will be with them for the rest of their lives.

To ride a bike on a well-traveled road, and to do so regularly, is to confront the prospect of death each time I go out. It can’t be ignored and it’s not anything I take lightly. 

To survive each ride intact requires planning, concentration, attention to detail, and that I respect the conditions and the possibilities which surround me. Those possibilities are vast. And this week, for the first time, I seriously considered giving this up.

For an 8-mile stretch on Highway 76, just after I passed the site of Tuesday’s fatal accident, every time a car passed me at a high rate of speed I cringed, ducked my head, and drew my shoulders in. It was maddening. At one point, I thought about stopping, throwing my bike into the scrub, and hitching a ride home. I really thought about doing that.

On the final stretch of the ride though, heading back into Fallbrook, I began to feel like me again — at peace. Not confident, not invincible, but feeling like that’s where I should be and that’s what I should be doing. 

In the movie, Riding Giants, there’s a scene with big wave surfer, Grant Washburn. He talks about going into the water for the first time after legendary surfer Mark Foo died on a wave at Mavericks — a surf break near Half Moon Bay. After Washburn caught his first wave in the days following Foo’s death, he said he knew he was home — he was in the right place doing what he needed to do to be himself.

This is what I think about when I ride…Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 174

Climbing: 7,400’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9’921

Seat Time: 11 hours 08 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 Christmas classic from Paul Kelly  Enjoy…

Chicagovich…

Bumping through YouTube last week, I stumbled upon a split-screen music video of a band covering Chicago’s song, Just You ‘N’ Me. I almost scrolled past it, but for whatever reason, I pushed play. Within a few seconds I could see the precision with the musicianship and hear the quality of the recording. It was perfectly in-sync with the original.

After watching the video a second time, I jumped into the rabbit hole to follow the band further. I found more covers of Chicago songs. Nearly three hours after watching the first video, I knew I had to turn my light out — my workday lay just a few hours ahead of me.  

When I woke up the following morning though, it was all I could think about. With a cup of coffee beside me and a glow in the fireplace, I went further down that rabbit hole. The group, Leonid And Friends, is a musical project from Russia, lead by Leonid Vorobyev, a former choir director, recording engineer, music producer, and bassist. 

In-between watching videos of their musical performances, I found several interviews with Vorobyev, who speaks excellent English. The project began in 2014, when Vorobyev retired from his music career at age 60. As a gift to himself prior to retirement, Vorobyev wanted to cover and record Chicago’s song, Brand New Love Affair. With the music being unavailable online, he painstakingly transcribed the music and the drum tablature, note for note, by ear.  

When he had that and a couple more songs ready to record, he called in favors from skilled musicians he worked through his years as a recording engineer and producer. Most were from Russia and a couple from nearby former Soviet republics. In addition to recording the songs, Vorobyev also video’d the recording process. It didn’t take long before they were a YouTube sensation, with thousands of followers. 

With that success, Virobyev’s new goal was to record covers of Chicago songs, with the intention of playing them live someday, with the same precision and musicianship the original band used in the studio. I have no problem saying I think he exceeded that goal.

In 2019 they did three tours of the United States, selling out most dates in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. In Covid times, they’re still recording, branching out to cover songs from Earth, Wind & Fire as well as The Ides Of March, and Blood, Sweat & Tears. They have an active Facebook page and website where they will announce future tour dates, and also sell merchandise including a CD of Chicago covers, appropriately titled Chicagovich. My Leonid And Friends t-shirt and CD should be here by Christmas.  

Lastly, If you’re not a fan of Chicago, I get it, that’s cool. But if you’re a fan of music — or of anything good that might make you smile, you might want to check this out. This is one of the best musical projects I’ve seen in years. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Coleman Laimbeer Sanders

28 miles

1,200’ climbing

14.5 mph avg

1,600 calories

Yesterday’s earworm: Old Days (Chicago cover), by Leonid And Friends 

Something To Talk About…

What’s the use of having a thought if I can’t share it…?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had something to say and felt what I have to say is worth listening to. That’s why blogging has been a perfect outlet for me. Blogging isn’t just a platform where I can share my thoughts on the world around me, uninterrupted, but it’s a place to tell my own story.

Two years ago today I began this blog, my third since 2002. Since then I’ve shared my unqualified, uneducated and unsolicited opinion on everything from religion, diplomacy, philosophy, the arts, and the moral progress of man, all from the perspective of a guy on a bike speeding away from his daily problems.

In each post over the last couple of years, I’ve tried to include my own story. I’ve done this by superimposing the world around me onto the world within me, correlating the two worlds, and sending it out in essay form. I don’t always get it right when explaining the world around me, but I do my best to truthful about my own story.

What I appreciate most about blogging is that it’s a permanent digital archive of my thoughts — of who I am. My writing is a place where I can still be found long after I’m gone, that may serve to answer any questions about me by family, my friends, or whoever might be interested. 

I’m not a professional writer, a journalist, or even an essayist. I’m a storyteller who, in many ways, is full of himself.  Who else but an egomaniac would write something every week and hope deep down that everyone on earth would read it…? I framed it this way once before and I think it’s a good way to close out today…

You go to somebody’s backyard barbecue and there’s a band there. You hear the guitar player in the band and you think he plays better than Duane Allman. You return home after the barbecue and you put on an Allman Brothers album. It takes just a couple seconds before you realize that the guy playing at the barbecue was pretty good for being in a garage band, but he’s no Duane Allman.

I am a garage band of a writer. 

I don’t have much. I don’t own a home. The car I drive is a piece of junk. My retirement plan is to work part-time washing dishes at Denny’s. But what I do have is the friendships that I value so much, and this creative outlet that has served me so well.

Writing, riding, and taking pictures have become the methadone of my existence. Individually, they’ve each been a part of my life for years. When I combined them into essay form, I feel like I own of something of value for the very first time. 

To everyone who’s followed along these last couple of years, thank you…!

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 204

Climbing: 8,700’

Mph Avg: 15.2

Calories: 11,607

Seat Time: 13 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 Roger Hodgson.  Enjoy…

Please Believe…

Please believe. Please. 

If you don’t believe, I’m talking to you. 

I’m not trying to argue with you, just hoping my words might make a difference.

If you don’t believe, I’m asking you to consider believing, even if it’s uncomfortable.  

Nobody wanted this to happen, and certainly nobody asked for it.

But people are dying, every minute. 

Every minute. 

Ignoring this is the easy. 

Denying it requires no effort. None. 

Consideration of facts can be challenging.  It takes work to accept that difficult circumstances and unthinkable tragedy might be real.  

It takes thought, and even some fortitude to do what’s necessary, not just what’s best for ourselves and those we know, but especially for the many many more people we don’t know.

We are all interconnected.

Ignoring or denying facts won’t make them go away. It may actually keep them here longer. Ignoring and denying will make things worse. 

It’s already made things worse.  Irony. 

So why am I asking you to listen to me, when I know as I write this you probably won’t…? You might even be mocking me or rolling your eyes.

Because I’m just asking, and I’m asking sincerely — with the best of intentions, just to be heard.

My father gave me a lot of tools to use in constructing a life for myself. The best tool he gave me, and the one I get the most use out of, is the bullshit detector. I can smell agenda, false narratives, and manipulation of facts before they come around the corner.

Like millions of others, I’ll spend the holidays mostly alone. I won’t be with my daughter and her mother at Christmas, and our holiday tradition of our daughter making Pastitsio for dinner will be postponed. Not robbed, not stolen, and not taken away from us, but postponed. 

Postponed is a small price. 

I’m disappointed with all of this — I’m disappointed with the loneliness, the loss of life, the inconveniences, and even the lost income, but I’m not mad. And do you know who I blame…? Nobody. 

I blame nobody.  

I don’t believe it’s a hoax, this pandemic. I don’t believe that deaths are exaggerated, and I don’t believe any conspiracy theories, however convenient they might be. 

I believe that masks do work, especially when used properly.

I believe that being as distant as possible from those proximate to us, especially when indoors, also works. 

I don’t believe this should be a political discussion, or a conversation that comes loaded with judgment before it even begins.

I do believe in mass hysteria — I do, but I don’t think it’s possible at this scale. No way. There are too many circuit breakers along the way. Claiming “mass hysteria” is the first evolutionary step in transforming one’s self into a denier.

I believe in the incredible science behind vaccines, and in the safety of them. I will take one without thinking twice. Without vaccines, the world we live in — the very structure of our societies, would be corroded and weaker. 

Please believe. Please. 

If you don’t currently believe, please consider believing — or trying to believe. I’ll genuinely appreciate that.

If you don’t believe, and you took time to read this anyway, thank you.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 178

Climbing: 7,500’

Mph Avg: 15.9

Calories: 10,241

Seat Time: 11 hours 12 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 Ry Cooder.  Enjoy…