A Missed LaChance…

With the police being so much in the news lately, my riding-mind has been revisiting a slice of my life from 35 years ago. In my early 20s, before enlisting in the United States Coast Guard, but after my time working with Nautilus Fitness Centers, I applied to a four-year law enforcement program at Mesa College (now Colorado Mesa University) in Grand Junction Colorado. The year I applied was the inaugural year of the program.

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It was a unique program for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was four-year law enforcement programs weren’t common in the early 1980s. It also stood out because the entire curriculum was to be taught by one man, a retired police Lieutenant and psychologist named Paul LaChance.

I’d made one trip to Grand Junction to meet LaChance prior to enrolling in the program. He spent an hour with me, we connected well, and I felt that I could count on him to help me through the program. As a reading challenged student, the ability to connect with his human side was important.

There were roughly a dozen students enrolled in the program, though at 21, I was the oldest in the group. Still, I was fearful I might not have the fortitude to stick it out for four years, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life teaching people how to do squats and lat-pulldowns.

On the first day of class I took my seat among the other students when a man entered the room and addressed the class. He had long hair, glasses, wore a sloppy suit, and began to speak…

He explained that LaChance, the man who was supposed to teach the program, had cut deep into one of his arms with a tablesaw a few days prior. He was hospitalized indefinitely. The man speaking was a local attorney and former police officer who agreed to cover for LaChance until his return. I honestly don’t remember his name.

What I do remember is that after the first few weeks of classes, I found myself unengaged and unable to receive his lectures. It didn’t help that he wasn’t available for assistance after classes due to the legal practice he also maintained. The assigned reading became more important since the substitute wasn’t as prepared as LaChance. I found the whole thing difficult to the point of exasperation.

One month in, we were told LaChance wouldn’t return until the following semester. The first semester would be  facilitated by the substitute. On learning this, I immediately quit attending classes, but didn’t officially drop out of school until the end of the semester — so I could continue living in the dorms rather than return home to get a job.

The following spring I enlisted in the United States Coast Guard thinking that, absent of any related degree, it would be a logical steppingstone to a law enforcement career. Anything, so I wouldn’t have to teach squats and lat-pulldowns for a living.

Simple twists of fate — we swim within them all day long. They surround us like parallel universes with on and off ramps that we continually traverse, but never actually see.

When I’m out there riding, hiding from the ills of the day, and when I’m pushing my body as both meditation and medication, I sometimes wonder what my life would have become had Mr. LaChance not cut into his arm with a tablesaw prior to the start of that program. Perhaps I would’ve completed the program and proceeded into a law enforcement career. Maybe not.

The events of this week have had me questioning how I would respond to peaceful protesters, and those not so peaceful. I’m short-tempered by nature, and well into my 30s I was aggressive, if not combative, with anyone who might have disagreed with me. In hindsight, it’s easy to see I wouldn’t have been a very good police officer, especially in matters of dealing with crowds, but probably in most other matters too.

Apparently fate got this one right. Each day, in-between teaching squats and lat-pulldown‘s, I get to ride my bike and take it all in. I landed where I’m supposed to be.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
194 miles
9,100’ climbing
14.6 mph avg
10,900 calories
13 hours 16 minutes seat time

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

Life Like Piecrust…

When I think of piecrust, I think of three women — my late mother-in-law, her daughter (my former wife), and our daughter. Each made incredible piecrust, the recipe passed down from the generations above. To this day, their piecrusts stand out from any others I’ve tasted.

I think about that all the time, but not in a way that necessarily causes me to crave pie. Rather, in a way that reminds me how to live. You see, those three women not only made excellent piecrust, but each has embodied the roles and characteristics of piecrust as they lived their lives.

Wait, what…?

Piecrust is the ultimate support system.

Though it has its own distinct flavor, piecrust isn’t and never tries to be the star of the show. Piecrust lays low and attempts to blend in. Despite its importance, piecrust would rather you remember the filling.

Piecrust has to be strong. By weight, piecrust is usually a fraction that which sit on top of it, but it must hold the whole thing together. If the piecrust fails, then there is no pie, only stew. In that sense, piecrust must have a strong back and a constant presence.

Piecrust is good with being anonymous. It doesn’t require its name to be on the marquee, it seeks only to be appreciated. When pie receives a complement, piecrust is satisfied and humbled, knowing it did its part.

Piecrust, good piecrust anyway, isn’t complicated. It consists of just a few basic ingredients. The key to good piecrust is assembling those ingredients properly and never in haste.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. In a world where so many people attempt to stand out, take credit, steal the show, and take more than they give, perhaps more of us could attempt to live like piecrust. It’s no coincidence that the three women I know who made the best piecrust I’ve ever had, also lived their lives like the piecrust they made.

Blend in.

Be strong.

Pursue appreciation, not stardom.

Be simple.

These are the characteristics that make good piecrust, and good people.

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

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 7
185 miles
9,200’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
10,500 calories
11 hours 59 minutes seat time

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

Something ‘Bout Inner Peace…

There’s much I want to say this week, but I don’t think anybody’s listening. People are busy now, looking through their 7-inch and 60-inch windows to the world.

Too many are occupied with making snap judgments, arguing, predicting the future, moralizing, pointing fingers, and shunning responsibility. All the while, ignoring options, taking their eyes off the ball, forgetting what matters, and failing to connect with those who do matter.

I’ll sit this one out this week. I have things to say, but I’ll save them for another day — when people might actually listen. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the week that was — my week that was. These have nothing to do with politics, the psychology of rioting, infectious disease, The wearing of masks, mass gatherings, mail-in ballots, wet markets, stock markets, or personal liberties.

These pictures I take each day, they are the opposite of hate, the opposite of fear, the opposite of rage, and the opposite of rubber bullets. These are the opposite of ignorance.

This is what I think about when I ride, when I sit, and when I walk… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
199 miles
9,800’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,300 calories
13 hours 00 minutes seat time

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

 

Speaking Of Priorities…

The priorities of culture should be fairly straightforward. If you’re not familiar with them, here they are in order — or the order in which roughly 1/3rd of the human population has them in…

1- Society as a collective — all people who inhabit the earth.

2- Communities within that global society — nations, states, counties, townships.

3- Work — what enables communities and societies to move upward and ahead.

4- Family — those persons we most value and are closest to, who give meaning and purpose to going to work.

5- Self — the smallest constituent of the engine of culture, that’s often corrupted by the illusion of autonomy.

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Governmental malfunctions and abuses of leadership notwithstanding, there’s a reason we aren’t seeing large profile movements in Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea) of disobedience, rebellion, and outright refusal to do what’s best in thwarting a global pandemic — the wearing of masks in public places as an example.

That reason is Confucianism — a system of priorities dating back roughly 2500 years, that is near the center of most Asian culture. In his book, The Religions Of Man (1958), Huston Smith writes…

“It’s said that every Chinese walks in Buddhist sandals, covers with a Taoist cloak, and wears a Confucian cap. They are all of these things, but not always all at once…“

In matters of taking precautions that benefit the whole of society, and doing what’s best to stop the spread of a disease, most of Asia today is showing it’s Confucian cap.

In his book, Confucius And The World He Created (2015), author Michael Schuman suggests South Korea is the most Confucian society in the modern world, as it relates to the priorities listed above. He suggests Japan is a close second. Whatever issues South Korea and Japan have had during this pandemic, civil disobedience in favor of self hasn’t been one of them.

The Declaration Of Independence (1776) gives us this phrase…

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…“

Uh oh.

I’ve seen that phrase cited repeatedly in recent weeks relating to matters of home confinement, the wearing of masks, and the curbing of our ability to gather and enjoy the fruits of our democracy. That phrase life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is at the core of our cultural DNA. I’m not opposed to that phrase, but I think it should be extended to read as follows…

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — so long as our priorities are in order.

Without that stipulation, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness above all things, has made America the drunken college frat boy of the modern world.

Some may read this and consider me un-American, unpatriotic, and even a malcontent. I suppose I’ve invited that criticism, though it’s misguided. I’m a veteran, a responsible citizen, and a person who will never put self above the whole of society. I think this is a good way to be, and I’ll argue that a successful outcome for mankind is dependent on it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
202 miles
9,100’ climbing
15.2 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 17 minutes seat time

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

Oh Daddy…

Global pandemic, domestic political upheaval, and bird attacks notwithstanding, it was a good week of riding. Last week also marked the 8th anniversary of my father’s passing.

I don’t think it’s possible for me to ride my bike for a couple hours each day without thinking about my dad. He’s always there — memories of moments, conversations, arguments, and the telling of bad jokes. As I pedal through the scenery and take it all in, I think of my dad throughout the different phases of his life and of our relationship. It’s no stretch to say that my dad sits on my shoulder on every single ride.

I didn’t begin to truly understand my father until it was too late — until after he passed away. And it’s only because of his passing that I began to take inventory of our relationship, and accept that I was as responsible for the stresses, strains, and gaps as he was.

I guess that’s a common thing with middle-aged men — to seek a better understanding of their fathers only after they’ve gone. When it became a one-way conversation, getting to know my dad better could be done without any arguing. In-turn though, I’ve had to hear to my own voice and absorb my own thoughts.

I often wonder what my dad would think of me now — of my compulsion toward ambling through the woods each taking pictures of little things. I wonder how he’d feel about the shtick I write and whether he’d enjoy it, or mark it up and send it back to me for correction. I wonder if he’d understand my reasons — my need to ride bikes each day. I wonder if he’d approve of the way I’m taking care of my mother, and how surprised he’d be that I’m still making a living doing what he thought I’d never make a go of.
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Through much of my adult life, especially after I was married and after I became a father myself, I avoided my dad. I called him minimally, visited him infrequently, and I never put forth the effort into connecting with him that he put in reaching out to me.

There was definitely love between us, respect, and appreciation. If I’m being honest though, I was a dick to my dad more often than not, standoffish, and aloof in his presence. In hindsight, I’m certain that hurt him deep down, but on the surface he never let it show. He probably recognized his younger self in me and loved me anyway.

When I’m out there, pedaling long stretches of these rural roads, and when the wind is to my back and I’m deep in the rhythm of my ride, I think about the man. I think about the moments, the arguments, and the jokes we shared — in good times and in bad.

I think about being able to say I love you to him one more time — something that didn’t come as easy for me as it did for him. Forever is a long time to regret not saying I love you enough.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
169 miles
8,100’ climbing
15.4 mph avg
9,600 calories
11 hours 0 minutes seat time

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

Two Seconds…

There was this moment on Thursday — I lay on my side in the westbound lane of Highway 76 looking east. It lasted just a couple of seconds. I had just thrown my bicycle across my body to get it out of the road so it wouldn’t get hit by a car. I saw no traffic headed my way and rolled quickly into the bike lane. I’ll remember the vision of that empty lane ahead of me for the rest of my life.

If you know me, you know I’ve been in that position a few times…

The parachute. The lightning strike. The Class IV rapids. The jetty. The bikes. The rattlesnake. Conversations through the years with medevac pilots, paramedics, ambulance drivers, and emergency room nurses and doctors have been near annual events. The joke in my family is that I don’t get an annual physical — I just get my blood work done while I’m in the emergency room each year.

When I woke yesterday I couldn’t put any pressure on my right leg — the pain was that bad. I hopped to the shower and went about my morning routine exclusively on my left leg. I was a 170 pound pogo stick with no recoil. I considered that the damage might be more severe than I’d been willing to admit to that point. I thought about the implications of needing surgery, and there would be many. For that moment, I was scared.

At 8am, after coffee, I forced myself to walk across my living room putting my right leg down. I said some bad words and made some funny faces with each stride. After that I went down the stationary bike in my studio and pedaled easy for five minutes. I was surprised how good that felt. From there, hard as it was, I walked twice around the perimeter of my house making sure I used my right leg with as normal a stride as I could muster.

I repeated that routine every two hours until bedtime. Otherwise I was seated on my sofa looking into the information rectangle in my left hand, only occasionally staring up at the information rectangle against the wall. Sitting on my sofa, I continually rolled my ankle in every possible direction, testing range of motion up to the point of pain, but not through the point of pain. All day though, I kept thinking about those two seconds laying in the traffic lane.

By day’s end I was confident that an x-ray wasn’t necessary, there would be no surgery in my future, and that it was just a sprain. There was still lots of pain, but I was able to take care of my mom, my pets, and equally confident I could return to work on Monday.

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Those two seconds though, I kept thinking about them and how different things might be if there had been cars headed my way. I received a few private messages and a handful of social media comments questioning whether it would be in my best interest to continue riding — suggesting I should consider giving it up.

I don’t really have a death wish, at least I don’t think I do. I’m a safe and intelligent cyclist. I don’t push boundaries, test limits, or take unnecessary risks. I ride because it helps me clear my head, helps stave off my depression, and because I find joy in the act.

I have no timetable as to when I’ll be back on the road, but I have no problem saying that sooner is better. I will only go back out though, when I’m 100% confident that my body won’t deceive me.

I’ll continue to think about those two seconds, as I regularly look back to similar experiences — the parachute, the rapids, the lightning bolt, and the rest. Sitting in that road though, looking up to see no cars headed my way, was both the most horrifying and the most beautiful of moments I’ve experienced in recent years, simultaneously.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Stationary
(6) 5-minute intervals
150 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Drunken Poet’s Dream, by Ray Wylie Hubbard

Flip The Bird…

The day couldn’t have started any better. Just after 5am my friend Tim, who lives in Steamboat Springs, texted me that he was in Oceanside — about 20 minutes away. He and his neighbor had driven through the night from Colorado to deliver a car to his neighbor’s son at Camp Pendleton. Since he was this close, Tim wanted to stop by Fallbrook and poach some lemons before he headed home. Poaching lemons is a tradition on our annual bike ride each spring. Due to the COVID-19 situation, we had to pass on the ride this year, so I was delighted to hear from him. I figured if we could poach lemons from a safe distance while wearing masks, I’m in.

Last year our victim was a cheap motel on Old Highway 395 just south of Fallbrook. There are six decorative lemon trees in the motel parking lot that are loaded this time of year. I believe we hauled about 40 pounds last year. We decided to meet there and continue the tradition, even if no bikes were involved. After an air high-five and some salutations from a 6-foot distance, he tossed me a bag and we began stealing lemons while in plain sight.

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I don’t think we were together for more than 15 minutes when we said goodbye and he and his neighbor headed back to Colorado. I couldn’t have been more stoked to get on my bike later in the morning. My intention was to ride by the the same lemon trees and photograph my bike in front of them. There was a strong onshore wind though, so I changed my route and bypassed the motel.

Riding west on Highway 76, a four-lane thoroughfare with a 55 mph speed limit, I was about to turn north onto Gird Road when I felt something tugging on the riding bag I wear on my back.

Wait, what…?

Something was tugging on my shoulder bag while I was traveling at 18 mph or so. I had looked over my shoulder moments earlier and seen no other cyclist in the lane behind me. What transpired next happened in less than 4-5 seconds…

With my left hand on the handlebars, I reached behind me to feel what was tugging on my back. I was shocked when I felt the wing of a bird, possibly a crow. Caught off-guard and a bit scared, I tried to brush the bird off of me when I lost control and came off my bike. My bike ended up in the middle of the righthand automobile lane, and I was beside it, just outside the bike lane.

In what probably took just a few seconds, I grabbed my bike with my left arm and flung it over my body into the bike lane. I rolled over quickly into the bike lane, looking uproad to see no oncoming traffic. I go to my feet and took inventory of the situation. I skinned my right knee, my right elbow, and felt a little pain with my right ankle. Shaking and a little bit flustered, I took a gulp of water and quietly assured myself that I was okay. This could have been so much worse, I thought.

I had roughly 10 miles remaining to return home. I rode at a standard pace, and felt little of my ankle or knee as I pedaled. I was delighted that I felt so good and was already planning tomorrow’s route while riding home.

I had a single session from 1:30 to 2:30 in my fitness studio and got through that okay. I was hobbling a little bit more by the end of the session, but still thinking I dodged a bullet. Shortly after my client left, my ankle and knee began swelling and the pain was increasing. I realized then that it was adrenaline that got me through the last 10 miles of my ride as well as my appointment. That adrenaline was starting to wear off.

Over the next hour the pain became unbearable and my ankle and knee continued to swell. By 4pm I wasn’t able to put any stress on the leg at all, and was hopping through the house on my left leg.

With a little elevation and some acetaminophen, the pain diminished some and the swelling dropped a bit. I gave a cursory test that I would apply to any injured athlete, and deemed my ankle sprained, but with nothing broken and ligaments intact.

Now it’s just a waiting game. I know I won’t be on a bike for at least a few days, and won’t even be able to walk my dog for a day or two. As I write this, roughly 20 hours have passed by since the accident. I’ll follow the course of active surveillance for the next 24 hours, testing range of motion often, applying heat, and acetaminophen for pain.

Because I felt so good even after the accident, I gave my ride an A+ in my workout journal. The only note I made in the journal was as follows…

“Attacked by bird. Came off bike. Bird and I never made eye contact…”

I’ve only missed four days of riding since January 1st, and haven’t missed two consecutive days since June of 2019.
I’m guessing 3 to 5 days on this, but we’ll see.

Yesterday morning I got to poach lemons with my friend Tim, and see him for the first time since our annual ride last year. A few hours later, a bird, probably looking for my ravioli, initiated my first accident in nearly three years. Lying in the automobile lane of Highway 76, and looking east to see no cars coming toward me, might have been the most glorious moment of my life. I’m just gonna take it all in for a few days, but I have a feeling I’ll be back out there again soon.

Lastly, for those who think this was another sign I should call it quits, I’ve been dealing with depression, idiopathic sadness, and suicidal thoughts since I was a child. Riding is good medicine for me. I have no intention of giving this up.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer
27 miles
1,200’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
1,500 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Will in’, by Little Feat

Toes In The Water..

I conducted my first one-on-one fitness session in nearly 2 months yesterday. Practicing the safest protocols, I’ll be doing one session per day this week, and 2 to 3 per day next week. I’m putting my toes back in the water slowly.

It may sound hyperbolic to suggest that a one-hour workday stressed me to the point of emotional exhaustion, but it did. I couldn’t get on my bike fast enough when it was through. How I conduct business, I learned during those 60-minutes, will be very different going forward. The session was awkward, both logistically and in conversation, but successful. I hope they’ll get easier over time.

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There will be ongoing conflicts in my head about what I could’ve done better, will anyone become impacted should I get lax or reckless with my cleaning responsibilities, and should I even be doing this as career anymore. I took one of my faster bikes yesterday, but I couldn’t outride any of those conflicts as they played out in my head.

In truth, a workday consisting of a single one-hour session wasn’t putting my toes slowly back into the water. It was more like surfing in an area known to have sharks, but also knowing very few surfers get killed by sharks. That would be a perfect metaphor had a California surfer not been killed by a shark two days ago. Or maybe it’s the perfect metaphor because of that.

Going back to work, for many people in varying fields, is going to feel like they’re swimming with sharks maybe, but also maybe not. Like me, none want to get bit — some will though, that’s certain.

To paraphrase the only shark movie that matters: I’m gonna need a bigger bike…

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
28 miles
1,400’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: The Pusher, by Steppenwolf

Unique Among Billions…

In 2003, I accompanied my daughter and her mother on an Alaska cruise. Our daughter was 13. One of the shore excursions we signed up for involved taking a helicopter to a glacier for a short hike. Her mother, not fond of flying, decided to stay behind. It would be just my daughter and I for the adventure.

Just after breakfast that morning, my daughter and I walked from the ship to the helipad, buckled ourselves in with four other passengers, and enjoyed the ride of our lives in-between jagged mountains, over striking canyons and crevasses, eventually landing on a mountain glacier near Skagway.

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The designated section of the glacier had been opened up for hiking only a few weeks before. The docent in charge pointed out the boundaries and made it clear we were not to go beyond them. After receiving our instructions, we were free to hike independently in the designated area for 30 minutes.

Almost immediately after we began walking, I nudged my daughter and guided us just beyond the designated boundary. For a moment, she and I stood in a spot that might have been previously untouched by human feet — at least not modern human feet. Back on the helicopter, I couldn’t but help feel a sense of profound individuality for standing on what might have been an untouched spot.

Depending on how you define human being, we have been around for roughly 500,000 years. In that time, approximately 100 billion of us have lived.

As a kid growing up in the era of Muhammad Ali, Evel Knievel, and Bruce Jenner, I always had the desire to do things nobody had ever done — or to be better at something than anyone else. Still, I never excelled at anything, despite my desire. I couldn’t sing worth a damn. I never made it past the local level in bodybuilding competition. I could be fast, but not that fast. I had many interests and a lot of passion, but not much discipline in my pursuits.
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A few weeks ago I ran out of Shot Bloks — an energy snack I eat at the midpoint of each bicycle ride. Out of Shot Bloks and looking for a substitute before a ride, I grabbed two frozen ravioli squares from the freezer, put them in a Ziploc bag, and placed them in the shoulder bag I ride with.

When I got to the halfway point of my ride at the Old Bonsall Bridge, I put one of the raviolis in my mouth, and as I reached for a water bottle, set the other ravioli on the seat of my bike for a moment. As I took a swig of water, I looked down to see a bicycle seat with a ravioli on it and I thought to myself… I’m probably the first person in human history to set a ravioli on a bicycle seat, so I photographed it.

I don’t know where it comes from, but my whole life I’ve lived with an innate need to be unique — to do something no person has ever done before, yet I’ve come up short for nearly 60 years. I’ll never run the fastest hundred meters on earth, I’ll never sing at the Grand Ole Opry, star in Hollywood movie, or win the Pulitzer Prize.

For the last couple of weeks though, I’ve been placing raviolis on my bicycle seats at the halfway point of each ride and photographing them against pretty backdrops. I can’t imagine anyone else, among the billions who’ve ever lived, has done this, but I could be wrong.

This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
201 miles
9,100’ climbing
15.6 mph avg
11,500 calories
12 hours 51 minutes seat time

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

A Shift In Exercise Plans…

Each day I see a few more bikes on the road. San Diego County has actually encouraged cycling, so long as social distancing guidelines are met. Bike shops, according to the county supervisors, are an essential business.

I’ve received multiple messages from friends requesting guidance in resurrecting the dust covered bikes hanging in their garage, or for seeking help with purchasing a new bike. I don’t think this is a temporary trend. I say that, not as a bicycle enthusiast, but as somebody who’s been in the fitness industry in various capacities for much of my life.

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Gyms and fitness centers will begin reopening soon. Many workout enthusiasts will return to their deeply embedded rituals, regardless of what consequences await them. They’ll be so glad to get back to their habit, that risking their lives will seem like a small price to pay.

Many gym members won’t return though. During the last 6 weeks, tens of thousands of people who thought they couldn’t live without the gym discovered that they can. Some took to running, some to home-based workouts, while others discovered hiking, backyard yoga, or participated online workouts.
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For those who do return to the gym, they’re going to find a very different place than they left behind. Many won’t find their experience as enjoyable as they once did and will walk away. People may not be comfortable wearing masks while doing indoor cardio or in group classes.

The suggested 6-foot space between members will have a major impact on square footage. Facilities will have to limit the number of persons allowed in at a time. Some members are sure to be frustrated from this, and will invest in home workout equipment or look for alternatives to the gym.

The emphasis on members cleaning up after themselves will dissuade more than a few from returning. The added payroll of personnel needed to clean up after the members who refuse to clean up after themselves will be reflected in membership dues.

I suspect monthly dues with most gyms will increase as annual membership contracts renew — this the result of a decline in membership volume for reasons previously mentioned.

For many, cycling won’t be on their radar as an alternative to the gym, but as they look for a physical release, that may change. Others are already curious — even if in a standoffish way. These are actual quotes from messages I received this week from friends interested in taking up cycling:

“It looks so dangerous…”

“I don’t want to get hit by a car…”

“Those seats are so uncomfortable…”

That they contacted me at all, suggests they’re considering cycling as a fitness option. That’s a beautiful thing. Cycling has the ability to fulfill the need for exercise, recreation, a family activity, and much like golf, it’s a perfect outlet for a physical release in the social distancing era.

Here’s a few random suggestions, not in any particular order, for those who are considering cycling as a form of recreation or exercise.

– Start slow. Like any form of exercise, ease into it. Start by riding just 2-3 miles a few times a week. If you enjoy it, add to it gradually.

– If you already have a bike, but haven’t been on it in a while, take it to a reputable bike shop or mechanic and have it looked over and tuned up. Basic tuneup’s generally run in the $70-$110 range.

– If you’re looking to purchase a new bike, and you’re not an experienced cyclist, you should probably spend less money than your local bike shop will encourage you to spend. An excellent rule when purchasing at a bike shop, is to ask them to recommend a bike for you. When they do, then ask what bike they would recommend for 50% of that price. That’s an excellent starting point.

– The weight of of bike can be important, especially for more advanced riders, but should not be a determining factor for a new rider when purchasing a new bike.

– There are many styles of bikes available: Road bikes with low handlebars and arrow dynamic geometry. Comfort bikes with upright handlebars and a more comfortable riding position. There are mountain bikes, gravel bikes, and beach cruisers. There are hybrid bikes which cover multiple bases. Before you think about purchasing a bike, think about the type of riding you may want to do — be honest with yourself. Bounce this off of friends and family members who know you well and ask for their honest feedback.

Cycling is going to experience a renaissance in the coming months. Bike lanes, gravel trails, parks, and boardwalks will experience traffic they haven’t seen in years. In time, some of that will taper off, but the net-positive gain will likely be permanent.

Gyms on the other hand, as I wrote in this blog post six weeks ago, are going to be changed forever. They’ll have fewer members, there will be fewer facilities, and monthly membership dues are sure to increase. I suspect some national chains, as well as some mom-and-pop outlets, will close permanently.

Despite all the nonsense going on in the world, or perhaps because of it, people will continue to seek out a physical release from the stresses of life. The nature of that release will be evolving in the coming year, and cycling may be a part of it for some.

If you have a lifetime gym membership to your local gym though, this is a good time to ask yourself whether that’s for your lifetime or the lifetime of the gym.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
205 miles
10,050’ climbing
15.1mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 28 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Jimmy Barnes, who turned 64 this week. Enjoy…