Play As Our Essence…

Inventory the obituaries of your local paper for a few weeks. Then, correlate the stories. You’re bound to read sentences like the following…

“She was happiest when she was on her horse…“

“He loved the game of golf…“

“She was a gifted painter, who enjoyed bringing landscapes to life…”

“He could often be found his guitar room…“

In fact, if one were to correlate 100 obituaries and extract the first descriptions of the individuals they’re about, you could easily compile an essay on play, recreation, and relaxation. That’s how we remember those who leave us — by the way they played.

Though obituaries might also remember a person’s business prowess, education, the ways they parented, or the roles they played in their communities, most will be remembered first, for what they enjoyed doing in life.

We will be remembered for our essence.

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Our essence, most often, is what we would choose to do when set free to do what we wish.

Call it what you will — play, recreation, hobby, whatever. When we fail to play on a regular basis, we fail to feed and grow our essence.

Every species of mammal has play intrinsic to its being. Human beings have the desire to play more than any other mammal, and yet we’re the only ones — THE ONLY ONES who work hard at thwarting our inherent playful instinct.

This has always confused me.

We have an innate desire to play, yet many of us get caught up in playing Whack-A-Mole all day long, striking at things that matter so much less than feeding our soul. And what gets lost when our energies are diverted this way…?

Play is where we best know freedom. Very often, play is when we best know joy. Play this where we can do our best thinking. Play is where friendships and relationships nourish and grow. Play is what gets us through the hard stuff.

Yesterday, after one of the most challenging work weeks I’ve had in a while, I got to play. I played bicycle with a couple friends from Colorado, who also got to play bicycle yesterday.

We rode. We talked some, and we stayed quiet even more. We picked fresh citrus. We ate tacos. We pushed our bodies. We came home, ate some more, relaxed and watched a movie, and then retired early, exhausted from our play day. When I woke up this morning, my first thoughts were of doing it again today.

And then I learned the sad news of a friend of a friend taking his own life. Last week, I learned of the adult daughter of a friend of mine taking her own life. So when I make play priority in my life, it’s because I know the stronger my essence, the less influence the puppets of another ilk will have in perpetrating lesser thoughts in my head.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
46 miles
2,400’ climbing
13.0 mph avg
2,800 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Tell Mama, by Janis Joplin

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 is this from Janis Joplin. Enjoy…!

Gimmie Shelter…

It ain’t all broken skies, avocado groves, flower fields, and acre after acre of citrus orchards. Yes, those are the kinds of things I see each day as I look up in wonder when I ride, but the balance is kept, perfectly, when I look down — into the nooks and crannies of it all. From my posture high on my rolling perch, I’m at a speed and in a position to see things that anyone driving a car on the same road would likeky never see.

Example…

Along Old Highway 395 there is a golf resort, Pala Mesa. It combines a hotel, restaurant, golf course, traditional golf course housing, tennis courts, swimming pools, and all within a picturesque setting that rivals any I’ve seen.

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Bike of the day: Tang…

Just behind one section of the patio homes adjacent to the golf course though, there is a ravine that slopes down about 40-feet below these houses and is roughly 1,000 yards in length. The homes above are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I’m certain are well worth the investment. What’s at the bottom of that ravine though, cannot be seen from the fenced backyards of the residents above, nor by anyone driving by in a car. With the bike lane being just a little closer to the edge of that ravine, and with a bicycle seat placing me up a little higher than the driver’s seat of a  car would, I can see the makeshift shelters down below.

There is old furniture there, several tents, and visible signs that multiple persons live down there — perhaps groups of persons. I can see a couple shopping carts, a baby stroller, some 5-gallon water containers, and even a couple of weathered bicycles, which are a far cry from the one I ride past on.

Oh, and I see many well-hidden communities like this one, all over the area. There are slopes and ravines by the thousands around Fallbrook, and while that doesn’t mean that each one comes with an encampment of homeless people, it does suggest that there may be more than a fenced yard or a passing Tesla will ever see.

Doing a little crude math in my head, I calculate that there might be a couple of hundred people living like this in and around the Fallbrook area. I think that is a conservative estimate.  A recent article in the local paper stated that precisely 46 homeless people currently call Fallbrook home — precisely 46.

I will argue that while there may be 46 visible homeless residents currently in Fallbrook, these are the squeaky wheels among the many more who remain silent and hidden, and for a variety of reasons.

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Living off the land…

The ravine behind the Pala Mesa Resort is just one pocket of many well hidden spots I ride past regularly in this community — pockets that some less fortunate people call home. I refer to them as less fortunate, not because of the circumstances that brought them there or the way that they are forced or choose to live. I referred to them as less fortunate, because it seems few people even know they are there.

They are invisible, except to each other.

As a rule of thumb, whether I come across them on my daily walk or my daily ride, and if I stop and have conversations with them, the salutation I always extend is this…

“Hello, neighbor…“

Because no matter the circumstance, they are my neighbor.

This is what I think about my ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
23 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.4 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Good To Be On The Road Back Home Again, by Cornershop

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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 is this from Cornershop. Enjoy…!

Cock-a-doodle-doo And Other Rooster Myths…

Ninety-percent of my daily ride takes place in rural surroundings. I live in a region of Southern California were commercial agriculture reigns supreme. Avocados groves, citrus orchards, flowers, plants, and greenhouses dominate my riding landscape.

Many residents here dabble in personal agriculture as well. Most homes here are on multiple acres of property and among the more fashionable trends in this community, along with ‘family fruit’ trees, massive bougainvillea hedges, and the ever-increasing front yard vineyards, is the keeping of chickens.

Where there are chickens, of course, there are often roosters.

Like you, I was raised to believe that roosters wake early and are nature’s alarm clocks — that every rooster gets up with or just before the sun and announces to anyone or anything in proximity that a new day is about to begin. His mechanism for this…? His cock-a-doodle-doo.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer…

Riding my bike in the middle of the day I have learned that roosters, at least the ones around here, could give a frog’s fat ass what time of day they cock-a-doodle-doo. I often ride in the late mornings, the early afternoons, and even after dark on occasion. As I ride around this community, turning corners, buzzing the straightaways, climbing the hills and taking in this earthy rural scenery, I hear roosters at every possible time of day.

So I sort of feel like I’ve been fed a bag of lies since childhood. Roosters, like wealthy white men it seems, crow all day long and into the night.

Underscoring this, two of my three adjoining neighbors keep chickens and roosters and never, NEVER, do I hear them early. Being one who gets up early each day, I would take note if they did. I do though, hear them as I am working in my studio — all day long.

But the real lie that I’m coming to terms with, the one that has been forced upon me since childhood, the lie that school teachers, children’s books, cartoons, and movies have all perpetrated is that roosters go cock-a-doodle-doo.

They do not.

Roosters, at least the ones around here, very clearly go Aroot-aroot-aroooooo. This is inarguable. If one listens, breaks it down phonetically and tries to duplicate through our human vocal abilities, the sound a rooster makes can’t be anything other than Aroot-aroot-aroooooo.

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Outside my studio. My neighbor’s Chicken — or Rooster, checking in on me…

Try it — just try and sound like a rooster. Do it right now, and as loud as you can. Don’t worry about your workmates, your fellow students or your family, just stand up and at the top of your lungs go Aroot-aroot-aroooooo.  You’ll see that I’m correct.

When those close to me take exception with my propensity for constantly challenging the leadership, I’m going to use this as another example of why we should always question authority, and why we should question everything we’re taught in school.

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Mischa: On Rooster Patrol…

We have all been lied to about roosters, and far too many have been willing to accept those lies — I guess because it’s just easier that way.

Roosters don’t wake up early, and roosters don’t go cock-a-doodle-doo. It’s just not true.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…
Bike: Cortez The Killer
23 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.2 mph avg
1,500 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: The Sun Do Shine, by Glen Campbell

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 is this from Glen Campbell. Enjoy…!

The Other Immigrants: A Butterfly Collective…

It’s hard to go anywhere in Southern California right now, and not be taken a bit by the sight of the painted lady butterfly migration. They are everywhere, by the millions, enroute from Mexico to the northwest.

Riding through and among them at roughly 15-20 mph, they hit my helmet, bounce off my hands, and one even ended up in my mouth a couple days ago, but it didn’t stay there long. He was quickly uninvited, and his departure was followed by a long swig of water, a swish, and a spit.

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Bike: Bella…

I confess, I’ve become more vulnerable as a cyclist due to the presence of the painted ladies — they’re just captivating. When I should be looking at the road in front of me, spying carpet tacks, thorns, twigs, and bottle caps, I find myself looking up in wonder as they flit about. In some instances the concentrations of painted ladies has been so thick that they’ve appeared as clouds overhead. My eyes fixed to them, I fail to see the aluminum can that my tire will eventually strike. So far so good though — a few bumps, but no bruises and no flat tires at the expense of the painted ladies.

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Glancing up at these butterfly clouds, with God present but invisible in the background, I begin to think about consciousness — individual and collective. With so many millions of butterflies, and with me trying so hard not to run into them, I begin to wonder if it hurts when I do hit them. I question whether they feel pain as their wings hit my handlebars or as their bodies get churned up in my spokes.

I contemplate what they might contemplate — or whether contemplate at all. I wonder if they’re looking down to guide themselves and are navigating by landmark or if they’re flying with eyes closed and listening to signals in their head from another source or another dimension. And as they head to their northern destination, I question whether they are thinking at all, and if they do think, do they do so as individuals or as a group…

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After dozens of attempts, only one mediocre picture…

I understand that some swarm animals — birds, insects, even some migrating mammals can act as a collective during their migrations. They move and respond as a group, but I wonder if there might be discontent in this. Is the butterfly in the back of the swarm sharing an identical thought with a butterfly in the front…? Or, is the butterfly in the back wondering if the Padres are going to make a run at the pennant this year, while the butterfly in front is bitter because he has to do the dirty work by cut through the wind.

When I have stopped at intersections and traffic lights or to drink water, I have attempted to photograph one of these critters. However, they don’t stop that frequently and when they do, it isn’t for very long. They are elusive. To this point, I have only taken one successful photograph, and it’s not that good.

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Stoke Signals…

For my part, I’ll just keep pedaling through the painted ladies, dodging them and admiring them — simultaneously, in these waning days of their migration. I’ll try hard not to hit them or breathe one into my mouth again. I’ll continue to spend time wondering if insects think, feel, or have souls at all, as I contemplate this about other animals, to a point of madness most days.

I’ll miss the painted ladies once the migration is through, but I might feel better, at least a little bit, for knowing that I’m not killing any more of them with my helmet, my elbows, and my spokes.

This is what I think about when I ride…

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 3
138 Miles
6,800’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
9,300 calories
Earworm Of The Week: Pretty Pink Rose, by Adrian Belew and David Bowie

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 is this from Adrian Belew and David Bowie. Enjoy…!

Tiny Rolling House…

Headed north into Riverside County yesterday. A 26-mile out-and-back for some quick climbing, good vistas, and a fun stretch of downhill switchbacks dropping into Temecula, where I can often glide upwards of 45-50 mph on a good day, though I only hit 38 yesterday.

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The only hiccup on my way out of town occurred about a mile from my house. A man in a white pickup-truck with scraggly hair and a beard that wasn’t even trying to be kept, flagged me down because he needed help. This was on E. Mission Rd. headed towards I-15. Normally I don’t get off my bike, even for friends, but when somebody needs help, that’s a no brainer.

“Hey man, do you know where the weed store is…?“ He asked.

Huh…? Feedstore…? I replied. I’m deaf in my left ear and I really thought he said feedstore.

“No! The weeeeeeed store, man…!”

Oh, I said, it’s in that building over there. I pointed in the direction of the only commercial building nearby, assuming it was somewhere in there, though I honestly had no idea where it was. I just wanted to get back on the road. I hope he found his weed. I found hillsides covered with wildflowers that would serve me just as well, probably better.

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I was thinking about used motorhomes for much of my ride. I almost bought one two nights ago, and I mean, I almost bought one. An ‘86 Winnebago with 32,000 original miles on it, in pristine shape, for only 6K. This was my dream house. I opted not to pursue this one, but the fact I am looking at and considering them more frequently — daily, confirms to myself that I really am getting closer.

When I do buy one — a used motorhome, it isn’t going to be for weekend recreation or as a desert, beach, or mountain toy. This rolling tiny house I’m searching for, which I have not bought yet, will be my forever home.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I plan on living in a small motorhome for an extended period once I get into retirement or semi-retirement. A minimalist for much of my adult life, and now in my late 50s, I’m beginning to see the headlights at the end of the tunnel. In an unstable world with an ever-changing economy, a house that is suitable to live in, that also gets 20 miles per gallon, is my kinda house.

I have no intention though, of going to grand or pursuing anything fancy — spending $50,000 or more on such a thing. When that day comes when I do make the purchase, I want to be able to pay cash for it. Not having any debt is a big part of my retirement plan. I will make sure that it is in good condition, has been well-maintained, and ensure that I continue to maintain it well once it becomes mine.

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Though tiny houses are now all the rage, the ridiculousness of how complicated they are becoming increases each year. Hint: if you require granite countertops for your tiny house, you’ve missed the point of tiny house. Besides, I’ve done the math 100-times over, it makes much more sense for me to live in a small motorhome than in a tiny house.

I grew up fascinated by the story of Dorian Paskowitz, the Stanford educated physician and surfer, who along with his wife, raised nine children in a series of pickup-truck campers, at the San Onofre beach here in Southern California, among many other places they traveled in those campers. To me, Doc Paskowitz is the patron saint of minimalism.

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So when I ride up and down these roads each day, occasionally glancing up at the  exaggerated tract homes, the million dollar homes, and the weekend motorhomes that are often in those driveways, and as glance into traffic, occasionally seeing an old motorhome from the 70s or 80s, and one that’s in good condition, my eyes light up. I think to myself, someday that’s gonna be me — that’s my dream house.  And of course, I’m talking about the old motorhomes, not the huge houses up on the hills. I’ll just have to figure out how to store 6 or 8 bikes in or on it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…
Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
25.5 miles
1,900’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
1,700 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Delta Dawn, by Tanya Tucker.

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 is this from Tanya Tucker. Enjoy…!

Spontaneous Involvement And Being Consistently Consistent…

Out early yesterday, a bit cold, and with a severe time-change hangover. Hard ride. Fun ride. When I got back I sat down on the sofa for just a minute to dry my face and take off my shoes, and I fell asleep for nearly an hour. When I woke up, I was starving. I dropped my mother off at the local Dollar Tree, walked four doors down and ate Thai food alone at Thai Thai. I had the #54 — The Vegetable Lover’s Delight, with extra tofu for protein.

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps

I was thinking about Dale Webster yesterday while I was riding, but the truth is, I think about Dale Webster every day of my life, whether I’m riding, writing, praying, walking or doing anything ritualistically.

For about 15 minutes in 2003, Dale Webster became famous for something he worked over 40-years to accomplish. In Bruce Brown’s movie, Step Into Liquid, Brown dedicated a segment of the film to Webster’s quest to surf every day of his life, catching at least 3 waves per day, between the two Septembers in his lifetime which would each have (5) Sundays in them. The first of those two Septembers was in 1975.

Webster eventually fulfilled that objective in September of 2015 and surpassed it by a month, until kidney stone surgery kept him out of the water in October of 2015. Webster surfed every day of his life between those two Septembers, catching at least three waves per day, for 40-years.

In the movie, Webster offered the most striking sentence I’ve ever heard…

“Surfing is the ultimate spontaneous involvement in a natural medium…”

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Dale Webster surfed every day for over 40 years…

Though Dale Webster and I have never met, he’s been with me on every ride, hike, or workout since I first became aware of his story in an issue of Surfer’s Journal back in the early 1980s. He’s been with me for a couple of reasons…

One: I attempt to ride every day, at least 20-miles per day, and more when time permits. In 2018 I road 359 of the 365 days.

Two: Although pavement isn’t a natural medium, the “spontaneous involvement” of cycling is the hook for me.

Every ride is a little different. Each ride requires me to think and act quickly, and often to do so in an instant. Cars, objects in the road, and even pieces of broken truck tire flying through the air and past my head, require me to act quickly. Riding brings me joy and keeps me on my toes — simultaneously.

Not withstanding, the different hills, different routes I choosee, the different scenery, different conditions, and the joy I find each time I speed downhill at 40 or 50 miles per hour. And riding takes place outdoors, so pavement notwithstanding, I’m in somewhat of a natural medium.

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Thai-ing one on, post-ride…

More to the point though, Dale Webster should be the global poster child for consistency in anything — the worldwide ambassador of no excuses. He should be an inspiration to anyone, young or old, male or female, athletic or artistic, who wishes to accomplish any goal or activity  requiring consistency.

I’m certain that had I not been familiar with Webster’s story for so much of my adult life, I probably would’ve skipped a lot more hikes, a lot more workouts, and a lot more rides. I’m not sure I would write every day, pray every day, or observe any of my other daily rituals, without Webster’s influence. Dale Webster is a name and a story  we should all be more familiar with.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
32 miles
1,500’ climbing
16.4 mph avg
2,100 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Back Door Man, by Soul Asylum and Iggy Pop

No Need To Duck, It’s Only A Slow Moving Watermelon…

I’m very big on firsts. That is, I value the idea of participating in things that have never happened before — in the history of mankind. I think I’ve participated in a few, and yesterday‘s ride might have added one to the list.

Approximately 3/4s of the way through an otherwise ordinary ride on another beautiful day in Fallbrook California, a 1990s Saturn station wagon full of teen boys passed me slowly from behind. The car was gold in color and weathered. There were two boys in the front seat and two more in back. Seeing their profiles in my peripheral vision as they pulled along side of me, each one looked like a skinny Muppet.

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps   Took a break on some outdoor furniture…

As one might expect with a car full of kids, the thumping of heavy bass announced their presence to me 30 or 40 yards before they pulled along side. The smell of weed leaking from the car’s open windows might have been enough to distinguish them in my mind and amuse me for the next hour or so while I pedaled onward, but there was more. Much more.

How I will remember them, why will I remember them, and what it was that will distinguish them in my mind as co-perpetrators of a unique moment in human history, unfolded in an instant as they passed me. I will remember them for the rest of my life, for the moment they attempted to and failed, to chuck a watermelon at me through the car window.

Worth repeating: They attempted to throw a watermelon through a car window at a cyclist, me, as they drove past.

Depending on how you define human beings, we’ve been around for roughly 500,000 years. In that time, approximately 100 million human beings to have ever lived. Among those people and within that time, I’ll suggest I’m the first person to ever be the target of an attempted watermelon tossing and subsequent failure, by a car full of stoners.

I was not only the witness, I was the cyclist.

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Early birds…

I’ve had bottles thrown at me before, been honked at, yelled at, and have even had cars intentionally swerve in my direction to scare me. I’ve had a drunk guys in pickup trucks challenge me to pull over and fight them. In these instances, I usually experience some combination of frustration, rage, or disappointment in my fellow man. I’ve had interruptions like this not only ruin my ride, but ruin my day.

However, to see four stoned teenagers in a ratty, smoke filled car, fail in attempting to throw a watermelon out the window at me, absolutely made my day, and will probably be the highlight of my riding in calendar year 2019.

Why they were driving with a watermelon, and why they were willing to sacrifice it, I have no idea. But they did. Perhaps they were running an errand for mom, and just didn’t give a crap — they felt simple amusement was worthy of dumping mom’s fruit. Maybe they had bought it to plug, fill with grain alcohol, and serve at a party later in the evening. I’ll probably never know.

The watermelon did make it out the window, but barely. They giggled as the melon hit the pavement, yelled someone unintelligible words in my direction in their Wayne and Garth voices, and sped away. For those who may question the validity of this story, the remains can be seen on somewhere in the vicinity of Gird Road and Lake Trees drive here in Fallbrook.

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Fallbrook California: The  most beautiful community in America…

In a small town, I’m confident I will see this car again, and some combination of these boys. When I do, I’m going to offer to buy them lunch at Taco Bell, to thank them, because I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of the story, and for many years.

It may be possible that in some region of China, Idaho, Portugal, or on the North Island of New Zealand, that other stoned boys driving a beat up Saturn station wagon also attempted to chuck a watermelon at a cyclist as they passed him by. If it has happened somewhere else, forgive the momentary grandeur. Until it gets proven to me that it has happened, I’m going to assume that yesterday I participated in another first in human history.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
25 miles
1,050’ climbing
16.9 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: One More Time, by Redbone

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 is this from Redbone. Enjoy…!