The Monsters In My Head…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breathe

Breathe

Breathe 

All was good with the world…

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 187

Climbing: 8,100’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 hours 31 minutes

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

Sidekick…

It feels a little more selfish each day. He’s nearly 18-years old now. He spends most days within 20-feet of me. That I willingly leave him for two hours, to go ride a bike, says a lot about my selfishness. It gets harder, but I still do it. 

I should have named him, Sidekick. In hindsight, that seems so obvious. Our relationship resembles two guys in a ‘buddy’ movie. I’m De Niro and he’s Charles Groton. I’m Felix and he’s Oscar. I’m Bill and he’s Ted. We just play off each other like that.

Our relationship might seem adversarial to outsiders, and at times it is. With no warning, he’ll jump from the sofa, run to the refrigerator, stand fixed looking back at me. His eyes say…

“I want ham and I want it now…“

Our relationship is largely based on animal protein.

I respond by reminding him he just ate two hours ago, he’ll eat again in two more hours, and he’s not getting any ham…!

His gaze gets more intense. It only takes a minute before I cave. 

I’ll begrudgingly stomp to the refrigerator muttering expletives under my breath. I reluctantly tear a few small pieces from a slice of ham and leave it on the empty plate beside his water dish. Despite the expletives and my poor attitude, he knows I love him more than anything. 

He’s walked off-leash since the beginning. He stays within 10-feet of me, even when we have the park to ourselves. I can tell when a scent has him by the nose — he wants to run, but he won’t. I can almost feel the smell pulling him away from me, and equally feel his determination to stay by my side.

Go, I tell him, go…!

As soon as I say it, he runs toward the hole where the scent draws him. It’s always a gopher hole. Excited, he guards the hole and waits for me to catch up. I tell him he did a good job and complement his professionalism. With no gopher to be found though, I tell him there’s another scent up ahead and it’s his job to find it. As we walk, I thank him for not being one of those undisciplined leash dogs.

Back in the car and preparing to head home, I see a little schmutz on his face…

How many times I gotta tell you, I say, NO SCHMUTZ…!

He looks unapologetic, but slightly nervous. I remove the schmutz with one of many Jack-In-The-Box napkins on the floor of my car. Every time this happens, he snaps at me. The good news is, he doesn’t have any teeth. Once he’s schmutz-free, he forgives me by kissing me on the nose.

On the way back from the park, he rides on my lap with this front paws on the door and his face looking out the window. We listen to NPR and discuss whatever Lakshmi Singh is talking about. He’s particularly concerned about voting laws these days. Don’t laugh, some things you just know.

Like all dogs, he has magnetic tips on the ends of his ears and on all four paws. These enable him to find the geographic center of the bed each night. He can only sleep if he’s lined up evenly between the four corners. As I bend my way around him in a loose attempt to sleep comfortably myself, I call him a chucklehead and an ingrate. He gives me the dreaded look of whoa, and refuses to budge.

I thank him for another day, ask God to bless him and keep him through the night, and I turn off the light. He snaps at me one more time as I pet him on the head — to remind me who the alpha dog is. No teeth, just gums. Just gums. 

Later today I’ll leave him again for another two hours while I ride a stupid bike. He’ll be in good hands, but knowing we’re on borrowed time, it gets harder each day. No matter what, I will always believe he deserves better than me. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 200

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,500

Seat Time: 13 hours 02 minutes

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

My Time Machine And The Sloppy Mosaic In My Head…

This is my 116th post since I began this page in December 2018. Twenty-eight months in, I still ride a bike every day, spend most of my seat time thinking about everything from my childhood to the day after tomorrow, and each evening, I still sit down and write about those thoughts.

Riding a bike is like being on a time machine. Each day I get to revisit different periods from my life and relive conversations and experiences from as far back as I can remember. Along the way, I reconnect with a variety of accomplices and have another view to landscapes and backdrops from my past. 

The time machine goes forward too, just not as often. I imagine what my life might be like the day after tomorrow, the week after next, or in 2062 — should I make it into triple-digits. I contemplate things that might consume me well into my future. It’s chasing memories though, where my time machine does its best work.

The pattern in which those memories show up is completely random. The whole process sets up like a mosaic of memories, sloppily crafted by the drunkards in my head. I get to steer the bike, but memories drive the time machine, and they each steer a course of their own. 

And it’s not just memories and thoughts of the future that consume me when I ride. Thoughts of the moment weave their way in-between all the other thoughts as they flicker in flash. All the usual suspects show up — politics, social issues, religion, existential doom, business concerns, financial matters, family issues, etc.

As chaotic as that might seem, all that thinking is therapeutic. It’s a big part of why I ride each day. When I sit down each evening though, to write about my thoughts from the ride, it becomes noisy — sometimes painfully so. Perhaps this is because I’m trying  to recall so many things at once, or because I’m trying to create structure from thoughts that have no real order. I dunno, but it hurts when I write.

I’ll never get sick of riding, I find value in all the thinking, but I’m beginning to get a little sick of my own voice each night as I attempt to sort things out and form them into something to be shared. I confess, it often wears me down.

I’m not tapping out and have no intention of shutting this page down. This just something I’ve been thinking about lately, on and off the bike — and this seems like the best place to share that.  

Anyway, this is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 195

Climbing: 8,100’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 11,044

Seat Time: 12 hours 57 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 Waterboys . Enjoy…!

Lunch Lady Man…

Some thoughts enter my head and exit without leaving a mark. A thought may come and go so quickly, I only know it was there, but never really know what it was. 

Others thoughts grasp my attention for a moment, but exit before I can make sense of them. I might recognize them as something of interest, but it’s a straight shot in one ear and out the other. Gone before I can even make out their form. 

Then, there are those thoughts which stick around for a while, sometimes for days, weeks, or longer. Those are the thoughts that show up most when I’m riding. They may appear and disappear as I ride, depending on the volume of other thoughts on a given day, but they identify themselves clearly and I dwell on them. More that that in a minute…

At least part of my riding time is about planning the most immediate things I need to take care of once I get off my bike. Chief among those needs, is making sure my mom gets a prompt and healthy dinner. Well, prompt anyway.

Mom doesn’t have a big appetite these days. Because of that, I don’t really cook. I prepare simple meals for her or heat up already prepared foods I buy at the market. Most evenings, regardless of what I serve, she eats roughly 30% of what I feed her. Her tastebuds are fading. Salt and pepper are often more important than what’s beneath them.

Among the most common meals I feed her are, not necessarily in order…

– Grilled cheese sandwich

– Hotdog

– Pizza

– Chicken noodle soup

– Cheese on toast

– Tomato soup

– Quesadilla

– Peanut butter on crackers

Okay, so those wouldn’t be headliners on the menu of your local organic restaurant. Hell, any one of them could be the ‘early bird’ special at Coco’s. I make sure though, each of those entrées is accompanied by a side-dish of mixed vegetables, canned or fresh fruit, and a single square of Hershey’s chocolate for dessert. 

Speaking to Trudy the other night, I mentioned that mom‘s dinner that evening would be a grilled cheese sandwich — with peas in butter on the side. The night before, I explained, was chicken noodle soup with mashed potatoes. She paused for a second and said…

“My God, Roy, you feed her lunch lady food…“

We laughed. I guess deep down I’ve known that for a while, but hearing Trudy frame it that way, well, that’s one of those thoughts that’s going to stick with me for a while — Roy “Lunch Lady” Cohen. 

I had no defense for her comment because it’s was true as it was funny. The only things missing from my kitchen life are the hairnet, plastic gloves, flabby arms, and the wart on my left cheek. 

I’ve spent most of my adult life teaching healthy exercise and proper eating habits to people of all ages. I ask every client, prior to each session, what their last meal was and what they had for dinner the night before. Not as a form of judgment, but it promotes dialogue about healthy eating in support of their exercise. My own mother though…?  She gets lunch lady food. 

By the way, Wednesdays are mac & cheese days here at the Contemplative Fitness kitchen for seniors — mixed vegetables on the side, and the canned peaches are to die for.p

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 166

Climbing: 6,800’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 9,400

Seat Time: 11 hours 05 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 Mason Jennings . Enjoy…!

The Needle And The Damage Done…

As a precautionary measure, after receiving my second dose of the Moderna vaccine on Friday, I chose not to ride that evening. The instances of people experiencing flu-like symptoms within hours of their second shot has been high enough that didn’t want to take a chance. 

Spending two-hours with an accelerated heart-rate might have brought on any would-be side effects even sooner. Notwithstanding, I wanted to be available for my mom, who received her second dose when I did, should she experience any side effects.

Other than being a little tired at the end of the day and not sleeping well, I woke up Saturday with no fever, no chills, and no headache. Because I’d made it through the night and 15-hours had passed without any symptoms or side effects, I decided to ride early yesterday. I had already missed two days last week, and I haven’t missed three days of riding in one week since 2018.

It was chilly when I left the driveway — 45° or so. I dressed in layers because I expected it to be in mid-60s by the time I returned. Grateful that I dodged the bullet on vaccine side effects, I chose a fast route that began with a six mile downhill stretch from Fallbrook into Bonsall.

Despite wearing three longsleeve shirts, one of them thermal, about three miles in I felt unusually chilly. After another few miles, I adjusted my helmet because it felt too tight — putting excess pressure on the front of my head. Shortly after that, I began sweating. That’s when I realized the chills, headache, and sweat were side effects from the vaccine. I considered turning around, but none of it seemed too severe.

After riding 8-miles on Highway 76, I was past the point of no return for my chosen route. That’s when I began shaking. I sipped some water in hopes that hydration would minimize the symptoms. It did not.  

At the turnaround point I got off my bike to take a picture, eat a banana, and drink more water. My knees were weak and I felt bodyaches from head to toe. I got back on my bike and just charged home. The headache got so bad on my return, that I took my helmet off and strapped to my shoulder bag. Through ignorant determination, I completed the 6-mile climb back into Fallbrook, but my breathing was shallow and my stamina was noticeably lessened by the other side effects.

Once home and while I still had some strength, I made my mother a lunch of peanut butter on saltine crackers, a couple of Girl Scout cookies, and a Coke. I spent the remainder of the day on the sofa, underneath 2 blankets, sleeping on and off, and mumbling incoherently as though it were my last day on earth — which I believed it was. I hadn’t felt flu-like symptoms this severe since having the H1N1 virus in 2010.

Just after 8pm last evening, the fever broke and the chills stopped. With nothing planned to write for the week, I thought I’d share this story with you — about a man so committed to riding a bike each day, that he was willing to risk his health to do it. And in a little while, I’m going to do it again. Wish me luck.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 140 

Climbing: 5,600’

Mph Avg: 15.8

Calories: 8,00’

Seat Time: 8 hours 49 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 Mick Ronson. Enjoy…!

Feed It With Colors And Good Intentions…

If you’re reading this then you’re a part of the only generation of human beings who will ever live to have experienced life before and after the advent of social media. That’s not just a unique position the history of mankind, it’s also a unique responsibility. 

The ability to interact and communicate with so many people, so quickly, and over such a distances is a miraculous technology — on par with the invention of the wheel and the domestication of fire. I’m awed by that, every day of my life. We live in an amazing age. 

It’s only in how we use this technology though, that will define its place in our species’ history. We, the first generation to use what will be used by every generation subsequent to ours, must set the tone. I’ve argued for as long as I’ve been a participant, that most people who use social media could be using it better and should be using it for higher purposes.

The use I see of social media is often tantamount to imbeciles playing with matches. Inevitably most everyone burns their fingers. And all too often, someone burns down the house or even their community. It should go without saying that if one doesn’t play with matches, they won’t get burned nor start an unwanted fire.

Negativity only breeds more negativity, and escalation of negativity on social media is a spark to a handful of straw.

I know many people reading this who claim they don’t use social media — and actually believe that. Blogging is a form of social media. Whether you’re the writer or the reader of a blog, you’re a participant in social media. If one checks or makes reviews on Yelp, hunts for bargains on eBay or Craigslist, uses apps like NextDoor, WhatsApp, or even participates in email or texting groups, then they also use a form social media. Sharing photos via a smartphone with friends or family in distant places is a form of social media. 

I’m a fan of the technology, but not always of how it’s used. Of course I say the same about religion, government, and capitalism. I do my best to use it with good intentions. I’ve never been much of a leader, but I wish more people would follow my lead on this one.

We must use the technology of social media better.

In all of this, I’ve included some smartphone pictures I took last week. I’ll take more again next week and share them here. And I’ll probably include another opinion about one thing or another, and hope I’ve done it with the best of intentions.

Lastly, I’ll remind anyone reading this that what makes one a good craftsman, a good statesman, or a good human is understanding the possibilities, the risks, and the limits of one’s tools and technologies.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 192

Climbing: 7,100’

Mph Avg: 16.0

Calories: 11,100

Seat Time: 12 hours 05 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 Tom Jones. Enjoy…!

Groundhog Night…

Groundhog Night…

Yesterday was Groundhog Day. Most of us learn about that in early elementary school. From there, we advance to the adult world, spending most of our lives unable to remember if we get an early spring or longer winter if the groundhog sees his shadow. Fortunately, there’s always somebody the water-cooler to set us straight.

Today though, Groundhog Day is most associated with the movie by the same name, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Groundhog Day, the movie, is about being trapped in time, and reliving the same day over and over again. On a visceral level, most of us feel that way each day of our lives, myself included. Here we go again.

These days, at the end of all my Groundhog Days, I also get to live Groundhog Nights — as I attempt to write these musings.

Somewhere around 8:15 each evening, I suggest to my mom that she prepare for bed. As she does, I settle into the sofa and begin grasping for fragments of thoughts from my rolling meditations, to turn into stories. That’s when Groundhog Night sets in.

My mom gets up, takes two soft peppermints from the candy dish, and retires to her bedroom.

A few minutes later she returns to say goodnight to me and the dog, takes a couple more peppermints, and heads to her bedroom once again.

Shortly after that, she returns — to hand me her Life Alert pendant, says goodnight to me and the dog, takes a couple more peppermints, and goes back to her room.

Maybe 15 or 20 minutes later, she emerges to check the kitchen appliances — to make sure they’re unplugged. She takes a couple more peppermints, says goodnight to me and the dog, and returns to her room.

As I survive these interruptions and develop a rhythm to my writing, I hear her bedroom door crack open yet again.

Shit.

She steps out, lets me know that there are no lights on at the house next door and that I shouldn’t go outside. She thinks they may be up to no good. She takes two more peppermints, says goodnight to me and the dog, and goes back to bed.

God, strike me with lightning if I’m exaggerating…

Well past an hour from the first time she retired to her bedroom, she returns once again — this time to go to the bathroom. From there, she takes a couple peppermints, says goodnight to me and the dog, reminds me that it’s “dark as pitch“ at the neighbor’s house and not to go outside. She goes back to bed.

Somehow I manage to find my way back into a writing rhythm, when I hear her door crack open again.

‘Motherfucker’, I mutter to myself.

She proceeds to the kitchen where she takes a Little Debbie Zebra Cake from a box in the cabinet, grabs two more peppermints, says goodnight to me and the dog, tells me she’s going to turn the light out, and returns to her room.

Some combination of these things takes place each night for a duration no less than 60 to 90 minutes from the first time she says goodnight. All the while, I attempt to attach my mind to a memory from the day’s ride and turn it into a story worth sharing.

After the Zebra Cake, I tuck her in, turn out her light, and close her door. If the gods are with me, I can return to writing uninterrupted — nearly 2 hours after she began going to bed.

If you’re counting, that’s approximately 14 soft peppermints. The good news is, at almost 91 years old, we consider those a vegetable.

This is what I think about when it ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Eleventeen Cupcake
28 miles
1,300’ climbing
16.0 mph avg
1,700 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Pulling Mussels, by Squeeze

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 

Flip And Circumstance…

I was passed by a San Diego sheriff’s deputy on my way out of town one evening last week — he was in a patrol car. I don’t see patrol cars too often these days. It’s all SUVs now. It didn’t take long before I started connecting the dots to other patrol cars, including those I’ve ridden in the back of as a teenager. Before I knew it, I was reflecting one patrol car in particular — driving down my street in the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years.

I don’t remember for sure, but I might have just finished mowing the lawn. I do remember standing in my front yard wearing a swimsuit and being shirtless. An Arapahoe County sheriff’s car passed slowly in front of my house. The window was down, and feeling all of my 13 years, I raised my left hand and gave the deputy my middle finger. He immediately stopped.

My dad, who must’ve been in the garage, found his way to the front yard as the deputy stepped from his car to the middle of my lawn — where I stood scared to death. The deputy and my father had a conversation a few feet away from me. They spoke soft enough that I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but loud enough that I knew that’s exactly what they wanted.

My father asked that I apologize to the deputy and I did. I looked down as I shook his hand though. My dad raised his voice as he told me to look him in the eye. I looked up to see real person — a man with reddish hair, a reddish mustache, and a very stern look, but a forgiving one.

The deputy drove away and my father sent me upstairs to my bedroom. A few minutes later dad arrived with a legal pad and a pen. I was instructed to write the following 500 times…

“I will not give cops my middle finger”

That was the only time I ever experienced writer’s cramps. The following day my hand was sore and continued cramping well into the afternoon. I’m not sure writing anything 500 times ever did much to minimize my bad behaviors, but it was the punishment of choice by my father. What did make an impact though, took place the following week.

I arrived at Skyline Acres Swim & Tennis Club for my first diving practice of the season — at that point I’d been a 1-meter and 3-meter springboard diver for a couple of years. Springboard diving is something I excelled at in my teens. At practice that first day, I was introduced to my new coach, Ron Genlsow.

Yup, my new diving coach, who would stay with me for the next three years, was also Deputy Ron Genslow from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s department. He and I had met a week earlier — on my front lawn. He remembered me from the incident the previous week, but said nothing to the rest of the team. Ron was a great coach and a terrific leader.

There was one dive I’d struggled with the summer prior, for fear of hitting the diving board. That dive was an inward dive in the layout position. My fear of hitting the board was obvious. During our first practice, Ron deliberately coached me closer and closer to the diving board so I’d scrape my head on the edge of the board — to get it over with. No stitches were required. To this day, that remains one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about physical pain — that it’s always temporary. I still think about that day all the time.

Ron loved yacht rock. Driving to diving meets with him each week I was introduced to Hall & Oates, Ambrosia, America, and Pablo Cruise to name a few — all bands I still listen to regularly. He also introduced me to Tommy Bolin.

Ron drove a maroon Chevy Laguna. I always referred to it as the La Gwanna. My favorite memory of Ron was in a parking lot getting ready to head to a diving meet. A teammate and I were joking about the La Gwanna when Ron stopped us abruptly and said…

“Say La Gwanna again and I’ll shoot you both…”

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean it. Ron allowed me to use him as a job reference, right up until I joined the Coast Guard. We lost touch after that. When I asked if I could use him for a reference on my Coast Guard application, he said yes. He then told me he was proud of me and reminded me how far I had come. Yeah, I’m crying right now.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

201 miles

9,100’ climbing

15.1 mph avg

11,372 calories

13 hours 19minutes 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 Richard Hawley. 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…