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…

Stay Put…

September 10th was World Suicide Awareness Day. People acknowledged and promoted it by posting and sharing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.8255 on their social media platforms.

The Internet was flooded with pictures of Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, Junior Seau, and a handful of celebrities who ended their lives too soon. These of the popular faces of suicide.

On one hand, I get it. Relating suicide to famous people who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and idiopathic sadness is a good reminder to all non-celebrities that those ailments don’t discriminate. A person can be worth millions of dollars, have fame and freedom, and still not want to complete the lives they are so fortunate to have.

Most people have been touched by suicide, peripherally. Many who will read this have friends, associates, and family members who have taken their own lives. That’s a heavy thought. What’s a heavier thought though, is that many people reading this will have friends, associates, and family members who will someday take their own lives, but who haven’t yet, and show no signs that they will. With that in mind, I believe the faces of suicide awareness shouldn’t be celebrities — they should be everyone we make eye contact with in a day’s time.

More people live with suicidal thoughts than most others realize. Some people experience suicidal thoughts on rare occasions while others may experience them more frequently. Some, myself included, live with them daily.

The great majority of people who experience suicidal thoughts, whether it’s occasionally or more frequently, hold them in for fear of being judged, cast out, or worse. Some, myself included as also, fear that being transparent about suicidal feelings might influence our ability to earn a living. Someone reading this and who also does business with me may choose not to going forward. That’s a risk I’m willing to take, today anyway.

I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts for most of my life. They are intertwined with the depression, anxiety, and especially the sadness that I’ve also negotiated for much of my life. These feelings first surfaced with me first when I was in lower elementary school. Think about that — I began entertaining and subsequently working through the symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts as a 9-year old. To see me on the surface though, people have no idea this takes place behind my façade of normalcy. 

I know I’m not alone.

I’m now in my late 50s. I can look back at my life, in part, as a series of successful and negotiations with myself on the importance and of staying put. If not for myself, I stay out for anyone who finds value in my life, especially on the days when I can’t. I’m proud of that — proud of my success in a 50-year struggle with the idea of living, or not.  

A part of that success is coming to understand that suicidal feelings always pass — they always pass. That in those critical moments when I think I might be better off dead, I recognize that I want to be dead for that moment, and not for forever. As odd as that sounds, framing it that way has helped me deal with it in ways medication never could.

I’m sharing these feelings today for two reasons:

1) So that anyone reading this who might experience similar feelings will know they’re not alone — that roughly 4% of the adult population in this country has experienced suicidal thoughts in the past year. That’s 12-million people.

2) That those who don’t or haven’t experienced such feelings, might be more aware of the 12-million people like me who have. Again, keep in mind most people struggling with suicidal thoughts look like anyone else on the surface.

As for World Suicide Awareness Day, perhaps in the future we might rebrand it, making it less about celebrities and more about the people next-door or the people down the hall. We could call it…

The World Day Of Staying Put

In addition to promoting suicide awareness, it could also be observed as a day of worldwide confession — a day to share one’s feelings safely, without fear of judgment or any consequences. It could be a day to celebrate those, like myself, who have successfully stood up to the dark and often overwhelming thoughts, and batted them far away, on behalf of those who care for and depend on us. 

As any of us look around today in a room full of people, whether it’s a restaurant, an ice rink, or our living rooms, let the faces of suicide awareness not be those of celebrities. Let the faces of suicide awareness be everyone we make eye contact with. Let’s strive to remember that behind every pair of eyes is a heart, a soul, and a life’s worth of experiences we know little about. Behind some of the happiest and most outgoing faces we see, there is often turmoil, depression, sadness, and anxiety. 

If you experience suicidal thoughts and don’t have anyone to speak with, please contact 800.273.8255. There are people there willing to listen, and without judgment.

This is what I think about when I ride. It’s also what I think about when I don’t ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 6

199 miles

8,750’ climbing

15.3 mph avg

11,390 calories

13 hours 04 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 is this from Dinosaur Jr. Enjoy…!


Building A Good Day…

Another fantastic week of rolling stress relief is in the tank. Political divisiveness, corona virusness, and smoke from distant fires notwithstanding, none of those things are fast enough to keep up with a bike. It was a good week. Good weeks are made up of good days.

If I could construct a good day, the framework would look something like this…

– Wake up.
– Meditate in a darkened shower under warm water until the warm water runs out.
– Sip coffee with a handful of pets on or near me while I write for an hour or so.
– Work a little bit — contribute in some way to the greater good of society by infusing some combination of effort, expertise, and dependability so that others can benefit from it.
– Spend a little time unplugged in natural surroundings.
– Cater to my creative side by taking and editing some photographs.
– Take a nap.
– Enjoy simple foods that allow me to feel and function at a high level.
– Enjoy some foods that just taste good, regardless of how they impact me.
– Spent time on a bike riding, but also contemplating life, and enjoying the scenery along the way.
– Relax in the evening. Write a little bit more. Spend a little bit more time with the pets. Go to sleep on the early side.

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That framework is in place nearly every single day. A pat on the back to me, since I’m the general contractor of my life, as well as the framer.

Next up are the walls — both interior and exterior. Walls, of course, seal the framework. They keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Hopefully.

For my interior walls, I like to use appreciation. Appreciation is the material best suited to protect the inside of my good days. When in doubt, or if I feel a bad day coming on, I look around and take inventory of all that I have and all that I am. More often than not, this helps me feel safe and acts as a layer of protection from any external obstructions.

For my exterior walls, I like to use low expectations. Low expectations of every body and every thing. When I start with low expectations, things can only get better, most of the time. Again, a necessaryprotective layer to any good day. 

That’s the basic structure of my good days — a good framework and sturdy interior and exterior walls. Each morning when I begin to build my days, I do my best to make sure the structure and the walls are in place. So why then, I often ask myself, isn’t every day a good day, if that’s all it takes…?

Of course the short answer to that is because I don’t live on an island. There are 7-billion people in the world not named Roy Cohen. Of those 7-billion, a very small percentage are injected into my life each day, often finding traction in my psyche. Some find me at my request, while others just find their way on their own. Regardless of who gets into my head or into my life, and whether they were invited or just showed up, I guarantee not one of them wakes up with the express intent of making my days better. That’s why a sturdy structure and good walls are so important.

That’s not to suggest anyone I’m connected with wakes up with the goal of deconstructing my days. Most are occupied with constructing and shoring up the their own days. When I stop to think about it, and I when I take inventory at the end of each day, most every day really is a good day. They just aren’t perfect days. Forces and obstructions get through, but if I’m being honest, the damage done is always minimal.

Storms happen. Rain falls, wind blows, and external forces brush up against or strike my good days continually, and do do all day long. Occasionally even termites get in. Whatever might’ve happened to my day yesterday though, if it was weathered, picked apart, or even if it were completely deconstructed, every time I wake up I have an opportunity to build a brand new good day.

It’s 5am. The framework of today is already in process and the walls will soon be lifted into place. Hello, good day, here we go again.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
174 miles
7,900’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
9,900 calories
11 hours 37 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 Thin Lizzy. Enjoy…

Middle Mac…

If one had the good fortune to grow up with the music of the 70s, then they likely heard Fleetwood Mac every 15 minutes for the latter half of the decade. On FM radio, AM radio, in the shopping mall, replicated by high school marching bands under the Friday night lights, and blaring from the speakers of Chevy Novas stopped at red lights everywhere, Fleetwood Mac was the official background noise of the mid to late 70s.

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The three albums that defined their sound and their place in rock ‘n’ roll history are…

Fleetwood Mac – 1975

Rumours – 1977

Tusk – 1979

It’s as easy to criticize any of these albums as it is to criticize the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup of…

Mick Fleetwood
John McPhee
Christine McVie
Lindsey Buckingham
Stevie Nicks

Theres a reason though, those albums combined to sell tens of millions of copies. They spoke to one of the largest music buying audiences of all-time, they were recorded with great fidelity, and the variety of musical styles, songwriters, and lead vocalists offered something for nearly everyone.

But this isn’t about the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup.

Peter Green died last month. Green was the founding member and iconic guitarist behind the original incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Green helped define the blues-based rock coming from England in the 1960s. First, with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and later in the original incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Green’s contribution to blues-based rock is as significant as anyone’s.

But this isn’t about Peter Green either.

In-between Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac of the late 60s and the classic lineup of the mid-70s is what I like to call Middle Mac.

Middle Mac was a slowly changing lineup which made 6 albums between 1970 and 1974, each unique to itself. No album sounded like the one before nor the one after. It was music that fit the early 70s like a glove. Of the six Middle Mac albums, the one that stays with to this day, and shows up frequently in my head when I ride, is Bare Trees from 1972.

The lineup for Bare Trees consisted of…

Danny Kirwan
Bob Welch
Christine McVie
John McVie
Mick Fleetwood

This will always be my favorite Fleetwood Mac lineup.

Three years after the Bare Tree was released, I walked into a record store looking for a copy of their current (1975) album, the self-titled, Fleetwood Mac. It was sold out. In the bin though, was a lone album with a beautiful photograph of leafless trees in a fog. I bought the album thinking it would sound similar to the Fleetwood Mac album receiving so much radio play at the time. I was 14.

When I got back to my house, I broke the cellophane with my thumbnail, laid the disc down on my turntable, and played the album for the first time. All the while, I stared at the picture on the album cover. To my surprise, the album sounded nothing like the Fleetwood Mac I’d been hearing on the radio for the past few months. It spoke to me though.

At the time I was already listening to a lot of Steely Dan, Moody Blues, and Pink Floyd and have no problem saying my tastes were a little more sophisticated than most 14-year olds. Like I did with most new albums at the time, I kept it on my turntable for several days without listening to anything. Bare Trees would soon become a favorite album and remain so to this day.

Eventually I would own the self-titled Fleetwood Mac album, as well as Rumours and Tusk. I’ll confess, and to the likely dismay of my musically inclined friends, I still listen to those albums and still enjoy them. The three classic albums are classics for a reason.

Bare Trees though, is a gem. It’s distinct from every other Fleetwood Mac album. There’s a gentleness and intelligence to it which was lost when Kerwan and Welch left the band. Nothing big happens on the album, just a lot of richness that pleases the ears and, for me, never gets old.

When I hear people speak of the near-holy reverence they have for Peter Green, or the tens of millions of albums sold by the classic lineup, I sometimes feel like Kirwan/Welch lineup and Bare Trees were kidnapped and left to die in the trunk of a car.
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We’re all busy, I get it. But if you ever have time, check out Bare Trees from beginning to end. It does for the ears during difficult times what good brandy does for the mood on a cold winter’s night.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
201 miles
9,100’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 07 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 Fleetwood Mac. Enjoy…

Coffee And Carpet Tacks…

I’ll set the scene…

It’s 430am. Fresh out of the shower, and despite only five broken hours of sleep, my body slowly comes to life. I sit on the sofa breathing in the fragrance of Don Francisco‘s vanilla coffee, which sits on the table beside me in a cup from the 2016 Rose Bowl. I grab it with my left hand, raise it to mouth, and take the first sip.

Ahhhhh…

The metamorphosis begins — the sleepy caterpillar emerges from the cocoon of the night and in less than 20-minutes becomes a functional human being. The first sip of coffee awakens my senses and sends a gentle pulse through my body. It’s the most pure moment of my day.

On the table beside my coffee cup is a small dish of carpet tacks. As the first taste of coffee fades, but before I take a second sip, I grab a small handful of the carpet tacks and put them in my mouth. I begin chewing them. There’s a shock as the steel tacks collide with the enamel on my teeth. Pain manifests as the sharp tips pierce my tongue and the roof of my mouth. The lingering flavor of coffee gives way to the taste of blood.

I force myself to chew them, despite the shock and pain. Every closure of my jaws sends a jolt through my body and I’m more awake but less alive as I force myself to continue chewing. I want to spit them out, but I’m addicted to the pain. Of course I don’t really chew a handful of carpet tacks each morning. I log onto Facebook, but it’s a fair comparison.

For all the pleasure and awakening that my shower and coffee provide me each morning, that mood is killed as immediately as I see the first signs of hatred, argument, and ignorance being tossed around on Facebook. Still, I wake up and do it again, day after day. Something’s gotta give. Maybe.

For over a decade, the coffee and the carpet tacks have gone together. I’ve seen them as interconnected — can’t have one without the other. That said, the carpet tacks weren’t always steel or sharp. They weren’t even carpet tacks. In the beginning, they were more like coffee grounds from the bottom of the cup — a little bit course and bitter, but an easy inconvenience to bypass.

Somewhere, between 2010 and 2016, people’s attitudes towards one another began to change. By mid 2015, I was chewing carpet tacks every morning, in equal portion to the coffee I was sipping. And maybe I’m not really talking about coffee either. Maybe that too is a metaphor for the positive friendships and interactions I’ve come to appreciate each morning on Facebook.

There’s Bill and Ron up in Barsdale, Pete in Brisbane, Lara in Vacaville, Dawn in Valley Center, and Judy in upstate New York, to name a few. There’s Tim in Steamboat and another Tim in Utrecht. Mike in Virginia. There are many others. It’s been like a virtual coffee house, where humor, greetings, and casual pats on the back are exchanged. Information, photographs, and music are shared, and a camaraderie exists that rival a coffee shop, a pub, or the cardio theater in any gym.

But then there’s the carpet tacks.

Anyone who knows me understands the struggles I’ve had negotiating this duality for the past few years. A large part of me says to just walk away — forget Facebook and all the negativity. I should invest that time in anything more productive. For a long time I’ve resisted that desire, always seeing the positive side of Facebook as being greater than negative. Recently though, if I’m being honest, the negative side has grown to monstrous proportions.
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I’ve begun to throw it out there that I intend to delete my Facebook page, and may do so as soon as this week. Every time I think about it though, I think about the value of those relationships — those people in other places, near and far, that enhance my days and enrich my life for what they bring to the table each morning and each evening.

That’s where my real struggle is — throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

As I write this, and as a pedal through my community each day, I spend much of my time considering whether or not Facebook should be a part of my future. I value those relationships, but have so much disdain for all the ugliness, ignorance, and hatred I must wade through to get to the good stuff.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Of course the obvious solution is to limit my time on Facebook and amend my connections. Perhaps I’ll give this a try, but the more likely solution is to just walk away. If I do walk away, I’ll continue to write for this blog weekly, and possibly more frequently. I’ll keep you posted.

This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
195 miles
8,600’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
11,044 calories
12 hours 58 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 Otis Gibbs. Enjoy…

From Now Until 2790…

Going back 250,000 years, the approximate time homo sapiens have inhabited the earth, 100-billion of us have lived. With few downward fluctuations, the human population has increased every year. If that increase ended today, and we leveled off at the current population of just over 7-billion people, that would fix our an annual birth rate at 130-million. At the rate of 130-million persons born each year, it would take just 770-years for the next 100-billion persons to be born. That would take us to the year 2790, should we make it that far.

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Consider this…

If we do make it to 2790, then most of the human beings who will have ever lived haven’t even been born as of today. In just 770 years, more human beings will be born than in the first quarter million years of our existence. That’s remarkable to me — that most of humanity will live in an amount of time that’s a fraction of the time human beings took to arrive at today.

What’s also remarkable is that between now and 2790, there will be just 25 generations. That’s a fraction of the 8,500 generations prior. Still, these next 25 generations might be the most significant in human history, and may have more ownership in the possible outcomes of human existence than the the previous 8,500 generations. The next 25 generations will have the potential to pass along our best traits, as well as our worst.

Putting the spotlight on this narrow slice of humanity is the best reminder that the choices we make today, as individuals and as societies, are supremely correlated with all the possible outcomes for the human species. Every decision our elected leaders make, from defense policy, to public health, waste management and recycling, race relations, spending, ethics, journalism, and technology matter.

Our individual choices matter just as much. From how much toothpaste we put on the toothbrush, to how much we drive per day, how much we eat, how much we argue, how many paper towels we use at a time, and especially how we treat others. What may appear to be our simplest and most insignificant individual choices may have a weighted impact the future of man.

Our generation is one of just a handful that are pivotal. We can refuse to learn, refuse to teach, refused to accept, refuse to take action and kick the can down the road like most every generation before us. If you do the math though, that road ahead may only be 25 generations long.

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

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
201 miles
8,400’ climbing
14.7 mph avg
11,207 calories
13 hours 37 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 Wishbone Ash. Enjoy…!

Let The Music Be My Master…

Though I have no way to accurately measure this, I estimate that my thoughts turn to music — songs, lyrics, albums, or bands and artists every 15 minutes or so. Those thoughts may be fleeting, but they continually bounce around my head like balls in a bingo hopper.

I earn my living as a fitness trainer, something I enjoy doing and am grateful for. In teaching exercise, I’m always in the presence of others when I work. I’m also a caregiver for my elderly mother. When I’m not working with clients, mom is never more 30-feet from me. I’m in face-time, all day long.

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For much of my adult life, playing albums and more recently digital music, has been a daily ritual for me. In the mornings while prepping for my day, in the evenings while cooking, and on the weekends while doing household chores and yardwork. Engaged in any of that, applying my personal soundtrack has always enhanced those experiences.

The most important of my music rituals though, has always been Sunday mornings on the porch, sipping coffee with my dog on my lap and listening to the Cowboy Junkies, James McMurtry, and Colin Hay among others.

Then, five years ago, I made the decision to move both my business and my mother into my home on the same week. Since I’m either in the presence of clients or my mother, there’s little opportunity to run music in the background or to just sit and enjoy it in purposeless relaxation.

In bicycling, one rides with their ears first. Awareness of what’s around you might save your life, so listening to music while cycling is never an option.

It comes in bits and pieces these days. I wake up early and before I commit to too much of anything, I pick one song to listen to — from beginning to end. No specific genre, just whatever pops into my head first. Usually it’s via Spotify or YouTube.

As the day goes on, and if I get a break in-between clients, fixing meals for mom, or taking care of the pets, I try and listen to another song or two. One of the upsides of social media is that friends share songs regularly. Sometimes old songs, sometimes new, very often songs or artists I’ve never heard before. I have something called The Rule Of Three…

In a day’s time, I attempt to listen to three songs shared by other people. It reminds me to stop and listen to a little music, often exposes me to something new, and may even improve my mood. I think this is a good way to be.

And as I snack on songs intermittently throughout the day, they sustain me but they don’t necessarily nourish me in the same way sitting on my porch and listening to an album once did.

And as the day winds down and I crawl into bed, my laptop is on my bedside table facing toward me. I watch documentaries about music, bands, and the recording process. I watch interviews with musicians, music executives, and producers. I might also sneak in one or two more songs at low volume so I don’t wake my mom.

The way I listen tomusic has changed in recent years, a response to the way my life has changed. What hasn’t changed, is that music is one of the best best friends I’ve ever had.

Lastly, as I reflect back on this I realize the most important relationships I’ve had and continue to maintain seem to involve music — either directly or peripherally. I think that’s beautiful. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
174 miles
7,400’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
9,800 calories
11 hours 36 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 new gem from the great Joe Ely. Enjoy…!

Bringing Fun Home…

I consider myself fortunate through all of this. My life has been largely unaffected by the pandemic, and despite the political and social upheaval in the nation, the patterns of my day-to-day existence haven’t changed too much.

I’m grateful.

I went out later last night, for a ride that would bring me home well after dark. I took the mountain bike which I don’t do that often — there just isn’t much trail riding nearby. There is an old golf course though, gone back to seed, that’s become a public recreation area, so I headed there to tear it up for a while and leave the day behind.

Despite that I ride every day, something felt different last night. Being on a mountain bike versus a road bike brought out the kid in me. On the ride to the golf course I was jumping on and off sidewalks, taking air while going over speed bumps, and cutting through private property for that off-road feeling.

I was having fun.

And as I was zigzagging across property easements and bunny hopping over irrigation lines, I realized it’s been a long time since I felt the outright sensation of fun. I ride every day, I walk, I exercise, and I meditate. I have conversations with friends, I work in the yard, and I’m employed in a job I love. But I can’t remember the last time I had fun like I had on last night’s ride.

And then I thought about it. Fun used to be an every day thing for me — I more or less designed my life around the idea of fun, yet it’s been missing.

Sometime back in March, when the reality of this pandemic set in, the civil unrest manifest, and as the political strife we’re experiencing has grabbed every available headline, my ability to have fun vanquished. And then, out of nowhere, it showed up last night.

And how did fun come back to me…? By being airborne — by jumping over a speedbump on Old River Road in Bonsall.

Being airborne is a kid thing.

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I’ll be chewing on that in the coming days and seeing what I can do to bring fun home again. Last night illuminated that I’ve allowed fun to disappear from my life — be kidnapped actually, by the headlines of the world and the nonsense of people arguing over them.

Maybe in the world would be a better place if we all got airborne, for just a few minutes each day.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tobio Obsession
26 miles
1,100’ climbing
14.0 mph avg
1,400 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Where The Rose Is Sown, by Big Country

Morning Pins And Needles…

I’m the early riser in the house — 4:15 most mornings. I’m in the shower by 4:16. Stroodle, my 17-year-old chihuahua, pops up and heads to the back door as soon I exit the shower. Mom, 90, wakes up last, usually around 6:00. She checks on me and then goes back to bed for another hour or so. My workday starts at 7:00 or 8:00, depending on the day.

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We don’t just live together, I’m the caretaker for my mom and the steward for Stroodle. Their care is in my hands. No matter what else I do with the course of the day, my pass/fail grade each day is based solely on how good their days are.

It’s come up a time or two in recent months that when I stepped out of the shower, Stroodle hasn’t popped out of bed and run to the back door as he usually does. My panic is brief though, because as I step toward the bed to check on him, that’s when he pops up, full of life and energy. All is good with the world.

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A few weeks ago, failing to pop up after my shower, and completely still as I stepped toward the bed, my heart stopped. At 17, I know that his time could come any day. I slowly placed my hand on his ribs, which were warm, and rolled him gently back-and-forth. No movement. I stepped back and took a deep breath. The time had come.

Standing there, gathering my thoughts and determining whether or not I’d work that day, he popped up like the little kid he is, jumped off the bed and ran to the back door.

All was good with the world.

A few minutes later, we carried on with our morning routine, me sipping coffee and writing, with him on my lap and back to sleep. My workday was to begin at 7:00 that day. By 6:45 mom had not been up. Occasionally she struggles with her sleep, so I assumed she was just sleeping in a bit. I stepped into my studio, closed the door and worked my first two sessions. Through that 2-hour period though, I kept one ear to the other side of the house, hoping to hear some noise from mom. Nothing.

At 9:00, during my first break, I stepped into the house to check on mom. Her bedroom door was still closed and the newspaper, which I leave for her beside the coffee pot, was still there unopened. I put my right hand on the door knob to her bedroom, turned it slowly, and making as little noise as possible pushed it open. She lay on her bed, completely still.

I swallowed hard, took a half-step back, and watched to see if she were breathing. In a darkened room, with her shades pulled down, it appeared that she wasn’t. I probably processed a couple hundred thoughts in just a few seconds. No, I thought, not today. Her hand then moved, just a little bit, and as she turned her head I heard her breathe.

I stepped back, closed the door quietly, walked to the kitchen and stared out the back window for a few minutes as I took it all in.

In the course of just a few hours, though only for a few moments each, I had believed my canine companion of 17-years and my mom had each passed away in their sleep. That circumstance has happened with each of them previously, but never both on the same morning.

I’m a caregiver for my 90-year-old mother and a steward for my 17-year-old dog. Both are in relatively good health, but 90 and 17. I work from home, leave long enough each day to go for a bike ride and to pick up whatever essentials we might need from the market.

With no plans to move anytime soon, it’s fair to suggest that both my mom and my dog will live out all their days in this house. And it’s also fair to suggest, I’ll spend more mornings on pins and needles, if only for a few moments each.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
196 miles
8,500’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
11,049 calories
13 hours 11 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 new gem from The Waterboys. Enjoy…!

 

Dogs Are Love…

For Sparkie and Baxter

I originally wrote this for my Facebook page back in December. I’ve been chewing on it the last few days though, since the person who inspired it lost her girl, Sparkie, this week.

Kirsten and I first connected nearly a decade ago, via the fitness blogging community. We’ve never met face-to-face, but we’ve had enough interactions through the years that I consider her a true friend. Six or seven years ago, in a reply to one of my Facebook posts, she impacted my life significantly with this simple comment…

“Dogs are love…”

It was in response to a picture I posted of my dog, Stroodle, when he was a puppy.

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I consider myself a dog person. With few exceptions, there’s been a dog in my life every day since I was born. Kirsten’s comment that day took my appreciation of dogs to another level, though I’m not sure why. Perhaps because it came at a difficult time in my life — I don’t know. I only know that from that moment forward, those words have resonated daily. Yes, every day since reading that comment, it’s run through my head, often several times a day.

“Dogs are love…”

It’s not as if I didn’t already think dogs were love. I did. I do. I always will.

The older I get though, the more I believe dogs are angels here on earth, and I mean that literally. Dogs are here to observe and report back. For those who are concerned about privacy in this era of technology, if you have a dog, all bets are off. They see everything we do, they know everything we think, and they report it back to the mothership in real time.

Something’s happened to me in the last decade or so — like a personal dog/love renaissance. I hold dogs in a much higher regard and with a greater reverence than I ever have, and that appreciation increases with each passing day. I love and appreciate dogs, all dogs, more today than I did yesterday. I will love them that much more tomorrow — all of them.

My love for dogs has softened a lot of hard edges in my life and rounded some sharp corners. It’s made me take more frequent and more honest inventories of who I am. My love of dogs has provided me with the best possible template of how to better conduct myself in all aspects of my life — to be more humble, more forgiving, more patient, show more gratitude, be more trusting, and to love more — unconditionally.

Last week, Kirsten, who inspired this piece, lost her girl Sparkie after 14 years. Several days ago, my sister-in-law also lost her dog, Baxter. My response to each, on learning of their losses, was the same response I offer everyone under the same circumstances, and it’s possibly one of the best sentences ever constructed…

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Sparkie…

“When you get to heaven, all your dogs come runnin’ to ya…” Kinky Friedman

I will add to that, the only truth I’ve ever known is looking into the eyes of a dog.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
196 miles
8,600’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
11,040 calories
13 hours 10 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 Greyhounds. Enjoy…!