I sat down to write this morning, but the thing I write about most, cycling, didn’t happen yesterday. Still, the compulsion to write during morning coffee is still in me. It’s not just part of my daily structure, writing and sharing my thoughts each day have become my identity. And the thing that gives my life the most satisfaction, sadly, is feeding that identity.
My identity should be the people I love, the way I love them, and the things I do for others. My identity should be my work, my actions in my community, and my willingness to put others ahead of me. All of those would make a worthy identity. I recognize this and think about it every day. The identity I covet though, and the only one I really pursue, is my social media identity.
I’m the guy in your feed who rides bikes, takes pictures, and shares all of that to an audience of dozens each morning. It makes me feel worthwhile that a handful of people, most of whom I’ve never met, see me and give me a little heart, a thumbs-up, or a happy face — can’t disappoint them. Really though, it’s myself I don’t want to disappoint. I need those thumbs-ups, those hearts, and those happy faces to fuel the ego that’s directly connected to that identity.
And that identity I covet so much, that fuels my ego, and that I’ve built my entire life around…? It’s also a ball and chain. Not only does that identity keep me from expanding beyond the sum of its components, but it makes me less approachable to others, in so many ways. I’m an island, tied to a 7-inch screen.
There’s times I want to shed the identity — to walk away and move on. But then my ego would starve, my self-worth would dwindle, and I’d turn to a life of apathy, self-pity, or gluttony. It’s kind of an all or nothing proposition with me — be the me I covet, or be the me I loathe. I just can’t seem to be the me I think I should be — the one that Muhammad, Confucius, or Jesus would look at with respect.
And the funniest part of all is that this identity I speak of — well, I’m probably the only one who sees it as my identity. Perhaps everyone else just sees me as me, and the things that I think define me, are just traits or quirks others see in me and accept, or not, but like me anyway.
This is what I think about when I think… Jhciacb
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Glossary. Enjoy…!
My 3rd grade year was, perhaps, the most formative year of my life. Most of the questions, struggles, and dualities which haunt me today, began forming around the of age 8 or 9. Those were the years I learned about war, divorce, suicide, social unrest, and the destructive powers of alcohol and hard drugs.
Though I may have been exposed to all of those earlier, that was the time in my life when I became able to comprehend them. In 1970, the harsher side of life began to show up in my city, in my neighborhood, and even in my family. The innocent boy who’d previously been a wide-eyed spectator to the world, became absorbed as a participant.
During my 3rd grade year, the older brother of a classmate was killed in Vietnam. As shocking as that was, I was more confused, and saddened that my classmate had to go to school the next day. Perhaps mom and dad had no better way to create space to deal with their loss.
A well respected businessman from the neighborhood, when caught stealing money from the company he worked for, decided to take his own life rather than face a trial. His daughter, Connie, the cutest girl on my diving team, had a perpetual smile. She continued with diving practice after the loss of her father, but the smile gave way to a haunting stare which remained until her family moved away later that summer.
A kid who lived on the street behind me died of a drug overdose. I didn’t know it was a drug overdose at the time. To protect me, my parents told me he’d gotten sick on a trip to Estes Park with his parents. I’d later learn that, though he had been in Estes Park with his parents, he’d taken some (unspecified) drugs along the way — apparently too much.
Not long after, a kid from down the street drowned at a nearby lake. Again, to protect me, my parents told me that his legs got caught in some underwater vegetation that held him down. And again, I’d later learn later that he’d been drinking, passed out in the lake, and drowned.
It was in my 3rd grade year that my own parents, who’d previously said “for better or worse“, decided to void that contract, at least for a while. They’d actually done it once before, when I was in kindergarten, but I didn’t understand it at that time. In the 3rd grade though, it was a kick in the stomach that lasted for months. They would reunite, only to break up again, a couple of more times during my childhood.
The 3rd grade is when I began talking to myself. In part, because I enjoyed conversations with myself more than those I had with friends — I could be more creative, stretch truths, and call fantasies into order. But also, because what few friends I had, weren’t interested in what I had to say. The 3rd grade is when I developed my lifelong tendency toward isolation.
It was the year my teacher, Betsy Ridell, frustrated from me asking the same question several times over, pulled my head back so I could look her in the eye while she scolded me. She didn’t mean to cut my forehead with her fingernails, but when she saw blood, her disposition changed. My dad took it from there.
I was in the 3rd grade when the Beatles, who I’d only begun to appreciate, broke up. Songs like Come Together, Magical Mystery Tour, and Let It Be opened my ears and mind wider than I could have imagined. Don McLean be damned, when I heard that the Beatles broke up, it really was the day the music died.
Apollo 13, the most haunting thing I’d ever been exposed to, took place that year. Could anything be more frightening to a nine-year-old than astronauts floating into space for eternity, or until they ran out of oxygen…? One morning my mother told me about an earthquake in Peru that took 80,000 lives.…
“Some of them“ she said, “were probably Cub Scouts like you…“
Mom didn’t say that to scare me. I’m sure she hoped it would foster empathy. But I cried myself to sleep that night, and it didn’t want to go to school the next day.
And the riots of 1970…? My dad would have me believe that life outside suburbia was unsafe, and a place I should never go. The required evening news drove home a fear in me of the inner city, by watching it burn on television, that’s still with me today.
When I think about my doubts, fears, character flaws, and the visceral cynicism that underlies them all, it was the petri dish of my 3rd grade year which provided the perfect environment for it all to grow. And I think about that time in my life, and in the world, every day of my life.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Slightly Stoopid. Enjoy…!
Due to the the extensive interstate and non-interstate travel of my youth, through my teens, and into my adult life, when I fly anywhere in the United States and look down, I’m certain to have driven on the roads below.
Beyond the large and obvious landmarks of The Tetons, the Grand Canyon, and the Mississippi River, I always know what region I’m flying over, what towns and cities are below, and which roads break it all up. Flying over the United States is like being in a time machine that, in just a few hours, can visit every age of my life.
Last week, enroute to San Miguel de Allende, in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, my flying experience was changed. Flying over the interior of Mexico, though I’ve been on a few roads and through a few regions, was strange. No less spectacular than flying over the American southwest, but foreign. No hillside, lake, village, nor road seen from above had ever been in my view before.
I looked for all the usual suspects — Shiprock in New Mexico, Lake Mead, the Colorado River, but nothing. The land formations, washes, and all the towns and villages were a mystery. As I took it all in, I couldn’t help but think the natives looking out the windows in front of and behind me, might know every square mile. At one point, flying over a massive body of water, I tried to recall what the largest lake in Mexico was. It had escaped me that I’d be flying over the Gulf Of Baja. One of my favorite places on earth to be on the shoreline, is differently spectacular from above.
I thought about culture too. My daughter, an archaeologists, once told me that the word culture can’t be defined. I might’ve been the lone American male on my flight. I was also the only one in short pants with a ponytail. The other men, regardless of age, wore denim pants, leather shoes, and had well-groomed hair — and their shirts tucked in. Nearly every woman, regardless of age, had their dark straight hair pulled back in long ponytails. Despite my daughter’s edict to the contrary, I think that’s the very definition of culture.
My return flight, from Guanajuato to Tijuana was different — it was at night. Flying over the United States at night, I know well the difference between the lights of St. George Utah, Flagstaff Arizona, or the quad-cities of Illinois and Iowa. When I see a narrow line of lights stretching 100-miles in length from south to north, and it’s bordered by complete blackness to the west, I’m looking down on the cities of Colorado’s front range.
Flying over Mexico at night was guesswork. Dozens, hundreds of clusters of lights below were indistinguishable — just a scattering of small towns and villages flickered into the slowly moving horizon. A half-dozen large cities surprised me. Maybe they were home to a half-million or a million people — I don’t know. They existed though, in airborne anonymity to me. I had no idea where I was.
Last week’s trip is a story for another blog — or two. Flying to and from though, wasn’t so much a reminder of how small the world I live in is. It was a reminder that the world beyond my world, though not infinite, is spectacularly large — and largely unexplored by me.
This is what I think about when I fly… Jhciacb
If you dig it, please share and help spread the word. Oh, and there’s this from Graham Nash. Enjoy…!
All photos were taken with an iPhone 11, and with no color adjustments — only slight contrast adjustments when needed.
I spent a lot of my rolling time this week, thinking about Senator John Fetterman. More specifically, about the public perception of Fetterman‘s choice to take leave of his Senate seat, to address a mental health concern. Fetterman has dealt with depression, intermittently, throughout his adult life. According to sources, that depression became more severe after a recent stroke. Approximately 1/3rd of all stroke survivors experience some level of depression.
Members of the opposing political party, and some media outlets supporting that party, were quick to call for Fetterman’s resignation. They argued that someone dealing with a mental health issue was not fit to execute the responsibilities of that job. If living and dealing with mental a health issue precludes one from performing their job, at least half of America should be out of work, according to that reasoning. Fetterman’s decision to do what’s in the best interest of his mental health, is not only admirable, it was brave. It sets an example for others, that mental health should be addressed — like any other illness.
When past members of the senate and the house of representatives have dealt with physical issues such as heart disease, cancer, and other debilitating physical issues, their constituencies, as well as their contemporaries from both parties, have supported them. Failing to do this for a mental health issue sends a horrible message to the tens of millions of Americans who are already afraid to take that step into the hospital that Fetterman took last week — to get help.
This shouldn’t be a partisan or a media thing. The stigma associated with mental illness is the largest barrier between those who need help, and the help that’s available to them. That we stand up for and support people dealing with cancer, heart disease, and other physical illnesses, but wince or belittle someone who struggles with mental health, is to our national shame.
I’ve lived with mental health issues since I can remember. I can’t count the times that, in the middle of an otherwise ordinary day, I’ve thought about stopping whatever I was doing and checking myself into a hospital — because I felt I was profoundly incompatible with the world around me. And for that precise fear of being stigmatized, outcast, or perhaps put in the wrong level of treatment, I John Wayne’d my way through it, finding therapy in exercise, writing, and for 10 years of my life, through alcohol. Somehow, and by the grace of God, I’ve managed to stay ahead of it, though the shadow of depression still leans over me regularly.
Until we view and discuss mental illness in the same way we see cancer, heart disease, or rheumatoid arthritis, people will be afraid to seek treatment they need, and the problem will cascade, only to grow larger, and larger still. Regardless of your political persuasion, or what your agenda is in the voting booth, we should support Senator Fetterman in the same way we would support our own child. He set an excellent example for the millions of people who are hesitant to take the exact step that he took — a step that may have saved his life.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
If you dig it, please share and help spread the word. Oh, and there’s this from Tex Perkins and Murray Paterson. Enjoy…!
Before I leave to ride each afternoon, I put one of the critters in charge of the house while I’m gone — to ensure no intruders get in. I sit on the sofa between Mischa Kitty and Stroodle Dog and it goes like this…
“Mischa, you get the nod today. Stroodle will be your lieutenant and backup if needed, but otherwise it falls on you. Use your cunning first, and your ability to reason. Use your teeth and claws only if you need to. I’ll be gone for a couple of hours. When I return, you can have the evening off…”
On the days Stroodle gets the nod, Mischa is lieutenant and backup. On Sundays they both get the day off, but are essentially on-call when I’m gone.
Before I close the door, I ask if either one has any questions. Neither has ever asked me a question — a sign of their respect for my authority. As I pedal from the driveway I’m confident that, whoever’s in charge, my home is in good hands. Ehr, good paws.
Stroodle is 20 now, and slowing down. In our time together, we’ve shared seven homes. In that time he’s flawlessly protected each one. As I’m now contemplating my own retirement, it occurs to me that Stroodle’s working days should be behind him. He’s paid his dues.
Before I left yesterday, I sat with Mischa and Stroodle and had an overdue discussion. I explained to Stroodle that his working days are done. Mischa, now 9, was handed the torch. In time, I told her, there will be another critter, most likely a dog, to share the responsibilities. However, for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be her gig. She’ll still get Sundays off, and on the days Mischa’s not feeling well, Stroodle can pick up a shift here and there if he’s up for it.
It may seem eccentric or even crazy that I talk to my critters this way, and that they have assigned responsibilities. The ritual is good for all of us though — it’s a way that we bond through the sound of my voice, and it gives them a sense of purpose, And for a small portion of my day, somebody actually listens to me.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Billy Joe Shaver & Company. Enjoy…
I created my first Facebook account in 2006. A friend, familiar with the organization, assured me it was going to be huge. I didn’t use that account much, but as Facebook grew in popularity and more people I knew were using it, I got increasingly drawn in. This was before the era of the smartphone and my desktop computer was my exclusive porthole into social media. I’d check Facebook for a few minutes each morning, again in the evening, and maybe in the middle of the day if I wasn’t too busy. It was far from being the center of my world.
The evolution of my Facebook use was subtle, but increased over time. The more connections I made, the more time I spent using the platform. And as evolutions go, I barely noticed what was happening. With the advent of the smartphone and the Facebook app in 2008, the social network left my desktop for my hip pocket. On a dime, I went from checking it 2 to 3 times a day, to checking it in the grocery line, at traffic lights, waiting for a waitress to take my order, and anytime I wasn’t otherwise engaged — including airport bathrooms. It became central to my daily experience.
As my use increased, I found value in the platform — I’m a people person and Facebook is made out of people. I’m also an introvert with a tendency toward social awkwardness, so it allowed me to fulfill my need for human connections, but from a safe distance. I enjoyed connecting with people over music, fitness, and art. I also participated in my share of sophomoric hijinks, including homemade videos of my talking dog.
Between 2010 and 2015, as the tenor the nation began to sour, Facebook became more political, more volatile, and increasingly divided. Finger-pointing, abusive language, and vitriol became the the currency of exchange for many. As this manifest, it became a badge of honor for some to be sent to Facebook jail, to have their accounts suspended, or like my brother in 2020, banned from Facebook for life. During this time, many left the platform of their own accord due to the negativity.
As the platform grew more negative, I leaned in with a more positive presence. I shared original stories, original photographs, and kept my interactions as positive as possible, though I still participated in some sophomoric hijinks — because in a nation absent of decorum and struggling to stand up straight, I never lost my sense of humor.
As interactions grew more negative, the call increased from governments, action groups, and parents for Facebook to minimize threats, abusive language, and people who abuse the platform. Facebook responded with the use of artificial intelligence (bots and algorithms) to determine who was violating their “community standards”. Those in violation would have their use limited or suspended, with little recourse on the part of the offender. As this continued, inconsistencies began to surface in how Facebook justice was administered…
Recently a woman photographed a dramatic image — her own shadow against low gray clouds. The image was magnificent and made it around the internet in a matter of days. When a friend shared it on Facebook last week, I made the comment…
“Witchcraft. Burn her…!“
Within 48-hours I was notified by Facebook my comment went against community standards and my account had been suspended for 3-days. This came just two weeks after a similar suspension for using the word “execute“ in a proper sentence. Keep in mind, no human being was a part of that judicial process. Justice was administered by artificial intelligence. The algorithm did give me the opportunity to appeal my sentence, but made clear the appeals process could take several weeks — for a 3-day suspension.
With nearly 3-billion accounts, I understand why Facebook could never staff or pay enough humans to take on a task that bots and algorithms can do far more efficiently. I also understand that they’re working to minimize kinks in the process so innocent people don’t have their accounts suspended for using the word “execute” in a proper sentence. In truth, I really don’t have an issue with my account being suspended for those minimal infractions.
The issue I have with Facebook though, is its repeated use of the term “community standards”. This is a company who’s representative have a lied under oath before the US Congress. It’s a company which has manipulated its algorithms in ways to make the platform more addictive for everyone, including and especially children. It’s gathered information for the benefit of selling it without user knowledge. It eavesdrops as a means of targeting and redirecting its advertisers. It has knowingly created divisions among users because those divisions have been proven, by Facebook‘s own staff, to keep users engaged longer and more frequently.
In short, Facebook is a manipulative, devious, and self-serving enterprise which puts marketshare and profit ahead of all other concerns — including the mental health of children. I don’t need them preaching community standards when a part of their mission is tearing communities apart on behalf of marketshare and profits. Nearly all of what I’ve shared on Facebook, going back a generation now, has been positive in nature. I’m one of the good ones — one of the people who tries each day to make the experience positive, not just for me, but for those I interact with.
What Facebook bots and algorithms don’t take into consideration when they suspend or ban users like me, is that they’re also separating families and friendships. I’m grateful each week I can connect with friends and family around the world. That experience has helped me during difficult times. Facebook is also a business tool for me — I use it to promote my small business, and always in a positive way. My Spoke And Word Page on Facebook has been the best therapy I’ve ever had for dealing with my mental health issues.
In a world where it’s reinforced daily that we shouldn’t take things personally, I take this very personally — I’m hardwired that way. I’ve been one of Facebook‘s biggest fans. Despite their corporate nonsense, the miracle of global interconnection can’t be overstated. The influence on my life, from people I’ve connected with via that medium, has made me a more rounded person and broadened my mind in ways I could’ve never imagined to 2005.
Being suspended for an innocuous comment negatively impacted my livelihood, my personal relationships, and even my mental health. I’ll accept this, my second 3-day suspension, and I’ll likely return to my Facebook routine when it expires — maybe. That said, if I find myself suspended for an innocent comment again, I’ll walk away and never look back, even at the expense of family connections, my business, and my mental health.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
15.1 mph avg
Seat Time: 10 hours 12 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. 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 Leo Sayer. Enjoy…!
There’s something about a bicycle — you experience travel at a human scale. You see, smell, hear, and feel your surroundings just like walking or hiking. Cycling takes place though, at a pace where you can actually go somewhere.
Last week my friends Ashley, Tim, and I rode our bikes along Route 66 from Victorville California to Seligman Arizona. We did this over five days. Below are some of the highlights.
Day One: Shuttling The Car…
We met in Seligman Arizona which would be the final destination of our tour. I drove from Fallbrook while Tim and Ashley arrived from Phippsburg Colorado. We spent the night at The Historic Route 66 Motel in Seligman. Our rooms were comfortable, clean, and decorated with plenty of Route 66 shtick.
After checking into our motel, we walked around Seligman and met a few locals. We also met Pancho, who may have been a ridgeback/bulldog mix. Pancho was both friendly and photogenic. There’s not much in Seligman — just a crossroads of Route 66 and I-40. It’s s also a staging area for trains. It was charming though, and I’d like to go back and spend a couple nights there sometime.
We ended the evening with dinner at the Roadkill Café. The food was excellent, and as you’d expect at a restaurant on Route 66, the walls were adorned with remnants of mid-century America, including a Rickenbacker 6-string which Tim couldn’t ignore.
Day Two: Barstow To Victorville And Back — 52 miles
The following morning we left Tim and Ashley’s car in Seligman and headed to Victorville in my car with our bikes — but we never made it. Driving west from Seligman we decided to start in Barstow. We took a motel room in Barstow, staged our car, and took a day ride from Barstow to Victorville and back. It was a way to get in a few extra miles and get warmed up for the rest of the week.
A couple things I already knew about the desert, but was reminded of during our ride from Barstow to Victorville and back…
– The desert is hot
– The desert is dirty
– Desert communities which thrived 40 or 50 years ago have been largely abandoned
– People in the desert make cool shit out of junk
– The desert is where meth comes from
In-between the two towns though, the landscape was magnificent. I’m fascinated by desert horizons, shapes, contrasting hues, and where the jagged earth meets the faded blue sky in a beautiful conclusion.
We rode strong and had no issues that day. We stopped 25-miles out of Barstow at The Bottle Forest. We didn’t learn too much about it, but it appears to have been there for a while. Someone has crafted dozens of trees by welding small steel stems to vertical steel poles. The branches are adorned with old glass bottles, electrical line insulators, and antiques such as typewriters, musical instruments, cash registers, and more. There was a young couple having the prom pictures taken there. We thought that was cool.
Day 3: Barstow To Ludlow — 53 miles
This would be a short day, just 53 miles. We had a slow start out of Barstow. Roughly a mile in we had to make an adjustment to the trailer Tim and Ashley pulled behind their tandem bike. The adjustment took just a couple of minutes, but finding somebody to open the tool cachet at Walmart for the vice-grips we needed took nearly 45-minutes. Every Walmart is a Walmart, but the Walmart in the Barstow is the Walmartiest Walmart in the world. Every stereotype in the book.
Back on our bikes and just a few miles further down the road there we found ourselves at the front gate of the Marine Logistics Base in Barstow. Apparently Route 66 cuts through the base but civilians aren’t allowed on. They detoured us onto I-40 or a few miles before we could reconnect with Route 66.
From there we had a flat stretch with a tailwind that carried us at 19 mph for roughly 10-miles. We slowed a little from some shallow climbing for 30-miles or so. The riding day ended by descending into Ludlow a little after 1:30pm.
Temperature along the way was 103°. Riding wasn’t too difficult, but we definitely felt the heat. We stopped a couple of times along the way to take some photographs of railroad car graffiti, the basalt infused Martian landscape, and to drink water under the shade — but there was no shade.
After checking into our motel, we had lunch at the Ludlow Café. There we met two bicycle tourists, Eric and Alicia. They’re riding from coastal Orange County to Trenton New Jersey. Eric‘s mom passed away last year and he’s delivering some of her ashes to Trenton, where she’s from. It was fun to connect with them. We talked about bikes, routes, and just got acquainted a bit. I wished them well on their endeavor and tried to not let on that I was jealous.
We had a good night sleeping at the motel, and left early the following morning for Needles.
Day 4: Ludlow To Needles — 110 miles
This would be our longest stretch 110-miles and coincidentally in 110° heat. We got off to an early start, leaving Ludlow just before sunup. To our surprise, and not too far down the road, was a barricade that stretched the width of the road.
Our next section of Rout 66 was closed to traffic. Wait, what… 🤷🏼♂️ We came to ride Route 66.
We decided to take our chances and go around the barricade. Within a couple miles there was another barricade — we went around that one also. We just kept heading east, mile after mile, going around intermittent barricades. To that point, the road looked fine and we couldn’t understand why it was closed.
Maybe 10-miles in we began noticing portions of the road were washed out beside each barricade. We passed a half-dozen or so sections where large chunks of the road were washed out. There was always enough pavement though, to cross our bikes over safely. There was one section of road that was completely washed out so we carried our bikes around through the dried wash.
Long story less long…
We got to ride a 62-mile stretch of Route 66 with virtually no automobile traffic, except the occasional engineering vehicle in the area to assess the washed out portions of road. We road side-by-side and for much of it, and on the left-hand side of the road. We joked that we were taking the English Route 66.
I can’t stress enough what a gift that was — 62-miles of the nation’s most historic highway with no automobile traffic. Might have been the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike. I can’t imagine they’ll have the road fixed anytime soon, so I may go back later this summer and ride that stretch again.
The town of Fenner California is little more than a Chevron station with $8.49 per gallon gas. We stopped there to replenish our water bottles, take in some air-conditioning, and eat a little ice cream. There we met up with Eric and Alicia again. We enjoyed a little refrigeration time with them, rehydrating, and slamming calories. I drank four Vitamin Waters in less than 5-minutes and got so chilled that I went outside to warm up again.
Overall the day rode well. We had a tailwind for much of the day. Most of the climbing was gradual and the heat didn’t get to us until the last 20-miles or so. We stepped into the hotel in Needles tired but not defeated — we had just ridden across the Mojave desert in the peak of the day, and had fun doing it. After checking in we headed straight to the Chinese restaurant across the parking lot. Riding long distances in the desert heat will make you crave strange things. For the last few miles of the day, I just wanted to drink a bottle of blue cheese salad dressing, but settled for vegetables with tofu.
Thinking about our mileage that day, and missing Stroodle, I got to thinking if there’s such a thing as dog mileage — like dog years. I wondered if our 110-mile journey would’ve been more like 200-miles to him. You know, little legs and all.
Day 5: Needles To Kingman — 63 miles
We rode only 63-miles from Needles to Kingman, but climbed in excess of 5,000 feet by way of Oatman — some of the steepest climbing I’ve ever done. The temperature was 105°. If I counted correctly, I drank (10) bottles of water or Gatorade that day.
Oatman is an interesting town, small, touristy, and not much there really. Virtually every shop we walked into, the first words the shopkeeper spoke were…
“Ten-dollar minimum for debit cards…“
Oatman had a half-dozen burros walking around, soliciting food from tourists willing to pay five dollars for a handful of grass pellets. One shopkeeper, assuming we had no idea what we were doing, assured us that we had a difficult climb ahead. We made jokes at his mom’s expense the rest of the day.
The flipside of climbing through and above Oatman was a fun decent for about 6-miles — just coasting and taking in the scenery. Because it was a steep climb it was also a steep descent. Those 6-miles were more fun than any amusement park ride I’ve ever been on.
We did well for most of the day, even through the hard climbing. After our descent though, and a short roadside stop for fluids and food, the heat got the better of me. We had a 10-mile flat stretch into Kingman where I was feeling a little bit nauseous and loopy. At the end of that was a shallow climb and I was toast.
After checking into the motel, Tim and I jumped into the pool. I confided I was considering staying behind for a day. I was hot and exhausted. Tim understood and supported whatever decision I made. After a swim and an excellent Mexican dinner at La Catrina (highly recommend if you’re ever in Kingman), I decided to push on, which I knew I would. Maybe I just needed to hear myself speak my weakness. Yeah, that’s it.
I kept thinking of the Steven Wright joke…
“Anywhere is walking distance if you’ve got the time…”
So too with the bicycle, and I had the time.
Day 6: Kingman To Seligman — 83 miles
Riding from Kingman to Seligman is uphill most of the way. The climbing wasn’t steep, just slow going. We stopped mid-day on the Hualapai Reservation in Peach Springs Arizona. Lunch was at the Hualapai Lodge. Something about bicycle touring makes every restaurant meal the best meal ever. I ordered a basket of onion rings and began eating them before our waitress set them down. They were the best onion rings I’ve ever had, and the tater-tots I stole from Tim where every bit as good.
Perhaps an hour out of Kingman we began to see something we hadn’t seen much of during week — trees and brush. And as we gained elevation, the trees and brush increased. That would be a good thing because halfway between Peach Springs and Seligman, the bracket connecting the trailer to Tim and Ashley‘s bike broke and the trailer came loose.
If this had happened earlier in the week it would have posed a far greater problem. However, we were just a few hours from our final destination. With a car waiting at our motel in Seligman, Tim hid the trailer behind some brush and we continued on. He and Ashley would backtrack and retrieve it after checking into our motel.
With Tim and Ashley no longer towing their trailer, and with me still hauling my gear, they broke away. I finished the last 25-miles of our trip on my own — which gave me a little time to think about my mom. Mom lived much of her adult life in rural Arizona so it was a perfect place to reflect. Perhaps it was because I was thinking about my mom, or the fact that the trip was almost over, but I suddenly found myself crying as I pedaled into an unforgiving wind.
The final stretch into Seligman was brutal. Saddle-sore from a week of riding, I couldn’t stay on my seat. I pedaled standing up for the last 15-miles of the trip. As I drew closer to Kingman, the wind was as bad as it was all week. I was done — in every possible way.
When I arrived in Seligman, Tim and Ashley had already checked into the motel and were in their car ready to retrieve their trailer. I collapsed on the hotel bed for a few minutes, took a shower, I made a few phone calls to let people know I had arrived.
We had just completed the hardest part of Route 66 to ride by bicycle, and had done so in 100° heat every day. It was the most challenging physical endeavor of my life. At dinner that night, back at the Roadkill Café, we were already talking about our next our next adventure. No conclusions were made, other than deciding it needs to be a few days longer.
Straight up, Tim is the most durable cyclist I’ve ever met. Nothing bothered him. The sentence Ashley and I heard from him over and over last week was…
“We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine…“
Tim’s reassurance got us through the few tense moments we had. He was a fantastic leader.
Ashley is recovering from cancer for the second time. I’ll repeat that — for the second time…! Her final radiation treatment was in March. That’s a level of bravery I’ll never know — to ride a bike across the Mojave on the hottest week of the year while still in recovery. I was humbled by that every day.
For me, I didn’t bring much to the table other than a lot of ‘your mom’ jokes along the way. Every endeavor needs its comic relief and I did my best to do my part.
What’s the point of doing anything, I thought, if I can’t fill my social media feeds with pictures and words from the trip…? Each evening, after we settled into our motels and ate, I’d edit pictures and journal the day behind us. Tim and Ashley journaled the old fashion way, with a pen and notebook.
I ride a bike roughly 350 days per year. Each morning when I wake up, before I pet my dog or turn on the coffee pot, I ask myself, what’s it going to be today…? Where will I ride and how soon can I get out…? Waking up in Seligman Thursday morning was the first time in six years I had no desire to get on a bike. The urge will come back though, and I’ll likely have been on a bike before you read this.
Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough…
Adventure isn’t something that just happens. Adventure is a choice — it’s opening one’s self up to vulnerabilities and allowing their creative side to navigate around, through, and beyond them. Adventure might be the purest form of creativity I’ve ever known.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
The Tour By The Numbers…
12.5 mph avg
Seat Time: 31 hours 12 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. 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 Link Wray. Enjoy…!
The picture below hung in the upstairs hallway of my childhood home. My father purchased it before I was born, so it’s been a part of my life from my earliest days.
When I was smaller, it was over my head, both in placement and intellectually. As a toddler, I’d have to strain my neck just to look at it. In time though, I’d grow taller and my eyes would better connect with the cultures of the world. I was fascinated by the people, their varying skin tones, the different clothes they wore, and the religions they represented. I would read the message over and over again…
“Do unto others as you have them do unto you…”
Even as a child this seemed like a good way to be.
When I was tall enough, I’d remove the picture from the wall and prop it up on a table in my bedroom. I’d just stare at it — getting lost in the people and the stories they represented. The picture opened my mind to the possibilities of belief. I’d always make sure to put it back exactly as I found it though, so my parents wouldn’t know I was regularly removing it.
When my parents separated, Rockwell’s Golden Rule went with my father. Dad displayed it wherever he lived, from Montana, to New Jersey, to Las Vegas where he eventually retired. When my father passed away, the painting ended up in my hands, where it remains to this day — and I still stop to take it in daily.
Fast forward several decades…
The year I turned 40, my brother suggested I read The Religions Of Man by Huston Smith (1958, now called The World’s Religions). To this day, it remains the seminal text for introducing religion to first-year college students.
The book, like the Rockwell’s panting, captivated me. Smith’s book expanded the possibilities of belief. Every time I opened World’s Religions, and every time I’d start a new chapter, I’d flash back to Rockwell’s Golden Rule — it was a way to connect that painting with the rich history of religious observance from every corner of the world.
Each time I completed a chapter of The World’s Religions, I felt a visceral bond with the religion which had been covered. When I put the book down, I felt that I had a little bit of every religion in me. On completing the book, I dubbed myself a freelance person of faith.
Through dozens more books over the next twenty years, covering every religion from Shinto, to Sikhism, to Judaism, to Zoroastrianism, and beyond, I’d always feel better connected with the religion I was studying, and very often felt it was the perfect theology for me at that time, but remained committed to my religion of one.
More recently, the last couple years, my emphasis has been on learning about Islam, which is quite infectious the deeper one dives into it. Islam is, by far, the least understood of all the Abrahamic faiths, at least in the western world. I’ll suggest that the prejudice against Islam, especially in the United States, is far greater and more intense than any prejudice against Judaism and Christianity — to the point where it’s shameful. A story for another essay.
Anyway, I was looking at the picture below yesterday, and realized that my fascination — my love of religion began with a painting which hung in the hallway of my childhood home. And with a Christian mother and a Jewish father who, despite their many differences, never said a negative word about the religion each other was raised in. We should all be so graceful in matters of faith.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 4
Mph Avg: 13.8
Seat Time: 11 hours 11 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from The Grief Brothers. Enjoy…
For over a decade, my sidekick and I walked side-by-side at the Los Juilgeros Preserve — a 25-acre nature preserve just a mile from downtown Fallbrook. It’s a place where he enjoyed hunting for sniffs. Walking off leash from an early age, he had the freedom to roam and follow his nose, but never went too far from dad — and I never took my eyes off of him.
A few years back, around the time he turned 16, what we referred to as the Big Preserve was a little too big, and we took our walks to what we called the Little Preserve — a smaller but similar landscape, and our walks were reduced to less than a mile. And that’s where we’ve been walking for the last few years.
We don’t walk the Little Preserve anymore either. His steps are slower, his bones getting frail, and he tires easy. These days, we drive to the local school district office, which has a small park in front that’s dog friendly. I put him down, let him hunt for some sniffs, do his thing, and often he’ll lay in the sun for 5 or 10-minutes before we head home.
He still gets excited when I head to the front door, and ultimately I think that’s what it’s about — to leave the house, get in the car, and just go somewhere. When I think about it, it’s not too different than when I would take my mom to the airpark each day for lunch — just a reason to get out and see that the world is still there.
Missing the days of our longer walks, and missing the natural surroundings they took place in, I’ve been taking Stroodle once again to the Little Preserve. He doesn’t walk the trail anymore. I carry him like a little football tucked into my right arm. I carry him a few hundred yards, put him down, let him get a few sniffs, and if he’s so inclined, lay in the sun. Then I scoop him up, walk a few hundred more yards, and repeat the process until we’ve completed the 3/4 mile trail.
He’s almost 19 years old. I know this can’t go on. Each day when I wake up the first words out of my mouth are “thank you for another day“. I then ask him for one more year, but I know that’s not realistic.
It’s funny though — as old and slow as he can be when I take him for our walks, when I put on my overshirt, grab the car key, and open the front door, he jumps from the sofa like a puppy, spins a couple times, and beams with excitement. He’s my little old man and my kid, simultaneously.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 14.6
Seat Time: 12 hours 11 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from John Cruz (exquisite Zimmy cover)
In a few weeks I’ll be meeting up in Victorville California with my friends Tim and Ashley. Tim and I met in 1984 at a Coast Guard recruiting office in Northglenn Colorado. Tim and I went through boot camp together, got sent back a few weeks in boot camp together, and graduated from boot camp together. Tim is as good a person as I’ve ever known, and Ashley, his wife, is too good for him.
From Victorville, we’re going to ride our bikes to Kingman Arizona. Tim and Ashley will be on a tandem bike and I’ll be on a bike yet to be determined — or yet to be purchased, depending how things unfold in the coming weeks.
It’ll be a good opportunity to decompress and gather my thoughts on the heels of my mother’s passing. I’m not sure what changes lay ahead for me after six years of caregiving, but there will certainly be a few. Riding across the Mojave will be a good time to entertain and process any would-be changes in my future.
Our agenda for the ride looks like this…
Day 1: Victorville to Barstow 30 miles
Day 2: Barstow to Ludlow 50 miles
Day 3: Ludlow to Needles 110 miles
Day: 4 Needles to Kingman 60 miles
Day 5 (optional): Kingman to Seligman 90 miles
We’ll have a truck pre-positioned in either Kingman or Seligman. From there, we’ll load up the bikes and head back to Victorville. I’m looking forward to this. I need this.
There’s not a lot of talking when you ride cross country. Maybe there’s time to tell a story here and there or crack a joke along the way. The good conversations don’t happen until the day’s ride is through. Tacos are ordered, beer gets opened, and you talk about the day’s ride, memories from the past, and those yet to come.
Maybe we’ll sleep well, maybe not. We hope to stay in a couple hotels along the way, but we’re prepared for roadside camping if the illustrious Ludlow Inn has no vacancy. No matter, we’ll wake up each morning and go. There’s no better feeling than hitting the road early on a two-lane desert highway. There’s just the rhythm of the legs, the emptiness of the mind, and all that pretty stuff that will surround us.
I explained to somebody the other day that everything I ever wanted to get out of surfing I’ve found in cycling…
Immersion into the environment
Physical and mental satisfaction
I’m not sure if I’ll be blogging or even plugged in much when we’re on the road — certainly not on the day we ride from Ludlow to Needles. I’ll take a few hundred pictures along the way though, and share them on our return. Tim, who still shoots on film, is a much better photographer than me. I’m sure he’ll come up with some gems.
If all goes well, we’ll be doing a second trip from Denver to Casa de Cohen at Lake McConaughey in July. More on that later.
Though I haven’t been too active on this platform recently, I’m still writing every morning on my Spoke And Word Facebook page. If you’re interested in my daily shtick, and you should be, please check it out. Perhaps I’ll get back to writing here more in the coming weeks.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 7
Mph Avg: 15.0
Seat Time: 11 hours 41 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from The Rave Ups. By the way, this is the first studio album by the core lineup of The Rave Ups in 30 years. It’s fantastic. Enjoy…!