Mom’s Gap Year…

On Thursday I took my shortest scheduled ride in nearly 2-years yesterday — just 24-miles. I had just a 2-hour gap between my last client session and an appointment for my mother to get her first COVID-19 vaccination. Obtaining a vaccination appointment here in Fallbrook was a big deal and I didn’t want her to miss it.

I got mom to her appointment on time. The nurse offered me a dose also, since I’m mom’s exclusive caregiver. I gladly accepted. We’ll return in 30-days for our second round of the Moderna vaccine — and we’ll be one small step closer to a reconfigured normal. Through most of my ride though, prior to our vaccinations, I reflected quite a bit on mom’s year of confinement. 

I got a lump in my throat thinking about the old woman who, just one year ago, stepped into a pandemic. I got a few lumps more, thinking about the much older woman who will now attempt to step beyond it. Mom, 90, has lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the polio epidemic, and now this. Hard to imagine, but COVID is the one which has impacted her most, despite that she’s been kept in isolation — or perhaps because of that.

Mom’s had a safe year. If nothing else, her life has been comfortable during the pandemic. If she lost anything, it was her schedule of regular activities — which was also her conduit to all human connections. Prior to the pandemic, mom had reasons to leave the house every day, reasons to speak, and reasons to listen.

Two days a week she took exercise classes at the local community center. She also participated with a meditation group at our library. She and I ate lunch out several times a week, and were often invited over to the homes of my clients for lunch or dinner. We regularly walked at Oceanside Harbor, after feeding the seagulls our leftover fish ‘n’ chips. All of those activities were good for her. Then one day, they just disappeared.

Also prior to the pandemic, I took her to one of the local markets every day, put a shopping a car in her hands, and gave her an hour to walk up and down the isles, just to look at things and say hello to the people she saw along the way. It wasn’t exactly step aerobics, but it was daily exercise and socialization — which I had no way to duplicate once the stay-at-home protocol began.

Mom’s loss during the pandemic has been the cognitive and physical stimulation all those activities provided her. Though there’s no way to measure those losses, it’s clear that she’s a different person than she was a year ago. Of course she would have continued to age without COVID, but I suspect her decline wouldn’t have been as steep.

In a month mom will get her second dose of the vaccine, and following proper protocols, I’ll begin taking her to restaurants and markets again, but on a limited basis. I’ll be taking somebody though, who can’t walk as far, who can’t process as well, who can’t remember as much, and who won’t recognize anyone she sees. 

My mother will be living with collateral damage from the virus. Her life may have been spared during the pandemic, but her physical and cognitive health have been compromised forever. And everywhere around us, whether we see them or not, there are tens of thousands more just like her. Please keep your eyes and hearts open to them. They’ll need our patience. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 191

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.7

Calories: 11,000

Seat Time: 12 hours 07 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 Ozomatli. Enjoy…!

Please Believe…

Please believe. Please. 

If you don’t believe, I’m talking to you. 

I’m not trying to argue with you, just hoping my words might make a difference.

If you don’t believe, I’m asking you to consider believing, even if it’s uncomfortable.  

Nobody wanted this to happen, and certainly nobody asked for it.

But people are dying, every minute. 

Every minute. 

Ignoring this is the easy. 

Denying it requires no effort. None. 

Consideration of facts can be challenging.  It takes work to accept that difficult circumstances and unthinkable tragedy might be real.  

It takes thought, and even some fortitude to do what’s necessary, not just what’s best for ourselves and those we know, but especially for the many many more people we don’t know.

We are all interconnected.

Ignoring or denying facts won’t make them go away. It may actually keep them here longer. Ignoring and denying will make things worse. 

It’s already made things worse.  Irony. 

So why am I asking you to listen to me, when I know as I write this you probably won’t…? You might even be mocking me or rolling your eyes.

Because I’m just asking, and I’m asking sincerely — with the best of intentions, just to be heard.

My father gave me a lot of tools to use in constructing a life for myself. The best tool he gave me, and the one I get the most use out of, is the bullshit detector. I can smell agenda, false narratives, and manipulation of facts before they come around the corner.

Like millions of others, I’ll spend the holidays mostly alone. I won’t be with my daughter and her mother at Christmas, and our holiday tradition of our daughter making Pastitsio for dinner will be postponed. Not robbed, not stolen, and not taken away from us, but postponed. 

Postponed is a small price. 

I’m disappointed with all of this — I’m disappointed with the loneliness, the loss of life, the inconveniences, and even the lost income, but I’m not mad. And do you know who I blame…? Nobody. 

I blame nobody.  

I don’t believe it’s a hoax, this pandemic. I don’t believe that deaths are exaggerated, and I don’t believe any conspiracy theories, however convenient they might be. 

I believe that masks do work, especially when used properly.

I believe that being as distant as possible from those proximate to us, especially when indoors, also works. 

I don’t believe this should be a political discussion, or a conversation that comes loaded with judgment before it even begins.

I do believe in mass hysteria — I do, but I don’t think it’s possible at this scale. No way. There are too many circuit breakers along the way. Claiming “mass hysteria” is the first evolutionary step in transforming one’s self into a denier.

I believe in the incredible science behind vaccines, and in the safety of them. I will take one without thinking twice. Without vaccines, the world we live in — the very structure of our societies, would be corroded and weaker. 

Please believe. Please. 

If you don’t currently believe, please consider believing — or trying to believe. I’ll genuinely appreciate that.

If you don’t believe, and you took time to read this anyway, thank you.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 178

Climbing: 7,500’

Mph Avg: 15.9

Calories: 10,241

Seat Time: 11 hours 12 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 Ry Cooder.  Enjoy…

In Those Early Days…

Riding into a gorgeous sunset Friday evening, I was thinking about how much I miss the early days of the stay-at-home mandates. There was so much we didn’t know. The streets were nearly empty, even during rush hour. The skies were as clear as they’ve been in 70 years. Wildlife was taking over school courtyards and parking lots. Because the stay-at-home mandates coincided with springtime bird migrations, birds were everywhere. I’ve never heard or seen so many birds. 

There was also the scary side of it all. People were literally stepping out of their way when passing others in the grocery store aisles — for those who were brave enough to actually go to the grocery store. In the beginning people wore gloves, hid in their homes, and there was a natural distrust of anyone who wasn’t family. I personally sprayed all of my mail with 70% alcohol for the first five or six weeks, then let it dry before opening it. I’ve sneezed in public exactly twice since March.

I found myself telling anyone who would listen that I love them, including the snails that attempted to devour my succulent garden each morning. I began talking to the trees each morning on my daily walks, and introduced myself to squirrels, hawks, and even coyotes. I thanked them for their service. I treated every day as though it might be my last, for fear that it really might be. I spent more time with my pets, walked more frequently with my mom, and extended my meditation routine a little longer each morning to include more time for prayer. 

There was a haunted serenity to it all.

Then the division came — the chasm that developed between those who took the virus seriously and those who didn’t. As the months went on, the chasm became politicized and grew wider and deeper. Slowly businesses began to reopen, and almost as immediately many states, counties, and municipalities dialed back the reopening. The chasm grew. 

At some point we quit noticing the cleaner air, the animals taking over parking lots, and the invisible traffic. We quit noticing them because things were getting back to normal, kind of. Normal enough so that it wasn’t special any longer, only inconvenient. Then the fires and hurricanes came, and the political strife erupted. And in social media, all of this became a laxative.

The early days of stay-at-home had an eerie calm about them, reminiscent of being housebound during a blizzard or hunkered down before a hurricane. I miss those early days so much. There was a hidden hope in them lurking within that overwhelming fear. 

I’ve always believed that when the stakes are high and the facts are unknown, the best course is to proceed with caution. For several weeks in March and April, the whole world agreed with that. Then millions of people abandoned caution in favor of a presumed good luck. Some have a found and will continue to find that good luck. Others though, will experience devastating outcomes.

And that growing chasm…? Its growth seems to be slowing, but there are no signs that people have any willingness to look to the other side of it, let alone reach across it. I liked everybody a whole lot more in those early days. I know I liked myself more.

This is what I think about when I ride…  Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 162

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9,180

Seat Time: 10 hours 19 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 Robin Trower and James Dewar. 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.


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.

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…

Neither Heaven Nor Hell…

Eternal is a ring — it has no beginning and no end. It’s a cycle, everlasting.

Never-ending is a line. It has a beginning, but extends without ever stopping.

Pointing out the difference between eternal and never-ending may seem like a small point, but when people talk to me about the prospect of an eternal hell, I’m quick to remind them the term they’re looking for is never-ending, not eternal. It often flusters them. I explain to them that hell has to have a day-one. I envision it something like this…

You show up, get in line, and get your ID number, then there’s probably a lot of waiting around. Eventually some unfriendly being or beings begin to have their way with you and it never ends.

Apparently that’s God’s way of teaching you a lesson you’ll never be capable of learning, in an environment where you’ll never be able to apply it.

Wait, what…? How could a god who created a human mind capable of logic wrap things up for us with a scenario that rejects it…? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course, the idea of heaven defies logic also.

I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I’ve been thinking about them both lately — because so many people keep bringing them up. Honestly, I might be as fearful of heaven as I would be of hell, depending on what memories we’d take with us as contrast for our new surroundings and our new chores.

By the way, it’s not the Covid-19 I’m worried about. My age and fitness level would likely get me through it. My concern is growing though, of a global collapse. Although I still see that scenario as very unlikely, this is our Cuban missile crisis and it’s going to last much longer than 13 days.

Facing uncertain and possibly catastrophic times, I’ve been trying to get my moral bearings straight and my principles lined up. I’m focusing on how I should live in these coming weeks and months, should I not make beyond 2020. I’m not doing this out of a fear of hell or a desire to enter heaven. I’m doing it because it’s the right way to be, but it always has been.

If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that I’m a much better person than I’ve given myself credit for. I say that based on my observations of all the people and all the nonsense which has taken place around me in an increasingly complex world.

Being raised in a society inherent with religious fright as the foundation of most moral learning, has done little to make me feel good about myself. Set against the backdrop of the end of daze, I think I’m in pretty good field position.

In just a few short years we’ve gone from Francis Fukuyama‘s The End Of History to Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny. Heaven and hell not withstanding, I’m going to steer my current course and continue to be me — it’s all I know.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 7
203 miles
8,600’ climbing
15.1 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 21 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 The Eurogliders. Enjoy…