The Monsters In My Head…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breathe

Breathe

Breathe 

All was good with the world…

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 187

Climbing: 8,100’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 hours 31 minutes

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

Earth Day After…

I saw a lot of nods to Earth Day this week, on social media and beyond. Climate change is on my mind daily, though I know I could do more to lessen my impact on the planet. 

I saw many of the usual suggestions for Earth Day…

– Eat less meat

– Recycle more

– Use less water

– Conserve household energy

– Drive less, and do so in more efficient vehicles

– Travel less

– Use less paper

– Eliminate single-use plastics

– Vote for politicians who champion fighting the climate crisis

These are all important individual steps, and if we all practiced them, it might benefit climate change over time. I’m not sure we have that kind of time. 

I have my own thoughts on what might make the most immediate impact on climate change, but these are large-scale group efforts which, to be impactful, need to begin immediately…

First, no reasonable conversation about climate change should exclude the idea of nuclear energy, if only as a 100-year (or so) bridge until the use of sustainable renewable energy is mastered and maximized. 

Two, is to accept that we can live without most printed materials. This would include business and legal documents, books, newspapers, magazines, compact discs, pamphlets, correspondence — virtually anything that is now printed but can be otherwise created and distributed digitally. It’s been suggested by some climate scientists, including Sir John Houghton, that replacing printed materials with digital copies of the same could, in itself, create a measurable slowing of CO2 levels within a couple of decades. 

But none of this really matters. Because the most important thing we can do to combat climate change is something we are increasingly unwilling to do — to prioritize bridging the gaps between political, cultural, and social divisions. 

No significant steps in addressing climate change can be initiated from a divided populous and the divided leadership selected by that populous. At the most grassroots level, we need to grow up, quit pointing fingers, quit name-calling, and listen, even if we don’t like what we’re listening to or who’s speaking it. We also need to elect people willing to do the same.

We understand the changing ecology and climate through science. So too, do we understand cultural and political polarization — through science. Scientists study the impact of name calling, arguing, and refusal to participate in discourse, in the same way they study CO2 levels.

It’s been proven mathematically that when we insult somebody — when we call someone a name, shut them out of the conversation, or refuse to listen to them, it widens and reinforces the gaps which divide us. 

Or to frame it this way…

There’s no moral difference between throwing a plastic bag into the ocean or disparaging somebody we disagree with. One-off, it’s no big deal. However, when everyone is doing it, the oceans soon become clogged, and the waters of discourse are unnavigable.

It’s not a joke. 

There’s no need to recycle, conserve energy, or cut back on meat consumption if, when we interact with those of opposing values, we choose to give them the middle finger over an ear or acknowledgement.

There’s a science to understanding social and political polarization. If we’re willing to embrace climate science, we should also pay attention to the science of getting along. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 193

Climbing: 8,600’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 11,000

Seat Time: 12 hours 52 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 Matthew Sweet. Enjoy…!

Bang Bang Bang…

Our love of guns began when the first Indian fell backwards, as we worked our way west to exploit every possible resource and take possession of all lands. And if those resources or those lands became threatened, we depended on guns to assure our possession of them — because we valued the resources and lands more than the humanity which was already a part of them. 

And in the decades and centuries to follow, as we asserted our providence over all which lay before us, we became culturally inseparable from our guns and the idea that killing is an acceptable aspect of progress. 

Guns became costars in the American story. First in books, then radio, movies, television, and subsequently in every aspect of popular culture. No American story is complete without guns and killing, even if we have to peel back the layers to find them. Behind every innocent story there’s a gun or a killing waiting to break through and be seen. 

Guns are in our dreams, our toys, our games, and and even in our fantasies. Killing, as a way out of an unwanted circumstance, is part of our cultural DNA. Don’t like where something is headed…? Kill whatever’s in the way. We even use guns against our own bad days — 52% of suicides come with bullet holes.

This isn’t going to end anytime soon because we accept it with open arms. As soon as were done complaining and sending thoughts and prayers, we binge watch the next violent television series, with liberty in killing for all. We do far too little — almost nothing to discourage our children from the enjoyment of killing and guns as a form of entertainment. 

As long as our mass shootings remain in the single digits, double digits, and triple digits, we’re going to be cool with it. Want to get America to pay attention to our acceptance of killing culture…? It’ll take thousands of people going down in just a few seconds. Even then, the so-called conservatives in Congress would defend every aspect of gun and killing culture. Forgetting, of course, that the word conservative comes from conserve — to use sparingly, to act sparingly, to allow sparingly. 

I’m certainly not the first person to point any of this out. This is the first time though, I’ve been willing to share my deepest feelings on what’s going on. 

Gun culture and killing will be part of the American story so long as we, the authors, keep writing it. We cling to guns and killing, above all, because they were the midwife to our birth.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Post Script: 

I’ve been sitting with these thoughts for a while — keeping them to myself for fear of offending friends and associates. 

In December 1993, my wife, my three-year-old daughter, and I had lunch at a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora Colorado. The following evening a man entered the building and shot four people, all employees. Though the killings took place was after hours, I had been in that room with my three-year-old the day before.

Six years later I was in San Diego, looking to purchase a house. My wife and then nine-year-old daughter stayed behind in Littleton Colorado — home of Columbine High School, to pack up and sell our home there. I was driving down Interstate-8 in San Diego when the announcer on NPR broke the story of the Columbine shooting. I was shaking and crying so uncontrollably, I had to pull off to the side of the road and gather my emotions before calling home.

Last month in Boulder Colorado, in the King Soopers grocery store where 10 people were shot and killed, I knew people who were in there that day. That was my community once upon a time. 

I’ve trained with guns for military and law enforcement purposes. I grew up with BB guns, learned to shoot .22s in Boy Scouts, and qualified on several pieces during my time in the military.

My statement above is more about the fact that, in popular culture, historic and contemporary, guns, killing, and entertainment are intertwined. The influence of guns and killing in popular culture has contributed to the increase of mass shootings, beyond any doubt, and has been studied and documented for decades.

I don’t see guns as being evil. I would like to see gun use and safety taught at the high school level, and students given PE credit for the class. Put a real gun in the hands of a 14-year-old, and he or she is far more likely to respect its power than somebody who’s 23 and holding one for the very first time.

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 186

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 10,620

Seat Time: 12 hours 13 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 Jeff Beck And The Big Town Playboys. Enjoy…!

Prime Directive Vs The Golden Rule…

I stopped the other day to take a picture of some wild grasses. They extended over the iron rail of an old wooden footbridge. To frame the shot correctly, I broke some of the grasses off at their stems. The photo turned out to be a dud — too much glare from the sun. As I rode away though, I felt a sense of guilt for killing the some grasses in order to better frame the photo. 

I began thinking of the Prime Directive. Although killing the grasses wasn’t an interruption in the development of an alien civilization, I did disturb what nature had put before me, and did so without any real need. I disrupted the evolution of a system I wasn’t a part of, and in some way changed its destiny.

I soon connected the Prime Directive to the Golden Rule. For the next 15-miles I compared the two and contemplated the fundamental differences between them — which has more value, and if I had to choose only one to live by, which would it be. 

The Prime Directive, if you’re not familiar, prohibits Starfleet personnel and spacecraft from interfering in the normal development of any society, and mandates that any Starfleet vessel or crew member is expendable to prevent violation of this rule. 

The Golden Rule, if you’re not familiar, suggests that we treat others as we wish to be treated. Its earliest iteration was practiced by Zoroastrians in the form of a negative — that we should not do to others what we would not want them to do to us.

I began to see the difference between the Prime Directive and the Golden Rule in the same way I view the differences between eastern and western philosophies. 

The Prime Directive suggests that societies, alien or domestic, are more important than the individuals which comprise them. It’s very Confucian in nature inasmuch as our moral responsibilities should be directed to society first, and then to the individual.

The Golden Rule is about individuality. We correlate it with others, but only as a backdrop for what’s in it for the individual. We want to be treated well, so we treat others well. The Golden Rule is inherently selfish.

Of course there’s value in the Prime Directive and the Golden Rule. Rabbi Hillel argued thousands of years ago that the Golden Rule is the whole Torah and everything else is just commentary. Had Starfleet been around in his day, the rabbi would have felt the same about the Prime Directive, relative to other Starfleet doctrine.

I put societies ahead of individuals. Individual liberty means nothing within a society which is broken and corroded. What breaks and corrodes societies, far more than anything else, is the pursuit of liberty at the expense of the society. I believe this to my core.

It’s hard to look around these days, for me anyway, and not see all the damages imposed on our guiding structures — churches, schools, Government institutions, relationships, and even our hallowed corporate structures, which are the direct result of people putting their individual liberties before the needs of our society.

For societies to succeed, people must put societies first. For individuals to succeed, people must still put societies first. I just don’t see it happening as much as it should.  

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 164

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 9,3333

Seat Time: 10 hours 57 minutes

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

Sidekick…

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

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

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

“I want ham and I want it now…“

Our relationship is largely based on animal protein.

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

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

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

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

Go, I tell him, go…!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 200

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,500

Seat Time: 13 hours 02 minutes

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

My Time Machine And The Sloppy Mosaic In My Head…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 195

Climbing: 8,100’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 11,044

Seat Time: 12 hours 57 minutes

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

Lunch Lady Man…

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Grilled cheese sandwich

– Hotdog

– Pizza

– Chicken noodle soup

– Cheese on toast

– Tomato soup

– Quesadilla

– Peanut butter on crackers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 166

Climbing: 6,800’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 9,400

Seat Time: 11 hours 05 minutes

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

The Needle And The Damage Done…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 140 

Climbing: 5,600’

Mph Avg: 15.8

Calories: 8,00’

Seat Time: 8 hours 49 minutes

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

Expose And Observe…

In addition to this blog, I write a daily column on Facebook under the same name, The Spoke And Word. The premise is the same — I write short anecdotes and stories which take place on the road each day, and also about the absurdities of life I contemplate while I ride. The only difference between those columns and these essays is that my Facebook posts are written each evening in 20-minutes or less.

I was recently called out by a reader claiming that I’m prone to exaggeration, hyperbole, and writing all-out falsehoods with those daily posts. This came on the heels of a post I wrote last week after getting bit by a wolf — well, a wolf-husky hybrid. And as extraordinary as that sounds, it actually happened.

That assertion that I’m prone to lying and exaggeration was made by the same reader who called me out three years ago when I wrote about the carload of stoned teenagers who threw a whole watermelon at me as they slowly drove by laughing. They missed. And, it was the same guy who didn’t believe me a year or so later when I wrote about stopping at a red light and using my helmet to head-butt the driver’s side window of a guy who pretended to run me off the road a few minutes prior. 

See the pattern here…? Not one of me embellishing or making up stories, but the pattern of this man reading my stories consistently for a few years now — even if he believes them to be works of fiction. 

On the opposite end of things are the people who suggest I’m a magnet for drama. They believe what I write, but suggest I set myself up for that drama, hunt for it, or that I might even manufacture it. Although I admit I’m a magnet for drama, I never hunt for it, and certainly don’t manufacture it. 

I spend roughly 13-hours each week riding a bicycle between the rural (and quirky) communities of Fallbrook, Rainbow, Pala, Bonsall, and Oceanside. That’s the amount of time many people dedicate to a part-time job. Only the part-time job, in my instance, is to expose myself to experiences beyond my sofa, to observe what I see, and to share them with anyone interested.

I expose myself to fast-moving cars, roadside hazards, and the risks which are inherent to riding a bike in those surroundings. And I observe the landscape, the structures, the people, and the behaviors of those people who transcend and occupy that landscape.

And from all of this, I fulfill my need for a creative outlet by reporting to anyone who’ll read and appreciate those experiences and observations — even if they think they’re works of low fiction. 

I’ve written many times that living in Fallbrook is like living in a David Lynch movie — where everyone knows a secret I haven’t figured out yet, where the laws physics don’t really apply, and where eccentricity is an actual form of currency. Spend 700-hours a year riding a bike in an environment like that, and strange things are going to happen — like getting bit by a wolf, having a watermelon thrown at you, and seeing the occasional small aircraft land in an empty field. Believe it, or not.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 179

Climbing: 7,300’

Mph Avg: 15.5

Calories: 10,300

Seat Time: 11 hours 32 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 Timmy Thomas. Enjoy…!

One Thought At A Time, But Not For Long…

A client, who also reads this each week, called me out recently on my frequent use of the term, my chaotic mind. She suggested the term is an exaggeration and that I come across as anything but chaotic. Uhm, nope. I just hide it well. 

It’s hard to explain the way thoughts crowd my head. I can be thinking about a half-dozen things simultaneously — each thought separate and distinct from the others. One thought though, has to take priority at a given moment, but the others still make noise and use their sense of urgency to push the thought I’m most focused on out of the way. 

As soon as a new thought reaches the front of my mind, the others posture to take its place too, and so it goes, all day long. So whenever I talk about my chaotic mind, that’s what I’m referring to. It’s just a bunch of thoughts, on a crowded stage, each wanting to be the center of attention, but with just one podium.

If the thoughts battling for centerstage are good thoughts, then it’s chaotic, but not necessarily overwhelming. These could be thoughts of business, recreation, family or friends, good memories, or my even day-to-day responsibilities. Chaos, in those instances, isn’t intimidating nor does it lessen my mood. In fact, juggling between a number of positive thoughts can be mood enhancing, even if chaotic. 

However, if the thoughts I’m juggling are born of regret, guilt, selfishness or any combination of those, my mind is not only chaotic, but it’s also sad and depressing. These might be thought of divorce, financial concerns, lack of sleep, sick or dying friends, and on-and-on. 

It’s rare for all of my thoughts to be purely positive or purely depressing at any moment. Most of the time it’s an evenly divided field. I might be looking forward to a bicycle ride later in the day, but I might also be thinking about mistakes I’ve made as a father, husband, or businessman. In that sense, my highs and lows can often be momentary. Going from pure joy to sadness and back again isn’t a fun way to go through a day — or life. 

Each day when I ride, the lesser thoughts seem to fall away. My mind stays crowded, but the thoughts are mostly positive, even if they’re fighting for a just one position in front. If I ride long enough, every good thought gets its turn at the head of the line, if only for a while. 

Within an hour or so, after I’m done riding, the lesser thoughts return to the stage and their posturing for attention resumes — and the highs and lows of everyday life return, and I do my best to hide it. So yes, Virginia, there is a chaotic mind. A smiling face and a good attitude are my best forms of cover.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 191

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 11,000

Seat Time: 12 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 Don Walker of Cold Chisel. Enjoy…!