The Flags Of Fast Rain And High Water…

Leaving Fallbrook on my bike, I most always head south 6-8 miles to Highway 76. At that point I can either head west toward the coast or east toward the Pauma Valley, but I have to make a choice. Either way I choose, I’ll be riding along the San Luis Rey river basin. Most of the time I ride on the shoulder of the highway roughly 1,000 yards from riverbed. Other times, if I’m appropriately bike’d, I’ll ride on the dirt paths and single-track trails which can lead within a few yards from the almost dry river.

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The increase in homeless encampments in the river basin is noticeable. Three or four years ago, along a the same stretch trails, I might have seen a handful of tents, canopies, and makeshift shelters. Today there are dozens of them visible from the road and bike paths, and probably many more that are well hidden. I’ve said before and am still of the belief that in the 20-mile stretch of the river basin between I-15 and the coast, there are probably 1,000 or more people who call that area home. Perhaps many more. 

We’re in winter now. Though we haven’t equaled the frequency of storms we experienced last season, we’re still above average with rainfall by nearly two inches. The dry river isn’t currently dry, and like most river basins, the San Luis Rey is prone to flooding during heavy rains.

As I’ve ridden along the river basin this season, I’ve noticed a significant increase in one of the more poignant signs of life which manifests after the rains — I see more blankets and clothing hanging from tree branches and from makeshift clotheslines. This is what happens when one lives outdoors and in a floodplain — their belongings get soaked with every passing storm.

Since the rains that fill the riverbed with water are the same rains that have been falling on my own backyard in recent months, I know some of the more sudden storms have occurred overnight. It’s fair to surmise that some of these shelters may have been taken out by heavy rain and fast rising waters, suddenly and while people in them were sleeping. I can’t imagine.

Yesterday, while riding from Fallbrook to Oceanside, I saw roughly 20 blankets and dozens of articles of clothing hung out to dry. I call these the Flags Of Fast Rain And High Water. They are a reminder of how fortunate I am.

When I hang a blanket or piece of clothing on my clothesline throw them in my dryer, it’s always because I’ve previously washed them, by choice, never because they got soaked by an unexpected rain in the middle of the night. Never do I have a sudden need to dry the blankets or the clothes that keep me warm.

And it’s not just in the riverbed. I’ve seen these flags of the downtrodden just about anywhere I see open space these days. If you’re not paying attention, you may not notice it, but they are there — an obvious sign that homelessness is on the increase during some of the best economic times this nation has ever experienced. That math does not add up.
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Whatever one’s opinion of homelessness is — of the reasons why or of the damage done, if you ever see these Flags Of Fast Rain And High Water, please take a moment to reflect just how fortunate you are. You might also ask yourself, if the economy is really this good, why is this on the increase…?

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
171 miles
7,800′ climbing
15.8 mph avg
9,800 calories
10 hours 46 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 Jarvis Cocker. Enjoy…

Debris & Me…

To ride a bike, regardless of what I’m looking at or what I might be thinking , is to be continually surveying roadside debris. There is always roadside debris.

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Bike: Bella  Monserste Winery  Fallbrook CA

There are three types of debris I see regularly…

The first kind of debris is small and looks like it belongs there. I can’t ride 50-yards without seeing broken glass, small nuts and bolts, fast food wrappers, dead snakes and birds, and bits of broken taillight. Not that any of this should be there, but it just makes sense that they are. At worst, small debris like this might puncture a tire. These are no big deal.

The second kind of debris can make me scratch my head and wonder how it got there. Things like an embroidered woman’s blouse, the remains of a shattered Nintendo console, or two unused tickets to a Lake Elsinore Storm game — which I actually saw a few days ago. This type of debris may or may not be less hazardous, but always more conspicuous and sometimes makes me chuckle.

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Sting me… Los Jilgueros Preserve

The third kind if debris is larger, more or less fits in, can be easy to ride around, but I also know is capable of killing me — should I be in its path when it flies off a passing vehicle and lands roadside. This kind of debris includes large pieces of car or truck tire, links of chain, large pelican hooks,  small appliances, and other large or heavy  unsecured objects that fly off of passing vehicles — all of which I see regularly. I’ve seen ironing boards and window sized air-conditioning units resting comfortably in the bike lane — but they weren’t born there. They flew there.

That’s what gets me about that last kind of debris — that I know before it lands on the side of the road, it’s airborne. When I stop to think about the trajectory that carries objects like this from vehicle to roadside, I cringe. I’m not sure there’s a helmet strong enough to protect my head from a flying ironing board or a 10-pound pelican hook.

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Bike: Vasudeva  Live Oak Park

It’s not my intention to send negative energy out there, but the purpose of this blog is to share what’s on my mind when I ride. The possibility of being struck by an object like that and killed is never far from my mind. Hopefully though, the window sized air-conditioning unit stays on my mind, but never becomes a part of it. Yeah, here’s to that.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Footnote: Just a few hours after writing this I learned that a local resident, a woman who was well-known in the real estate community, the equestrian community, and the community at-large here in Fallbrook was killed — riding her horse.

I’ve been chewing on that a lot for the last 72-hours. Some people, and I am one of them, have a hard time sitting still. We need to be active and often being active means putting ourselves at risk. Some activities are associated with more risk than others. Our friends and family don’t always understand why we take these risks. For people like me, it’s because the reward (emotional/psychological benefit) outweighs the risk (injury or even death).

Examples of this might include skiing, surfing, riding motorcycles, riding bicycles, riding horses, diving off of cliffs, flying airplanes, jumping out of airplanes, and the list goes on. I have participated in all of these.

Others are adverse to risk — they go to great lengths in avoiding it. They might be physically active, but choose activities that don’t have the potential for injury or death — or even messy hair or smudged make up. Others still, avoid activity altogether, in favor of self-preservation. Their lack of activity is largely motivated by many fears.

There is no right or wrong with any of these. Each marches to the beat of his or her own drummer, and is influenced only by the ZIP Code they are born into and by the fingerprints of those they choose to associate with through the course of their lives.

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Nature’s M&M…  Los Jilgueros Preserve

I know each day when I get on my bike there is a risk that goes with that choice. On one hand, there is the methadone of motion that soothes my chaotic mind. On the other, are the six markers I pass by in the course of a week, each honoring cyclists who have been struck by cars and killed. I accept that risk in favor of the reward, and I work very hard to minimize that risk. Most every cyclist I know does the same.

Since learning how our local resident was killed riding her horse last week, virtually everyone I’ve spoken with about it said this or something similar…

At least she died doing what she loved.

This is a thought I carry with me every day of my life — in hope that those who love me never have to speak it about me.

Thank you, for taking the time.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer  Bonsall CA

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 4
153 miles
8,400’ climbing
16.3 mph avg
10,500 calories

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

Conflict Cocoon…

It was a great week of riding — 177 miles for the week. Lots of sights, smells, and sounds. Plus, the beautiful sensation of rhythmic motion in gorgeous surroundings.

If you’re not already following my Spoke And Word page on Facebook, find me there for daily updates and short musings on what I think about each day while I ride. Below is my favorite contemplation for the week. Enjoy…

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps  Pauma Valley Ca

Conflict Cocoon…

I was thinking about conflict during last night’s ride. I think about conflict a lot. I go to great lengths in avoiding conflict.

In increasingly complex times, it appears conflict is often around every corner and always straight ahead. If one keeps their vision fixed any screen for too long, be it a 7-inch screen or a 82-incher, there’s a good chance conflict will hijack and saturate their perspective on most things human. Guilty I am.

Though I don’t necessarily see the world that way — as choking on conflict, that other people see the world this way brings me down more than I often let on. Watch people struggle long enough, and their struggle becomes your own.

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Some people have a better aptitude for absorbing and dealing with conflict. I’m not one of them. Others still, embrace conflict and feed off of it. Some even hunt it down. I’m not one of those either.

I grew up a typical suburban household with typical suburban parents. My parents, like many married couples, fought over typical suburban things — money, the kids, household priorities, time, etc. That is, they fought over small things — unnecessary conflicts that sucked energy and life out of the family. When my parents fought, they often yelled, especially my dad. It could get loud.

I have clear memories of hiding in my bedroom and often under my bed when my parents fought. Not that I ever thought they would come after me or become violent with each other — they just yelled. Being under the bed while they were yelling was like a protective cocoon to an eight-year-old. This is where my avoidance of conflict began.

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Bike: Tang   Fallbrook Ca

Don’t get me wrong, my parents loved my brother and I, and they were incredibly good and generous to us. They worked hard to give us a good home. Unwittingly though, they allowed conflict to tear that home apart and our family  eventually died from unnatural causes. They would end up divorced, and I would end up afraid of all things loud.

So where am I going with this…?

My parents no longer fight. They haven’t been married since 1977 and my dad has been gone for nearly 7-years. But conflict still surrounds me, and it still scares me in the same way it did when I was a child hiding in my room and under my bed.

Conflict today manifests in many ways and from many sources. Social conflict seems to be the rule of the day. Be it political, religious, gender related, food related, or gun related, it seems everything we discuss, has to be discussed with some amount of conflict.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer   Oceanside Ca

In my own life, and in my human relationships, there is almost never conflict. I have built my life that way. Build each day with a foundation of good intentions, shore it up with the framework of listening in equal portion to speaking, and wrap it with patience and intelligence, and that’s a good plan for a conflict-free day. When conflict does arise in my life, it’s usually minimal and easily resolved.

When I open my 7-inch window to the world though, I’m usually met with conflict within a few seconds — not mine, but I become an instant witness to the conflict of others. It’s like when I was as a child and my parents would fight — I become a victim of secondhand conflict.

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Los Jilgueros Preserve   Fallbrook Ca

I no longer hide under my bed though, to avoid conflict. I ride a bike. My cocoon rolls on as it insulates and protects me. The rhythm of my ride muffles the screaming voices until they dissipate entirely. The sounds, the sights, and the smells of the road remind me that there is much more to the world then the fruitless arguments, the chest thumping, and the escalating voices of fools on an uncharted course to nowhere.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 4
177.28 miles
11,400’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
11,801 calories
11 hours 47 minutes in the saddle

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

Passing With Shame…

Maybe 2 to 3 times per week, especially if I am riding in the early morning or into the evening, I’ll look up while I’m riding and see a day worker ahead of me, also on a bicycle.

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Bike: Vasudeva…

He won’t be on a fast bike though, and chances are the chain on his bike will be dirty, if not outright rusty. His bike will probably have never been washed or cleaned, and he might be the 3rd, the 5th or even the 10th owner of it.

He will be riding at a much slower pace than me — a measured pace. Measured, inasmuch as he will be conserving energy for the labor he is on his way to perform all day. Or if I see him in the evening, measured because he has so little energy left from the labor he has given in exchange for the meager cash in his pocket.

A day worker, by popular definition, is someone from another country, generally Mexico or Central America, of legal or illegal status, who works for cash in support of the agriculture or landscaping industries. Day worker is an appropriate term. They work all day.

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Because I am riding at a faster pace and riding for different reasons than he is, as soon as I see him, I know that I’ll be passing him. Honestly, I’m always ashamed to do this. Ashamed, not because I’m faster than him, but because I’ve got it so good.

He probably paid $20 for his bike at a thrift store or he might have gotten it for free. He doesn’t know what brand it is. He doesn’t care. All he knows about his bicycle, is that it gets him to work faster than walking, so he can make more money.

In the evenings, I often see him with a white plastic bag dangling from his handlebars or from his hand. Inside the bag there are tacos from a local Taqueria. He might stop in the park and eat them along side a couple of other day workers who are in the midst of a similar commute. Or, he may take them home to the trailer or apartment that he shares with several other people — possibly several other families.

It’s time for me to pass him.

The shame in passing him, as I’ve mentioned, isn’t because I have strong legs or because I have an expensive bike. The shame is because I’ve got it so good in my life. I don’t work nearly as hard as he does or nearly as much, yet I have much more to show for the work that I do.

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Dancing With Them Who Brung Ya….

My shame, of course, comes from my being born in a different zip-code than him.

I’m maybe 10-yards behind him and I want to call out “passing on your left“ which is the customary call for passing another hobby cyclist. Since he’s not a hobby cyclist and since he may not speak much English, I just look over my left shoulder to ensure no cars are approaching, I sweep to the inside of the road a bit, and pass him quietly with my head down. I might glance his way and if he glances back, I’ll smile and say hello, but this doesn’t happen too often.

My strong legs place me far ahead of him in short order. I feel as though he’s staring at me the whole time and that he thinks I’m a fool and that I know nothing about hard work. At this point, even if he doesn’t think this about me, I do.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer…

I continue to pedal and I contemplate what his life must be like. I wonder if he has family here with him or if they are all below the border. I wonder what type of room he sleeps in at night and how much money he wires home each week by Western Union, so his family to the south can have a better life. I think about the amount of work he’s on his way to do or what he might have already done that day.

I keep pedaling.

Eventually, my thoughts of him thin and fade. I’ll begin thinking about my next client or getting my mom out to the thrift shop for an hour. I might wonder what my daughter is doing at that exact moment or if my cat is comfortable at home watching Animal Planet from the top of the sofa. A better sofa and a bigger TV, I think to myself, than the man on the bike that I just passed probably has.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 4
171 miles
8,800’ climbing
15.2 mph avg
11,100 calories

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

Gimmie Shelter…

It ain’t all broken skies, avocado groves, flower fields, and acre after acre of citrus orchards. Yes, those are the kinds of things I see each day as I look up in wonder when I ride, but the balance is kept, perfectly, when I look down — into the nooks and crannies of it all. From my posture high on my rolling perch, I’m at a speed and in a position to see things that anyone driving a car on the same road would likeky never see.

Example…

Along Old Highway 395 there is a golf resort, Pala Mesa. It combines a hotel, restaurant, golf course, traditional golf course housing, tennis courts, swimming pools, and all within a picturesque setting that rivals any I’ve seen.

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Bike of the day: Tang…

Just behind one section of the patio homes adjacent to the golf course though, there is a ravine that slopes down about 40-feet below these houses and is roughly 1,000 yards in length. The homes above are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I’m certain are well worth the investment. What’s at the bottom of that ravine though, cannot be seen from the fenced backyards of the residents above, nor by anyone driving by in a car. With the bike lane being just a little closer to the edge of that ravine, and with a bicycle seat placing me up a little higher than the driver’s seat of a  car would, I can see the makeshift shelters down below.

There is old furniture there, several tents, and visible signs that multiple persons live down there — perhaps groups of persons. I can see a couple shopping carts, a baby stroller, some 5-gallon water containers, and even a couple of weathered bicycles, which are a far cry from the one I ride past on.

Oh, and I see many well-hidden communities like this one, all over the area. There are slopes and ravines by the thousands around Fallbrook, and while that doesn’t mean that each one comes with an encampment of homeless people, it does suggest that there may be more than a fenced yard or a passing Tesla will ever see.

Doing a little crude math in my head, I calculate that there might be a couple of hundred people living like this in and around the Fallbrook area. I think that is a conservative estimate.  A recent article in the local paper stated that precisely 46 homeless people currently call Fallbrook home — precisely 46.

I will argue that while there may be 46 visible homeless residents currently in Fallbrook, these are the squeaky wheels among the many more who remain silent and hidden, and for a variety of reasons.

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Living off the land…

The ravine behind the Pala Mesa Resort is just one pocket of many well hidden spots I ride past regularly in this community — pockets that some less fortunate people call home. I refer to them as less fortunate, not because of the circumstances that brought them there or the way that they are forced or choose to live. I referred to them as less fortunate, because it seems few people even know they are there.

They are invisible, except to each other.

As a rule of thumb, whether I come across them on my daily walk or my daily ride, and if I stop and have conversations with them, the salutation I always extend is this…

“Hello, neighbor…“

Because no matter the circumstance, they are my neighbor.

This is what I think about my ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
23 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.4 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Good To Be On The Road Back Home Again, by Cornershop

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

Cock-a-doodle-doo And Other Rooster Myths…

Ninety-percent of my daily ride takes place in rural surroundings. I live in a region of Southern California were commercial agriculture reigns supreme. Avocados groves, citrus orchards, flowers, plants, and greenhouses dominate my riding landscape.

Many residents here dabble in personal agriculture as well. Most homes here are on multiple acres of property and among the more fashionable trends in this community, along with ‘family fruit’ trees, massive bougainvillea hedges, and the ever-increasing front yard vineyards, is the keeping of chickens.

Where there are chickens, of course, there are often roosters.

Like you, I was raised to believe that roosters wake early and are nature’s alarm clocks — that every rooster gets up with or just before the sun and announces to anyone or anything in proximity that a new day is about to begin. His mechanism for this…? His cock-a-doodle-doo.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer…

Riding my bike in the middle of the day I have learned that roosters, at least the ones around here, could give a frog’s fat ass what time of day they cock-a-doodle-doo. I often ride in the late mornings, the early afternoons, and even after dark on occasion. As I ride around this community, turning corners, buzzing the straightaways, climbing the hills and taking in this earthy rural scenery, I hear roosters at every possible time of day.

So I sort of feel like I’ve been fed a bag of lies since childhood. Roosters, like wealthy white men it seems, crow all day long and into the night.

Underscoring this, two of my three adjoining neighbors keep chickens and roosters and never, NEVER, do I hear them early. Being one who gets up early each day, I would take note if they did. I do though, hear them as I am working in my studio — all day long.

But the real lie that I’m coming to terms with, the one that has been forced upon me since childhood, the lie that school teachers, children’s books, cartoons, and movies have all perpetrated is that roosters go cock-a-doodle-doo.

They do not.

Roosters, at least the ones around here, very clearly go Aroot-aroot-aroooooo. This is inarguable. If one listens, breaks it down phonetically and tries to duplicate through our human vocal abilities, the sound a rooster makes can’t be anything other than Aroot-aroot-aroooooo.

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Outside my studio. My neighbor’s Chicken — or Rooster, checking in on me…

Try it — just try and sound like a rooster. Do it right now, and as loud as you can. Don’t worry about your workmates, your fellow students or your family, just stand up and at the top of your lungs go Aroot-aroot-aroooooo.  You’ll see that I’m correct.

When those close to me take exception with my propensity for constantly challenging the leadership, I’m going to use this as another example of why we should always question authority, and why we should question everything we’re taught in school.

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Mischa: On Rooster Patrol…

We have all been lied to about roosters, and far too many have been willing to accept those lies — I guess because it’s just easier that way.

Roosters don’t wake up early, and roosters don’t go cock-a-doodle-doo. It’s just not true.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…
Bike: Cortez The Killer
23 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.2 mph avg
1,500 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: The Sun Do Shine, by Glen Campbell

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

No Need To Duck, It’s Only A Slow Moving Watermelon…

I’m very big on firsts. That is, I value the idea of participating in things that have never happened before — in the history of mankind. I think I’ve participated in a few, and yesterday‘s ride might have added one to the list.

Approximately 3/4s of the way through an otherwise ordinary ride on another beautiful day in Fallbrook California, a 1990s Saturn station wagon full of teen boys passed me slowly from behind. The car was gold in color and weathered. There were two boys in the front seat and two more in back. Seeing their profiles in my peripheral vision as they pulled along side of me, each one looked like a skinny Muppet.

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps   Took a break on some outdoor furniture…

As one might expect with a car full of kids, the thumping of heavy bass announced their presence to me 30 or 40 yards before they pulled along side. The smell of weed leaking from the car’s open windows might have been enough to distinguish them in my mind and amuse me for the next hour or so while I pedaled onward, but there was more. Much more.

How I will remember them, why will I remember them, and what it was that will distinguish them in my mind as co-perpetrators of a unique moment in human history, unfolded in an instant as they passed me. I will remember them for the rest of my life, for the moment they attempted to and failed, to chuck a watermelon at me through the car window.

Worth repeating: They attempted to throw a watermelon through a car window at a cyclist, me, as they drove past.

Depending on how you define human beings, we’ve been around for roughly 500,000 years. In that time, approximately 100 million human beings to have ever lived. Among those people and within that time, I’ll suggest I’m the first person to ever be the target of an attempted watermelon tossing and subsequent failure, by a car full of stoners.

I was not only the witness, I was the cyclist.

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Early birds…

I’ve had bottles thrown at me before, been honked at, yelled at, and have even had cars intentionally swerve in my direction to scare me. I’ve had a drunk guys in pickup trucks challenge me to pull over and fight them. In these instances, I usually experience some combination of frustration, rage, or disappointment in my fellow man. I’ve had interruptions like this not only ruin my ride, but ruin my day.

However, to see four stoned teenagers in a ratty, smoke filled car, fail in attempting to throw a watermelon out the window at me, absolutely made my day, and will probably be the highlight of my riding in calendar year 2019.

Why they were driving with a watermelon, and why they were willing to sacrifice it, I have no idea. But they did. Perhaps they were running an errand for mom, and just didn’t give a crap — they felt simple amusement was worthy of dumping mom’s fruit. Maybe they had bought it to plug, fill with grain alcohol, and serve at a party later in the evening. I’ll probably never know.

The watermelon did make it out the window, but barely. They giggled as the melon hit the pavement, yelled someone unintelligible words in my direction in their Wayne and Garth voices, and sped away. For those who may question the validity of this story, the remains can be seen on somewhere in the vicinity of Gird Road and Lake Trees drive here in Fallbrook.

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Fallbrook California: The  most beautiful community in America…

In a small town, I’m confident I will see this car again, and some combination of these boys. When I do, I’m going to offer to buy them lunch at Taco Bell, to thank them, because I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of the story, and for many years.

It may be possible that in some region of China, Idaho, Portugal, or on the North Island of New Zealand, that other stoned boys driving a beat up Saturn station wagon also attempted to chuck a watermelon at a cyclist as they passed him by. If it has happened somewhere else, forgive the momentary grandeur. Until it gets proven to me that it has happened, I’m going to assume that yesterday I participated in another first in human history.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
25 miles
1,050’ climbing
16.9 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: One More Time, by Redbone

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

Cry Me A River…

It had been too long since I had seen the ocean, so I left Fallbrook yesterday and headed west until I could head west no more. It was a beautiful ride along the San Luis Rey riverbed through Fallbrook, Bonsall, and into Oceanside.

Wildflowers were blooming everywhere. The trees along the river bed have never looked greener nor more full, and certainly not this early in the season. In the usually dry riverbed, running water was cutting a swath 60 to 70 yards wide on either side of the recreation trail leading to the coast, the result of all the rain we’ve had in recent months and days. I must have seen 20 egrets along the way, another 20 roadrunners, and a half-dozen Osprey.

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Mixed in with all the growth and the wildlife though, was an inordinary amount of manmade debris. Unusually high and rapid moving water had forced sheets of plastic, large pieces of plywood, and corrugated tin up against tree trunks, fence posts, and against the walls of the overpasses that line the river trail.

What to do these items have in common…?

They are what homeless people use to create shelters, lean-tos, and makeshift tents in the riverbed. Since I ride the riverbed often, I have a good mental inventory of where many of these tents, shelters, and social complexes are located. And since I interact with some of the local homeless folks from time to time, I have a good understanding of how valuable these shelters are to them, and how people will go out of their way to protect them. After all, they may be made out of plywood and plastic, but they are a person’s home.

Since the rains that filled the dry riverbed with water were the same rains that have been falling on my own backyard in recent months, I know some of the more sudden storms have occurred overnight. It’s easy to surmise that some of these shelters may have been taken out by fast rising waters suddenly, and while people were sleeping in them. That’s why they were pushed up against tree trunks and bridges, because it can happen so quickly.

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That is, if any of the residents in the riverbed had any advanced notice that the water would have been rushing down, I’m certain they would’ve done their best to relocate their shelters to higher ground, which is available alongside most of the riverbed. That these got caught in the flow of the water is a good indication that the water came quickly.

I may be wrong about that, but with the sheer number of makeshift shelters along the river bed, it’s a safe bet that more than a few people woke up to rushing water and had to run to escape it. I’m just grabbing a number, but I would estimate that in the 10-mile stretch between Bonsall and Oceanside, there might be as many as 1000 people living down there, probably more.

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After catching my breath at the coast, enjoying the view, the smell of salt air, and the simple amusement of observing pasty kids from Omaha splashing around in the 53° water, I turned around and headed home.

I felt like the epitome of arrogance though, riding past torn up homeless encampments on my fancy bike and headed back to my fancy house. It was and remains very hard to reconcile. I guess some days privilege and of the lottery of birth both weigh a little bit more than on other days.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer
32.5 miles
950’ climbing
16.8 mph avg
2,200 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Failed Christian (Nick Lowe) by Henry McCullough

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

 

On The Adversity Of Others…

At some point during every ride, I find myself contemplating the trials, tribulations, and the tragedies of others.  Not out of amusement, but out of humility. Mostly, those in my periphery — my friends, family, and acquaintances as well as those I cross paths with via social media.

As I stand out of my saddle and pedal up steep grades or as I glide swiftly down the other sides hoping to pass the cars ahead of me, I chew on the adversity of others much more than I think about my own. In comparison, I often think, I don’t even know what adversity is. This exercise within my exercise, is an excellent daily reminder of how blessed my life is.

More so, it’s a grounding reminder that many I know have interruptions in their own blessings, and that sometimes those interruptions are severe. I love them and I always pray for them.

It’s been 6 years since Gretchen died. She was a friend, in her late 40s, who I often hiked with. One afternoon while walking across the floor of a restaurant on her way from her table to the restroom, she had a heart attack. The EMTs revived her, but she passed away the next morning. Only minutes before, she had texted another friend that she was having one of the best days of her life.

There hasn’t been a week go by in the six years since, that I have not thought about that, at least a little bit.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer…

Several years later, the 13-year-old daughter of another friend passed away suddenly, on her way to family outing with her parents and two brothers. That loss has crossed my mind at least a few times a day, every day sense.

Other adversities start off bleak, but fare a little better, and some ultimately leave the realm of adversity as a description.

Several years ago a friend in Colorado allowed a tree to get between she and one of the better downhill runs she was having that day. She spent several weeks in the hospital, suffered multiple broken bones, a short term head injury, and some permanent scarring on the right side of her face. The scarring is minimal, she is skiing again regularly, and she has since finished college, despite the accident.

She refers to the scars on her face as “The signature of good fortune“.

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Because I ride past his house daily, I think of my friend Dave. He was a client who was complaining about shoulder problems about a year ago. He was concerned that our workouts were causing a constant pain he was having under his upper right arm.

After a doctors visit and a couple of referrals, it turned out not to be workout related at all. The shoulder pain was the result of inflamed lymph nodes, the result of of lung cancer that had spread. The initial diagnosis was stark, and he’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s responded to treatment much better than expected. I am hopeful he will deemed cancer-free in the next few months.

For the last few weeks, as I’ve been riding the hills, gliding the straightaways, and dodging broken glass and cars on the roads of North San Diego county, I’ve been thinking about a young man I’ve never met. His initials are G.E. His parents are social media friends who I’ve come to know and appreciate. G.E. was in an automobile accident recently.

One month since his accident, G.E. is now in a rehab facility with a fantastic staff, is making great progress, and recovering from his injuries. G.E.’s  current challenges include struggling with balance, a desire to leave his room and wonder, and short-term memory loss. I have a feeling that G.E. is going to make a great recovery. His wonderful parents are committed to helping him overcome the difficulties that lay ahead.

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Micky Zen loves fire “Th i i i i i i i i s” much…

These are just a few examples of the many adversities that have touched me, but have clearly touched those connected to them far more significantly. With each passing year though, there are one or two more. At some point, there might be so many that I’ll be able to think of little else.

The joke in my family is this…

I don’t have to get an annual physical. I just get my blood work done in the emergency room each year when I’m there.

Though I do land in the emergency room every so-often, I’ve been quite fortunate that nothing which has landed me there has caused me too much difficulty. Oh, there have been setbacks, but nothing that approaches the term adversity.

Maybe it’s because I ride by markers each day of my life that display where other cyclists have been struck by cars. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen more than a handful of gurneys being loaded into ambulances driving away from the remains of mangled motorcycles, bikes, and cars. Most likely though, it’s because I know the risks involved with daily cycling, that I think about the adversity of others and the impact it has had on their families and friends.

As much as anything, these daily thoughts remind me of just how good my life is, and how I should strive to protect and appreciate it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Cortez The Killer
31 miles
1,500’ climbing
16.4 mph avg
2,100 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: He’s Misstra Know It All

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

Me Time: In Case Of Emergecy…

I spend roughly 90-minutes on my bike every day. A little bit less when life has me hurrying on behalf of others, and a little bit more on the weekends and on days when extra time actually finds me. It’s my Me Time.

I never squander extra time, I invest it.

In a perfect life, I would ride for about 3-hours every day — that would ideal. Maybe when I retire I can do that. Or when I semi-retire, since I plan to work at least part-time so long as I’m able.

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Vasudeva…

More than a few people have asked me about that red and gray bag I have on the top-tube of my bikes — that thing that has the appearance of a small gas tank.

It’s my tool/utility bag.

A lot of cyclists don’t like this style of bag because they break up the aerodynamics of the bike, they add a little bit more weight, and they break up the aesthetic of the bike’s appearance.

I appreciate this style of tool bag though, so much. It may influence the weight, the aerodynamics, and the aesthetic, but it’s a great insurance policy when I’m 20-miles from home. It’s larger than most cycle bags, but allows me to carry just about everything I might need on my rides.

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In the bag I keep…

– A spare inner-tube in case of a flat
– Levers to help remove a tire in case of a flat
– A CO2 pump and (2) CO2 cartridges in case of a flat
– $20 bill in case I need food/drink or a taxi (in case of a flat)
– My insurance card in case I need an emergency room
– On the back of the insurance card is my emergency contact information in case I can’t speak for myself in the emergency room
– A multi-tool with a small socket set, hex wrenches, screwdrivers, a knife, and a bottle opener — this tool can work with any fitting or fastener on any bike I own.
– A Ziploc bag to protect my phone in case it rains
– Reading glasses — to see what I’m doing during repairs

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Bike tool was a Hanukkah gift from my friend Cliff…

Also, it appears that I have 2 water bottles, one on my down-tube in the other on my seat-tube. In warm weather, they are filled with water.

In the winter though, and on cold days in particular, the bottle on the seat-tube actually contains spare gloves, a spare beanie to wear under my helmet, and spare socks. These might get used if I’m out for an extended period and rain soaks the ones I’m already wearing. I’ll just stop under a tree, swap out the wet garments for dry ones, and continue about my way.

Or, they might get used if I drop into a colder elevation which happens frequently this time of year. In a matter of several miles I can go from 50°F down to 30°F. If this gets the better of me, I can just double up my gloves, socks, and beanie to keep a little warmer — or to keep from getting too cold.

I also keep a few peppermints just under the cap, for a quick sugar in case I start to bonk.

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For longer rides, I’ll put one more tool bag on the top tube and include a little food, a spare tire, some chain lube, and usually have enough room left to add an item that might be relevant for a longer ride, such as a windbreaker or a headlamp to be clipped on later,  should my ride continue into darkness.

So that’s it. That’s what goes with me when I ride.

Be prepared.

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t reflect on my Boy Scout days, and all these years later, those lessons serve me well.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Vasudeva
31 miles
1,500’ climbing
2,100 calories
17.1 mph avg
Yesterday’s earworm: Josephine, by Chris Cornell

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