Tour de Mojave…

There’s something about a bicycle — you experience travel at a human scale. You see, smell, hear, and feel your surroundings just like walking or hiking. Cycling takes place though, at a pace where you can actually go somewhere.

Last week my friends Ashley, Tim, and I rode our bikes along Route 66 from Victorville California to Seligman Arizona. We did this over five days. Below are some of the highlights.

Day One: Shuttling The Car…

We met in Seligman Arizona which would be the final destination of our tour. I drove from Fallbrook while Tim and Ashley arrived from Phippsburg Colorado. We spent the night at The Historic Route 66 Motel in Seligman. Our rooms were comfortable, clean, and decorated with plenty of Route 66 shtick. 

After checking into our motel, we walked around Seligman and met a few locals. We also met Pancho, who may have been a ridgeback/bulldog mix. Pancho was both friendly and photogenic. There’s not much in Seligman — just a  crossroads of Route 66 and I-40. It’s s also a staging area for trains. It was charming though, and I’d like to go back and spend a couple nights there sometime. 

We ended the evening with dinner at the Roadkill Café. The food was excellent, and as you’d expect at a restaurant on Route 66, the walls were adorned with remnants of mid-century America, including a Rickenbacker 6-string which Tim couldn’t ignore. 

Day Two: Barstow To Victorville And Back — 52 miles 

The following morning we left Tim and Ashley’s car in Seligman and headed to Victorville in my car with our bikes — but we never made it. Driving west from Seligman we decided to start in Barstow. We took a motel room in Barstow, staged our car, and took a day ride from Barstow to Victorville and back. It was a way to get in a few extra miles and get warmed up for the rest of the week.

A couple things I already knew about the desert, but was reminded of during our ride from Barstow to Victorville and back…

– The desert is hot

– The desert is dirty

– Desert communities which thrived 40 or 50 years ago have been largely abandoned

– People in the desert make cool shit out of junk

– The desert is where meth comes from

In-between the two towns though, the landscape was magnificent. I’m fascinated by desert horizons, shapes, contrasting hues, and where the jagged earth meets the faded blue sky in a beautiful conclusion.

We rode strong and had no issues that day. We stopped 25-miles out of Barstow at The Bottle Forest. We didn’t learn too much about it, but it appears to have been there for a while. Someone has crafted dozens of trees by welding small steel stems to vertical steel poles. The branches are adorned with old glass bottles, electrical line insulators, and antiques such as typewriters, musical instruments, cash registers, and more. There was a young couple having the prom pictures taken there. We thought that was cool.

Day 3: Barstow To Ludlow — 53 miles 

This would be a short day, just 53 miles. We had a slow start out of Barstow. Roughly a mile in we had to make an adjustment to the trailer Tim and Ashley pulled behind their tandem bike. The adjustment took just a couple of minutes, but finding somebody to open the tool cachet at Walmart for the vice-grips we needed took nearly 45-minutes. Every Walmart is a Walmart, but the Walmart in the Barstow is the Walmartiest Walmart in the world. Every stereotype in the book. 

Back on our bikes and just a few miles further down the road there we found ourselves at the front gate of the Marine Logistics Base in Barstow. Apparently Route 66 cuts through the base but civilians aren’t allowed on. They detoured us onto I-40 or a few miles before we could reconnect with Route 66.

From there we had a flat stretch with a tailwind that carried us at 19 mph for roughly 10-miles. We slowed a little from some shallow climbing for 30-miles or so. The riding day ended by descending into Ludlow a little after 1:30pm. 

Temperature along the way was 103°. Riding wasn’t too difficult, but we definitely felt the heat. We stopped a couple of times along the way to take some photographs of railroad car graffiti, the basalt infused Martian landscape, and to drink water under the shade — but there was no shade. 

After checking into our motel, we had lunch at the Ludlow Café. There we met two bicycle tourists, Eric and Alicia. They’re riding from coastal Orange County to Trenton New Jersey. Eric‘s mom passed away last year and he’s delivering some of her ashes to Trenton, where she’s from. It was fun to connect with them. We talked about bikes, routes, and just got acquainted a bit. I wished them well on their endeavor and tried to not let on that I was jealous.

We had a good night sleeping at the motel, and left early the following morning for Needles. 

Day 4: Ludlow To Needles — 110 miles 

This would be our longest stretch 110-miles and coincidentally in 110° heat. We got off to an early start, leaving Ludlow just before sunup. To our surprise, and not too far down the road, was a barricade that stretched the width of the road. 

ROAD CLOSED

Our next section of Rout 66 was closed to traffic. Wait, what… 🤷🏼‍♂️ We came to ride Route 66. 

We decided to take our chances and go around the barricade. Within a couple miles there was another barricade — we went around that one also. We just kept heading east, mile after mile, going around intermittent barricades. To that point, the road looked fine and we couldn’t understand why it was closed.

Maybe 10-miles in we began noticing portions of the road were washed out beside each barricade. We passed a half-dozen or so sections where large chunks of the road were washed out. There was always enough pavement though, to cross our bikes over safely. There was one section of road that was completely washed out so we carried our bikes around through the dried wash. 

Long story less long… 

We got to ride a 62-mile stretch of Route 66 with virtually no automobile traffic, except the occasional engineering vehicle in the area to assess the washed out portions of road. We road side-by-side and for much of it, and on the left-hand side of the road. We joked that we were taking the English Route 66. 

I can’t stress enough what a gift that was — 62-miles of the nation’s most historic highway with no automobile traffic. Might have been the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike. I can’t imagine they’ll have the road fixed anytime soon, so I may go back later this summer and ride that stretch again.

The town of Fenner California is little more than a Chevron station with $8.49 per gallon gas. We stopped there to replenish our water bottles, take in some air-conditioning, and eat a little ice cream. There we met up with Eric and Alicia again. We enjoyed a little refrigeration time with them, rehydrating, and slamming calories. I drank four Vitamin Waters in less than 5-minutes and got so chilled that I went outside to warm up again. 

Overall the day rode well. We had a tailwind for much of the day. Most of the climbing was gradual and the heat didn’t get to us until the last 20-miles or so. We stepped into the hotel in Needles tired but not defeated — we had just ridden across the Mojave desert in the peak of the day, and had fun doing it. After checking in we headed straight to the Chinese restaurant across the parking lot. Riding long distances in the desert heat will make you crave strange things. For the last few miles of the day, I just wanted to drink a bottle of blue cheese salad dressing, but settled for vegetables with tofu.

Thinking about our mileage that day, and missing Stroodle, I got to thinking if there’s such a thing as dog mileage — like dog years. I wondered if our 110-mile journey would’ve been more like 200-miles to him. You know, little legs and all. 

Day 5: Needles To Kingman — 63 miles 

We rode only 63-miles from Needles to Kingman, but climbed in excess of 5,000 feet by way of Oatman — some of the steepest climbing I’ve ever done. The temperature was 105°. If I counted correctly, I drank (10) bottles of water or Gatorade that day. 

Oatman is an interesting town, small, touristy, and not much there really. Virtually every shop we walked into, the first words the shopkeeper spoke were…

“Ten-dollar minimum for debit cards…“

Oatman had a half-dozen burros walking around, soliciting food from tourists willing to pay five dollars for a handful of grass pellets. One shopkeeper, assuming we had no idea what we were doing, assured us that we had a difficult climb ahead. We made jokes at his mom’s expense the rest of the day. 

The flipside of climbing through and above Oatman was a fun decent for about 6-miles — just coasting and taking in the scenery.  Because it was a steep climb it was also a steep descent. Those 6-miles were more fun than any amusement park ride I’ve ever been on. 

We did well for most of the day, even through the hard climbing. After our descent though, and a short roadside stop for fluids and food, the heat got the better of me. We had a 10-mile flat stretch into Kingman where I was feeling a little bit nauseous and loopy. At the end of that was a shallow climb and I was toast. 

After checking into the motel, Tim and I jumped into the pool. I confided I was considering staying behind for a day. I was hot and exhausted. Tim understood and supported whatever decision I made. After a swim and an excellent Mexican dinner at La Catrina (highly recommend if you’re ever in Kingman), I decided to push on, which I knew I would. Maybe I just needed to hear myself speak my weakness. Yeah, that’s it.

I kept thinking of the Steven Wright joke…

“Anywhere is walking distance if you’ve got the time…”

So too with the bicycle, and I had the time.

Day 6: Kingman To Seligman — 83 miles

Riding from Kingman to Seligman is uphill most of the way. The climbing wasn’t steep, just slow going. We stopped mid-day on the Hualapai Reservation in Peach Springs Arizona. Lunch was at the Hualapai Lodge. Something about bicycle touring makes every restaurant meal the best meal ever. I ordered a basket of onion rings and began eating them before our waitress set them down. They were the best onion rings I’ve ever had, and the tater-tots I stole from Tim where every bit as good. 

Perhaps an hour out of Kingman we began to see something we hadn’t seen much of during week — trees and brush. And as we gained elevation, the trees and brush increased. That would be a good thing because halfway between Peach Springs and Seligman, the bracket connecting the trailer to Tim and Ashley‘s bike broke and the trailer came loose. 

If this had happened earlier in the week it would have posed a far greater problem. However, we were just a few hours from our final destination. With a car waiting at our motel in Seligman, Tim hid the trailer behind some brush and we continued on. He and Ashley would backtrack and retrieve it after checking into our motel. 

With Tim and Ashley no longer towing their trailer, and with me still hauling my gear, they broke away. I finished the last 25-miles of our trip on my own — which gave me a little time to think about my mom. Mom lived much of her adult life in rural Arizona so it was a perfect place to reflect. Perhaps it was because I was thinking about my mom, or the fact that the trip was almost over, but I suddenly found myself crying as I pedaled into an unforgiving wind. 

The final stretch into Seligman was brutal. Saddle-sore from a week of riding, I couldn’t stay on my seat. I pedaled standing up for the last 15-miles of the trip. As I drew closer to Kingman, the wind was as bad as it was all week. I was done — in every possible way. 

When I arrived in Seligman, Tim and Ashley had already checked into the motel and were in their car ready to retrieve their trailer. I collapsed on the hotel bed for a few minutes, took a shower, I made a few phone calls to let people know I had arrived.  

We had just completed the hardest part of Route 66 to ride by bicycle, and had done so in 100° heat every day. It was the most challenging physical endeavor of my life. At dinner that night, back at the Roadkill Café, we were already talking about our next our next adventure. No conclusions were made, other than deciding it needs to be a few days longer.  

Straight up, Tim is the most durable cyclist I’ve ever met. Nothing bothered him. The sentence Ashley and I heard from him over and over last week was…

“We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine…“

Tim’s reassurance got us through the few tense moments we had. He was a fantastic leader. 

Ashley is recovering from cancer for the second time. I’ll repeat that — for the second time…!  Her final radiation treatment was in March. That’s a level of bravery I’ll never know — to ride a bike across the Mojave on the hottest week of the year while still in recovery. I was humbled by that every day.

For me, I didn’t bring much to the table other than a lot of ‘your mom’ jokes along the way. Every endeavor needs its comic relief and I did my best to do my part.

What’s the point of doing anything, I thought, if I can’t fill my social media feeds with pictures and words from the trip…? Each evening, after we settled into our motels and ate, I’d edit pictures and journal the day behind us. Tim and Ashley journaled the old fashion way, with a pen and notebook. 

I ride a bike roughly 350 days per year. Each morning when I wake up, before I pet my dog or turn on the coffee pot, I ask myself, what’s it going to be today…? Where will I ride and how soon can I get out…?  Waking up in Seligman Thursday morning was the first time in six years I had no desire to get on a bike. The urge will come back though, and I’ll likely have been on a bike before you read this.

Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough…

Adventure isn’t something that just happens. Adventure is a choice — it’s opening one’s self up to vulnerabilities and allowing their creative side to navigate around, through, and beyond them. Adventure might be the purest form of creativity I’ve ever known. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

The Tour By The Numbers…

361 miles

14,000’ climbing

12.5 mph avg

21,300 calories

Seat Time: 31 hours 12 minutes

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

👍🏻

A Picture Of Everyone…

The picture below hung in the upstairs hallway of my childhood home. My father purchased it before I was born, so it’s been a part of my life from my earliest days. 

When I was smaller, it was over my head, both in placement and intellectually. As a toddler, I’d have to strain my neck just to look at it. In time though, I’d grow taller and my eyes would better connect with the cultures of the world. I was fascinated by the people, their varying skin tones, the different clothes they wore, and the religions they represented. I would read the message over and over again…

“Do unto others as you have them do unto you…”

Even as a child this seemed like a good way to be.

When I was tall enough, I’d remove the picture from the wall and prop it up on a table in my bedroom. I’d just stare at it — getting lost in the people and the stories they represented. The picture opened my mind to the possibilities of belief. I’d always make sure to put it back exactly as I found it though, so my parents wouldn’t know I was regularly removing it. 

When my parents separated, Rockwell’s Golden Rule went with my father. Dad displayed it wherever he lived, from Montana, to New Jersey, to Las Vegas where he eventually retired. When my father passed away, the painting ended up in my hands, where it remains to this day — and I still stop to take it in daily. 

Fast forward several decades…

The year I turned 40, my brother suggested I read The Religions Of Man by Huston Smith (1958, now called The World’s Religions). To this day, it remains the seminal text for introducing religion to first-year college students.

The book, like the Rockwell’s panting, captivated me. Smith’s book expanded the possibilities of belief. Every time I opened World’s Religions, and every time I’d start a new chapter, I’d flash back to Rockwell’s Golden Rule — it was a way to connect that painting with the rich history of religious observance from every corner of the world.

Each time I completed a chapter of The World’s Religions, I felt a visceral bond with the religion which had been covered. When I put the book down, I felt that I had a little bit of every religion in me. On completing the book, I dubbed myself a freelance person of faith.

Through dozens more books over the next twenty years, covering every religion from Shinto, to Sikhism, to Judaism, to Zoroastrianism, and beyond, I’d always feel better connected with the religion I was studying, and very often felt it was the perfect theology for me at that time, but remained committed to my religion of one. 

More recently, the last couple years, my emphasis has been on learning about Islam, which is quite infectious the deeper one dives into it. Islam is, by far, the least understood of all the Abrahamic faiths, at least in the western world. I’ll suggest that the prejudice against Islam, especially in the United States, is far greater and more intense than any prejudice against Judaism and Christianity — to the point where it’s shameful. A story for another essay.

Anyway, I was looking at the picture below yesterday, and realized that my fascination — my love of religion began with a painting which hung in the hallway of my childhood home. And with a Christian mother and a Jewish father who, despite their many differences, never said a negative word about the religion each other was raised in. We should all be so graceful in matters of faith.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 4

Miles: 154

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 13.8

Calories: 8,500

Seat Time: 11 hours 11 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from The Grief Brothers. Enjoy…

My Little Football Friend…

For over a decade, my sidekick and I walked side-by-side at the Los Juilgeros Preserve — a 25-acre nature preserve just a mile from downtown Fallbrook. It’s a place where he enjoyed hunting for sniffs. Walking off leash from an early age, he had the freedom to roam and follow his nose, but never went too far from dad — and I never took my eyes off of him. 

A few years back, around the time he turned 16, what we referred to as the Big Preserve was a little too big, and we took our walks to what we called the Little Preserve — a smaller but similar landscape, and our walks were reduced to less than a mile. And that’s where we’ve been walking for the last few years.

We don’t walk the Little Preserve anymore either. His steps are slower, his bones getting frail, and he tires easy. These days, we drive to the local school district office, which has a small park in front that’s dog friendly. I put him down, let him hunt for some sniffs, do his thing, and often he’ll lay in the sun for 5 or 10-minutes before we head home.

He still gets excited when I head to the front door, and ultimately I think that’s what it’s about — to leave the house, get in the car, and just go somewhere. When I think about it, it’s not too different than when I would take my mom to the airpark each day for lunch — just a reason to get out and see that the world is still there.

Missing the days of our longer walks, and missing the natural surroundings they took place in, I’ve been taking Stroodle once again to the Little Preserve. He doesn’t walk the trail anymore. I carry him like a little football tucked into my right arm. I carry him a few hundred yards, put him down, let him get a few sniffs, and if he’s so inclined, lay in the sun. Then I scoop him up, walk a few hundred more yards, and repeat the process until we’ve completed the 3/4 mile trail.

He’s almost 19 years old. I know this can’t go on. Each day when I wake up the first words out of my mouth are “thank you for another day“. I then ask him for one more year, but I know that’s not realistic.

It’s funny though — as old and slow as he can be when I take him for our walks, when I put on my overshirt, grab the car key, and open the front door, he jumps from the sofa like a puppy, spins a couple times, and beams with excitement. He’s my little old man and my kid, simultaneously.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 179

Climbing: 8,000’

Mph Avg: 14.6

Calories: 10,000

Seat Time: 12 hours 11 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from John Cruz (exquisite Zimmy cover)

Three For The Road…

In a few weeks I’ll be meeting up in Victorville California with my friends Tim and Ashley. Tim and I met in 1984 at a Coast Guard recruiting office in Northglenn Colorado. Tim and I went through boot camp together, got sent back a few weeks in boot camp together, and graduated from boot camp together. Tim is as good a person as I’ve ever known, and Ashley, his wife, is too good for him.

From Victorville, we’re going to ride our bikes to Kingman Arizona. Tim and Ashley will be on a tandem bike and I’ll be on a bike yet to be determined — or yet to be purchased, depending how things unfold in the coming weeks. 

It’ll be a good opportunity to decompress and gather my thoughts on the heels of my mother’s passing. I’m not sure what changes lay ahead for me after six years of caregiving, but there will certainly be a few. Riding across the Mojave will be a good time to entertain and process any would-be changes in my future.

Our agenda for the ride looks like this…

Day 1: Victorville to Barstow 30 miles 

Day 2: Barstow to Ludlow  50 miles 

Day 3: Ludlow to Needles 110 miles

Day: 4 Needles to Kingman 60 miles 

Day 5 (optional): Kingman to Seligman  90 miles 

We’ll have a truck pre-positioned in either Kingman or Seligman. From there, we’ll load up the bikes and head back to Victorville. I’m looking forward to this. I need this. 

There’s not a lot of talking when you ride cross country. Maybe there’s time to tell a story here and there or crack a joke along the way. The good conversations don’t happen until the day’s ride is through. Tacos are ordered, beer gets opened, and you talk about the day’s ride, memories from the past, and those yet to come. 

Maybe we’ll sleep well, maybe not. We hope to stay in a couple hotels along the way, but we’re prepared for roadside camping if the illustrious Ludlow Inn has no vacancy. No matter, we’ll wake up each morning and go. There’s no better feeling than hitting the road early on a two-lane desert highway. There’s just the rhythm of the legs, the emptiness of the mind, and all that pretty stuff that will surround us. 

I explained to somebody the other day that everything I ever wanted to get out of surfing I’ve found in cycling…

  • Solitude
  • Excitement
  • Immersion into the environment
  • Escape
  • Challenge
  • Physical and mental satisfaction

I’m not sure if I’ll be blogging or even plugged in much when we’re on the road — certainly not on the day we ride from Ludlow to Needles. I’ll take a few hundred pictures along the way though, and share them on our return. Tim, who still shoots on film, is a much better photographer than me. I’m sure he’ll come up with some gems.

If all goes well, we’ll be doing a second trip from Denver to Casa de Cohen at Lake McConaughey in July. More on that later.

Though I haven’t been too active on this platform recently, I’m still writing every morning on my Spoke And Word Facebook page. If you’re interested in my daily shtick, and you should be, please check it out. Perhaps I’ll get back to writing here more in the coming weeks.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 174

Climbing: 7,700’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 9,800

Seat Time: 11 hours 41 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from The Rave Ups. By the way, this is the first studio album by the core lineup of The Rave Ups in 30 years. It’s fantastic. Enjoy…!

Refujeez…

What a decade so far. What a year. What a week. What a day we have ahead…

I work from home and in bare feet most days.  My pantry and my refrigerator are full. My activities, which are many, take place at my whim. With the exception of an aching molar and a lack of discipline when it comes to eating cookies, I have little to complain about. 

The color of my skin is consistent with not getting hassled in the public square. I have a sound mind — I guess, and at the push of a button I can change the temperature of my living room like it’s some kind of magic. I’m as far as one could possibly be from being defined as a refugee.

Though I don’t expect that I ever will be a refugee, it’s always in the back of my mind — what if…? I’ve asked myself that for many years now…

What if…? What if…? What if…?

I’m not that far from refugee status, all things considered. I don’t have a bunch in the bank. The global hate machine is making more noise than it has in decades, while many in position to curb its aggression remain strangely silent. The potential for economic disaster due to cyber terrorism, biological terrorism, or chemical terrorism have never been greater — traditional warfare notwithstanding. And even if we are able to keep those at bay, we’re long overdue for a good plague. Whoops…

Nearly every day since I saw the movie Red Dawn nearly 40 years ago, I think of Harry Dean Stanton holding fast to the wire that separated he and his sons. I often wonder if I’ll be on that wrong side of that barbed-wire someday. 

I might ride a bike in a few minutes. I might not. I’ll certainly eat something good today and will take it for granted — probably something a Ukrainian refugee might not see again for years, if ever. I’ll probably nap while my housekeeper scrubs the toilets, and I’ll do some bookkeeping to keep my coin coffers full. 

I’ll certainly witness some hate, most likely online, on television, and possibly some in-person hate — that’s always fun. And I contemplate as I dictate this, how I might respond to the hate I witness today — will I confront it or just ignore it like so many others do…? I dunno 🤷🏼‍♂️.

I have no idea what it’s like to be a refugee. Nor do I have any idea what it’s like to be a perpetrator of hate. I understand though, today more than ever, that refugees and perpetrators of hate exist in profound opposition to one another, worldwide. I’ll pray for all them. Of course not all refugees are victims of hate. Some are victims of greed. Refugees though, are never to blame for their predicament. 

What if…?  What if…?  What if…?  

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 145

Climbing: 6,100’

Mph Avg: 15.3

Calories: 8,300

Seat Time: 9 hours 28 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 Donna The Buffalo. Enjoy…

The Escape Package…

When I ride each day, I’m peppered by the thoughts of others. Movie lines, song lyrics, and conversations with friends keep me occupied with every mile. Some of these have been recirculating for years. There are also quotes from authors and critical thinkers I’ve read through the years. One thought that’s been making regular appearances these last few months is this nugget…

“Every generation of prosperity has it paid for by the generation or generations prior…”  Jared Diamond, from Upheaval (2019). 

I’m beginning to wonder if we’re a generation going through turmoil to pave the way for a generation down the road to have things better. I pretend it doesn’t get to me, but the cultural polarization we’re experiencing weighs heavy on me — every day. At times it’s so depressing I wish nothing but the worst for humanity, so we can get it over with and yield back the planet to those critters who don’t reason and have done nothing to screw things up.

If you had told me six years ago the best therapies to keep away the sadness and depression that our polarizing social behavior causes me would be photography, cycling, and spending hours a day writing, I would’ve said you pronounced alcohol wrong. But mindless observation, capture, and the documentation of my thoughts have become my medicines of choice. Oh, and some prayer and meditation to hold it all together. Collectively, these are my escape package.

It’s to the point where I spend every non-working moment medicating myself with exercise and creativity, so I can forget about the ugliness of the world and the people in the world who create that ugliness. I just want it to stop. Every time I turn on the television or pick up my phone, I’m reminded of my mother and father screaming at each other when I was a child, and I’d hide under my bed to feel safe. 

Anyway, I don’t really have much to say this week. I know my photographs aren’t world class and my words are amateurish and not well edited. But it’s all I’ve got to lean on these days — it’s what keeps me going.

Oh, and I do want to say something about the folks in Washington DC too — the ones we’ve elected to help govern our country…

I wish they’d shut their mouths and do their jobs. I’m sick and tired of elected politicians opening their yaps and lying or distorting truths for the express purpose of pandering to their base, raising money, and getting reelected. They are literally killing people in the process, destroying lives, and making the country weaker for their own gain. 

How hard is it to do what’s right…? I do it every fucking day of my life. If there’s an afterlife for our elected politicians, at least the ones that are in Washington today, I hope it involves getting eternally sodomized by Satan himself, with a salt-encrusted toilet plunger wrapped in barbed wire. Having a D or an R alongside their name no longer carries any weight with me. And don’t get me started on those who sit before a camera each evening lying and bending truths for the express purpose of an increased ratings share and a bigger paycheck.

If that offends you. I’ll ask your forgiveness. I’m certain I’ll be in a better state of being next week. But even I have my limits. What I’ve seen come out of Washington DC these last few weeks makes me want to cheer for the volcanoes, the hurricanes, the earthquakes, and even the fires.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 141

Climbing: 6,100’

Mph Avg: 16.1

Calories: 8,100

Seat Time: 08 hours 43 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 Mint Juleps with Ladysmith Black Mambazo . Enjoy…

The Last Goal…

When I began this endeavor six years ago, I had a simple goal — to ride my bike seven days per week, taking just one day off per month. In the beginning my rides were short, just 10-miles each. Within a few weeks though, that wasn’t enough so I began riding further, 15-miles and gradually more. 

The riding app I used at that time, Map My Ride, provided a field to enter a weekly goal. Without much thought one day, I entered 100-miles as my goal. I was already doing it, so it felt like an easy mark to meet — and I’ve always believed in setting achievable goals.

Before long I was riding 125 per week, then 150, and eventually riding 175-200 miles each week. As my average weekly mileage increased though, I never amended the goal in my riding app upward. I simply exceeded my goal week after week and month after month. And that’s the thing about setting achievable goals…

…that no matter how my life might unfold in the course of a week — the good, the bad, and the ugly at all, I’d find satisfaction and maybe even some confidence in knowing that at least I accomplished one thing I set out to do. 

For six years that 100-mile per week goal has been challenging at times, but always achievable. In fact, it’s only been in jeopardy when I’ve been otherwise incapacitated due to the bike itself — finding myself in urgent care, emergency rooms, and laid up in bed nursing the occasional broken clavicle, sprained ankle, or fractured wrist. And even in those instances, I’ve somehow managed to get 100-miles in each week. 

And this is something I’ve never shared before…

…at some point along the way, and I don’t remember when, I upped the stakes for my goal. I didn’t increase my weekly mileage, but I made the commitment to myself that I’d meet the 100-mile mark every week for the rest of my life, come rain, shine, or tonsillitis, and I meant it. 

Now it may be hard to envision a 95-year-old man riding a bicycle 100-miles per week. If I’m being honest though, I’ve never seen myself becoming a 95-year-old man. If I hit my mid-70s I will have exceeded all expectations — from God, most everyone on my friends list, and even myself. So for the last few years, I’ve been riding with the belief that I’ll ride 100-miles every week for the rest of my life.

This past week was the first time that 100-mile goal was truly in jeopardy. Due to a COVID scare set in motion buy a selfish client, I lost a couple of days. When yesterday’s workday came to an end I was at 99.27 miles for the week. I was also physically exhausted, mentally drained, and dozing off in between bites of my 3pm lunch. But I couldn’t let the streak go.

At 3:30pm, and feeling as lifeless as a 30-pound cat on muscle relaxants, I dragged myself off the sofa, prepped a bike, and hit the road — utterly and completely exhausted. And the streak lives on. 

I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to meet that 100-mile goal each week for the rest of my life, but I’m sure gonna try. The situation with my mother might prohibit it, and of course that would be okay. I might get the opportunity to travel someday — and that travel might not include a bicycle. I’ll address that when and if it presents itself. I might also be stricken with a disease or find myself in hospital emergency room yet again. I dunno 🤷🏼‍♂️

Sometimes meeting a goal though, is simply the coming together of an achievable goal and a reasonable commitment to meet it. As I sit here this morning, those things are in place. Maybe the weirdest thing about setting a goal like this is that I’m fortunate enough to achieve it, I won’t be around to celebrate it. Weird, huh…?

This is what I think about when I ride…  Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 4

Miles: 123

Climbing: 5,200’

Mph Avg: 16.6

Calories: 7,100

Seat Time: 07 hours 25 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 Sleeping At Last. Enjoy…

The Spoke In Review Part II: 2021 In Summary…

With 2021 closing out, I want express my gratitude to everyone who takes time to read this. 

Many people are glad 2021 is almost over — as though 2022 comes with an antidote for all which we’ll leave behind. Probably not. People speak of 2021 in terms of profound negativity — polarization, COVID, and the general tenor of our nation. I’d be lying if I said those don’t impact me also, but they don’t represent my year. 

This was another above average year for me, and one of my best years of the last 20. I’m grateful for the richness it provided, as well as the opportunities, blessings, and so many positive human interactions. When I count my blessings at the end of each day, and I do count them, the lists in 2021 were always long. 

Of course not everything went my way in 2021. I cried a lot, felt rage more than I care to admit, and I endured my share of despair. Sometimes I experienced all of those simultaneously. And to be honest, there were days I didn’t want to go on. Some of my darks days were at the will of circumstances beyond my control, while others were due to my own poor choices. When I quantify the past year though — using the proverbial list of pros and cons, 2021 has been net-positive. 

I remain surrounded by more of everything than I will ever want or need. I live in a charming house. I’m located in a beautiful community. I have easy access to services, sustenance, and safety. Through the eyes of most of the world, I live like a king. 

I earn a good living, I have more friends than I deserve, I have loving of animals around constantly, and I get to spend valued time with my mother daily.  I also get to spend time outdoors about as often as I wish. When the clock strikes midnight this Saturday, I will have been on my bike 345 times in 2021. 

For a guy who can honestly refer to the 8th grade as my senior year, I couldn’t ask for more — so I don’t. If anything, I have so much I should be actively be pursuing less. I guess I do pursue a little less with each passing year.

At a time when people are busy typing into their phones, posting memes, and being mean and hyper-critical of other people who are also typing into their phones being mean and hyper-critical of others still, I enjoy and appreciate the technology that connects me with people from northern England, Germany, Australia, upstate New York, and even Poughkeepsie. I don’t get drawn into much online negativity because I learned long ago to peek through the window before I open the door. I choose peaceful windows.

I know there will be tears, rage, heartache, and sadness for me in 2022. I also know that as I experience them, I’ll always feel like I’m at rock bottom. But goodness, I remind myself daily, enters my life through larger and more frequent doors than the badness. And that goodness, tends to linger longer than the bad stuff. 

I hope that 2022 brings you peace, joy, laughter, and love. And I’ll remind you that if you’re not looking for it, you may not find it — but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. 

I’ll close out my 2021 blogging experience as I do every year, with the most formative line from any movie I’ve ever seen. And I recite this to myself daily…

“And in the end, I realized that I took more than I gave, that I was trusted more than I trusted, and that I was loved more than I loved. And in the end, I realized that what I was looking for was not to be found, but to be created…”

John Hughes, from She’s Having A Baby…

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

2021 By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 17

Flat Tires: 34

Seat time : 591 hours 45 minutes 

Climbing: 397,600’

Average Speed: 15.1

Calories Burned: 517,050

Total Miles: 9,050

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 Brenton Wood. Enjoy…

Us Too…

This isn’t Vermont, New Hampshire, or Northern Michigan. It’s not Aspen, Park City, or Pagosa Springs. It’s San Diego — land of palm trees, birds of paradise, and plumeria, but we get autumn too. I’ve been thinking about that lately — about how lovely our autumn foliage can be, and currently is. 

The foliage here is sparse — there aren’t hillsides packed with color and loaded with vibrance as there are in New England, nor is there a tourist industry built around it that tramples towns like Aspen, Nederland, and Pagosa Springs. Our foliage is modest and doesn’t boast, but has a beauty and a contrast unique to our region. 

Our fall colors are intermingled among the growth on our semi-arid hills — pockets of color in the chaparral, separate and distinct from what surrounds them. Our trees grow best in low-lying areas — where the water runs, when it runs.

It’s not the kind of foliage that would make for a destination or trip. I can’t imagine anyone boarding a plane to tour the poplar trees of North County. That said, and perhaps because we don’t get as much as other parts of the country, we appreciate it more. I know I do. 

Taking it all in, at bicycle speed, feeling the breezes that make the leaves shimmer, and to see the warm colors backlit by the low autumn sun, and all the while able to smell fresh air pushed east from the coast — that’s the best way I know to see it.

I was born and spent my early years in New England, where autumn foliage is an industry. I grew up in Colorado, were the most decadent town in the country, Aspen, is named for the trees that first brought the masses there in the late 1960s. I’ve been in San Diego’s North County for 22-years now. I enjoy autumn here more than New England or Colorado. 

And if we’re lucky, and if the leaves survive the Santa Ana winds, the pacific storms, and the fires of autumn, the foliage of San Diego can last for months. And if you think I’m a fool to compare autumn in San Diego with autumn in Vermont or Northern Michigan, our autumn begins in November and usually lasts through February. Take that, Kenosha Pass. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 152

Climbing: 6,600’

Mph Avg: 15.8

Calories: 8,700 

Seat Time: 09 hours 35 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 Savoy Brown. Enjoy…

Three Weeks Later…

Another lunch at the airpark yesterday. The usual Saturday cast of characters were there — a gray haired lady in a white SUV with her two dingo-looking dogs. There was an older couple in a Ford Escape sharing a hamburger and critiquing the landings. And of course, a few cars with tinted windows — teenagers smoking their boredom away.

There was a car I hadn’t seen previously though — a sporty black sedan. A skinny teenager with greasy hair sat in the passenger side staring at his phone while the driver, presumably his father, sat at the picnic table next to the car eating a burrito. He was a stocky man with a few tattoos. He looked like he worked out, but that he also ate a lot of burritos and knew his way around the beer aisle.

He was friendly as mom and I walked by, asking me where I worked out — musta been my sleeveless t-shirt. I explained that my home gym and that was is my domicile for making meat these days

“Yeah, me too…“ he said.

He looked to be my age. We made small talk about how the heavy toll iron takes on aging bones. He wished mom and I a good day and went back to his burrito. He seemed like a nice guy and I enjoyed talking with him. That’s when I recognize his car…

Several weeks ago, while riding out of town, I had an unprovoked altercation with a motorist. Below is my journal entry from that day…

About a mile out of town yesterday, a black Cadillac CTX passed me. The driver honked his horn several times as he cut in toward the bike lane. I caught up to him at a red light and looked in the open passenger side window. I never said a word. I was just curious who honked at me — if I knew the person. 

Before light turned green, the man left his car and ran toward me yelling obscenities. Startled, I stayed on my bike but prepared for an altercation. He stood a couple feet from me, and even at that distance I could smell alcohol — lots of it. He continued to scream. The passenger, apparently his teenage son, exited the car and caught the man from behind, putting him in a headlock. Without hesitation I took off on my bike. As I rode away, I heard the young man yelling…

“Get back in the car dad…!“

Moments later, I heard the same car honking behind me once again. He followed me at my speed, roughly 20 mph. I didn’t think he’d do anything other than drive away pissed when suddenly he drove into the bike lane ahead of me. I don’t think he wanted to hit me, just scare me. As this happened, a couple men in a Pathfinder wedged their vehicle between me and the Cadillac, shielding me at my speed. They signaled if I wanted them to call the police. I nodded yes.

They stayed with me as a shield, while the man in the Cadillac stayed behind them honking continually. At that point there were probably 20 cars behind the Cadillac — all wondering what the hell was going on, as was I. I’d never seen this man in my life, and don’t believe I did anything to offend him or start an altercation. It was as though he selected me at random as his target for a different rage.  

The passenger in the Pathfinder signaled that the 911 dispatcher wanted to speak with me if possible. With some hesitation, I stopped and the two men in the Pathfinder stopped along side me. The passenger handed me the phone through the window as the man in the Cadillac pulled over in front of them and exited his car — again. Again, he ran toward me. This time I prepared to leave my bike, aware that I not only wore a helmet, but wore gloves with armor protection over the fingers. The man’s son exited the car and convinced his dad to get back in the car before the cops arrived. He headed the kid’s advice and took off at a high rate of speed. 

The emergency dispatcher asked that I wait until a police unit arrived. I thanked the two men who shielded me and they went on their way. I waited for roughly 15-minutes for the police before I decided to continue my ride. I’d given my own phone number to the emergency dispatcher and figured the police would call at some point if they wanted to investigate the incident. I’ll follow up with the police later today.

(end of entry)

Once I realized the man I’d been enjoying smalltalk with at the airpark was the same man from the incident a few weeks earlier, I got cautious, though I was sure he didn’t recognize me. Mom and I continued to walk laps of the parking lot, and each time we passed by him, he’d smile and comment about the weather or how pretty mom‘s hat was.

This was a completely different man.  

He man was clear-eyed, present, and genuinely nice. I overheard him having a conversation with his son in the car beside him. They laughed and joked. As we passed him for the final time, I wished him well for the balance of his weekend… 

“You too, bro…“ he said. 

As I drove mom home, I tried to reconcile all of this — that this was the drunk who tried to run me off the road weeks earlier. Yesterday though, I considered inviting him to see my workout studio. Like the pregnant woman I saw smoking a few weeks ago, I know nothing about this man. I can only hope he spends more time as the man I saw yesterday — joking with his son and telling my mom she had a pretty hat. And I’ll hope his days of drinking, driving, and picking fights on the road are in the past — but I’ll keep my eyes open just the same.  

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 175

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.7

Calories: 10,000

Seat Time: 11 hours 06 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 Sundial. Enjoy…