Something ‘Bout Inner Peace…

There’s much I want to say this week, but I don’t think anybody’s listening. People are busy now, looking through their 7-inch and 60-inch windows to the world.

Too many are occupied with making snap judgments, arguing, predicting the future, moralizing, pointing fingers, and shunning responsibility. All the while, ignoring options, taking their eyes off the ball, forgetting what matters, and failing to connect with those who do matter.

I’ll sit this one out this week. I have things to say, but I’ll save them for another day — when people might actually listen. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the week that was — my week that was. These have nothing to do with politics, the psychology of rioting, infectious disease, The wearing of masks, mass gatherings, mail-in ballots, wet markets, stock markets, or personal liberties.

These pictures I take each day, they are the opposite of hate, the opposite of fear, the opposite of rage, and the opposite of rubber bullets. These are the opposite of ignorance.

This is what I think about when I ride, when I sit, and when I walk… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
199 miles
9,800’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,300 calories
13 hours 00 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 this from Beausoleil. Enjoy…

 

Speaking Of Priorities…

The priorities of culture should be fairly straightforward. If you’re not familiar with them, here they are in order — or the order in which roughly 1/3rd of the human population has them in…

1- Society as a collective — all people who inhabit the earth.

2- Communities within that global society — nations, states, counties, townships.

3- Work — what enables communities and societies to move upward and ahead.

4- Family — those persons we most value and are closest to, who give meaning and purpose to going to work.

5- Self — the smallest constituent of the engine of culture, that’s often corrupted by the illusion of autonomy.

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Governmental malfunctions and abuses of leadership notwithstanding, there’s a reason we aren’t seeing large profile movements in Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea) of disobedience, rebellion, and outright refusal to do what’s best in thwarting a global pandemic — the wearing of masks in public places as an example.

That reason is Confucianism — a system of priorities dating back roughly 2500 years, that is near the center of most Asian culture. In his book, The Religions Of Man (1958), Huston Smith writes…

“It’s said that every Chinese walks in Buddhist sandals, covers with a Taoist cloak, and wears a Confucian cap. They are all of these things, but not always all at once…“

In matters of taking precautions that benefit the whole of society, and doing what’s best to stop the spread of a disease, most of Asia today is showing it’s Confucian cap.

In his book, Confucius And The World He Created (2015), author Michael Schuman suggests South Korea is the most Confucian society in the modern world, as it relates to the priorities listed above. He suggests Japan is a close second. Whatever issues South Korea and Japan have had during this pandemic, civil disobedience in favor of self hasn’t been one of them.

The Declaration Of Independence (1776) gives us this phrase…

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…“

Uh oh.

I’ve seen that phrase cited repeatedly in recent weeks relating to matters of home confinement, the wearing of masks, and the curbing of our ability to gather and enjoy the fruits of our democracy. That phrase life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is at the core of our cultural DNA. I’m not opposed to that phrase, but I think it should be extended to read as follows…

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — so long as our priorities are in order.

Without that stipulation, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness above all things, has made America the drunken college frat boy of the modern world.

Some may read this and consider me un-American, unpatriotic, and even a malcontent. I suppose I’ve invited that criticism, though it’s misguided. I’m a veteran, a responsible citizen, and a person who will never put self above the whole of society. I think this is a good way to be, and I’ll argue that a successful outcome for mankind is dependent on it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
202 miles
9,100’ climbing
15.2 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 17 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 Nada Surf. Enjoy…

Oh Daddy…

Global pandemic, domestic political upheaval, and bird attacks notwithstanding, it was a good week of riding. Last week also marked the 8th anniversary of my father’s passing.

I don’t think it’s possible for me to ride my bike for a couple hours each day without thinking about my dad. He’s always there — memories of moments, conversations, arguments, and the telling of bad jokes. As I pedal through the scenery and take it all in, I think of my dad throughout the different phases of his life and of our relationship. It’s no stretch to say that my dad sits on my shoulder on every single ride.

I didn’t begin to truly understand my father until it was too late — until after he passed away. And it’s only because of his passing that I began to take inventory of our relationship, and accept that I was as responsible for the stresses, strains, and gaps as he was.

I guess that’s a common thing with middle-aged men — to seek a better understanding of their fathers only after they’ve gone. When it became a one-way conversation, getting to know my dad better could be done without any arguing. In-turn though, I’ve had to hear to my own voice and absorb my own thoughts.

I often wonder what my dad would think of me now — of my compulsion toward ambling through the woods each taking pictures of little things. I wonder how he’d feel about the shtick I write and whether he’d enjoy it, or mark it up and send it back to me for correction. I wonder if he’d understand my reasons — my need to ride bikes each day. I wonder if he’d approve of the way I’m taking care of my mother, and how surprised he’d be that I’m still making a living doing what he thought I’d never make a go of.
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Through much of my adult life, especially after I was married and after I became a father myself, I avoided my dad. I called him minimally, visited him infrequently, and I never put forth the effort into connecting with him that he put in reaching out to me.

There was definitely love between us, respect, and appreciation. If I’m being honest though, I was a dick to my dad more often than not, standoffish, and aloof in his presence. In hindsight, I’m certain that hurt him deep down, but on the surface he never let it show. He probably recognized his younger self in me and loved me anyway.

When I’m out there, pedaling long stretches of these rural roads, and when the wind is to my back and I’m deep in the rhythm of my ride, I think about the man. I think about the moments, the arguments, and the jokes we shared — in good times and in bad.

I think about being able to say I love you to him one more time — something that didn’t come as easy for me as it did for him. Forever is a long time to regret not saying I love you enough.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6
169 miles
8,100’ climbing
15.4 mph avg
9,600 calories
11 hours 0 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 Yes — one of the finest songs ever recorded. Enjoy…

Toes In The Water..

I conducted my first one-on-one fitness session in nearly 2 months yesterday. Practicing the safest protocols, I’ll be doing one session per day this week, and 2 to 3 per day next week. I’m putting my toes back in the water slowly.

It may sound hyperbolic to suggest that a one-hour workday stressed me to the point of emotional exhaustion, but it did. I couldn’t get on my bike fast enough when it was through. How I conduct business, I learned during those 60-minutes, will be very different going forward. The session was awkward, both logistically and in conversation, but successful. I hope they’ll get easier over time.

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There will be ongoing conflicts in my head about what I could’ve done better, will anyone become impacted should I get lax or reckless with my cleaning responsibilities, and should I even be doing this as career anymore. I took one of my faster bikes yesterday, but I couldn’t outride any of those conflicts as they played out in my head.

In truth, a workday consisting of a single one-hour session wasn’t putting my toes slowly back into the water. It was more like surfing in an area known to have sharks, but also knowing very few surfers get killed by sharks. That would be a perfect metaphor had a California surfer not been killed by a shark two days ago. Or maybe it’s the perfect metaphor because of that.

Going back to work, for many people in varying fields, is going to feel like they’re swimming with sharks maybe, but also maybe not. Like me, none want to get bit — some will though, that’s certain.

To paraphrase the only shark movie that matters: I’m gonna need a bigger bike…

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
28 miles
1,400’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: The Pusher, by Steppenwolf

A Shift In Exercise Plans…

Each day I see a few more bikes on the road. San Diego County has actually encouraged cycling, so long as social distancing guidelines are met. Bike shops, according to the county supervisors, are an essential business.

I’ve received multiple messages from friends requesting guidance in resurrecting the dust covered bikes hanging in their garage, or for seeking help with purchasing a new bike. I don’t think this is a temporary trend. I say that, not as a bicycle enthusiast, but as somebody who’s been in the fitness industry in various capacities for much of my life.

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Gyms and fitness centers will begin reopening soon. Many workout enthusiasts will return to their deeply embedded rituals, regardless of what consequences await them. They’ll be so glad to get back to their habit, that risking their lives will seem like a small price to pay.

Many gym members won’t return though. During the last 6 weeks, tens of thousands of people who thought they couldn’t live without the gym discovered that they can. Some took to running, some to home-based workouts, while others discovered hiking, backyard yoga, or participated online workouts.
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For those who do return to the gym, they’re going to find a very different place than they left behind. Many won’t find their experience as enjoyable as they once did and will walk away. People may not be comfortable wearing masks while doing indoor cardio or in group classes.

The suggested 6-foot space between members will have a major impact on square footage. Facilities will have to limit the number of persons allowed in at a time. Some members are sure to be frustrated from this, and will invest in home workout equipment or look for alternatives to the gym.

The emphasis on members cleaning up after themselves will dissuade more than a few from returning. The added payroll of personnel needed to clean up after the members who refuse to clean up after themselves will be reflected in membership dues.

I suspect monthly dues with most gyms will increase as annual membership contracts renew — this the result of a decline in membership volume for reasons previously mentioned.

For many, cycling won’t be on their radar as an alternative to the gym, but as they look for a physical release, that may change. Others are already curious — even if in a standoffish way. These are actual quotes from messages I received this week from friends interested in taking up cycling:

“It looks so dangerous…”

“I don’t want to get hit by a car…”

“Those seats are so uncomfortable…”

That they contacted me at all, suggests they’re considering cycling as a fitness option. That’s a beautiful thing. Cycling has the ability to fulfill the need for exercise, recreation, a family activity, and much like golf, it’s a perfect outlet for a physical release in the social distancing era.

Here’s a few random suggestions, not in any particular order, for those who are considering cycling as a form of recreation or exercise.

– Start slow. Like any form of exercise, ease into it. Start by riding just 2-3 miles a few times a week. If you enjoy it, add to it gradually.

– If you already have a bike, but haven’t been on it in a while, take it to a reputable bike shop or mechanic and have it looked over and tuned up. Basic tuneup’s generally run in the $70-$110 range.

– If you’re looking to purchase a new bike, and you’re not an experienced cyclist, you should probably spend less money than your local bike shop will encourage you to spend. An excellent rule when purchasing at a bike shop, is to ask them to recommend a bike for you. When they do, then ask what bike they would recommend for 50% of that price. That’s an excellent starting point.

– The weight of of bike can be important, especially for more advanced riders, but should not be a determining factor for a new rider when purchasing a new bike.

– There are many styles of bikes available: Road bikes with low handlebars and arrow dynamic geometry. Comfort bikes with upright handlebars and a more comfortable riding position. There are mountain bikes, gravel bikes, and beach cruisers. There are hybrid bikes which cover multiple bases. Before you think about purchasing a bike, think about the type of riding you may want to do — be honest with yourself. Bounce this off of friends and family members who know you well and ask for their honest feedback.

Cycling is going to experience a renaissance in the coming months. Bike lanes, gravel trails, parks, and boardwalks will experience traffic they haven’t seen in years. In time, some of that will taper off, but the net-positive gain will likely be permanent.

Gyms on the other hand, as I wrote in this blog post six weeks ago, are going to be changed forever. They’ll have fewer members, there will be fewer facilities, and monthly membership dues are sure to increase. I suspect some national chains, as well as some mom-and-pop outlets, will close permanently.

Despite all the nonsense going on in the world, or perhaps because of it, people will continue to seek out a physical release from the stresses of life. The nature of that release will be evolving in the coming year, and cycling may be a part of it for some.

If you have a lifetime gym membership to your local gym though, this is a good time to ask yourself whether that’s for your lifetime or the lifetime of the gym.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
205 miles
10,050’ climbing
15.1mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 28 minutes seat time

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Jimmy Barnes, who turned 64 this week. Enjoy…

One Hand On Optimism…

For the first time in years, I’ve got nothing good to say this week. My mind has been so cluttered with information and opinions that I can’t think straight.

Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise…

From the plumbers who are experts in public health, to the journalists who are experts in economics, at this point I’m ready give myself up to the virus or to drink the bleach and inject the isopropyl just to get it over with.

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These two hours I get each day, on my bikes and in my rhythm, haven’t been enough to distance me from the chaos between my ears. What makes that funny is that it’s not my chaos, it’s everyone else’s. It’s like my mind appears to be the perfect receptacle for everyone to throw their ignirance, fear, and hatred into.

I wonder if people ever think about that — that when they throw hate, ignorance, and fear out there, do they consider that has to land somewhere…?

I’ve even considered giving up my optimism. I just don’t know if I should blame the news cycle, the people who create it, or the people who feed it.

Yes.

Regardless, people are to blame. Shame on me for saying that, but it’s not my dog nor my toaster that’s lying, exaggerating, and screaming all day about subjects they know so little about.
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I’ve spent much of my adult life believing the world is becoming a better place. Intellectuals such as George Ellis, Robert Wright, and Steven Pinker have demonstrated to me, supported with data, that the moral progress of man and the societies man has created, have been on an upward trajectory for 15,000 years.

For the last few weeks though, it feels like that upward trajectory isn’t just slowing down, but might possibly be reversing directions — like a rocket running out of fuel. The only question is, will the fall back to brutishness of our past be slow, or will the velocity increase as the decline continues…

The current health crisis, intertwined with our expanding social/political divisions, have created the first chink in the optimistic armor which has been protecting my mind for decades.

In the aftermath of the last few election cycles, I’ve viewed most social/political disagreements as small bounces in that otherwise upward trajectory of social cooperation — but then the yelling, finger-pointing, and distrust just keep getting worse.

Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise…

Like most everyone, I acknowledge the global health crisis as being real, and worthy of taking every necessary precaution to mitigate. The fact that I had to include the word “most” in the previous sentence though, makes me shudder.

I’m reminded of a woman I saw at the beach a few years back. She was juggling a bottle of sunscreen with one hand, as she was trying to apply it to her arms and shoulders. With the other hand, she was juggling a cigarette and a lighter. While one hand was working tirelessly to keep cancer at bay, the other hand was inviting it in. That woman, with the sunscreen in one hand and a cigarette in the other, was the embodiment of man’s duality.
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Though I’ve been considering giving up on my optimism, I’ve decided to keep it — for now, but I’m only going to hold onto it with one hand. Like the lady with the sunscreen in one hand and the cigarette in the other, my other hand will be holding on to my new found pessimism — my belief that everything that I think I’m doing right is actually meaningless.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
194 miles
9,600’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,000 calories
12 hours 37 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 Credence — was, it is, and will always be my favorite blues song. Enjoy…

 

Anything Else…

Like many, I think almost nonstop these days about our global health crisis and all that goes with it. For a guy who’s addicted to thinking about as many things as possible in the course of a day, that’s frustrating. I’ve been trying to think about other things, but I’m struggling.

My bike time — this 2-hour escape hatch I fall through each day is when I open any one of a thousand doors in my mind, and go down any one of a thousand rabbit holes, leading to a thousand more still. It’s free association at an 80 rpm’s and 15 miles-per-hour and I never know where my thoughts will end up.

The things I most think about when I ride, not necessarily in order, are friendships, music, religion, philosophy, and cycling itself. A single thought on any one of those can take me on a journey to the most distant places in my mind. That reflects my cycling itself — that as my bike travels both new and familiar roads, so too does my mind.

As I pedal lately though, I’ve been stuck thinking about the same things everyone else seems to be — masks, hand sanitizer, finances, divisiveness, protocols and boundaries, etc.

When I’m riding down Fallbrook’s beautiful Rice Canyon and should otherwise be reflecting on the tie-dye dress my daughter wore in kindergarten or first kisses with a freckled-face girl, I’m now asking myself banal questions like…

Am I cleaning off my groceries the right way…?

Am I going to kill my mother by breathing on her…?

Do the neighbors think I’m a dick because I won’t walk across the street to say hello anymore…?

Is using hand sanitizer on my plastic gloves good enough to clean them…?

How many of my clients will be willing to wear a mask when they workout with me in the future — will they workout with me in the future…?

Is this country ever going to heal…?

Of course these questions are worthy of consideration, but I get on my bike to escape this type of mundane thinking, not to fine-tune it.

When I attempted to turn my thoughts back to the things that most interest me, within seconds, those very interests lead me right back to the pandemic.

Part of the joy in writing here each week, and each morning on my Spoke And Word Facebook page, is that I get to share what goes on in the mind of a guy who spends two hours a day on a bike, and how how varied those thoughts might be.

Most everything I want to write these days goes something like this…

Hello world. Today I rode a bike and spent the entire two hours convincing myself not to put a Glock in my mouth. Success! Stay tuned, I’ll be back tomorrow with more…

People keep talking about what they look forward to most as the restrictions become lifted — hugging loved ones, dining in restaurants, getting back to the gym, etc. I’m just looking forward to thinking about anything else — all things non-pandemic.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
199.96 miles
9,800’ climbing
15.5 mph avg
11,000 calories
12 hours 54 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 Concrete Blonde. Enjoy…