Bookends Of Idiocy…

“When I watch television, I well understand why Arabs fly jets into our skyscrapers…“ Me

At the age of 90, my mom divides her time between reading, doing puzzle books, and watching television. And even when she’s reading and working her puzzles, the television is always on in the background. 

Mom doesn’t care what’s on television so much, she just enjoys having background noise and some company around that’s not named Roy. The only shows that are required watching each day are Dr. Phil, Wheel Of Fortune, and Jeopardy. Dr. Phil and Wheel do little for me, but I’ll admit I occasionally enjoy watching Jeopardy, Final Jeopardy in particular. 

I spend most of my day working with clients in my fitness studio. When I’m not in sessions, I sit with mom on the sofa and make small talk while she watches Let’s Make A Deal, The Bold And The Beautiful, Judge Judy, and the like. I attempt to ignore the idiocy of such shows, but it’s hard to ignore a fat man in a bumblebee costume hoping Wayne Brady gives him the brand new Chevy Volt and not the donkey.

Sometimes it’s all too much for me.

When I hear Judge Judy condescending to the white trash in her faux courtroom, as though she’s actually making a difference in the world, I might ask my dog to snuff me out with a pillow later, after I fall asleep…

“Make sure you get a good seal around my nose and mouth, Stroodle, then press real hard. When daddy’s lungs quit moving in and out, you’ll know you did a good job…“

He looks at me quizzically, but I think deep down he gets it. Mom, I think, understands it’s a joke.

I haven’t owned a television myself since 2005. The television in the living room belongs to my mom. Certainly if one has a laptop or a smartphone today, they are in possession of some kind of television. I use my laptop to watch documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and I watch lectures and interviews on YouTube, but I don’t consider that television, I consider it education light.

Before I ride my bike though, and when I return, I also spent time with my mom sitting and watching whatever she’s watching. Those are the bookends of my daily rides. Idiocy before I go out, idiocy when I return, and trying to make sense of any of it as I push my body through the hills and past the groves of this community. 

I occasionally harken back to a moment from my childhood — my dad stood silently in the corner of the room as I was watching Gilligan’s Island after school one day…

“I’ve never seen such idiocy…!” He screamed.

“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid…!“

I still remember how insulted I was by that and how demeaning I thought it was. It sticks with me all these years later. Nobody wants to be called stupid by their father. In hindsight, I can see now that he wasn’t calling me stupid, he was calling television stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

There will come a day when mom is no longer around. I’ll give her television to a family member or to person in need. A part of me will miss it because it’s one of the few things we’ve been able to do together, especially during these stay-at-home times. What I won’t miss though, is the idiocy that beams out of it all day long. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

This is what I think about when I ride…Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 203

Climbing: 9,100’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,600

Seat Time: 13 hours 18 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 Chuck Prophet. Enjoy…

In Those Early Days…

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

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

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

There was a haunted serenity to it all.

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I think about when I ride…  Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 162

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9,180

Seat Time: 10 hours 19 minutes

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


Daily Self-Appraisal…

It’s not so small minded, to get out on a bike each day and ride. On the surface it may seem like it’s about fat burning, fitness, freedom, or to soothe an aching soul. And it is. I might even argue that, depending on the day, any one of those is the main reason I go out. 

There’s one reason though — one aspect of why I ride that I don’t talk about too much, that’s as important as any of the other reasons I ride. The benefit, I think, is greater than all the others combined. Given the social climate we’re navigating these days, I thought I’d share it this week. 

For a couple of hours each evening, as I pedal my way past the groves, orchards, and vineyards that decorate this area so well, I have a chance to reflect on the day I’m trying to leave behind. It’s a nightly meeting of the Roys within — the business man, the family man, the citizen, and the social guy. 

I review my day in a linear fashion. I examine as many of my actions and interactions from the day as I can remember. I make note of what I think I did right, but more importantly, I attempt to take inventory of the mistakes I made and to consider ways I might improve. This is a daily process of honest self-appraisal. 

I reflect on conversations with clients and consider what I might have said better or done differently. I think about ways I could’ve been a better fitness trainer or a better businessman. I review my social interactions from the day and how I might improve on those as well. I even consider how I treated my animals, and based on that, how I might treat them the following day — so that they feel even safer. 

Me being me, I’m not likely to make the improvements I direct myself to, at least not immediately. This is a cumulative undertaking — like Gladwell’s 10,000 hours hypothesis. I figure if I do this daily, and I do it consistently over time time, I might actually improve in those areas that matter most — business, personal relationships, community, and family matters.
 

There’s one other benefit that this rolling ritual provides to me, and I can honestly say it’s made a big difference in my life over the past few years. Taking inventory of my day like this, is an excellent reminder that my world is much less about me, than the people who enrich it so well.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 204

Climbing: 9,200’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 11,613

Seat Time: 13 hours 31 minutes

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

Brandy (you’re a fine song)…

Most days my head is all over the place when I ride. Other times, I’m hyper-focused on just one thing — to the point that I can think of little else. Two nights ago was one of those nights.

Earlier in the month, Big Todd and The Monsters released a recording of the song Brandy, via YouTube. Originally recorded by Looking Glass in 1972, the song was a huge radio hit when I was 10 years old. Brandy was subsequently released on a K-Tel compilation album the same year. I owned Brandy both as 45 RPM single, and on the K-Tel album which included it.

In 1972 I had a portable record player that could close up and could be carried by a handle — like a small suitcase. Brandy, along with Harry Chapin’s, Taxi were the only two records I owned for a while. I would later add Don Mclean’s American pie, which had been recorded a year earlier in 1971, and Elton John’s Rocket Man, also from 1972.

Brandy remains one of my favorite songs, a regular earworm, and a song I still listen to digitally at least a couple times a month. I think it’s a near-perfect pop song. I also think my affinity for shipping ports and harbor communities is in large part due to that song working its imagery into my young brain.

Last week when I saw the Big Head Todd cover of Brandy I was blown away. The Boulder-based band are hometown heroes, and I’ve been a fan since day one. Brandy is a hard song to cover, which is why it hasn’t been done successfully to this point. Todd Park Mohr’s voice is a perfect fit for the song. The inclusion of the brass arrangement and the added background vocals put this song in a rare category for me — better than the original.

I’ve watched the video probably 20 times now, maybe more. Each time it gives me chills. Last night when I was riding, I sang Brandy in my head, from beginning to end, over and over again. It’s pretty much all I thought about for 29 miles.

I did think about one other thing while I was riding the other night, in-between the rolling karaoke in my head. I remember being with my mother at a Kmart at East Evans Avenue and Monaco Boulevard in Denver when I was 10. I begged her to buy me that portable record player, which was light blue with gray stitching for the trim. I also asked for two records, Taxi by Harry Chapin and Brandy by Looking Glass. Mom being mom, she caved and I got my wish. I would sit in my room and listen to those records again and again for hours.

That little record player was the first portal I ever encountered — the one which allowed me to leave my house and leave my life, without ever leaving my bedroom. Give a kid a record player, and he’ll always have a doorway to a better world.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes ridden: 7

Miles: 205

Climbing 9,100’

Avg Mph: 15.5

Calories: 11,713

Seat time: 13 hours 12 minutes

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

Flip And Circumstance…

I was passed by a San Diego sheriff’s deputy on my way out of town one evening last week — he was in a patrol car. I don’t see patrol cars too often these days. It’s all SUVs now. It didn’t take long before I started connecting the dots to other patrol cars, including those I’ve ridden in the back of as a teenager. Before I knew it, I was reflecting one patrol car in particular — driving down my street in the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years.

I don’t remember for sure, but I might have just finished mowing the lawn. I do remember standing in my front yard wearing a swimsuit and being shirtless. An Arapahoe County sheriff’s car passed slowly in front of my house. The window was down, and feeling all of my 13 years, I raised my left hand and gave the deputy my middle finger. He immediately stopped.

My dad, who must’ve been in the garage, found his way to the front yard as the deputy stepped from his car to the middle of my lawn — where I stood scared to death. The deputy and my father had a conversation a few feet away from me. They spoke soft enough that I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but loud enough that I knew that’s exactly what they wanted.

My father asked that I apologize to the deputy and I did. I looked down as I shook his hand though. My dad raised his voice as he told me to look him in the eye. I looked up to see real person — a man with reddish hair, a reddish mustache, and a very stern look, but a forgiving one.

The deputy drove away and my father sent me upstairs to my bedroom. A few minutes later dad arrived with a legal pad and a pen. I was instructed to write the following 500 times…

“I will not give cops my middle finger”

That was the only time I ever experienced writer’s cramps. The following day my hand was sore and continued cramping well into the afternoon. I’m not sure writing anything 500 times ever did much to minimize my bad behaviors, but it was the punishment of choice by my father. What did make an impact though, took place the following week.

I arrived at Skyline Acres Swim & Tennis Club for my first diving practice of the season — at that point I’d been a 1-meter and 3-meter springboard diver for a couple of years. Springboard diving is something I excelled at in my teens. At practice that first day, I was introduced to my new coach, Ron Genlsow.

Yup, my new diving coach, who would stay with me for the next three years, was also Deputy Ron Genslow from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s department. He and I had met a week earlier — on my front lawn. He remembered me from the incident the previous week, but said nothing to the rest of the team. Ron was a great coach and a terrific leader.

There was one dive I’d struggled with the summer prior, for fear of hitting the diving board. That dive was an inward dive in the layout position. My fear of hitting the board was obvious. During our first practice, Ron deliberately coached me closer and closer to the diving board so I’d scrape my head on the edge of the board — to get it over with. No stitches were required. To this day, that remains one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about physical pain — that it’s always temporary. I still think about that day all the time.

Ron loved yacht rock. Driving to diving meets with him each week I was introduced to Hall & Oates, Ambrosia, America, and Pablo Cruise to name a few — all bands I still listen to regularly. He also introduced me to Tommy Bolin.

Ron drove a maroon Chevy Laguna. I always referred to it as the La Gwanna. My favorite memory of Ron was in a parking lot getting ready to head to a diving meet. A teammate and I were joking about the La Gwanna when Ron stopped us abruptly and said…

“Say La Gwanna again and I’ll shoot you both…”

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean it. Ron allowed me to use him as a job reference, right up until I joined the Coast Guard. We lost touch after that. When I asked if I could use him for a reference on my Coast Guard application, he said yes. He then told me he was proud of me and reminded me how far I had come. Yeah, I’m crying right now.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

201 miles

9,100’ climbing

15.1 mph avg

11,372 calories

13 hours 19minutes 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 Richard Hawley. Enjoy…

Stay Put…

September 10th was World Suicide Awareness Day. People acknowledged and promoted it by posting and sharing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.8255 on their social media platforms.

The Internet was flooded with pictures of Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, Junior Seau, and a handful of celebrities who ended their lives too soon. These of the popular faces of suicide.

On one hand, I get it. Relating suicide to famous people who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and idiopathic sadness is a good reminder to all non-celebrities that those ailments don’t discriminate. A person can be worth millions of dollars, have fame and freedom, and still not want to complete the lives they are so fortunate to have.

Most people have been touched by suicide, peripherally. Many who will read this have friends, associates, and family members who have taken their own lives. That’s a heavy thought. What’s a heavier thought though, is that many people reading this will have friends, associates, and family members who will someday take their own lives, but who haven’t yet, and show no signs that they will. With that in mind, I believe the faces of suicide awareness shouldn’t be celebrities — they should be everyone we make eye contact with in a day’s time.

More people live with suicidal thoughts than most others realize. Some people experience suicidal thoughts on rare occasions while others may experience them more frequently. Some, myself included, live with them daily.

The great majority of people who experience suicidal thoughts, whether it’s occasionally or more frequently, hold them in for fear of being judged, cast out, or worse. Some, myself included as also, fear that being transparent about suicidal feelings might influence our ability to earn a living. Someone reading this and who also does business with me may choose not to going forward. That’s a risk I’m willing to take, today anyway.

I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts for most of my life. They are intertwined with the depression, anxiety, and especially the sadness that I’ve also negotiated for much of my life. These feelings first surfaced with me first when I was in lower elementary school. Think about that — I began entertaining and subsequently working through the symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts as a 9-year old. To see me on the surface though, people have no idea this takes place behind my façade of normalcy. 

I know I’m not alone.

I’m now in my late 50s. I can look back at my life, in part, as a series of successful and negotiations with myself on the importance and of staying put. If not for myself, I stay out for anyone who finds value in my life, especially on the days when I can’t. I’m proud of that — proud of my success in a 50-year struggle with the idea of living, or not.  

A part of that success is coming to understand that suicidal feelings always pass — they always pass. That in those critical moments when I think I might be better off dead, I recognize that I want to be dead for that moment, and not for forever. As odd as that sounds, framing it that way has helped me deal with it in ways medication never could.

I’m sharing these feelings today for two reasons:

1) So that anyone reading this who might experience similar feelings will know they’re not alone — that roughly 4% of the adult population in this country has experienced suicidal thoughts in the past year. That’s 12-million people.

2) That those who don’t or haven’t experienced such feelings, might be more aware of the 12-million people like me who have. Again, keep in mind most people struggling with suicidal thoughts look like anyone else on the surface.

As for World Suicide Awareness Day, perhaps in the future we might rebrand it, making it less about celebrities and more about the people next-door or the people down the hall. We could call it…

The World Day Of Staying Put

In addition to promoting suicide awareness, it could also be observed as a day of worldwide confession — a day to share one’s feelings safely, without fear of judgment or any consequences. It could be a day to celebrate those, like myself, who have successfully stood up to the dark and often overwhelming thoughts, and batted them far away, on behalf of those who care for and depend on us. 

As any of us look around today in a room full of people, whether it’s a restaurant, an ice rink, or our living rooms, let the faces of suicide awareness not be those of celebrities. Let the faces of suicide awareness be everyone we make eye contact with. Let’s strive to remember that behind every pair of eyes is a heart, a soul, and a life’s worth of experiences we know little about. Behind some of the happiest and most outgoing faces we see, there is often turmoil, depression, sadness, and anxiety. 

If you experience suicidal thoughts and don’t have anyone to speak with, please contact 800.273.8255. There are people there willing to listen, and without judgment.

This is what I think about when I ride. It’s also what I think about when I don’t ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 6

199 miles

8,750’ climbing

15.3 mph avg

11,390 calories

13 hours 04 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 is this from Dinosaur Jr. Enjoy…!


Building A Good Day…

Another fantastic week of rolling stress relief is in the tank. Political divisiveness, corona virusness, and smoke from distant fires notwithstanding, none of those things are fast enough to keep up with a bike. It was a good week. Good weeks are made up of good days.

If I could construct a good day, the framework would look something like this…

– Wake up.
– Meditate in a darkened shower under warm water until the warm water runs out.
– Sip coffee with a handful of pets on or near me while I write for an hour or so.
– Work a little bit — contribute in some way to the greater good of society by infusing some combination of effort, expertise, and dependability so that others can benefit from it.
– Spend a little time unplugged in natural surroundings.
– Cater to my creative side by taking and editing some photographs.
– Take a nap.
– Enjoy simple foods that allow me to feel and function at a high level.
– Enjoy some foods that just taste good, regardless of how they impact me.
– Spent time on a bike riding, but also contemplating life, and enjoying the scenery along the way.
– Relax in the evening. Write a little bit more. Spend a little bit more time with the pets. Go to sleep on the early side.

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That framework is in place nearly every single day. A pat on the back to me, since I’m the general contractor of my life, as well as the framer.

Next up are the walls — both interior and exterior. Walls, of course, seal the framework. They keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Hopefully.

For my interior walls, I like to use appreciation. Appreciation is the material best suited to protect the inside of my good days. When in doubt, or if I feel a bad day coming on, I look around and take inventory of all that I have and all that I am. More often than not, this helps me feel safe and acts as a layer of protection from any external obstructions.

For my exterior walls, I like to use low expectations. Low expectations of every body and every thing. When I start with low expectations, things can only get better, most of the time. Again, a necessaryprotective layer to any good day. 

That’s the basic structure of my good days — a good framework and sturdy interior and exterior walls. Each morning when I begin to build my days, I do my best to make sure the structure and the walls are in place. So why then, I often ask myself, isn’t every day a good day, if that’s all it takes…?

Of course the short answer to that is because I don’t live on an island. There are 7-billion people in the world not named Roy Cohen. Of those 7-billion, a very small percentage are injected into my life each day, often finding traction in my psyche. Some find me at my request, while others just find their way on their own. Regardless of who gets into my head or into my life, and whether they were invited or just showed up, I guarantee not one of them wakes up with the express intent of making my days better. That’s why a sturdy structure and good walls are so important.

That’s not to suggest anyone I’m connected with wakes up with the goal of deconstructing my days. Most are occupied with constructing and shoring up the their own days. When I stop to think about it, and I when I take inventory at the end of each day, most every day really is a good day. They just aren’t perfect days. Forces and obstructions get through, but if I’m being honest, the damage done is always minimal.

Storms happen. Rain falls, wind blows, and external forces brush up against or strike my good days continually, and do do all day long. Occasionally even termites get in. Whatever might’ve happened to my day yesterday though, if it was weathered, picked apart, or even if it were completely deconstructed, every time I wake up I have an opportunity to build a brand new good day.

It’s 5am. The framework of today is already in process and the walls will soon be lifted into place. Hello, good day, here we go again.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
174 miles
7,900’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
9,900 calories
11 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 Thin Lizzy. Enjoy…

Middle Mac…

If one had the good fortune to grow up with the music of the 70s, then they likely heard Fleetwood Mac every 15 minutes for the latter half of the decade. On FM radio, AM radio, in the shopping mall, replicated by high school marching bands under the Friday night lights, and blaring from the speakers of Chevy Novas stopped at red lights everywhere, Fleetwood Mac was the official background noise of the mid to late 70s.

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The three albums that defined their sound and their place in rock ‘n’ roll history are…

Fleetwood Mac – 1975

Rumours – 1977

Tusk – 1979

It’s as easy to criticize any of these albums as it is to criticize the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup of…

Mick Fleetwood
John McPhee
Christine McVie
Lindsey Buckingham
Stevie Nicks

Theres a reason though, those albums combined to sell tens of millions of copies. They spoke to one of the largest music buying audiences of all-time, they were recorded with great fidelity, and the variety of musical styles, songwriters, and lead vocalists offered something for nearly everyone.

But this isn’t about the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup.

Peter Green died last month. Green was the founding member and iconic guitarist behind the original incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Green helped define the blues-based rock coming from England in the 1960s. First, with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and later in the original incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Green’s contribution to blues-based rock is as significant as anyone’s.

But this isn’t about Peter Green either.

In-between Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac of the late 60s and the classic lineup of the mid-70s is what I like to call Middle Mac.

Middle Mac was a slowly changing lineup which made 6 albums between 1970 and 1974, each unique to itself. No album sounded like the one before nor the one after. It was music that fit the early 70s like a glove. Of the six Middle Mac albums, the one that stays with to this day, and shows up frequently in my head when I ride, is Bare Trees from 1972.

The lineup for Bare Trees consisted of…

Danny Kirwan
Bob Welch
Christine McVie
John McVie
Mick Fleetwood

This will always be my favorite Fleetwood Mac lineup.

Three years after the Bare Tree was released, I walked into a record store looking for a copy of their current (1975) album, the self-titled, Fleetwood Mac. It was sold out. In the bin though, was a lone album with a beautiful photograph of leafless trees in a fog. I bought the album thinking it would sound similar to the Fleetwood Mac album receiving so much radio play at the time. I was 14.

When I got back to my house, I broke the cellophane with my thumbnail, laid the disc down on my turntable, and played the album for the first time. All the while, I stared at the picture on the album cover. To my surprise, the album sounded nothing like the Fleetwood Mac I’d been hearing on the radio for the past few months. It spoke to me though.

At the time I was already listening to a lot of Steely Dan, Moody Blues, and Pink Floyd and have no problem saying my tastes were a little more sophisticated than most 14-year olds. Like I did with most new albums at the time, I kept it on my turntable for several days without listening to anything. Bare Trees would soon become a favorite album and remain so to this day.

Eventually I would own the self-titled Fleetwood Mac album, as well as Rumours and Tusk. I’ll confess, and to the likely dismay of my musically inclined friends, I still listen to those albums and still enjoy them. The three classic albums are classics for a reason.

Bare Trees though, is a gem. It’s distinct from every other Fleetwood Mac album. There’s a gentleness and intelligence to it which was lost when Kerwan and Welch left the band. Nothing big happens on the album, just a lot of richness that pleases the ears and, for me, never gets old.

When I hear people speak of the near-holy reverence they have for Peter Green, or the tens of millions of albums sold by the classic lineup, I sometimes feel like Kirwan/Welch lineup and Bare Trees were kidnapped and left to die in the trunk of a car.
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We’re all busy, I get it. But if you ever have time, check out Bare Trees from beginning to end. It does for the ears during difficult times what good brandy does for the mood on a cold winter’s night.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
201 miles
9,100’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
11,500 calories
13 hours 07 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 Fleetwood Mac. Enjoy…

Coffee And Carpet Tacks…

I’ll set the scene…

It’s 430am. Fresh out of the shower, and despite only five broken hours of sleep, my body slowly comes to life. I sit on the sofa breathing in the fragrance of Don Francisco‘s vanilla coffee, which sits on the table beside me in a cup from the 2016 Rose Bowl. I grab it with my left hand, raise it to mouth, and take the first sip.

Ahhhhh…

The metamorphosis begins — the sleepy caterpillar emerges from the cocoon of the night and in less than 20-minutes becomes a functional human being. The first sip of coffee awakens my senses and sends a gentle pulse through my body. It’s the most pure moment of my day.

On the table beside my coffee cup is a small dish of carpet tacks. As the first taste of coffee fades, but before I take a second sip, I grab a small handful of the carpet tacks and put them in my mouth. I begin chewing them. There’s a shock as the steel tacks collide with the enamel on my teeth. Pain manifests as the sharp tips pierce my tongue and the roof of my mouth. The lingering flavor of coffee gives way to the taste of blood.

I force myself to chew them, despite the shock and pain. Every closure of my jaws sends a jolt through my body and I’m more awake but less alive as I force myself to continue chewing. I want to spit them out, but I’m addicted to the pain. Of course I don’t really chew a handful of carpet tacks each morning. I log onto Facebook, but it’s a fair comparison.

For all the pleasure and awakening that my shower and coffee provide me each morning, that mood is killed as immediately as I see the first signs of hatred, argument, and ignorance being tossed around on Facebook. Still, I wake up and do it again, day after day. Something’s gotta give. Maybe.

For over a decade, the coffee and the carpet tacks have gone together. I’ve seen them as interconnected — can’t have one without the other. That said, the carpet tacks weren’t always steel or sharp. They weren’t even carpet tacks. In the beginning, they were more like coffee grounds from the bottom of the cup — a little bit course and bitter, but an easy inconvenience to bypass.

Somewhere, between 2010 and 2016, people’s attitudes towards one another began to change. By mid 2015, I was chewing carpet tacks every morning, in equal portion to the coffee I was sipping. And maybe I’m not really talking about coffee either. Maybe that too is a metaphor for the positive friendships and interactions I’ve come to appreciate each morning on Facebook.

There’s Bill and Ron up in Barsdale, Pete in Brisbane, Lara in Vacaville, Dawn in Valley Center, and Judy in upstate New York, to name a few. There’s Tim in Steamboat and another Tim in Utrecht. Mike in Virginia. There are many others. It’s been like a virtual coffee house, where humor, greetings, and casual pats on the back are exchanged. Information, photographs, and music are shared, and a camaraderie exists that rival a coffee shop, a pub, or the cardio theater in any gym.

But then there’s the carpet tacks.

Anyone who knows me understands the struggles I’ve had negotiating this duality for the past few years. A large part of me says to just walk away — forget Facebook and all the negativity. I should invest that time in anything more productive. For a long time I’ve resisted that desire, always seeing the positive side of Facebook as being greater than negative. Recently though, if I’m being honest, the negative side has grown to monstrous proportions.
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I’ve begun to throw it out there that I intend to delete my Facebook page, and may do so as soon as this week. Every time I think about it though, I think about the value of those relationships — those people in other places, near and far, that enhance my days and enrich my life for what they bring to the table each morning and each evening.

That’s where my real struggle is — throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

As I write this, and as a pedal through my community each day, I spend much of my time considering whether or not Facebook should be a part of my future. I value those relationships, but have so much disdain for all the ugliness, ignorance, and hatred I must wade through to get to the good stuff.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Of course the obvious solution is to limit my time on Facebook and amend my connections. Perhaps I’ll give this a try, but the more likely solution is to just walk away. If I do walk away, I’ll continue to write for this blog weekly, and possibly more frequently. I’ll keep you posted.

This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
195 miles
8,600’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
11,044 calories
12 hours 58 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 Otis Gibbs. Enjoy…

From Now Until 2790…

Going back 250,000 years, the approximate time homo sapiens have inhabited the earth, 100-billion of us have lived. With few downward fluctuations, the human population has increased every year. If that increase ended today, and we leveled off at the current population of just over 7-billion people, that would fix our an annual birth rate at 130-million. At the rate of 130-million persons born each year, it would take just 770-years for the next 100-billion persons to be born. That would take us to the year 2790, should we make it that far.

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Consider this…

If we do make it to 2790, then most of the human beings who will have ever lived haven’t even been born as of today. In just 770 years, more human beings will be born than in the first quarter million years of our existence. That’s remarkable to me — that most of humanity will live in an amount of time that’s a fraction of the time human beings took to arrive at today.

What’s also remarkable is that between now and 2790, there will be just 25 generations. That’s a fraction of the 8,500 generations prior. Still, these next 25 generations might be the most significant in human history, and may have more ownership in the possible outcomes of human existence than the the previous 8,500 generations. The next 25 generations will have the potential to pass along our best traits, as well as our worst.

Putting the spotlight on this narrow slice of humanity is the best reminder that the choices we make today, as individuals and as societies, are supremely correlated with all the possible outcomes for the human species. Every decision our elected leaders make, from defense policy, to public health, waste management and recycling, race relations, spending, ethics, journalism, and technology matter.

Our individual choices matter just as much. From how much toothpaste we put on the toothbrush, to how much we drive per day, how much we eat, how much we argue, how many paper towels we use at a time, and especially how we treat others. What may appear to be our simplest and most insignificant individual choices may have a weighted impact the future of man.

Our generation is one of just a handful that are pivotal. We can refuse to learn, refuse to teach, refused to accept, refuse to take action and kick the can down the road like most every generation before us. If you do the math though, that road ahead may only be 25 generations long.

This is what I think about when I ride…. Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
201 miles
8,400’ climbing
14.7 mph avg
11,207 calories
13 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 Wishbone Ash. Enjoy…!