Unplanned Routes And Freewill For Beginners…

Yesterday was the shortest ride I’ve had in a while — just a hair over 20-miles. I intended to ride between 24-27. It was cold, rainy, and a bit windy. About 10-miles out, I found myself riding in some of the heaviest rain I’ve ever ridden through. Despite being appropriately dressed and biked, I was getting soaked, chilled, and frustrated. I made the decision to cut it short and head home.

This is when I started thinking about freewill — yet again.

I think about free will often, especially when I’m on my bike. I think this is because riding a bike, above all things, is a continual decision making process…

– How I should position myself within the lanes.
– What road obstacles to avoid.
– Which direction I want to look to check on traffic.
– Which gear to be in.
– Which scenery to look at.
– Is that a bee on my knee, or a piece of gravel…?

And so-on.

When I leave my house to ride, I always know whether I’m going to go north or south, and I have a rough idea of how many miles I’ll ride that day. However, as I pull out of my driveway, other than going left or right, I don’t know for certain the precise route I’m going to ride.

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Bike Of The Day: Tang…

I have roughly a half-dozen courses that I ride regularly, and within those courses, there’s probably 20 or more variations of each. Every ride is unique to itself, even if only slightly from the previous one.

As I navigate my chosen course each day, and as I make last-minute decisions to go left or go right, up or down, or of where to stop and take a pretty picture and of what, I think about freewill.

Contemporary physics suggests that there is no freewill. Mathematics, apparently, doesn’t provide for it. Sean Carrol, Brian Greene, and Jana Levin among others, suggest that freewill is just an illusion. For his part, Greene says we should enjoy the “imaginary control” we believe we have, but viscerally not get caught up in it.

I have my doubts about this.

At least a few times on every ride, I’m forced into a decision to go left, to go right or to choose a prong on a fork taking me in entirely different directions, knowing that I can’t ride on two prongs at once.

In one instance, there is a fork that divides Live Oak Road from Reche Road here in Fallbrook. When I arrive at that fork, I often don’t make the decision of which way I’ll go until the very last second. If I go left, up Reche, I’ll get me home sooner, but I’ll pay for it with a steeper and more challenging climb. Conversely, going right, up Live Oak, will add a couple of miles to my trip home, but with a much gentler climb, and one that is more beautiful.

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On the drying rack, after its post-ride and bath…

Many times though, has my front tire been pointed left up Reche, when at the last possible second, I turn right up Live Oak for the longer but prettier climb. A last-second ‘choice’.

That those decisions happen multiple times on every ride, and that they often happen so suddenly, sure seems like freewill to me.

Maybe I am a pawn in a greater or lesser game that I have no ownership in. I think about a giant in different realm or in a far away universe, sitting in a chair, staring at a screen, and controlling me with a joystick.

Cosmologist and mathematician George Ellis argues against the more recent speculation that all reality is just a projection or a holographic image.

Part of me likes the idea that there might not be free will. If there’s isn’t, if I tell a nun to screw off, I’m not gonna have to pay for it in my next life. But I don’t buy it — not the holographic projection for the absence of freewill.

Every time I go left where I generally take a right, I feel myself making that decision. I just know it’s me, and only me.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
20.1 miles
1,100’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
1,300 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: For Beginners, by M. Ward

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 M. Ward. Enjoy…!

Calling In Sad…

An all-out glorious ride yesterday. The skies were as beautiful as I’ve ever seen them around here. I got off the highway and rode light gravel and dirt trails for about 8 miles of a 25-mile ride.

Nearly every day I ride past an underpass and a sign above it that reads…

Wildlife Crossing SR76

The underpass is expressly for wildlife to cross under State Highway 76 in Bonsall.

More freedom, less roadkill. Makes sense.

Although it’s intended primarily for coyotes, raccoons, possums, rabbits and the like, I’m certain mountain lions and bobcats have crossed under the highway on this trail from time to time.

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I’ve wanted to explore the trail for a while now, but on this route I’m usually on a road bike, not suited for trail riding. Today I was appropriately biked, so this was the day to veer off the path and get dirty for a while.

I left the highway, used the underpass, and followed the trail as far as it went toward the San Luis Rey river bed. I was surprised at how well worn the trail was, but when I looked up to see two men in the underpass seated on a weathered mattress and leaning against one another sharing a bottle of tequila, I knew bipedal varmints also use the underpass and the trail.

Once I cleared the underpass, I was wholly invigorated and inspired by the scenery and by the skies — and just in time too.

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At this point, I was about 8-miles out from my house and only a few hours removed from one of the heavier depressive episodes I’ve had recently. It was a Sunday morning and I only had one client session, but I was having a pretty bad start to my day.

I sat there, with roughly an hour to go before my only session and I just stared into the glow of the fireplace. As much as I appreciated the expected client, I didn’t really want to do the session. I was just too sad.

I just sat there, holding my dog and crying, and for reasons that were beyond my grasp. I wanted to call my client and tell her that wasn’t feeling well enough to train her, but that seemed unacceptable for many reasons.

I ran through all the clichés in my head…

-Buck up!
-Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!
-Crash through it!
-Get over it!
-And a few others…

I knew I’d get it together, put my game face on, take her through a rigorous workout, and that she would leave my studio better for her efforts. Nobody ever walks away from a workout and says ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’.

And maybe after her session, for the efforts and dynamics of me getting her through it, I’d feel better myself. History tells me that could be the case.

Still, the depression was stifling at that point. But we’re not allowed to call in sad.

If I had some tangible germ, virus, condition or disorder and cancelled the session, my client wouldn’t have questioned it. The words ‘I have strep throat’ are more acceptable to a consumer than ‘I want to sit on my closet floor with the lights off and the door closed’.

And that’s too bad.

I don’t think that will ever change either, not in my lifetime, despite all we now know about depression. Calling in sad will never be an option.

When we are carrying germs that can spread to others and cause them sickness too, we are told to put up hard and fast borders — do not let those germs out and don’t let anyone in. Notwithstanding that when we’re sick, we are often too weak to work and likely to be less productive so staying home is acceptable.

When it’s tears though, that were carrying, rather than germs, we’re expected to hold them in and do so in a way that we aren’t expected to do with germs. We trust that with the right amount of effort, our sadness won’t be contagious.

Maybe there will be a day when I can call in sad and it will be acceptable. A part of me hopes that day comes, but a larger part of me hopes it never does, because my income might be cut in half.

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I’m glad did the session and as I reckoned, I felt a little better for having done it. It was one of my favorite clients. She works hard, and that helped me out my sadness — some. I’m as glad though, that I took my bike out immediately after the session because by the time I was done riding, my sadness was long gone — if only for a while.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
25.5 miles
1,100’ climbing
15.3 mph avg
1,700 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Womb, by Toni Childs

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 Toni Childs. Enjoy…!

Hard Working People Sooth The Savage Breast…

After a week of bad weather, 4 flat tires, and one cracked frame, I ended the week with a great ride. Very cold this morning and a bit rainy still, but I felt good to be trouble-free again, if only for a day. More bad weather headed this way later in the week, and these rural roads aren’t bicycle friendly after heavy rains.

As is often the case, I was thinking about music while riding this morning. Not songs, not albums, not styles, genres or even technologies. I was thinking about the dynamics that lead to music — the circumstances that lead somebody to learn an instrument, to take up writing or to form a band. But beyond that, I was also thinking about all the music that never gets heard.

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It’s amazing what can happen when a little sunshine follows a little rain…

Early on in my life I worked for Felyine Concerts in Colorado. My job was primarily at the Rainbow Music Hall in Denver, where I was a Junior Assistant to the Junior Assistant in charge of backstage security. I was also the Managing Director of strolling the parking lot to ensure car stereos didn’t get stolen once the concerts began.

On rare occasions, I might find myself at the Feyline corporate offices though, to do an errand for somebody, pick up a paycheck or a drop off time cards. One of my jobs prior to working for Feyline was as a sandwich maker in a local deli. Barry Fey, the founder of Feyline, was a regular customer at the deli. In my time there, I waited on Fey often and made dozens of sandwiches for him, so he knew me a little bit.

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All hail the Pollenator…

While in the Feyline offices one day, Fey’s office door was open. I peaked my head in a little bit and just waved while he was on a telephone call. He didn’t wave back or even acknowledge me. Behind him though, was a wall that was essentially a giant cassette holder. There were literally dozens, if not hundreds of cassette tapes lined up on the wall behind Fey’s desk.

Several weeks later, Fey showed up backstage for a gig at the Rainbow — might have been the Greg Kihn Band, and I commented on the magnificent cassette collection I had seen behind his desk. He laughed and explained to me that that wasn’t his music collection. It was all the demo tapes he had received through the years from managers, bands, and producers looking for him to use a particular band as an opening act at the Rainbow, McNichol’s Sports Arena, and his other little concert outlet, the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Not usually giving employees like me the time of day, he actually stopped and talked to me about it for minute in an ‘I have a lesson for you kid’ kind of way. He took a minute to let me know that those were all bands I’ve never heard of and probably never would. He then moved onto the next important thing, which was probably scoring drugs, ice cream or both.

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I think the brief lesson or impression Fey was trying to leave me with, was that most bands never make it. He continued on about his business that day, but left me to chew on that idea for about 40-years and I’ve never been able to let it go.

Most bands never make it.

It’s never forgotten by me, ever, that the bands that I hear on the radio, see on TV, whose concerts I attend, albums I purchase or that I look at on YouTube, probably started by sending their demos out to everyone they possibly could, including promoters like Fey.

I think about that every day of my life.

I know the means and the platforms of exchange have changed, but the idea is still the same — the starving artist with starry eyes and the enormous odds stacked against him, knocking on doors and hoping to simply be heard.

Long before they were produced, overproduced, glorified or dumbed down by the likes of Ric Ruben, most artists were passionate, shabbily dressed kids playing on meager instruments, and who practiced practiced practiced.

So last week, when Maroon 5 headlined the Super Bowl halftime show, in what may go down as the single biggest piece of crap musical performance I’ve ever seen, I still took the time to think about how they started and where they came from.

That at one time in his life, Adam Levine was a kid from LA with a guitar and a dream, and that he practiced practiced practiced. And whatever I may think of Levine or however I might interpret his band’s performance at the half-time show, he started young, remained committed to a goal, and with the benefit of some good luck and good timing, fulfilled a dream that he might never have actually dreamt to begin with. I wish I had.

I also remember though, that for every Adam Levine, there’s 10,000 more just like him that practiced just is hard or harder, but maybe didn’t have the good luck or the good timing to reap the larger rewards. And may God bless those bastards, because they are the ones who give music a good name.

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

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
24 miles
1,100’ climbing
16.0 mph avg
1,600 calories
Today’s earworm: The Black Cowboy, by Larry Robinson

The Firecrackers And Landmines Of Caregiving…

Another flat tire yesterday, 9-miles out. It was the 4th flat in 72-hours. All the recent rain has washed a lot of debris into the roads. Most of my flat tires take place in late winter and early spring here.

After a roadside repair, I limped home due to uncertain tire pressure, exchange bikes and headed out again. Every ride is a new stoke, and most rides are the best ride I’ve ever had.

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The bike I began on, would not be the bike I finished on. 4th flat in 72-hours..

I was thinking a lot about caregiving today…

A firecracker, unexpectedly detonated in your proximity might startle you, make you pause, and even take you out of your rhythm for a moment, but would otherwise be harmless. After a firecracker explodes, life carries on within a few seconds, as if it never happened.

A landmine exploding unexpectedly, can kill you. If you’re lucky enough to trigger a landmine and actually walk away, the consequences of the concussion can still be profound and often life-changing.

In assuming the care of my aging mother, I spend most waking moments apprehensive of the firecrackers and landmines which surround us. More firecrackers than land mines at present, but I know as her dementia advances, they will come into equal portion and at some point, the number of landmines may exceed the firecrackers.

Since my mother lives with me, and I work from home, my mother is within 50-feet most of the time. The only exceptions to this are when I walk my dog, go to the store or am on my bike.

Though I attempt to keep distinct separation between my mother and my business life, a big part of why I have them both in my home is so I can toggle between them and assist Mom in-between my appointments and when I’m not working.

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My mother, a retired federal worker, is in her late-80s. She walks exclusively with a cane, is in the early stages of dementia, but is lucid most of the time, just not all the time, and rarely when it’s convenient.

Mom is capable of engaging in normal conversations which might include gossip, current affairs, and the events of the day for each of us. She’s also capable of some light housekeeping duties, enjoys TV and reading, but naps in equal portion to anything she does when she’s not napping.

There are some quirks and idiosyncrasies which come with old age that can be disruptive, but are relatively harmless. There are also some heavier eccentricities that can stop a peaceful moment in its tracks. Those quirks are like firecrackers. The eccentricities are the landmines.

Sometimes, for no reason I’ve been able to understand, my mother will separate Oreo cookies from their main package and individually wraps them in paper towels, places them in coffee mugs, and put the mugs back in the cupboard — without making any mention of this to me. Imagine my surprise when I reach for a coffee mug, fill it with water and put it in the microwave to heat up the water for tea. Only after the fact do I realize I’m steeping my tea in Oreo water. I’ve learned to inspect the coffee cups before I do this. Still, if I’m in the rhythm of my day, I might forget to look in the cup first.

That would be an example of a firecracker.

A landmine, on the other hand, might be when I’m coming in for just a moment between appointments and I am confronted by Mom with the following information…

“I’m certain I’ve just seen the neighbors throw a baby into the dumpster in their backyard…“

I don’t believe this actually happened, but I don’t stand in front of my window for hours at a time looking to see what the neighbors might be up to. I do though, need to take time to discuss this with my mother.

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If I have just a couple of minutes in-between appointments when she advises me about the baby murdering neighbors, negotiating that conversation might take a little more time than I actually have, and I might be late for my next appointment.

No Mom, I assure her, I don’t believe the neighbors did put a baby in the dumpster. Would you like me to call the police…?

It just doesn’t set up for a quick conversation. Again, that’s a landmine.

Seeing Mars in the western sky one evening, Mom told me she thought it was the space station and that they were looking down on Fallbrook spying, but not on her specifically, at least not yet.

There was nothing else going on in my life that evening, so that was more of a firecracker, but certainly had the potential to be a landmine. Still, she met me with absolute disbelief at the thought that it might be Mars and not the space station. She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the evening.

Occasionally she leaves bed in the middle of the night to unplug all the appliances — so they don’t start a fire overnight. Of course, she does this in the dark so not to wake me — what could possibly go wrong with that…? If she were to fall in a darkened room, which she hasn’t done yet, that would be a landmine. Waking to hear her knock over a lamp or two in the process, is still just a firecracker.

When I’m in a session with a client and I hear the smoke alarm go off in the kitchen, a semi-regular occurrence, and I have to interrupt my workday to open windows, fan smoke out the door, and clean up any messes that might be caused by splattered grease — that’s a landmine.

Those are just a few instances of how my mother sees and negotiates the world differently than I do. Instances like these, however ord, are a semi-regular occurrences. These can be a little funny, sometimes entertaining, occasionally a nuisance, often frustrating, and at times dangerous. All in a day’s care.

These firecrackers and landmines — these sudden pops and explosions I navigate between each day, can wear me down. Occasionally, I catch her still attempting to do things I’ve asked her not to do, like use the stove or the vacuum cleaner. When an adult child has to discipline his parent for what is in-essence, misbehaving, both are sure to have heavy hearts, at least for a while.

There is one more landmine though, that comes up every 4-weeks as though it scheduled. It’s the day we deposit her retirement check into the bank.

Some months ago, my mom received a check from an insurance rebate for roughly $4,000. I asked her if I could hold the check overnight so it didn’t get lost — my mother has a habit of allowing the important documents and checks to end up in the recycling bin. She agreed  to let me hold the check overnight. The next day we deposited the check and that’s where the story should have ended.

Every month since the day we deposited that check, on the day that we deposit her monthly retirement check, she asks me if I have the insurance rebate. When I tell her that we deposited it 6-months ago, she disbelieves me and asks over and over where that check is.

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The bike and tires I would finish on. God bless Gatorskins…

So once a month I have to convince my mother that I haven’t stolen $4,000 from her. She never fully believes this, and despite that we have this discussion every 4-weeks, we have it again 4-weeks later. That’s dementia, high-fiving me.

And the worst thing about these landmines is this…

As immediately as they explode and are cleared, they return again, in the exact same place.

I am frustrated with firecrackers, but I am haunted by landmines.

Confessing all of this might help you understand that if my only break from this is walking my dog, going to the store, or being on my bike, then these things are the methadone of my existence.

To be continued…

This is what I think about when I ride…

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Vasudeva
29.5 miles
1,500’ climbing
16.9 mph avg 😁
1,900 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: The End Is Not In Sight, by The Amazing Rhythm Aces