The Wisdom Years…

I don’t have many memories left of my mother when she was young. They’ve been covered up by the memories I have of her now. For the last six years mom has been a lot like my smartphone and my critters — never more than 50-feet from me, unless I’m on a bike.

Just a few memories of my younger mother remain — visions of her standing over the stove, apron around her waist, and stirring a large pot of spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon. Her bangs falling into her face as the steam rose upward. The kitchen I grew up with, like the cook who ran it, is the only one that matters.

I remember her manning the gift shop at the synagogue, before and after services on the Friday nights of my youth. Not bad for Christian girl from Alabama. I’m not sure she knew how often I stole things when she wasn’t looking. In hindsight, yeah, she probably knew. 

Shortly after she and my father separated for the final time, I was 15, a man showed up to serve foreclosure papers on the family house. As she stood in the door and screamed at the man to get off the property, I stood in my second story bedroom window and shot an arrow at the rear tire of the man’s car. She took me out for nachos that night. I remember her reassuring me that we wouldn’t have to leave the house.

When she was the age I am now, and worked for the Indian Health Service in Chinle Arizona, I’d visit her often and we’d hike Canyon de Chelly together, followed by a lunch of Navajo tacos at the Thunderbird Inn. I still remember those hikes in the conversations we had as we walked.

I remember my mother as my Cub Scout Den Mother, as a horrible driver taking me to school, as somebody who baked the best apple coffee cake ever, and as a nurse who was always willing to work overtime when needed. 

That’s about it though. I don’t have too many memories of her younger years other than those. Mostly I remember her from last year, last month, and last week — I remember her as she is now. 

She’s aged, unsure on her feet, slow, wrinkled, and increasingly frail. Those terms might seem unflattering or even insulting, but I recognize them as the mile markers of the long trip she’s taken, from the Great Depression to the Internet — from the polio epidemic to the COVID pandemic.

And when that day comes — when she’s no longer around and memories are all I’ll have left of her, the memories I’ll carry forward and the ones which will stick with me the most, will be those of today — of the wisdom years. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there — you are the bubble-wrap of humanity.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 134

Climbing: 5,900’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 7,565

Seat Time: 09 hours 01 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 Old 97s. Enjoy…!

The Monsters In My Head…

The monsters I create in my head are always more foreboding than the ones I actually meet — should I meet them at all.

A friend had a family emergency this week and had to leave town with little notice. She asked if I would keep her two small dogs for the week. Without hesitation I agreed. I know the dogs well, love them both, and they brighten up the house when they’re here.

Sadly though, among my first thoughts when I agreed to take them, was questioning whether my daily riding would be impacted. Two additional critters, along the current critter inventory, and an elderly woman with dementia might make getting on the road each day more difficult. 

The more I thought about it, the worse my concerns grew. I began imagining scenarios where, if I were on my bike, my mom would accidentally let the dogs out — never to be seen again, drop chocolate which might harm them if ingested, or get one caught between her legs, subsequently falling and breaking her hip. And that was just scratching the surface of my wretched imagination.

Not wanting any harm come to the pups, and increasingly believing that leaving them alone with my mom would set up for disaster, I made the decision to take a week off of cycling. I haven’t taken a week off since 2015. The decision was bittersweet, but it was the right thing.

Me being me though, it wasn’t long — minutes actually, before I was twitching, nervous, and bitchy. I began thinking of ways to safely secure the pups while I got out and rode for a couple of hours. 

I made the decision to leave the dogs crated in my fitness studio, close the door leading into the house, and put a chair in front of the door. They would be okay crated for a couple of hours, and in an emergency, my mom would be able to move the chair. I felt selfish and a bit guilty for this decision, but not so much that it kept me from riding yesterday.

Once the dogs were crated, I put a thin sheet over the crate to darken their environment, closed the door, and taped a note above the chair reading…

Please don’t open the door — Jesus is watching you

Old people get scared when bring Jesus into any scenario as leverage. 

Moments later I was on a bike, trying hard to let go of all the scenarios in which my mom would poison, step on, or lose the pups. That’s when I started thinking about the possibility of a house-fire. Shit. 

Notwithstanding to any of this, is that I’ve ridden a bike every day for the last six years and left my mother alone with a dog, a cat, occasionally a neighbor dog, and there have been no incidents in which the critters got harmed — and the house has yet to burn down in my absence.  

Still, I imagined every possible negative scenario as I rode. I pushed my legs harder than usual, stopped only briefly to take a couple of pictures, and cut my route a little short to get back sooner. All the while looking upward and ahead on the road, half expecting to see my friend’s dogs running toward me — 15 miles from home.

When I arrived home, I entered the house quickly, moved to the chair away from the room where the dogs were crated, let them out to go potty, and took a deep breath. All had been just as I left it, and mom was on the sofa doing a crossword puzzle.

Breathe

Breathe

Breathe 

All was good with the world…

Once again, I had created monsters in my head which, with my eyes open and walking toward them, were nowhere to be seen. This, by the way, is the epitome of being raised Jewish.

I’ll go out and ride later today, feeling a little more confident that the dogs will be safe in my absence. I don’t know, perhaps I should let the dogs have the run of the house, and keep my mom crated 🤷🏼‍♂️.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 187

Climbing: 8,100’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 10,500

Seat Time: 12 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 The Staple Singers. Enjoy…!

Bang Bang Bang…

Our love of guns began when the first Indian fell backwards, as we worked our way west to exploit every possible resource and take possession of all lands. And if those resources or those lands became threatened, we depended on guns to assure our possession of them — because we valued the resources and lands more than the humanity which was already a part of them. 

And in the decades and centuries to follow, as we asserted our providence over all which lay before us, we became culturally inseparable from our guns and the idea that killing is an acceptable aspect of progress. 

Guns became costars in the American story. First in books, then radio, movies, television, and subsequently in every aspect of popular culture. No American story is complete without guns and killing, even if we have to peel back the layers to find them. Behind every innocent story there’s a gun or a killing waiting to break through and be seen. 

Guns are in our dreams, our toys, our games, and and even in our fantasies. Killing, as a way out of an unwanted circumstance, is part of our cultural DNA. Don’t like where something is headed…? Kill whatever’s in the way. We even use guns against our own bad days — 52% of suicides come with bullet holes.

This isn’t going to end anytime soon because we accept it with open arms. As soon as were done complaining and sending thoughts and prayers, we binge watch the next violent television series, with liberty in killing for all. We do far too little — almost nothing to discourage our children from the enjoyment of killing and guns as a form of entertainment. 

As long as our mass shootings remain in the single digits, double digits, and triple digits, we’re going to be cool with it. Want to get America to pay attention to our acceptance of killing culture…? It’ll take thousands of people going down in just a few seconds. Even then, the so-called conservatives in Congress would defend every aspect of gun and killing culture. Forgetting, of course, that the word conservative comes from conserve — to use sparingly, to act sparingly, to allow sparingly. 

I’m certainly not the first person to point any of this out. This is the first time though, I’ve been willing to share my deepest feelings on what’s going on. 

Gun culture and killing will be part of the American story so long as we, the authors, keep writing it. We cling to guns and killing, above all, because they were the midwife to our birth.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Post Script: 

I’ve been sitting with these thoughts for a while — keeping them to myself for fear of offending friends and associates. 

In December 1993, my wife, my three-year-old daughter, and I had lunch at a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora Colorado. The following evening a man entered the building and shot four people, all employees. Though the killings took place was after hours, I had been in that room with my three-year-old the day before.

Six years later I was in San Diego, looking to purchase a house. My wife and then nine-year-old daughter stayed behind in Littleton Colorado — home of Columbine High School, to pack up and sell our home there. I was driving down Interstate-8 in San Diego when the announcer on NPR broke the story of the Columbine shooting. I was shaking and crying so uncontrollably, I had to pull off to the side of the road and gather my emotions before calling home.

Last month in Boulder Colorado, in the King Soopers grocery store where 10 people were shot and killed, I knew people who were in there that day. That was my community once upon a time. 

I’ve trained with guns for military and law enforcement purposes. I grew up with BB guns, learned to shoot .22s in Boy Scouts, and qualified on several pieces during my time in the military.

My statement above is more about the fact that, in popular culture, historic and contemporary, guns, killing, and entertainment are intertwined. The influence of guns and killing in popular culture has contributed to the increase of mass shootings, beyond any doubt, and has been studied and documented for decades.

I don’t see guns as being evil. I would like to see gun use and safety taught at the high school level, and students given PE credit for the class. Put a real gun in the hands of a 14-year-old, and he or she is far more likely to respect its power than somebody who’s 23 and holding one for the very first time.

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 186

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 10,620

Seat Time: 12 hours 13 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 Jeff Beck And The Big Town Playboys. Enjoy…!

Sidekick…

It feels a little more selfish each day. He’s nearly 18-years old now. He spends most days within 20-feet of me. That I willingly leave him for two hours, to go ride a bike, says a lot about my selfishness. It gets harder, but I still do it. 

I should have named him, Sidekick. In hindsight, that seems so obvious. Our relationship resembles two guys in a ‘buddy’ movie. I’m De Niro and he’s Charles Groton. I’m Felix and he’s Oscar. I’m Bill and he’s Ted. We just play off each other like that.

Our relationship might seem adversarial to outsiders, and at times it is. With no warning, he’ll jump from the sofa, run to the refrigerator, stand fixed looking back at me. His eyes say…

“I want ham and I want it now…“

Our relationship is largely based on animal protein.

I respond by reminding him he just ate two hours ago, he’ll eat again in two more hours, and he’s not getting any ham…!

His gaze gets more intense. It only takes a minute before I cave. 

I’ll begrudgingly stomp to the refrigerator muttering expletives under my breath. I reluctantly tear a few small pieces from a slice of ham and leave it on the empty plate beside his water dish. Despite the expletives and my poor attitude, he knows I love him more than anything. 

He’s walked off-leash since the beginning. He stays within 10-feet of me, even when we have the park to ourselves. I can tell when a scent has him by the nose — he wants to run, but he won’t. I can almost feel the smell pulling him away from me, and equally feel his determination to stay by my side.

Go, I tell him, go…!

As soon as I say it, he runs toward the hole where the scent draws him. It’s always a gopher hole. Excited, he guards the hole and waits for me to catch up. I tell him he did a good job and complement his professionalism. With no gopher to be found though, I tell him there’s another scent up ahead and it’s his job to find it. As we walk, I thank him for not being one of those undisciplined leash dogs.

Back in the car and preparing to head home, I see a little schmutz on his face…

How many times I gotta tell you, I say, NO SCHMUTZ…!

He looks unapologetic, but slightly nervous. I remove the schmutz with one of many Jack-In-The-Box napkins on the floor of my car. Every time this happens, he snaps at me. The good news is, he doesn’t have any teeth. Once he’s schmutz-free, he forgives me by kissing me on the nose.

On the way back from the park, he rides on my lap with this front paws on the door and his face looking out the window. We listen to NPR and discuss whatever Lakshmi Singh is talking about. He’s particularly concerned about voting laws these days. Don’t laugh, some things you just know.

Like all dogs, he has magnetic tips on the ends of his ears and on all four paws. These enable him to find the geographic center of the bed each night. He can only sleep if he’s lined up evenly between the four corners. As I bend my way around him in a loose attempt to sleep comfortably myself, I call him a chucklehead and an ingrate. He gives me the dreaded look of whoa, and refuses to budge.

I thank him for another day, ask God to bless him and keep him through the night, and I turn off the light. He snaps at me one more time as I pet him on the head — to remind me who the alpha dog is. No teeth, just gums. Just gums. 

Later today I’ll leave him again for another two hours while I ride a stupid bike. He’ll be in good hands, but knowing we’re on borrowed time, it gets harder each day. No matter what, I will always believe he deserves better than me. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 200

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,500

Seat Time: 13 hours 02 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 Blackfoot . Enjoy…!

About The View…

It was a spectacular week of riding in San Diego’s North County. Back-to-back pacific storms passed through last week in typical spring fashion. The broken skies that came with these storms highlighted the beauty of the area in ways a solo blue sky just can’t. I rode six out of seven days last week, with rain making just one day too prohibitive to ride.

I was reminded last week of a travel tenet that’s proven true my entire life. As I age, and as I look for more meaning from simpler things, I’m coming to appreciate that this rule of travel is just as relevant even when I’m not far from home…

The best and most enduring moments, when I reflect back on any of my travels, have been just taking in the view.

As I rolled past acres of freshly turned soil waiting for tomatoes to be planted, as I saw snow covered mountains with citrus orchards and avocado groves in the foreground, and as I saw skies of blue highlighted by clouds of black, gray, and white, I thought about my late client and friend, Otis. 

Otis was as well traveled a man as I’ve known. He had lived in South America early in his life, set foot on every continent except Antarctica, and could discuss the history, politics, and geography of any region in the world, with locals and travelers alike. Sometime around 2012, Otis took a 3-week cruise through some of Pacific islands. When he returned, I asked him what he enjoyed most about his trip. His response took me by surprise…

“The fact that I never left the ship…”

Wait, what…? A three-week Polynesian cruise and he never left the boat…?

Otis explained that he spent his sea days reading, occasionally looking up at horizon and taking in the magnificence of the ocean. When his ship was in port, rather go ashore and do touristy excursions — that were generally crowded and exhausting, he stayed behind to sit on the veranda of his cabin, still reading and intermittently looking up at the magnificence of the surrounding landscape — and all the people scurrying on the streets below.

“Each port of call was like a different television channel…“ he told me, “or like a painting of a different landscape…“

Hearing Otis describe his enjoyment of just sitting, taking in the view, and being entertained by the activities below, got me thinking about my own travels. 

Just a few weeks after that conversation with Otis, I found myself on a ferry from Athens to the island of Mykonos — a 5 hour journey, stopping at a half-dozen lesser islands along the way. That remains one of the best days of my life, though I never left the boat. I just sat on the deck of the ferry, all day long, with my feet dangling over the side, taking in the view. The beauty of the Aegean sea and the aesthetics of the many islands we passed along the way were all the entertainment I would need. I was in Greece for three weeks, visited many of the more popular archaeological sites, and a handful of the lesser ones, yet what I remember most are the views from the ferry that day.

I’m not a globetrotter, but I’ve had the privilege of visiting all 50 states, some very pretty places, and a few foreign lands. When I think about any of my travels though, the moments which stand out to me most aren’t the things I’ve done — the buildings I’ve visited (ancient or modern), the foods I’ve eaten, or the even people I’ve met along the way. 

When I think back on any of my travels, my fondest and most enduring memories are the many views I’ve been blessed to enjoy. Views of lakes, hills, rivers, deserts, coast lines, and so-on, remain as memory shots, etched in my mind forever. Pick a vehicle — train, jet, ship, car, or bus, and I’ll be perfectly content just staring out the window. There may be something waiting for me at the destination, but I’ll remember the view the most.

Of course travel is all about experiencing different cultures, languages, foods and entertainment, and I’ve certainly done all of that. However, the view from the hotel room, from the restaurant patio, or from the ridge overlooking the canyon or the horizon, is what has captivated me most, often stopping me in my tracks and sending chills down my spine.

And from this rolling perch I get to ride each day, I get exercise, mental clarity, and even burn some calories. The best part though — the best part of riding a bike is the view. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And my own front porch…? That view ain’t too bad either.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 161

Climbing: 7’300’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 9,200

Seat Time: 10 hours 45 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 Dave Graney ‘n’ The Coral Snakes. Enjoy…!

The Needle And The Damage Done…

As a precautionary measure, after receiving my second dose of the Moderna vaccine on Friday, I chose not to ride that evening. The instances of people experiencing flu-like symptoms within hours of their second shot has been high enough that didn’t want to take a chance. 

Spending two-hours with an accelerated heart-rate might have brought on any would-be side effects even sooner. Notwithstanding, I wanted to be available for my mom, who received her second dose when I did, should she experience any side effects.

Other than being a little tired at the end of the day and not sleeping well, I woke up Saturday with no fever, no chills, and no headache. Because I’d made it through the night and 15-hours had passed without any symptoms or side effects, I decided to ride early yesterday. I had already missed two days last week, and I haven’t missed three days of riding in one week since 2018.

It was chilly when I left the driveway — 45° or so. I dressed in layers because I expected it to be in mid-60s by the time I returned. Grateful that I dodged the bullet on vaccine side effects, I chose a fast route that began with a six mile downhill stretch from Fallbrook into Bonsall.

Despite wearing three longsleeve shirts, one of them thermal, about three miles in I felt unusually chilly. After another few miles, I adjusted my helmet because it felt too tight — putting excess pressure on the front of my head. Shortly after that, I began sweating. That’s when I realized the chills, headache, and sweat were side effects from the vaccine. I considered turning around, but none of it seemed too severe.

After riding 8-miles on Highway 76, I was past the point of no return for my chosen route. That’s when I began shaking. I sipped some water in hopes that hydration would minimize the symptoms. It did not.  

At the turnaround point I got off my bike to take a picture, eat a banana, and drink more water. My knees were weak and I felt bodyaches from head to toe. I got back on my bike and just charged home. The headache got so bad on my return, that I took my helmet off and strapped to my shoulder bag. Through ignorant determination, I completed the 6-mile climb back into Fallbrook, but my breathing was shallow and my stamina was noticeably lessened by the other side effects.

Once home and while I still had some strength, I made my mother a lunch of peanut butter on saltine crackers, a couple of Girl Scout cookies, and a Coke. I spent the remainder of the day on the sofa, underneath 2 blankets, sleeping on and off, and mumbling incoherently as though it were my last day on earth — which I believed it was. I hadn’t felt flu-like symptoms this severe since having the H1N1 virus in 2010.

Just after 8pm last evening, the fever broke and the chills stopped. With nothing planned to write for the week, I thought I’d share this story with you — about a man so committed to riding a bike each day, that he was willing to risk his health to do it. And in a little while, I’m going to do it again. Wish me luck.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 140 

Climbing: 5,600’

Mph Avg: 15.8

Calories: 8,00’

Seat Time: 8 hours 49 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 Mick Ronson. Enjoy…!

Expose And Observe…

In addition to this blog, I write a daily column on Facebook under the same name, The Spoke And Word. The premise is the same — I write short anecdotes and stories which take place on the road each day, and also about the absurdities of life I contemplate while I ride. The only difference between those columns and these essays is that my Facebook posts are written each evening in 20-minutes or less.

I was recently called out by a reader claiming that I’m prone to exaggeration, hyperbole, and writing all-out falsehoods with those daily posts. This came on the heels of a post I wrote last week after getting bit by a wolf — well, a wolf-husky hybrid. And as extraordinary as that sounds, it actually happened.

That assertion that I’m prone to lying and exaggeration was made by the same reader who called me out three years ago when I wrote about the carload of stoned teenagers who threw a whole watermelon at me as they slowly drove by laughing. They missed. And, it was the same guy who didn’t believe me a year or so later when I wrote about stopping at a red light and using my helmet to head-butt the driver’s side window of a guy who pretended to run me off the road a few minutes prior. 

See the pattern here…? Not one of me embellishing or making up stories, but the pattern of this man reading my stories consistently for a few years now — even if he believes them to be works of fiction. 

On the opposite end of things are the people who suggest I’m a magnet for drama. They believe what I write, but suggest I set myself up for that drama, hunt for it, or that I might even manufacture it. Although I admit I’m a magnet for drama, I never hunt for it, and certainly don’t manufacture it. 

I spend roughly 13-hours each week riding a bicycle between the rural (and quirky) communities of Fallbrook, Rainbow, Pala, Bonsall, and Oceanside. That’s the amount of time many people dedicate to a part-time job. Only the part-time job, in my instance, is to expose myself to experiences beyond my sofa, to observe what I see, and to share them with anyone interested.

I expose myself to fast-moving cars, roadside hazards, and the risks which are inherent to riding a bike in those surroundings. And I observe the landscape, the structures, the people, and the behaviors of those people who transcend and occupy that landscape.

And from all of this, I fulfill my need for a creative outlet by reporting to anyone who’ll read and appreciate those experiences and observations — even if they think they’re works of low fiction. 

I’ve written many times that living in Fallbrook is like living in a David Lynch movie — where everyone knows a secret I haven’t figured out yet, where the laws physics don’t really apply, and where eccentricity is an actual form of currency. Spend 700-hours a year riding a bike in an environment like that, and strange things are going to happen — like getting bit by a wolf, having a watermelon thrown at you, and seeing the occasional small aircraft land in an empty field. Believe it, or not.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 179

Climbing: 7,300’

Mph Avg: 15.5

Calories: 10,300

Seat Time: 11 hours 32 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 Timmy Thomas. Enjoy…!

One Thought At A Time, But Not For Long…

A client, who also reads this each week, called me out recently on my frequent use of the term, my chaotic mind. She suggested the term is an exaggeration and that I come across as anything but chaotic. Uhm, nope. I just hide it well. 

It’s hard to explain the way thoughts crowd my head. I can be thinking about a half-dozen things simultaneously — each thought separate and distinct from the others. One thought though, has to take priority at a given moment, but the others still make noise and use their sense of urgency to push the thought I’m most focused on out of the way. 

As soon as a new thought reaches the front of my mind, the others posture to take its place too, and so it goes, all day long. So whenever I talk about my chaotic mind, that’s what I’m referring to. It’s just a bunch of thoughts, on a crowded stage, each wanting to be the center of attention, but with just one podium.

If the thoughts battling for centerstage are good thoughts, then it’s chaotic, but not necessarily overwhelming. These could be thoughts of business, recreation, family or friends, good memories, or my even day-to-day responsibilities. Chaos, in those instances, isn’t intimidating nor does it lessen my mood. In fact, juggling between a number of positive thoughts can be mood enhancing, even if chaotic. 

However, if the thoughts I’m juggling are born of regret, guilt, selfishness or any combination of those, my mind is not only chaotic, but it’s also sad and depressing. These might be thought of divorce, financial concerns, lack of sleep, sick or dying friends, and on-and-on. 

It’s rare for all of my thoughts to be purely positive or purely depressing at any moment. Most of the time it’s an evenly divided field. I might be looking forward to a bicycle ride later in the day, but I might also be thinking about mistakes I’ve made as a father, husband, or businessman. In that sense, my highs and lows can often be momentary. Going from pure joy to sadness and back again isn’t a fun way to go through a day — or life. 

Each day when I ride, the lesser thoughts seem to fall away. My mind stays crowded, but the thoughts are mostly positive, even if they’re fighting for a just one position in front. If I ride long enough, every good thought gets its turn at the head of the line, if only for a while. 

Within an hour or so, after I’m done riding, the lesser thoughts return to the stage and their posturing for attention resumes — and the highs and lows of everyday life return, and I do my best to hide it. So yes, Virginia, there is a chaotic mind. A smiling face and a good attitude are my best forms of cover.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 191

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 11,000

Seat Time: 12 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 Don Walker of Cold Chisel. Enjoy…!

Feed It With Colors And Good Intentions…

If you’re reading this then you’re a part of the only generation of human beings who will ever live to have experienced life before and after the advent of social media. That’s not just a unique position the history of mankind, it’s also a unique responsibility. 

The ability to interact and communicate with so many people, so quickly, and over such a distances is a miraculous technology — on par with the invention of the wheel and the domestication of fire. I’m awed by that, every day of my life. We live in an amazing age. 

It’s only in how we use this technology though, that will define its place in our species’ history. We, the first generation to use what will be used by every generation subsequent to ours, must set the tone. I’ve argued for as long as I’ve been a participant, that most people who use social media could be using it better and should be using it for higher purposes.

The use I see of social media is often tantamount to imbeciles playing with matches. Inevitably most everyone burns their fingers. And all too often, someone burns down the house or even their community. It should go without saying that if one doesn’t play with matches, they won’t get burned nor start an unwanted fire.

Negativity only breeds more negativity, and escalation of negativity on social media is a spark to a handful of straw.

I know many people reading this who claim they don’t use social media — and actually believe that. Blogging is a form of social media. Whether you’re the writer or the reader of a blog, you’re a participant in social media. If one checks or makes reviews on Yelp, hunts for bargains on eBay or Craigslist, uses apps like NextDoor, WhatsApp, or even participates in email or texting groups, then they also use a form social media. Sharing photos via a smartphone with friends or family in distant places is a form of social media. 

I’m a fan of the technology, but not always of how it’s used. Of course I say the same about religion, government, and capitalism. I do my best to use it with good intentions. I’ve never been much of a leader, but I wish more people would follow my lead on this one.

We must use the technology of social media better.

In all of this, I’ve included some smartphone pictures I took last week. I’ll take more again next week and share them here. And I’ll probably include another opinion about one thing or another, and hope I’ve done it with the best of intentions.

Lastly, I’ll remind anyone reading this that what makes one a good craftsman, a good statesman, or a good human is understanding the possibilities, the risks, and the limits of one’s tools and technologies.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 192

Climbing: 7,100’

Mph Avg: 16.0

Calories: 11,100

Seat Time: 12 hours 05 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 Tom Jones. Enjoy…!

Mom’s Gap Year…

On Thursday I took my shortest scheduled ride in nearly 2-years yesterday — just 24-miles. I had just a 2-hour gap between my last client session and an appointment for my mother to get her first COVID-19 vaccination. Obtaining a vaccination appointment here in Fallbrook was a big deal and I didn’t want her to miss it.

I got mom to her appointment on time. The nurse offered me a dose also, since I’m mom’s exclusive caregiver. I gladly accepted. We’ll return in 30-days for our second round of the Moderna vaccine — and we’ll be one small step closer to a reconfigured normal. Through most of my ride though, prior to our vaccinations, I reflected quite a bit on mom’s year of confinement. 

I got a lump in my throat thinking about the old woman who, just one year ago, stepped into a pandemic. I got a few lumps more, thinking about the much older woman who will now attempt to step beyond it. Mom, 90, has lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the polio epidemic, and now this. Hard to imagine, but COVID is the one which has impacted her most, despite that she’s been kept in isolation — or perhaps because of that.

Mom’s had a safe year. If nothing else, her life has been comfortable during the pandemic. If she lost anything, it was her schedule of regular activities — which was also her conduit to all human connections. Prior to the pandemic, mom had reasons to leave the house every day, reasons to speak, and reasons to listen.

Two days a week she took exercise classes at the local community center. She also participated with a meditation group at our library. She and I ate lunch out several times a week, and were often invited over to the homes of my clients for lunch or dinner. We regularly walked at Oceanside Harbor, after feeding the seagulls our leftover fish ‘n’ chips. All of those activities were good for her. Then one day, they just disappeared.

Also prior to the pandemic, I took her to one of the local markets every day, put a shopping a car in her hands, and gave her an hour to walk up and down the isles, just to look at things and say hello to the people she saw along the way. It wasn’t exactly step aerobics, but it was daily exercise and socialization — which I had no way to duplicate once the stay-at-home protocol began.

Mom’s loss during the pandemic has been the cognitive and physical stimulation all those activities provided her. Though there’s no way to measure those losses, it’s clear that she’s a different person than she was a year ago. Of course she would have continued to age without COVID, but I suspect her decline wouldn’t have been as steep.

In a month mom will get her second dose of the vaccine, and following proper protocols, I’ll begin taking her to restaurants and markets again, but on a limited basis. I’ll be taking somebody though, who can’t walk as far, who can’t process as well, who can’t remember as much, and who won’t recognize anyone she sees. 

My mother will be living with collateral damage from the virus. Her life may have been spared during the pandemic, but her physical and cognitive health have been compromised forever. And everywhere around us, whether we see them or not, there are tens of thousands more just like her. Please keep your eyes and hearts open to them. They’ll need our patience. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 191

Climbing: 8,400’

Mph Avg: 15.7

Calories: 11,000

Seat Time: 12 hours 07 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 Ozomatli. Enjoy…!