Three-Minute Scripture…

At least half of my thoughts while riding center around music — song lyrics in particular. Most often, lyrics show up in fragments. Though the whole of the song is always present, it’s those well-turned phrases that capture my thoughts and guide my moral sensibilities. A good lyric can remind me who I should aspire to be. It might also, by comparison, remind me who I don’t want to be, and which roads to avoid.

Lou Reed famously referred to a well-crafted song as the “three-minute novel”. Indeed. I’d extend that though, to suggest a well-crafted song lyric can be three-minute scripture.

When I was 16, I walked into the bathroom of a recreation center where I’d been exercising. On the gray concrete wall, just above the paper towel dispenser and written in crayon, were these words…

“And the men who hold high places

Must be the ones to start

To mold a new reality

Closer to the heart…”

It’s a verse from the song Closer To The Heart, by the Canadian band Rush. I’d heard the song dozens of times, and the album had actually been on my turntable the day prior. There was something about reading those words that day, that changed the way I think about lyrics.

That’s when I began regularly reading song lyrics from the album liner notes, to better understand them, as I listened to the corresponding songs simultaneously. It was also the day I realized lyrics offered me more than the Torah ever had. 

There have been dozens — maybe hundreds of formative moments in my life, just like that one, which have resulted from reading and re-reading lyrics while listening to music. On or off my bike, I don’t go more than 15-minutes without a formative lyric showing up in my head, usually getting my full attention. 

I often tell the story of sitting on a seawall in Oceanside California in the months after my divorce. With earbuds in and facing the spit blowing of the tops of waves, I listened to music by the band The Call, while simultaneously reading the printed lyrics of their songs. Those were religious services to me, every bit as much as listening to Rabbi Krantzler was on Friday nights in the 1970s. Listening to those songs, reading those lyrics, and staring into the sea humbled me and helped me come to terms with some bad choices in my life. 

Another lyric that stays with me daily is from the band Social Distortion. Reading the lyric regularly, while listening to the song Ball And Chain, has given me strength, over and over again, to stay away from alcohol — when nothing else I tried ever could.

And those formative lyrics — those fragments of moral philosophy which come and go in my head all day long, every one has been as impactful on me as any religious scripture ever has. In a very real sense, song lyrics have been the religious scripture that’s most shaped me. 

I know people will make the argument that there’s some pretty bad lyrics out there too. Pick any page though, in the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the Qur’an, and you’ll find some pretty bad lyrics there as well.

In my life, good lyrics have been the fingerprints of God. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 201

Climbing: 8,750’

Mph Avg: 15.7

Calories: 11,481

Seat Time: 12 hours 43 minutes

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

Crib Death, Redux…

Every so often I’ll be pedaling down the road and look up to see a mid-70s Chevrolet Vega. It’s a treat, since there aren’t too many out there. When I saw one the other day I began thinking about Crib Death. Honestly, there’s hardly a week go by that I don’t think about Crib Death. Crib Death brings back so many memories — wonderful memories of my restless adolescence. The Crib Death I speak of though, is the name of a car, not the unexplained medical condition that occurs with human infants.

In February of 1979 I was 17-years-old. I worked full-time as a sandwich maker at The Bagel Delicatessen in Denver. After the sudden passing of my ‘67 Ford Falcon, I needed another car to get me to and from work. I had a budget of $400 — cash I had saved in a hollowed out copy of Treasure Island. 

Scanning the classifieds in the Rocky Mountain News, one of the first cars I saw was a 1974 Chevy Vega panel wagon — for $400. Bingo. I knew Vegas had a reputation as oil burners because they had aluminum engine blocks, but the $400 price tag made it the perfect car for me. I had a friend drive me across town to take a look at it. 

A panel wagon is a compact station wagon, but with no seats in back, just a flat bed. The rear/side windows were covered over with aluminum panels. It was essentially a small truck with an enclosed bed — the type of vehicle a plumber, carpenter, or electrician might use.

I lifted the hood, opened the doors, and sat in the driver’s seat where I was captivated by the underdash Pioneer stereo. Four corresponding speakers were mounted throughout the car. That stereo was all I needed to confirm my decision. Without even bargaining, I agreed to buy the car. I taught myself to drive the 4-speed stick shift on my way home. Drab green in color, and with two bucket seats upfront, this would be my car for the next four years. 

So where did the name Crib Death come from…? My friend Jeff, who took me to look at the car that day, remarked that it looked like a hearse for little kids. I can’t remember which one of us came up with Crib Death, probably Jeff, but it stuck. And from day one, that car was known as Crib Death, by friends and family alike.

The Vega’s reputation as oil burners was well deserved. From the beginning I kept a one-gallon container of motor oil in the back of the car at all times. About every 500 to 600 miles or when the smoke from the tail pipe got blue enough, I’d stop and put in a quart of that oil.

Crib Death was a road trip warrior for my friends and I. Having no seats in back, but just the flat bed, it was  like a tiny motorhome. If I got too tired to drive, I’d just pull off at a rest stop and crash in the back. If I was driving with friends, we’d rotate taking turns napping in back while the other drove. 

In its time with me, Crib Death made trips into Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kanas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada, and Arizona. All, without a major repair needed — just a lot of motor oil.

I wasn’t big on maintenance beyond the tires, brakes, and the engine. In four years, I might have washed that car just two or three times. When the windshield wiper motor went out in 1982, rather than replace it, I cut a piece of wood to the length of a wiper blade, wrapped it in plastic, and glued a squeegee strip along the bottom. If it rained, I’d open the driver’s side window and every few seconds sweep the water away with my handmade windshield wiper. When I drove my girlfriend home from college for the first time, and it began snowing as we ascended Vail Pass, she was mortified to learn this is how I kept my windshield clear during snow storms. It was a cold ride home. 

During a midnight run to Taco Bell one evening with a group of friends, as we loitered in the parking lot telling jokes and stuffing Enchiritos down our throats, somebody used taco sauce packets to write Crib Death on one of the green side panels. Since I never washed my car, the acid in the taco sauce ate through the paint over time and my car had been permanently branded with the words Crib Death.

When I reflect on all the cars I’ve owned, Crib Death wasn’t the best — not the fastest, the prettiest, or even the most dependable. To this day though, it remains my favorite car. Every so often I look online to see if I can find a ‘74 Vega Panel Wagon. They are few and far between, and I have yet to see one for sale in Southern California. If I ever find one though, and it’s proximate enough to be feasible, I’ll buy it in an instant.

Owning Crib Death also cultivated one hard and fast sensibility which remains with me to this day — that I’ll never buy a car I can’t pay cash for and also sleep in. I think that’s a good way to be.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 169

Climbing: 6,750’

Mph Avg: 14.8

Calories: 9,509

Seat Time: 11 hours 21 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 Willy DeVille Enjoy…

Painting With Words…

I’ve been chewing lately on creativity — of where mine fits into my life and what get lost when I over-prioritize it. Something I’m coming to terms with is that my creative impulses increasingly consume me. 

I have this compulsion to write, though the story is never primary. However compelling or impactful a thought might be, it’s secondary to forging it into something larger. Choosing and arranging the words to grow the story is what fulfills me. I enjoy selecting words and placing them into a story like a painter might place colors onto a canvas. 

A little more of this — a little less of that. I might rearrange a sentence a half-dozen times before I get it just right. I’ll place a paragraph higher or lower in the story, depending on how it all unfolds. I never know if a word, a sentence, or a paragraph will make it into the end product — until there is an end product. As choppy as all of that sounds, there’s usually a flow to it.

Writing, much of the time, is like swimming the breaststroke in warm calm water — its a gentle pleasure. Other times, it can be like swimming the backstroke upstream with one arm tied behind my back and a tennis ball stuck in my mouth. That usually means I’m trying to force something though, and it’s time to step away. Most writing sessions are more breaststroke than upstream backstroke.  

Turning little thoughts into bigger stories is always on my mind. It’s gotten to where I don’t seek or enjoy simple amusement anymore. Writing itself has become my primary form of entertainment.

I do make time for television in the form of online lectures, interviews, and documentaries, but I interrupt them frequently to pick up my phone and dictate. It might be an idea for something new, a change I wish to make to an essay in the works, or just a phrase that strikes me from nowhere that I want to store and save for later. I often wonder if this is healthy.

It seems like I should be able to enjoy a movie or go for a walk without needing to work through a thought and speak it into my phone. When I walk my dog, I write. When I drive, I write. When I watch television, I write. When I lay in bed, I write. The only time I don’t write, in the physical sense, is when I’m on my bike, and then I’m writing up a storm in my head, in hopes I can remember it to be written down later.  

I’ve never been someone who needs to document and expand on every thought that crosses my mind — just the ones that matter. Seems lately though, more of my thoughts do matter. Or maybe that’s just my rationalization to justify me painting with words — every chance I get.

This blog is a journal — a place where my thoughts can be stored, shared, and resurrected long after I’m gone. It’s a digital headstone stating that, in my mind, I was here and that I mattered. 

This quote caught my eye recently, by Seth Godin…

“Even if no one but you reads it, the blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts…”

The creator gods were working hard the day I read that in Seth’s column. Just a few hours earlier I had renewed my domain name and my web host for two more years. I guess I’ll just keep writing, and see if anything comes of it.

This is what I think about when I ride…Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 191

Climbing: 7,900’

Mph Avg: 14.8

Calories: 10,873

Seat Time: 12 hours 56 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 Soul Rebels. Enjoy…

20 + 20 For 2020…

I’ve been told that I’m long-winded. Verbose. I use a lot of words. I say too much. I over write. I can’t even write my name in less than 360 words. I never met a superlative I didn’t use immediately. I’m only happy when I’m heard. Totally.

That said, I’m going to leave words behind this week, and share my 20 favorite pictures from the trail in 2020, along with my 20 favorite bike pictures from 2020. I want to start the New Year with a big thank you to everyone who has supported this platform. Words can’t express…

My 20 favorite pictures from the trail…

My 20 favorite bicycle pictures…

To all who have supported this, thank you…! May 2021 find you riding toward your own adventures, regardless of your vehicle.

You are who I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me this year. 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 Eskimo Joe.   Enjoy…

Chicagovich…

Bumping through YouTube last week, I stumbled upon a split-screen music video of a band covering Chicago’s song, Just You ‘N’ Me. I almost scrolled past it, but for whatever reason, I pushed play. Within a few seconds I could see the precision with the musicianship and hear the quality of the recording. It was perfectly in-sync with the original.

After watching the video a second time, I jumped into the rabbit hole to follow the band further. I found more covers of Chicago songs. Nearly three hours after watching the first video, I knew I had to turn my light out — my workday lay just a few hours ahead of me.  

When I woke up the following morning though, it was all I could think about. With a cup of coffee beside me and a glow in the fireplace, I went further down that rabbit hole. The group, Leonid And Friends, is a musical project from Russia, lead by Leonid Vorobyev, a former choir director, recording engineer, music producer, and bassist. 

In-between watching videos of their musical performances, I found several interviews with Vorobyev, who speaks excellent English. The project began in 2014, when Vorobyev retired from his music career at age 60. As a gift to himself prior to retirement, Vorobyev wanted to cover and record Chicago’s song, Brand New Love Affair. With the music being unavailable online, he painstakingly transcribed the music and the drum tablature, note for note, by ear.  

When he had that and a couple more songs ready to record, he called in favors from skilled musicians he worked through his years as a recording engineer and producer. Most were from Russia and a couple from nearby former Soviet republics. In addition to recording the songs, Vorobyev also video’d the recording process. It didn’t take long before they were a YouTube sensation, with thousands of followers. 

With that success, Virobyev’s new goal was to record covers of Chicago songs, with the intention of playing them live someday, with the same precision and musicianship the original band used in the studio. I have no problem saying I think he exceeded that goal.

In 2019 they did three tours of the United States, selling out most dates in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. In Covid times, they’re still recording, branching out to cover songs from Earth, Wind & Fire as well as The Ides Of March, and Blood, Sweat & Tears. They have an active Facebook page and website where they will announce future tour dates, and also sell merchandise including a CD of Chicago covers, appropriately titled Chicagovich. My Leonid And Friends t-shirt and CD should be here by Christmas.  

Lastly, If you’re not a fan of Chicago, I get it, that’s cool. But if you’re a fan of music — or of anything good that might make you smile, you might want to check this out. This is one of the best musical projects I’ve seen in years. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Coleman Laimbeer Sanders

28 miles

1,200’ climbing

14.5 mph avg

1,600 calories

Yesterday’s earworm: Old Days (Chicago cover), by Leonid And Friends 

Something To Talk About…

What’s the use of having a thought if I can’t share it…?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had something to say and felt what I have to say is worth listening to. That’s why blogging has been a perfect outlet for me. Blogging isn’t just a platform where I can share my thoughts on the world around me, uninterrupted, but it’s a place to tell my own story.

Two years ago today I began this blog, my third since 2002. Since then I’ve shared my unqualified, uneducated and unsolicited opinion on everything from religion, diplomacy, philosophy, the arts, and the moral progress of man, all from the perspective of a guy on a bike speeding away from his daily problems.

In each post over the last couple of years, I’ve tried to include my own story. I’ve done this by superimposing the world around me onto the world within me, correlating the two worlds, and sending it out in essay form. I don’t always get it right when explaining the world around me, but I do my best to truthful about my own story.

What I appreciate most about blogging is that it’s a permanent digital archive of my thoughts — of who I am. My writing is a place where I can still be found long after I’m gone, that may serve to answer any questions about me by family, my friends, or whoever might be interested. 

I’m not a professional writer, a journalist, or even an essayist. I’m a storyteller who, in many ways, is full of himself.  Who else but an egomaniac would write something every week and hope deep down that everyone on earth would read it…? I framed it this way once before and I think it’s a good way to close out today…

You go to somebody’s backyard barbecue and there’s a band there. You hear the guitar player in the band and you think he plays better than Duane Allman. You return home after the barbecue and you put on an Allman Brothers album. It takes just a couple seconds before you realize that the guy playing at the barbecue was pretty good for being in a garage band, but he’s no Duane Allman.

I am a garage band of a writer. 

I don’t have much. I don’t own a home. The car I drive is a piece of junk. My retirement plan is to work part-time washing dishes at Denny’s. But what I do have is the friendships that I value so much, and this creative outlet that has served me so well.

Writing, riding, and taking pictures have become the methadone of my existence. Individually, they’ve each been a part of my life for years. When I combined them into essay form, I feel like I own of something of value for the very first time. 

To everyone who’s followed along these last couple of years, thank you…!

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 204

Climbing: 8,700’

Mph Avg: 15.2

Calories: 11,607

Seat Time: 13 hours 25 minutes

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