Ignition Sequence Start…

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Though it’s been on my mind recently due to all the media attention, it’s never been that far from my mind. When I think of the formative moments and events that have shaped and influenced my life, the moon landing has to be placed at the very top.

Below is a two-part essay —two separate writings from earlier this year on my daily Spoke And Word Facebook page. If you’re not already following that page, please take the time to do so. My daily Spoke And Word Facebook posts are brief and informal musings I write each morning, reflecting on my bike ride from the day before.

Apollo 11

Part I: One And Not Quite The Same…

I was roughly the same age on the day The Eagle landed on the moon as my brother was on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated earlier in the decade.

My brother is now in his early 60s, and I’m in my late 50s. We live roughly 1,000 miles apart, he in Colorado and me California. He is an attorney and I’m a fitness trainer.

Throughout our lives I have considered us to be close. We communicate regularly, see each other when we can, and we consider each other good friends.

My brother and I share a handful of similarities that are probably rooted halfway between our common genetics and the social influences we shared growing up — parental influences notwithstanding.

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We both enjoy drinking Diet Coke. We like to wear Oxford shirts even as casual attire. We love dogs. We find humor in dark places and at dark times. We both enjoy jumping off rural bridges into the rivers below. We both hate the Oakland Raiders with all the hate you can possibly hate something with.

We each see the world a little differently though.

With so much in common, I often wonder why I lean toward optimism in matters of social cooperation and the political landscape we currently live in, and why he leans more towards a negative outcome for mankind.

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I blame John F Kennedy, but not directly.

My brother was roughly 6-years old when President Kennedy was assassinated. Six years old — that’s a very formative time in most everyone’s life.

When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, I was only a little older than my brother was on the day Kennedy was killed. A formative time in my life as well.

When I think about those two world events, and that it’s fair to say they are two of the more significant events in American history, it makes me wonder how significant each of those events might have been in influencing the respective sensibilities of my brother and I.

As I rode my bike to the coast yesterday, after reading an article about the social influence of the Moonlanding compared to the social influence of the Kennedy assassination, and with my blood pumping hard, the serotonin exchange increasing my mental acuity, and as I was taking it all in, I wondered if those two events — the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Neil Armstrong taking “one small step for a man” might be the primary events that established our respective outlooks on life.

Viscerally, I know that many things have contributed to forming and shaping the sensibilities of my brother and I. On some level though, I think there’s something to this.

My brother has read nearly every book and probably invested more thought into the Kennedy assassination than anyone I know. And for my part, rarely a week goes by, especially in these seemingly divided times, when I don’t look back on a time when the world stood still, took a deep breath, and watched a manmade miracle unfold before our eyes.

I think we need another moon landing.

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Part II: Chasing Michael Collins…

As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on the Moon, Michael Collins had become the most distant human being, proximate to the earth, ever. That record would later be ‘eclipsed’ by the crew of Apollo 13 during the lunar orbit they required to get back to earth — but at least they had each other.

I think about Michael Collins often though — all the time actually, for having done something no human being had ever done before and something most people have not given enough consideration to. For a moment in time, Michael Collins was the most isolated human being, ever.

God how I envy and even aspire to that some days — most days.

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In these days of lifeless discourse, relentless argument, and fruitless conversation continually wearing down my psyche and my spirit with so much caustic intention, I often long to be Michael Collins — the most distant person from earth.

As close as I will ever get though, to the glorious isolation Collins alone experienced, is being on my bikes. Perhaps I am on the ground and proximate to others, but as I am absorbed into the rhythm of my ride, as my breath draws deep, and as my legs turn repeatedly to get me the hell out of the moments that too often eat me alive, I am as far from this earth as I could possibly be, or at least from the people in it.

“I knew I was alone in a way that no earthling has ever been before“. Michael Collins

In that sense, Michael Collins took a risk even Armstrong and Aldrin did not have to face. For a moment in time, he was lonelier than God.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes ridden: 4
195 miles
7,200’ climbing
15.6 mph avg
11,200 calories

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 Three Dog Night. Enjoy…

Conflict Cocoon…

It was a great week of riding — 177 miles for the week. Lots of sights, smells, and sounds. Plus, the beautiful sensation of rhythmic motion in gorgeous surroundings.

If you’re not already following my Spoke And Word page on Facebook, find me there for daily updates and short musings on what I think about each day while I ride. Below is my favorite contemplation for the week. Enjoy…

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps  Pauma Valley Ca

Conflict Cocoon…

I was thinking about conflict during last night’s ride. I think about conflict a lot. I go to great lengths in avoiding conflict.

In increasingly complex times, it appears conflict is often around every corner and always straight ahead. If one keeps their vision fixed any screen for too long, be it a 7-inch screen or a 82-incher, there’s a good chance conflict will hijack and saturate their perspective on most things human. Guilty I am.

Though I don’t necessarily see the world that way — as choking on conflict, that other people see the world this way brings me down more than I often let on. Watch people struggle long enough, and their struggle becomes your own.

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Some people have a better aptitude for absorbing and dealing with conflict. I’m not one of them. Others still, embrace conflict and feed off of it. Some even hunt it down. I’m not one of those either.

I grew up a typical suburban household with typical suburban parents. My parents, like many married couples, fought over typical suburban things — money, the kids, household priorities, time, etc. That is, they fought over small things — unnecessary conflicts that sucked energy and life out of the family. When my parents fought, they often yelled, especially my dad. It could get loud.

I have clear memories of hiding in my bedroom and often under my bed when my parents fought. Not that I ever thought they would come after me or become violent with each other — they just yelled. Being under the bed while they were yelling was like a protective cocoon to an eight-year-old. This is where my avoidance of conflict began.

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Bike: Tang   Fallbrook Ca

Don’t get me wrong, my parents loved my brother and I, and they were incredibly good and generous to us. They worked hard to give us a good home. Unwittingly though, they allowed conflict to tear that home apart and our family  eventually died from unnatural causes. They would end up divorced, and I would end up afraid of all things loud.

So where am I going with this…?

My parents no longer fight. They haven’t been married since 1977 and my dad has been gone for nearly 7-years. But conflict still surrounds me, and it still scares me in the same way it did when I was a child hiding in my room and under my bed.

Conflict today manifests in many ways and from many sources. Social conflict seems to be the rule of the day. Be it political, religious, gender related, food related, or gun related, it seems everything we discuss, has to be discussed with some amount of conflict.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer   Oceanside Ca

In my own life, and in my human relationships, there is almost never conflict. I have built my life that way. Build each day with a foundation of good intentions, shore it up with the framework of listening in equal portion to speaking, and wrap it with patience and intelligence, and that’s a good plan for a conflict-free day. When conflict does arise in my life, it’s usually minimal and easily resolved.

When I open my 7-inch window to the world though, I’m usually met with conflict within a few seconds — not mine, but I become an instant witness to the conflict of others. It’s like when I was as a child and my parents would fight — I become a victim of secondhand conflict.

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Los Jilgueros Preserve   Fallbrook Ca

I no longer hide under my bed though, to avoid conflict. I ride a bike. My cocoon rolls on as it insulates and protects me. The rhythm of my ride muffles the screaming voices until they dissipate entirely. The sounds, the sights, and the smells of the road remind me that there is much more to the world then the fruitless arguments, the chest thumping, and the escalating voices of fools on an uncharted course to nowhere.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 4
177.28 miles
11,400’ climbing
15.0 mph avg
11,801 calories
11 hours 47 minutes in the saddle

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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 The Yawpers. Enjoy…!

Potato Swimsuit…

If those two words, potato swimsuit, seem like they don’t belong together, I agree. They showed up this morning though, on the note app I use on my phone to keep ideas for the next day’s writings.

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At the point in each ride, when I stop to take a pretty picture of my bike, I dictate some quick notes into my phone — ideas in bullet-point form of what I had been thinking about while riding up to that point. I might also make a few notes at the end of my ride.

The following morning, I reflect on those notes and assemble my writing(s) of the day, based on things I was thinking about while riding the day before.

Yesterday, after taking one of the pictures below, I dictated some notes into my telephone — maybe a paragraph or so, and a few bullet points. In truth, I have no memory whatsoever of what those thoughts were about yesterday.

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps…

When I checked my app this morning, the only note in my phone read as follows…

Potato swimsuit

The thing is this — I’m reasonably certain I didn’t speak the words potato or swimsuit into my phone, and if I did, it certainly wasn’t an exclusive deal. Technology though, being what it is, those are the words I was left with to construct an essay from.

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I racked my brain in an attempt to make sense of potato swimsuit. Part of me wondered if one of those words was correct and the other was a mistranslation. Even so, I dictated at least a half-dozen sentences. I even entertained for a moment that maybe I did speak the words potato swimsuit into my phone, and I attempted to remember why.

Coming to no conclusion, I stepped away from it for a while. I edited some pictures, just went for a walk, and returned home to take a short nap — couldn’t fall asleep. I’ve been contemplating those two words since — potato swimsuit. Nothing.

Someday, hopefully not for a while, I will die. It’s my hope that when I pass, the first words my maker speaks to me after shaking my hand and showing me to my dorm, will be a detailed explanation of why the hell potato swimsuit showed up in my notes this morning, rather than the ideas I intended to write about.

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I had hoped to write something deep, philosophical, or meaningful this morning. That is always my intention on Sundays.

I might have been thinking about why Epictetus and Seneca left veganism. I might have been thinking about corruption with the International Olympic Committee. It’s possible I was wondering if dogs contemplate what we are thinking. I dunno.

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Bike: Cortez The Killer…

No matter how much I twist them, turn them, or rearrange them though, potato swimsuit adds up to none of that. It could’ve been great — a homerun essay, but it is this — potato swimsuit.

Hopefully, I’ll be taking better notes in the week to come. In the meantime, here are some pretty pictures from my walks and from my rides from this week past.

#potatoswimsuit

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers..

Bikes ridden: 4
Bikes purchased: 1
174 miles
9,200’ climbing
15.1 mph avg
11:29 in the saddle

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Bike: Bella…

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 Doc Neeson and The Angels. Enjoy…!

Play As Our Essence…

Inventory the obituaries of your local paper for a few weeks. Then, correlate the stories. You’re bound to read sentences like the following…

“She was happiest when she was on her horse…“

“He loved the game of golf…“

“She was a gifted painter, who enjoyed bringing landscapes to life…”

“He could often be found his guitar room…“

In fact, if one were to correlate 100 obituaries and extract the first descriptions of the individuals they’re about, you could easily compile an essay on play, recreation, and relaxation. That’s how we remember those who leave us — by the way they played.

Though obituaries might also remember a person’s business prowess, education, the ways they parented, or the roles they played in their communities, most will be remembered first, for what they enjoyed doing in life.

We will be remembered for our essence.

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Our essence, most often, is what we would choose to do when set free to do what we wish.

Call it what you will — play, recreation, hobby, whatever. When we fail to play on a regular basis, we fail to feed and grow our essence.

Every species of mammal has play intrinsic to its being. Human beings have the desire to play more than any other mammal, and yet we’re the only ones — THE ONLY ONES who work hard at thwarting our inherent playful instinct.

This has always confused me.

We have an innate desire to play, yet many of us get caught up in playing Whack-A-Mole all day long, striking at things that matter so much less than feeding our soul. And what gets lost when our energies are diverted this way…?

Play is where we best know freedom. Very often, play is when we best know joy. Play this where we can do our best thinking. Play is where friendships and relationships nourish and grow. Play is what gets us through the hard stuff.

Yesterday, after one of the most challenging work weeks I’ve had in a while, I got to play. I played bicycle with a couple friends from Colorado, who also got to play bicycle yesterday.

We rode. We talked some, and we stayed quiet even more. We picked fresh citrus. We ate tacos. We pushed our bodies. We came home, ate some more, relaxed and watched a movie, and then retired early, exhausted from our play day. When I woke up this morning, my first thoughts were of doing it again today.

And then I learned the sad news of a friend of a friend taking his own life. Last week, I learned of the adult daughter of a friend of mine taking her own life. So when I make play priority in my life, it’s because I know the stronger my essence, the less influence the puppets of another ilk will have in perpetrating lesser thoughts in my head.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
46 miles
2,400’ climbing
13.0 mph avg
2,800 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Tell Mama, by Janis Joplin

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 Janis Joplin. Enjoy…!

Tiny Rolling House…

Headed north into Riverside County yesterday. A 26-mile out-and-back for some quick climbing, good vistas, and a fun stretch of downhill switchbacks dropping into Temecula, where I can often glide upwards of 45-50 mph on a good day, though I only hit 38 yesterday.

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The only hiccup on my way out of town occurred about a mile from my house. A man in a white pickup-truck with scraggly hair and a beard that wasn’t even trying to be kept, flagged me down because he needed help. This was on E. Mission Rd. headed towards I-15. Normally I don’t get off my bike, even for friends, but when somebody needs help, that’s a no brainer.

“Hey man, do you know where the weed store is…?“ He asked.

Huh…? Feedstore…? I replied. I’m deaf in my left ear and I really thought he said feedstore.

“No! The weeeeeeed store, man…!”

Oh, I said, it’s in that building over there. I pointed in the direction of the only commercial building nearby, assuming it was somewhere in there, though I honestly had no idea where it was. I just wanted to get back on the road. I hope he found his weed. I found hillsides covered with wildflowers that would serve me just as well, probably better.

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I was thinking about used motorhomes for much of my ride. I almost bought one two nights ago, and I mean, I almost bought one. An ‘86 Winnebago with 32,000 original miles on it, in pristine shape, for only 6K. This was my dream house. I opted not to pursue this one, but the fact I am looking at and considering them more frequently — daily, confirms to myself that I really am getting closer.

When I do buy one — a used motorhome, it isn’t going to be for weekend recreation or as a desert, beach, or mountain toy. This rolling tiny house I’m searching for, which I have not bought yet, will be my forever home.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I plan on living in a small motorhome for an extended period once I get into retirement or semi-retirement. A minimalist for much of my adult life, and now in my late 50s, I’m beginning to see the headlights at the end of the tunnel. In an unstable world with an ever-changing economy, a house that is suitable to live in, that also gets 20 miles per gallon, is my kinda house.

I have no intention though, of going to grand or pursuing anything fancy — spending $50,000 or more on such a thing. When that day comes when I do make the purchase, I want to be able to pay cash for it. Not having any debt is a big part of my retirement plan. I will make sure that it is in good condition, has been well-maintained, and ensure that I continue to maintain it well once it becomes mine.

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Though tiny houses are now all the rage, the ridiculousness of how complicated they are becoming increases each year. Hint: if you require granite countertops for your tiny house, you’ve missed the point of tiny house. Besides, I’ve done the math 100-times over, it makes much more sense for me to live in a small motorhome than in a tiny house.

I grew up fascinated by the story of Dorian Paskowitz, the Stanford educated physician and surfer, who along with his wife, raised nine children in a series of pickup-truck campers, at the San Onofre beach here in Southern California, among many other places they traveled in those campers. To me, Doc Paskowitz is the patron saint of minimalism.

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So when I ride up and down these roads each day, occasionally glancing up at the  exaggerated tract homes, the million dollar homes, and the weekend motorhomes that are often in those driveways, and as glance into traffic, occasionally seeing an old motorhome from the 70s or 80s, and one that’s in good condition, my eyes light up. I think to myself, someday that’s gonna be me — that’s my dream house.  And of course, I’m talking about the old motorhomes, not the huge houses up on the hills. I’ll just have to figure out how to store 6 or 8 bikes in or on it.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…
Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
25.5 miles
1,900’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
1,700 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Delta Dawn, by Tanya Tucker.

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 Tanya Tucker. Enjoy…!

Spontaneous Involvement And Being Consistently Consistent…

Out early yesterday, a bit cold, and with a severe time-change hangover. Hard ride. Fun ride. When I got back I sat down on the sofa for just a minute to dry my face and take off my shoes, and I fell asleep for nearly an hour. When I woke up, I was starving. I dropped my mother off at the local Dollar Tree, walked four doors down and ate Thai food alone at Thai Thai. I had the #54 — The Vegetable Lover’s Delight, with extra tofu for protein.

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps

I was thinking about Dale Webster yesterday while I was riding, but the truth is, I think about Dale Webster every day of my life, whether I’m riding, writing, praying, walking or doing anything ritualistically.

For about 15 minutes in 2003, Dale Webster became famous for something he worked over 40-years to accomplish. In Bruce Brown’s movie, Step Into Liquid, Brown dedicated a segment of the film to Webster’s quest to surf every day of his life, catching at least 3 waves per day, between the two Septembers in his lifetime which would each have (5) Sundays in them. The first of those two Septembers was in 1975.

Webster eventually fulfilled that objective in September of 2015 and surpassed it by a month, until kidney stone surgery kept him out of the water in October of 2015. Webster surfed every day of his life between those two Septembers, catching at least three waves per day, for 40-years.

In the movie, Webster offered the most striking sentence I’ve ever heard…

“Surfing is the ultimate spontaneous involvement in a natural medium…”

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Dale Webster surfed every day for over 40 years…

Though Dale Webster and I have never met, he’s been with me on every ride, hike, or workout since I first became aware of his story in an issue of Surfer’s Journal back in the early 1980s. He’s been with me for a couple of reasons…

One: I attempt to ride every day, at least 20-miles per day, and more when time permits. In 2018 I road 359 of the 365 days.

Two: Although pavement isn’t a natural medium, the “spontaneous involvement” of cycling is the hook for me.

Every ride is a little different. Each ride requires me to think and act quickly, and often to do so in an instant. Cars, objects in the road, and even pieces of broken truck tire flying through the air and past my head, require me to act quickly. Riding brings me joy and keeps me on my toes — simultaneously.

Not withstanding, the different hills, different routes I choosee, the different scenery, different conditions, and the joy I find each time I speed downhill at 40 or 50 miles per hour. And riding takes place outdoors, so pavement notwithstanding, I’m in somewhat of a natural medium.

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Thai-ing one on, post-ride…

More to the point though, Dale Webster should be the global poster child for consistency in anything — the worldwide ambassador of no excuses. He should be an inspiration to anyone, young or old, male or female, athletic or artistic, who wishes to accomplish any goal or activity  requiring consistency.

I’m certain that had I not been familiar with Webster’s story for so much of my adult life, I probably would’ve skipped a lot more hikes, a lot more workouts, and a lot more rides. I’m not sure I would write every day, pray every day, or observe any of my other daily rituals, without Webster’s influence. Dale Webster is a name and a story  we should all be more familiar with.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
32 miles
1,500’ climbing
16.4 mph avg
2,100 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: Back Door Man, by Soul Asylum and Iggy Pop

No Need To Duck, It’s Only A Slow Moving Watermelon…

I’m very big on firsts. That is, I value the idea of participating in things that have never happened before — in the history of mankind. I think I’ve participated in a few, and yesterday‘s ride might have added one to the list.

Approximately 3/4s of the way through an otherwise ordinary ride on another beautiful day in Fallbrook California, a 1990s Saturn station wagon full of teen boys passed me slowly from behind. The car was gold in color and weathered. There were two boys in the front seat and two more in back. Seeing their profiles in my peripheral vision as they pulled along side of me, each one looked like a skinny Muppet.

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Bike: Bomer The Kreeps   Took a break on some outdoor furniture…

As one might expect with a car full of kids, the thumping of heavy bass announced their presence to me 30 or 40 yards before they pulled along side. The smell of weed leaking from the car’s open windows might have been enough to distinguish them in my mind and amuse me for the next hour or so while I pedaled onward, but there was more. Much more.

How I will remember them, why will I remember them, and what it was that will distinguish them in my mind as co-perpetrators of a unique moment in human history, unfolded in an instant as they passed me. I will remember them for the rest of my life, for the moment they attempted to and failed, to chuck a watermelon at me through the car window.

Worth repeating: They attempted to throw a watermelon through a car window at a cyclist, me, as they drove past.

Depending on how you define human beings, we’ve been around for roughly 500,000 years. In that time, approximately 100 million human beings to have ever lived. Among those people and within that time, I’ll suggest I’m the first person to ever be the target of an attempted watermelon tossing and subsequent failure, by a car full of stoners.

I was not only the witness, I was the cyclist.

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Early birds…

I’ve had bottles thrown at me before, been honked at, yelled at, and have even had cars intentionally swerve in my direction to scare me. I’ve had a drunk guys in pickup trucks challenge me to pull over and fight them. In these instances, I usually experience some combination of frustration, rage, or disappointment in my fellow man. I’ve had interruptions like this not only ruin my ride, but ruin my day.

However, to see four stoned teenagers in a ratty, smoke filled car, fail in attempting to throw a watermelon out the window at me, absolutely made my day, and will probably be the highlight of my riding in calendar year 2019.

Why they were driving with a watermelon, and why they were willing to sacrifice it, I have no idea. But they did. Perhaps they were running an errand for mom, and just didn’t give a crap — they felt simple amusement was worthy of dumping mom’s fruit. Maybe they had bought it to plug, fill with grain alcohol, and serve at a party later in the evening. I’ll probably never know.

The watermelon did make it out the window, but barely. They giggled as the melon hit the pavement, yelled someone unintelligible words in my direction in their Wayne and Garth voices, and sped away. For those who may question the validity of this story, the remains can be seen on somewhere in the vicinity of Gird Road and Lake Trees drive here in Fallbrook.

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Fallbrook California: The  most beautiful community in America…

In a small town, I’m confident I will see this car again, and some combination of these boys. When I do, I’m going to offer to buy them lunch at Taco Bell, to thank them, because I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of the story, and for many years.

It may be possible that in some region of China, Idaho, Portugal, or on the North Island of New Zealand, that other stoned boys driving a beat up Saturn station wagon also attempted to chuck a watermelon at a cyclist as they passed him by. If it has happened somewhere else, forgive the momentary grandeur. Until it gets proven to me that it has happened, I’m going to assume that yesterday I participated in another first in human history.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Yesterday’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
25 miles
1,050’ climbing
16.9 mph avg
1,600 calories
Yesterday’s earworm: One More Time, by Redbone

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 Redbone. Enjoy…!