Trauma Drama: The Return Of Schleprock…

This is what I know, and what I think I know…

I had just ridden to the end of the strand by the Oceanside pier.  I was half-way through one of the best rides in recent months.  It was a beautiful day by the water.  I stopped, took a picture of my bike against the waves, and walked around for a few minutes taking in all the scenes of the beach.  I then got back on my bike, ready for the journey home.

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I keep a workout towel wrapped around my handlebars to wipe sweat from my eyes when I ride.  I’m always cautious that it stays wrapped around the handlebars so it won’t drop into my tire spokes.  I must have been too at ease from the high of a good outing.  I had pedaled less than a mile and was just south of the Oceanside pier dodging between pedestrians with dogs, slow moving cars, and other cyclists.

I have no memory of this, but my sweat towel must have fallen from my handlebars into my spokes.  I was going roughly 20 mph.  In what was later suggested to me as a sudden and immediate stop, I was flung over the handlebars and knocked unconscious.  My next memory would be the paramedics transferring me from the ambulance to the helicopter for a flight to Scripps Trauma Center in La Jolla.

I clearly had a bad concussion – no helmet.  I know.  I know.  My shoulders and hands were in pain, and I had a gash beside my left eye.

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I was in the trauma center for a couple of hours.  A CT scan indicated that there was no brain damage.  I had a small fracture of my left cheek bone and a smaller one in my left clavicle.  I begged them to glue to gash beside my eye shut rather than close it with stitches.  The doctor agreed.  I was released and headed home with a friend who picked me up.  My bike is being held by the Oceanside police.

I’m pretty banged up.  Very stiff, pretty much everywhere.  My left shoulder is hard to move – it’s what I’m most worried about.  I have been on a tear of good riding, good strength workouts, and the best eating I’ve done in years.  I don’t want to see that progress fade.

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I hope to be back at work by the end of this week.  Possibly, on my bike again and in the weight room by next week, but we shall see.

I may be on social media a little less this week, despite that I have a little extra time.  This was humbling.  A closer call than what I’m letting on, and could have been much worse.  Funny, each ride in an ambulance or helicopter grounds me a little more, and helps streamline my priorities.

If there was one disappointment in all of this, while in the helicopter flying along the beautiful California coastline, I asked the flight trauma team if I could sit up and enjoy the view.  They said, NO!  Something about some spinal protocol and the board I was strapped to.  Pissed me off… Jhciacb

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Passing Thoughts…

I’m taking my cycling more seriously these days.  I’ve been taking advantage of the long summer days and recommitting myself to improvements in conditioning and fortitude.  Due to my work schedule and my responsibilities around the house, I’ve been riding early in the day, often just before or at sunrise.  And no, this isn’t about how I pass all the other cyclists I see on the road each morning as I ramp up my training intensity.  Actually, it is about that, kind of.

I pass between 5-10 cyclists each morning as I sprint around the perimeter of Fallbrook.  I blow by them these days.  When I pass by these other early morning riders, I feel like I’m on EPO.  I spy one ahead of me, push a little harder with each stride, and within seconds I pass him as though he’s a mailbox.  It’s as though they aren’t even trying.  Well, that’s because they aren’t trying—not to beat me anyway.

You see, the cyclists I blow by each morning could give a frog’s fat ass about me passing them.  They have no idea what a PR is, how fast they are going, or if they’re going to beat their time from the day before.  The riders I pass each day are on their way to work, and if they’re on one, a bike is the only transportation they can afford – if they are so lucky to get one from a thrift shop or a garage sale.

These are the grove workers and day workers that help support my community.  From the agriculture here, to the aesthetics of homes and businesses, my community owes much of its riches and beauty to the men who ride rickety bikes through the hills each morning at sunrise.  In their denims, long-sleeve shirts, and work boots, and with backpacks weighting them down even more, they ride early because their workdays begin early.  They don’t pedal fast because they need their energy for the physically demanding work that awaits and occupies them until the day’s light fades.  And when it’s all done, they ride home again.  It’s not exercise for these men, it’s transportation.  They ride The Tour De Opportunity.

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In truth, I take no pride whatsoever in passing these men each morning.  In fact, I feel equal parts shame, guilt, and humility.  Shame, that I complain about so much in my life in comparison to theirs.  Guilt, that my life is so sweet, so free, so and easy in comparison to theirs.  Humility, that I am reminded by them all I am and all I have, as I glide by grateful for it all.

Each morning I ride my bike by choice, in pursuit of achievement, thrill, and satisfaction.  Almost immediately though, and throughout my ride, I am reminded just how little achievement, thrill, and satisfaction matter in the scope of putting food on the table.  I bow down to the men I pass each morning, who pedal the same roads I peddle.  They do so for more noble reasons, and with much more fortitude…  Jhciacb.

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Onion knife

See Sections…

Wake Up Shake Up…

There are at least 5 things that must be done immediately on my awakening. Switch on the coffee pot. Open the back door for the dogs. Warm up the shower. Pee. Acknowledge dogs. Pee again. Feed dogs. Step into shower. Acknowledge dogs from shower.

Then, a little coffee, a little Sports Center, a check of the headlines to see who’s dead, and I pack my crap for the day. It all passes in a blur before I’m out the door for my morning commute. Just short of 15 miles, and roughly 50 minutes in duration, my bicycle ride to work each day is a joy.

 The Sections…

Section 1: Temecula, CA is where my commute begins; the only Mediterranean climate in the US. The first 3 miles are a flat stretch along Pechanga Parkway – the perfect warm up. On fresh legs and fueled by an apple and black coffee, the rhythm of my morning synchs perfectly. I travel at roughly 24 mph for this stretch. The air is usually crisp with a moderate to heavy marine layer overhead. There is no wind, and on strong legs I glide effortlessly through the sea of red ceramic roof tops.

When I turn left and head south on Old Highway 395, I have an immediate climb of 250 feet over the next 1.2 miles – not a chore on fresh legs, and a good way to gather my senses for the impending day. With that single left turn, I transition from suburban to rural. This stretch is a series of 2-lane switchbacks that provide a few great glimpses of the Temecula valley as I climb my way out of town.

Temecula valley...

Temecula valley…

With just a slight change in elevation, I’m now pushing into the marine layer that was once above as the mist keeps me cool. Years of geological evolution have adorned these hills with large boulders in captivating postures. I imagine them as what condominiums might have looked like in the town of Bedrock. Sadly, this crosses my mind every morning.

Flintstone Condominiums...

Flintstone Condominiums…

The mist that cools me...

The mist that cools me…

Section 2: After I reach the top of the switchbacks most of the next few miles are fairly straight and slightly downhill. As I cross from Riverside County into San Diego County, I transcend climates as well. The scrub oaks and arid hills give way to eucalyptus trees, some palm and succulent nurseries, and the floral greenhouses along the way – because everything that can grow in San Diego’s north county will grow. The scent of eucalyptus wafting through the fog smells better than freshly brewed coffee.

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This is the easy section of the ride with only 2 brief uphill sprints, but mostly my legs move to support the downhill glide. The final mile of this section is a steep downhill on which I usually coast to prepare my legs for the brief but exhilarating climb that begins on section 3.

3 miles of a slight downhill...

3 miles of a slight downhill…

Palm nursery on Old 395...

Palm nursery on Old 395…

Section 3: I turn right and cross over I-15 before I begin a short climb up East Mission Road headed into Fallbrook. This gets my heart-rate up for a few minutes, but it’s no chore. When I reach the top I usually sit up, let go the handle bars, and pull my shirt up to wipe sweat from my burning eyes.

Crossing I-15...

Crossing I-15…

The balance of my ride into work is an aesthetic gift. The ride is flat or slightly downhill with a few fun curves. I push this section hard since the peddling is easy, but I always take time to enjoy the great scenery that channels cars and bicycles alike into Fallbrook, including the little vineyard shown below.

Strawberry fields for seconds...

Strawberry fields for seconds…

Vineyard on East Mission Road...

Vineyard on East Mission Road…

The ride into Fallbrook on East Mission is roughly 4 miles, and is medicine for my soul. These views, along with the early morning fog are a large part of why I live here.

Welcome to Fallbrook...

Welcome to Fallbrook…

My Gears And Thoughts…

My bike has a double crank set. Unless transitioning, I’m always in 1 of 3 gears. Sadly, I actually have names for these gears. Even sadder, they are pathetic names; My Gear, My Other Gear, and My Different Other Gear. If I am not in one of these gears during the course of my ride, I have somehow failed with my sleep, fuel, or attitude.

Along the way my thoughts drift to the farthest reaches of my imagination, but never are they too far from what matters most — my ears.  A good defensive cyclist rides with his ears first, knowing what’s behind matters more than what is in front. Most injured cyclists never see the vehicle that hits them. Still, my thoughts during my ride entertain me far better than any aspect of popular culture ever could.

Morning on Main Street...

Morning on Main Street.  Studio view…

Still Growing As An Athlete…

Explosive athletes are physically strong for short bursts. Endurance athletes are mentally strong over long periods of time.   This commute is somewhere in the middle. I have always been a good explosive athlete, but never mentally strong with endurance sports. Though this commute is only 15 miles, it’s more than a sprint for me. I am attempting to break through the mentally strong barrier. Since beginning this commute several months ago, I am actually making strides in that direction. I’m pushing hills harder, scarcely coasting on flats, and I speed up for red lights rather than slow down for them.

My ride home is a different story.   It comes at the end of the day, in heat, usually in wind, is mostly uphill, and always after my daily workout with the weights. There is no joy there. It is simply an obligation that I must return in order to enjoy my morning commute once again, but that is a story for another essay. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Sleepy Jackson. Enjoy!

The Elemental Peddler…

Little Fear Of Challenge…

I have put my body at risk many times in my life, and in many ways. Varying forms of exercise, recreation, an inherent requirement for physical for fulfillment, and outright curiosity have been the force behind most of these actions.

I have self-administered multiple tests to the physical me, to better understand the conscious me.  Running long distances, lifting heavy things, jumping from great heights are among the many challenges I have completed in order to test my resolve with physicality.

I’m about to take on a new test of the physical me.  One that will test my fortitude in a way it has not previously been challenged, and will be the hardest experiment I have taken on yet. It won’t be resolved in an hour, a day or even a week. It will be ongoing. Though it seems daunting to me right now, when I look back at our pioneer ancestors, or see how people live in other parts of the world today, what I am about to take on is really quite little.

From Four To Two…

In 2008 I gave up driving in favor of a bike. Giving consideration to my circumstances, and the life I wanted to live, I saw little need for a car. I gave my Jeep to a girl who had just gotten her driver’s license. Later that week I went to WalMart and bought a Schwinn beach cruiser as a replacement for the Jeep.

Great for short distances...

Great for short distances…

My commute to and from work at that time was roughly 2 miles. Only a few hills were involved, I was in excellent physical condition, and I lived in the San Diego area. Not only was this not a sacrifice, it made sense. My commute took all of 12 minutes each way. I rode daily past orange trees, bougainvillea hedges, and was in shirt sleeves and shorts most of the time. This was not a hardship, it was a joy.

Within a few months though, my living situation changed. My commute to and from my studio became further and much hillier. The beach cruiser was no longer a useful substitute for my Jeep. I bought a commuter road bike for the 7 mile journey each way. My commute then took 35 minutes or so each way, six days per week. There was no longer a need for structured cardio.

Better for longer commutes...

Better for longer commutes…

The exertion of this my commute was so significant, that for the next several years I would wake up in the middle of the night, cook half a box of angel hair, cover it with butter, suck it down as though I hadn’t eaten in weeks, and go right back to sleep. Through it all, my body weight stayed a constant 172.

This longer commute wasn’t a joy, but it was still no burden. Six days per week, through wind, rain, and tonsillitis – I enjoyed the challenge.

Home Again Home Again Jiggity, Uhm….

In May of this year I made the decision to move back to Colorado – where I had grown up and lived much of my adult life. I wanted to be closer to my family. Of the many little decisions that were made within that bigger decision, was my choice to remain a bicycle commuter. Though Nederland, Colorado and Fallbrook, California have many things in common, a mutual climate is not one of them.

Nederland is similar to Fallbrook in that they are both small, rural towns with expanded outlying areas, and can be a pedestrian friendly. Fallbrook could get cold in winter, often dropping below freezing. Traveling on bike, often before sunrise, at speeds up to 35 mph, it could be uncomfortable, if not bone chilling.

Nederland gets cold too. Ass beating cold. And windy. On a windy day, people here often park their cars facing into the wind, so the more flimsy side windows don’t get blown out by flying rocks.  I once called my brother in Nederland, to wish him a happy New Year.  When I asked him what he has doing for New Year’s Eve, he explained that he was nailing blankets over the windows in his home to keep out the sub-zero chill.

My bicycle commute to from home to work is only 1.6 miles here, mostly downhill. It takes less than 5 minutes and it’s a hoot.   My commute home is mostly uphill. It involves nearly 1,000 feet of climbing and takes about 22 minutes. It sucks. My sustained heart-rate approaches 180 bpm toward the end. And this is still summer. I expect with temperatures in the single digits, and winds that often reach 50-60 mph, this commute will be hateful in winter.

My forever bike...

My forever bike…

Of course there will be days when peddling at all will be prohibitive. Gravity, snow and ice will be no match for 2 wheels. On those days, I will walk. Still, I am committed. My goal is to get through this, my first winter in 15 years, without owning a car. Beyond that I won’t say. If I am successful, then I can see no reason why I can’t do it again next year. If I am not successful, I will be honest about it, and you’ll be sure to read about it here. Stay tuned, and please be well. rc.

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Sol Cat.     Enjoy!

Roots Canal…

Jersey Boys…

In 1968 my father, a successful business man, plucked our family from our suburban New Jersey home and planted us in Colorado. He did this largely I believe, so my brother and I would not grow up to be dock workers, cops on the take, or apartment superintendents with a 3 donut a day habit, cigarettes rolled up in our shirtsleeves, and America: Love It Or Leave It bumper stickers on our Chevy Impalas. This was the single best decision my father ever made for his family.

Friends Can Be Bought…

Shortly after we settled in Colorado my father bought my brother and I bicycles from a little shop in our community. My brother’s was a green upright Columbia 5-speed cruiser. Mine was a black & white Columbia 5-speed, with a tandem seat, and a throttle shifter. It was like a rocket ship built for and 8 year old. That bike would become my horse, my best friend and my only means of escape until I outgrew it in favor of my brother’s hand me down.

My ticket to freedom as a child...

My ticket to freedom as a child…

Waiting Out Winter…

It was the long months of a largely non-biking winter which made me appreciate my bike so much when spring arrived each year. Since my mother worked mostly evenings as a nurse and my father traveled extensively, winters meant reading, eating, and watching reruns after school – a life lived mostly indoors. Summer meant freedom from that. We lived in an area in which everything that mattered was bike riding distance from home.

I would ride my bike to school in spring and fall. I would ride to the store to do errands for my mother if she asked, and I would ride it to visit friends of course. I would also ride to the community pool nearly every day in summer. When my parents were fighting, which was often, I would ride for hours just for the sake of thinking, imaging or to feel the freedom which came from the wind in my hair.

Livin’ The Highline…

A large portion of my bike riding youth was spent riding sections of the Highline Canal Trail which was traffic free, and offered easy access from our high altitude home to the rest of the community. The canal road, as we called it, efficiently linked our neighborhood with all the services we needed and beyond. As I got older and ventured further, I would learn that the canal road linked a good part of the southeast Denver area – I tested those boundaries well into my teens.

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Many of the best memories of my youth involved that black and white bike, and riding the canal road alone.

Faster Forward…

I am now nearly forty years removed from that childhood scene. I have been married, divorced, and helped raise a kid of my own. She rarely road her bike. A bike is less a priority to a child than it once was.  That makes me sad, but that is an essay for another day.

I have owned many bikes since my childhood.  I have ridden thousands of miles on trails, roads, and highways throughout the west. After a 15 year stint in Southern California, I returned to Colorado last month where biking is part of the culture – it’s in our green and white DNA.

My most recent bike, The Redhound, was stolen just days after I returned to Colorado. I was heartbroken. That bike has meant as much to me as my 5-speed Columbia ever did. More perhaps.

Stolen, or perhaps just reassigned...

Stolen, or perhaps just reassigned…

I immediately replaced my stolen bike with a very basic road bike because I have limited funds due to my move.  I just needed to get out there – ASAP.

A new friend...

A new friend…

Yesterday I broke in my new bike. I rode a good stretch of the trail that so well medicated my childhood. I was on the canal road for the first time in 38 years. If it sounds hokey to say I shed a tear or two as I reminisced, please forgive me. I passed the community center where I swam in my youth, and the cottonwood tree where my friends and I once launched ourselves into the canal from a tire swing. I rode to Bible Park, a place for pickup football, meeting freckle-faced girls, and later on for drinking beer after dark with my puffy armed friends.

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For a couple of hours yesterday, the 12-year old Roy and the Roy in his 50s got to hang out together – they made fast friends. Now that we’ve met, I hope we continue to see each other. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Butch Hancock. Enjoy…

 

 

Misguided Intentions…

Evolution Of My Wheels

Four years ago I gave away my Jeep in favor of a bicycle.  That transition wasn’t difficult.  I live in a small town, and I’m in good physical condition – bicycle makes sense.  For three of those four years, despite said small town, I commuted on my bike over an hour each day to and from work.  I embraced that commute as part of my workout scheme since I would have invested as much time in a cardiovascular exercise each day.

When I began my bicycle commute I rode a beach cruiser.  The workout, riding to and from work on a fixed gear bike, was both challenging and rewarding.  However, it was not time efficient.  After several months I would transition onto a mountain bike to shorten the duration of my commute.  I eventually transitioned to a road bike to further shorten my commute at a time when minutes mattered.

32 pounds of fun...

32 pounds of fun…

As the technology of my bicycle evolved and the length of the commute lessened, the “workout” became easier and less fulfilling.  I would make up for that lost intensity by intermingling sprints and stair-stepper sessions into my lunch break each day.  On the weekends, as I had time available, I would take my road bike longer distances, often carrying a weighted pack to force an increased cardio output.

My pretty red bike.  Monserate Hill,, Fallbrook, CA...

My pretty red bike. Monserate Hill,, Fallbrook, CA…

Paying More And Getting Less

My road bike is actually a touring bike.  I paid less than $1,000 for it new.  It has no carbon fiber, no titanium, and weighs over 20 pounds – much more than most road bikes.  Still, when I have ridden with my serious cycling and triathlete friends, I have had no problem keeping up with them, and have lead the way more than a time or two.  Most of my cycling friends have bikes much lighter than mine – bikes that weigh in the 15-18 pound range.

Most of my cycling friends have at least a few thousand dollars invested in their bikes, often much more.  One friend has over $10,000 invested in her bike.  She competes at a high level.  Most cycling enthusiasts don’t compete at a high level, or compete at all.  Many people get into cycling for the health benefits; to lose weight, increase their fitness level, or both.

There is a direct correlation between the cost of a bicycle, its components, and a lack of weight in the bike.  That is, when one invests more money into their bike, it’s to make the bike lighter.   The lighter the bicycle is, the more efficiency there is in peddling.  For the competitive cyclist, efficient peddling equates to faster times.  This makes sense since competitive cyclists ride exclusively for time.

However, for the common fitness enthusiast or weight loss candidate, riding for time should be a lesser concern, and cardio output should be a priority.  I’m no math whiz, but this doesn’t add up to match the popular trend of investing in a lighter bike.  If a heavier bike is less expensive, and riding it longer will promote an increased fitness level sooner, I fail to understand the investment in a lighter bike as a means of easier peddling.

Notwithstanding, I have known dozens of people willing to invest an extra few hundred dollars on their bike, only to reduce the weight by a single pound.  Yet many of these same people are carrying an extra 20 pounds around their waist.  That math adds up even less.  Losing weight is free, and without that extra 20 pounds of bodyweight, the overall load would be lightened considerably.  At some point, I wonder why the mentality hasn’t evolved into having an engine installed on the bike so one can just sit back and just enjoy the ride.  Wait, it has evolved that way…

For s few hundred dollars more, you might even fit a V6 on this thing...

For s few hundred dollars more, you might even fit a V6 on this thing…

The Technology On The Inside

I am reminded of the many golfers I have known who have come to depend on – come to expect club technology to improve their game.  I often think lesser clubs would be just as effective for the frustrated golfer, if only he would only take time to hit balls more regularly, take swing lessons, and concentrate more on the single shot, rather than showing off what he thinks he knows.  Be it in golf, cycling, or weight loss, it takes effort and consistency to improve.

The quest to have the lightest bike, and the latest in technologies seems to be much more about keeping up with trends than it does to reap the benefits of cycling.  I’ll suggest for most who invest in titanium forks, and who take time to cut off the seat post below the clamp, these values will never be noticed during the ride.  For those who chose to lose 20 pounds around the waist though, that would be noticed.

The technology most needed to affect change in the body is the technology on the inside – the circuitry inside the mind, where rational decisions are made, or not.  Primary among these decisions should be the acceptance that true change requires effort more than it requires technology.

I think of my friend, surgeon, pilot, and fitness enthusiast Dr. J and his bike, Desperado.  No gears.  No carbon fiber.  No body fat.  No problem.

Not sure if that's Dr. J, or Bruce Lee.  Same difference...

Not sure if that’s Dr. J, or Bruce Lee. Same difference…

Dr. J and I once joked,  “It’s called a workout, not an easeout.”   For guys like us anyway… Be well. rc

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