Life Wish…

It happens every so often. Usually I sense it a few seconds and a few yards prior.

I’m currently on track to ride just over 7,500 miles this year. I spend roughly 90-minutes each day on my bike, seven days per week.  I’ve missed only 3 days since March.

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An average week…

I’m one of the safest riders I know. I ride to the inside of my lane as much as I can. I wear bright colors and my bike is well lit, even in the daytime. I never take unnecessary chances, never wear earbuds, and continually maintain awareness of what’s behind me, beside me, and ahead of me.

It happens every so often. There are certain places along the way where I have almost come to expect it to happen.

Yesterday, as I was concluding a 26-mile ride, most of which took place in the dark.  I was enjoying a sunrise for the ages as I was in the final mile headed home, gliding at approximately 20 mph. I was on Main Avenue headed north, approaching the intersection of Main and Aviation.

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Blues At Sunrise…

It happens every so often. When it does, it is almost always at the intersection of Main and Aviation.

For those making a right turn from Aviation onto Main, there must be a sign that reads…

Don’t Stop!

Accelerate Through The Turn!

And For God’s Sake,

Don’t Look To The Left!

There must be a sign like that, there’s gotta be.

In the 15-years but I’ve been riding in Fallbrook, I’ve had more close calls at that intersection than any place else. Most often, I anticipate and see them ahead of time, and slow down with plenty of room to spare. That doesn’t stop me though, from screaming at the top of my lungs and shouting curse words so loud that people in Oxnard can hear me.

It happens every so often. When it does, it reinforces the confidence I have in my defensive riding skills.

So yesterday, as I was on Main, gliding toward Aviation and saw the gray, older model Nissan Sentra approaching the STOP sign, I pulled in my breaks just a little bit to slow down. As I saw the car slowing down, I released my brakes and continued to glide.

I usually don’t let my guard down like that.

As I regained my speed, the woman driving the Sentra accelerated through the turn without looking left. She actually gunned it.

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1800 Lumen. 16-hour lifespan

As I processed this in fractal seconds, I realized I was finally going to get hit by a car full-on for the very first time.

I squeezed up both brake levers as evenly as possible.

It happens every so often. When it does, my voice gets loud quickly and my language gets offensive.

Though I don’t remember doing it, I must have screamed loud enough to get her attention. I remember seeing her finally look to the left and hit her brakes. As her car came to a stop my bike came to a stop also, with my front tire barely pressing into her driver’s side door.

I immediately laid my bike down and prepared to punch my hand through her driver’s side window — as an attention getter, and I’m certain I would’ve done it had she not taken off, but she took off.

I continued screaming and cursing at the top of my lungs as I chased her down the Main. After 30 strides or so, I turned, walked back, righted and mounted my bike, and finished the final mile of an otherwise glorious ride.

This was the closest call I’ve ever had. If I had been 5-feet further along, she would have hit me with the front of her car and I would have flown. There’s no telling what condition my body would have been in.

When I tell people things like this happen, and that it’s part of the risk of daily riding, they often ask or assume that I have a death wish.

I do not have a death wish I have a life wish.

Up until that moment, I had ridden over 20-miles in the dark.  I hadn’t seen coyotes, low-flying owls, and seen the campfires of the homeless people living in the San Luis Rey riverbed. I was enjoying an amazing sunrise, and I was gliding all the while.  My heart was floating.

Few things breathe life into me more than the sites, the sounds, and the smells of the communities that I ride through each day.

This is what I live for.

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That there is an inherent risk of injury or even death that goes along with this feeling of life, I can’t deny. On the half-dozen or so courses I ride each week, there are at least five permanent markers — memorials to bikers who have been hit and killed by cars. I always look at them to honor them as I ride by. So it’s always on my mind — the risks within the joy.

It happens every so often. But the alternative is to crawl into coffin and wait, and I’m just not wired that way, so I continue to ride… Jhciacb

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To Burst Or To Evaporate…

Ups And Downs…

A half-dozen times a day I step back, amazed and in wonder of just how rich my life is. I’m so full of stoke I could burst. But that doesn’t stop me from wishing I didn’t exist, at least a few times per day.

If that statement seems harsh and inconsistent, forgive me. That’s just what it’s like inside my head — all day long. Life is amazing — until I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and depressed —most often due to external circumstances, then I wish I wasn’t.

In those tense moments when the shelf over the clothes dryer collapses at the worst possible time, when somebody’s ignorance or hatred surfaces when I’m least expecting it, or when depression or sadness make unscheduled appearances, wishing I didn’t exist is the fantasy that gets me through them.

In-between those moments though, my life is flippin’ glorious. Any middle ground between the two, in case you are wondering, is scarce.

Yesterday morning, while many were sleeping in, I was happy to the point of tears. I had ridden my bike 20+ miles on a crisp but promising Southern California morning. I rode past a 100-year-old bridge, alongside picturesque vineyards, and up a couple of breathtaking vistas. I saw avocado groves, citrus orchards, and miles of tomato fields. Between the distant rising sun and my front tire, a beautiful coyote appeared then vanished in an instant.

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I wasn’t just in awe of my surroundings though, I was stoked at my ability to ride my bike through them — up steep hills  to subsequently glide down in joy while most around me still slept. When I got off my bike, I felt a high that could compare to no drug. It was the sum of freedom, accomplishment, and beauty, all rolled into a tidy moment. Ushering each week in this way is a ritual I would have a hard time giving up.

After my ride, and as I was prepping for the rest of the day, a growing series of disturbances began to get the better of me. Scrolling through the headlines didn’t help. Then a slew of unexpected and urgent emails paralyzed me, if only for a moment.  People say the darndest things when they think they can get away with it.  That was just after another crown on one of my teeth broke — just before a client was to walk in.

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Ebbs and flows…

Despite that there was so much wonder in my morning, so much beauty, and so much stoke, there were also those frustrations, fears, insecurities, apprehensions, and those all-too-often unexpected circumstances. When the contemplating gets tough, the tough just want to disappear — not to die, but evaporatng into the clouds sure would be nice some days.

If I were to tally it all up, in earnest, my life falls much more on the glorious and exhilarating side, than it does on the side of wishing I didn’t exist —that’s why I’m still here.

And please, make the distinction between being suicidal and not wanting to exist. When I don’t want to exist, it’s because I’m involved in a circumstance, emotion, or some combination of those that I just want out of. Not existing, seems so easy.

Some might suggest there’s a mood disorder at work here or something deeper. Maybe. Perhaps it’s just the Gemini in me. I dunno .

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I love my life and many times a day I just want to burst with joy and shower the world with my stoke. But there are times when I just want to disappear. Perhaps knowing both of these each and every day is what makes me human, and in some strange way confirms my existence…. Jhciacb

If  you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. 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 is this from Lonnie Mack.  Enjoy…

Miss Perception…

…it’s not a beauty queen…

Monday through Friday I ride my bike through 10 miles of mixed Hills every morning just after sunrise.  It’s a full-on sprint. Each outing I ride at roughly 95% of my highest capacity for that course.

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On Sundays though, I ride a flat round-trip of 26 miles from Bonsall to Ocenaside, ending at the water’s edge where I take a moment to honor the sea before I turn back inland. My Sunday ride is not a sprint, just a steady pace in an enjoy the scenery kinda way..

For the 20 months or so since I have been using this protocol, one inconsistency has stood out on my flat, 26-mile Sunday ride, yet I had not figured out the reason for this inconsistency until a few days ago.

Despite that my route to the coats is flat, and that the wind is usually at my back, my return trip from the coast is always, ALWAYS slower than my ride going there.  I average roughly 19MPH headed west, and 17.5MPH on my return.

One might immediately attribute this to tired legs, and that might make some sense.  Also, stopping for a few moments at the halfway point to take in the sight of the ocean does me no favors. And there is the psychology involved with turning back — the dreary trip home mentality.  So, it’s easy to assume that my return trip would be slower and pass it off as the combination of a mental and physical letdown.

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One problem though, I’m an athlete. I train, eat, and prepare like an athlete, especially before my Sunday morning ride.  To my way of thinking, there’s no reason that my 13 miles coming back should be any slower than my 13 miles getting there. In fact, the wind is usually against me headed to the coast, and at my back on my return.  Still, I’m always slower on my coming back.

And equal distance. A flat ride. Proper nutrition prior to riding.  The wind in my favor on the return. So, why am I always slower on the way back…?

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Perception. Or should I say, misperception…?

You see, my flat ride is it really flat. I start at roughly 300 feet above sea level, and I end at sea level. Only now, after 20-months of riding this route, have paid attention to my GPS data.  Now 300-feet of an elevation change over 13 miles is almost invisible. To look at this bike trail at any point along the way, it appears flat.

But it isn’t flat, and 300 feet of climbing, even if it’s over 13 miles, will impact cyclists of any level, and I am only an intermediate cyclist.  This 300-feet climbing costs me about -1.5MPH on my return.

Of course this has nothing to do with cycling, and everything to do with human perception.

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For 20-months I have assumed this ride was flat – – and it is never been flat. And that, THAT makes me wonder what other assumptions I make all day long that are incorrect or that am completely blind to …? Indeed… Jhciacb

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Flow With The Bummers…

Corky’s #7…

In the 1970s, after his career concluded, surfer Corky Carroll, espoused a dozen or so rules for living.  Rules from the perspective of surf culture that he felt, if followed, would help one better survive in a chaotic world.  Though I cannot find a single record of these rules, I remember rule #7 by heart, and it has done more to guide my adult life than the Ten Commandments and The Golden Rule combined…

Corky’s rule #7:  Flow With The Bummers

The absence of a Thou Shalt before it, makes it all the more agreeable.

Stick It To Me…

Life can be a lot like opening a cheese stick – it rarely goes how it should.  Cheese sticks are sealed in plastic, with the two plastic ends at the top loosely separated to be pulled apart.  Most often though, separating the two tear-away pieces of plastic takes more work than it should, and rarely ends well.  However, for those like me who have the tendency to block out past struggles, relying on the built-in method to open a cheese stick is always seen as the best option.

So, with one of the plastic ends pinched between my thumb and index finger, the other hand doing the same thing with opposite plastic end, and with the body of the cheese stick floating in limbo, I’ll pull the plastic ends apart, and it almost always tears before the full cheese stick is exposed.  Crap.

At this point, there ae two options.  One, dig in with my finger nails to release the cheese stick.  Or, take a knife and finish the job like I’m gutting a fish, and risk punching the blade through the plastic and into my supporting finger.  It shouldn’t be so complicated, but most often, I gut the cheese wrapper like a fish and puncture a finger.

On rare occasions, as I pull the 2 layers of plastic apart, the separation is clean and smooth.  The cheese stick in question is easily extracted, and I have just experienced a moment.  I enjoy those moments, because I know they are few, far between, and surely will not last.

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What usually happens…

And for those times which are most times, and when the plastic breaks before it exposes the cheese stick, I just flow with the bummers.

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A moment of pure magic…

A Deep Breath And A Silent Chuckle…

I call it my Sunday Morning Service.  It takes place at sunrise, and it is as holy to me as any hymn, pulpit, message, or messenger.  I ride my bicycle roughly 26 miles to and from the coast, from a starting point that’s a 7-mile drive from my front door.  This morning started like any other.  The weather was perfect – foggy, cool, and no wind.  My soul swelled with the anticipation of my spiritual ride.  My mind was overcome with gratitude as I could already smell the salt air.  I parked my car.  I dawned my riding gear including my helmet, gloves, and my waterproof windbreaker. I took my bike from the back of my car (the front wheel must be removed so I can fit my bike in the back seat), and balanced my bike on the rear wheel and front forks.  I went back to the car for the front wheel.  You know, the front wheel that I left in my driveway – 7-miles behind me…?  Yah, that front wheel.

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Sunday Service…  Today’s Sermon:  Flow With The Bummers…

After a couple rounds of expletives, and a rolling of my eyes into the very back of my head, I remembered Corky’s rule #7…

Flow With The Bummers.

I smiled a secret smile, gently placed my tongue between my teeth, and loaded my bike back in my car for the return trip.  Once home, I chose an out-and-back ride from my driveway into the local hills, and todays’ Sunday Service was inland – and what a service it was.  All the while as my heart raced, my face penetrated the fog, and as my mind chose to laugh at the error of my morning, I kept repeating to myself in a congruent cadence with my feet…

Flow With The Bummers.  Flow With The Bummers.  Flow With The Bummers.  Flow With The Bummers…

And what a flow it was.

I’m So Different Now…

Of course, it hasn’t always been this way.  There was a time when I could go from zero to son of bitch in less than 2.5 seconds – and a time when that bike would have been thrown back into the car, followed by a slammed door, and very loud mother#cker!!!  With age comes wisdom I suppose, born from a trail of bad decisions, busted belongings, and broken relationships during critical times when I did anything but flow with the bummers.

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Nature’s Pulpit…

I’ve never met Corky Carroll, and his rule #7 took decades to really sink in.  All these years later though, I am grateful for what has become my own golden rule.

Flow With The Bummers, people.  Or as Epictetus would have put it, face facts and act accordingly…  Jhciacb

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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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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Style Council.  Seems fitting.  Enjoy…