Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Upstream

        I am hoping to be smarter and more active in 2017. I've got a good start on one resolution ....the elimination of ale from my daily regimen...one or two a week is plenty, oh yea, I like the little buzz but, I don't like the big belly that comes with it. I've decided that it's really an adult soda pop...tons of sugar goes into it's production and you can't rely on the little yeasties to consume all of the calories, so you know where it ends up...midriff bulge! I am not so sure it's the greatest substance for your gut fauna and flora either. Since the 7th of September I have stopped imbibing the daily one or two 12 ounce ales that I so looked forward to after every day of work at the bicycle shop.
        The walking habit has left me too...this one, I vow to bring back. In preparation for the new Labrador that we are presently planning for, I need to restart my twenty year routine of hiking at least 30 minutes a day along the single track trails and double track roads that wander the woods behind our house.
        As usual, I again vow to ride my bicycles more hours this year than previous "non excursion to Europe" years. This shouldn't be too hard. Lisa and I awarded ourselves with new mountain bikes for the first time in ten years.  She really seems more interested in wandering the roads less-traveled with me...this will help us minimize our exposure to the hoards of increasingly distracted paved road motorists.
        The fifty or so newly refreshed mountain lakes that ring our Sierra/ Cascade zone are calling us like never before...the cycling and hiking required to access these gems will also add to our cardio-vascular mileage totals. The rush from diving into a cold mountain lake or stream is definitely worth extra fitness points. You're probably thinking that New Year resolutions are worthless, I disagree...they really do remind me to get my head and body pointed in the right direction. I'll be rereading this little essay monthly.
        2017 will be a year of increased activity for me...no need to sit around and watch... the News, entertainers or sporting events...these events are totally out of my hands....but, I can make a difference in my health and attitude by getting "out there" breathing hard and getting wet as often as possible.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wild Swimming

         Yeah, I know...it's an unusual time of year to be dreaming of and planning for next year's "wild swims". It's all about my personal level of optimism. 2017 will be record breaking in my quest for Bodfish Bingo/ UBES swimming points. I did horribly in 2016 due to my problem with workaholism...and a little reluctance to dip into warm stagnant ponds and lakes.
         Resolutions are due in a couple of weeks and mine will include a record breaking spring and summer of dipping into various lakes, streams and pools of the far West. UBES is the acronym for the University of Bristol's Expedition Society which, on their webpage shows how to obtain points for your brave dips into cool waters.
         Here's the other thing...we have received 200% of our normal precipitation in Northern California, the water tables have been recharged and the lakes look delicious. I resolved three months ago to watch a lot less daytime TV...including NEWS, politics and baseball...instead I'll make a point of   driving and riding my bicycle to many of the fifty lakes within 25 miles of my home in Chester, California.
         I will be expanding upon this theme in upcoming entries...hence, the expanded name of this blog. Passing the mid-sixties in age has helped me focus on what's most important and I've decided that Wild Swimming (which is what we were doing in the womb before we took our first breath) makes this life a beautiful full circle.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving...Another Chance To Give Thanks

         We have much to be thankful for...right now. I am not only thankful for each breath and the company I keep but, I am thankful for the rain pounding on the skylight above my head. Lisa and I have had another year of excellent health and stupendous luck. Our outdoor equipment enterprise (Bodfish Bicycles and Quiet Mtn Sports) is on a roll...great numbers three years in a row. Colby, Emily, Lisa and I have put a lot of energy into making it a clean, effective and happy place to find tools for a healthier outdoor life.
         Our most recent "Big Adventure" in France unfolded without a hitch....no fender benders, no unplanned dismounts from the bicycles and zero negatives from the natives or fellow travelers in the French countryside. Sooo much to be thankful for...we really "hang it out there"...you wouldn't believe how vulnerable we are most of the time, yet our faith in our angels and fellow beings is boundless. We seldom let fear enter into the equation, when it does...we banish it quickly.
          'Keep your chin up, keep your balance and always move forward' is our credo. Two months of riding our road bikes nearly everyday in the demanding SOF hills will whip you into shape and improve everything about you. Would we do it again? ...in a heartbeat.

Friday, September 30, 2016

See-Through Toilet Paper

        Camping in France is exceptionally good. Our fellow campers are from all over the world...we all have warm showers and clean bathrooms...men and women all use the same unit, so Lisa and I often get to take a shower in the same stall...some of the showers are even hot and some are communal shower rooms with six heads coming out of the wall at different heights (family shower). The toilet paper situation is not as good, we don't stay in places with bidets so, you'd better carry your own paper. If they provide paper it's as this as a Chinese rice cake...and falls apart like one.
        The bicycle riding is phenomenal...sharing the road with very courteous and non distracted drivers. Many of the roads we ride are only ten foot wide and curvy so you have to be extremely alert when driving them. Potholes are few, I'm not sure how the French gov't can afford to keep up a million miles of pavement to such perfection. We have been concentrating on the high roads of the Pyrenees during the first three weeks of our vacation and will move toward the lower lands in October.
       Our fellow cycling fanatics are from all countries and of all ages.. The majority of the French cyclists are men over 60 years old. French women are usually on sensible upright bicycles and working on errands. We have rented a Citroen Berlingo van for 7 weeks...it's a five speed stick shift and about the same size as my Honda Element. This is a huge advantage on narrow roads.
       We have not found many swimming opportunities, as yet, but the water quality is exceptionally good anywhere in the Pyrenees. The prediction is for a warmer than usual October so we may find ourselves swimming more in the lowlands.
        Nearly everyone in France smokes which conflicts a little with our healthy vacation strategy. Wine instead of beer, ale...along with bio foods and healthy cheeses with Dijon moustarde on Pave sourdough bread, on top of three hours a day climbing the hills under our own efforts... makes for lighter and healthier bodies when we return.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fifteen Years Later...

        France, it has been fifteen years, to the day (Sept. 10). Our first journey across the Atlantic landed us in Paris. 2001 was not a good year for America, however the three of us had embarked on a fantastic adventure and we were treated very well around the world, for six months, on bicycles. We are on our sixth journey across the Atlantic (2016) and we expect great results one more time.
        We travel with bicycles and the focus is always on improved fitness while searching for the finest cheese and wine and swimming holes of each region. We have no set itinerary, we follow our noses, throw out our camp in the ripest of locations. Yes, we expect to be lucky...the glitches are few and far between...we've experienced a week of bad weather in Italy one year, we had a fender fall off our rental van in the Pyrenees, we lose track of baggage occasionally and now we have a broken bicycle, but none of this gets us down for long. The fact that we pre-plan minimally is what drives our friends nuts.
        What brings us back every couple of years is the courtesy and respect we are shown while pedaling the back roads of France. I have written all of this before and yet, I am pleasantly surprised each time we experience the "love of cyclists" that shows up when we jump in the saddle here. We are more focused in on the "south of France" these days because we can still climb outrageous hills and the weather seldom disappoints. Yes, I know "bad luck" lurks but, we works to keep our immune systems strong and our attitudes topped off so, I'm thinking we have set the stage for another superlative expedition.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gently, quietly and humbly o'er the landscape...

        It's the silence that I most appreciate, the deep breathing and the silence. I work on Main Street, at least 40 hours a week,  and have for the last quarter century. I'll grant you, it's one of America's sleepiest Main Streets, but it's still Main Street and I show up at least five or six days a week. People make demands everyday and I get paid for my services.
         I own and operate a bicycle shop in Northern California and I show up year around. My meditations, in fact, my salvation and rejuvenation comes while straddling the saddle of one of my bicycles...gently, quietly and humbly o'er the landscape. It happens during my two mile ride to work and back; or during one of my thirty mile sojourns toward or in the National Park,  located a dozen miles north of my home and business.
         My wife and I have been known to saddle up and ride into the sunset for as long as six months at a time. No real agenda, just a general direction that needs exploring and experiencing silently and under our own power. It really is about the simple living... and the silence.
         No television, no internet, no telephone...just a few simple tools, a tent and a water filter; maybe a good book, probably not, and our bicycles.  No animals to feed or clean up after. No motorcar to fuel or worry about....or to hide from the elements in. If you pick the right roads and regions to explore,  you too will feel the magic of pure air and phenomenal silence.
         It's still out there but most of us are missing it entirely,  because of the static....the static that is a big part of our waking lives...and I fear that this noise continues through the night, in our dreams, which is why we are so unsettled and not at peace with the choices we've made and continue to make, in our noisy, noisy world.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Beauty and The Beast

        Lisa brought me to a play in Chico on an early Sunday in May, "The Beauty and The Beast". She bought tickets for several of her friends, (she's like that) and we all met in the parking lot of the Chico Performing Arts Center. Before that rendezvous, she invested a few hours tending to her garden, while I hopped on my bicycle and climbed one of my favorite hills toward Lassen Volcanic National Park.
         She said, "Remember, you have to be back in an hour and a half, don't get carried away with exploring." I mounted my dual-sport/ townbike, called the Fast City...because this hill has some nasty bumps and bubbles in the pavement, especially on the descent, and the Fast City has a suspension fork. I climbed for 45 minutes, from 4,500ft. to 6,200ft. to a campground on the south edge of Lassen Park.
         The loop through the campground was blocked by snow so, I executed a tight u-turn on the small dirt lane... for some reason the chain broke and stretched out in a straight line in the dirt below....damn!  I carry tools on my bike to fix a flat or true a wheel but, I don't carry a chain tool...which is what I needed to make this repair and get home on time. Now, I'm going to be in  trouble...if I don't get back in time I'll be considered The Beast who messed up the rendezvous.
         I'll have to coast and run all the way back to Chester. I am used to pedaling on this downhill run, and even though I've ridden this particular hill hundreds of times, I don't recall if I can coast the entire way back. I had cleated shoes on so, I was really hoping to stay in the saddle all the way back to Chester. It turned out that there was only one hundred yard run-up and a few short ones. I made it home on time and parked my bicycle at the bottom of the stairs. Lisa was waiting on the deck and said, somewhat casually, "How did it go?" I told her about my chainless return and just then, the front tire let go of all it's air...psheeeeuuu!...perfect place for a flat.