Thursday, August 10, 2017

The "Extra Days"...

        Pedaling to work this morning I see my neighbor puttering in his yard, stacking firewood against the oncoming winter. Hey Dave, what are you doing with the extra days you've been given? "On the water as much as possible but, there are still chores that need to be done." Dave has been a medivac passenger to the hospital in Chico (70 miles away) twice in the last 18 months. "You know, you are right about these being extra days."
         I always figured that days over the age of 65 and days after a medical emergency (especially those experienced after the age 65) are "extra days". When you reach the late 60's your list of friends and relatives who have expired "too early" is already becoming quite long.
        Time on the water (and for me, time in the water) are some of the best moments. The sneaky dips, the ones where you hike to a private location with friends, are my very favorite. I did this often as a teenager. We didn't crash friend's pool parties (in our neighborhood no one could afford a pool) but we did find remote natural locations to plunge au natural. I never stopped. Many of my closest friends never stopped. Underwater sans clothing is one of the best sensations out there....but yes, you have to be willing to go "out there".
       One of the side benefits of this activity is that you become much less self-conscious about your body. Body acceptance, no matter your shape, or your flaws, or your scars... just doesn't affect the pleasure of chunky dunkin' with friends.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Can't You Think Of Some Place You'd Rather Be?

       Well, yes. Top of my list...Wild Swimming and hiking in the high country with my beautiful friends. Yeah, that has to be at the top of the list. Cycling remote roads and trails takes a second place.  Actually, any place that I can roll up to under my own power, that has crystal blue water, that is not being utilized by other humans will find me de-clothing and diving in quick as a croc.  Three 59 year old girls that I've known forever took me on just such a remote hike this last week.
        We started at Juniper Lake, ambled on to Horseshoe Lake, wound our way up to Indian Lake and then circled back down to Juniper Lake's westside cliffs. We swam, we lounged back on hot rocks and marveled at the lack of mosquitoes feasting on our naked bodies. My dreams are made of scenes like this...but, I was wide awake and thoroughly enjoying the company.
        Seriously, we are naturalists...identifying flowers, birds. Enjoying healthy snacks and pure water and being comfortable looking at each others' aging, but capable bodies...is about as natural as it gets.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lovin' The Feedback

       I get more than my share of positive feedback...from family, friends and customers. I am always appreciative. People don't have to take the time to tell me that I've "done good", but they do. I stick my neck out there quite often...were they asking for advice or, did I just throw it out there?
       A customer named Don came in this morning, "Chuck,  I just wanted to tell you, I came in here a couple of years ago and I was complaining about my old man aches and pains...you stopped me in my tracks and said, "You need Glucosamine and Chondroitin." Whoa, what a difference. I'm going to be a young man forever. Thanks."
        Now, I hear from my youngest sibling that he is feeling limited by his aches and pains...do I tell him my secret? I don't think he has ever taken my advise on any other subject....David, you need a regular/ daily dose of Glucosamine...take it religiously (which I think is the way he takes everything) and don't doubt it's effectiveness. After building my own house...from the ground up...I was dealing with many nagging aches and pains. I was only 41 years old...this was 26 years ago. A handful of things have helped me reach a ripe age with a minimum of pain...Glucosamine, cardio-vascular exercise and good shoes (possibly morning coffee and a nightly ale have helped too).

Some Like It Hot

        July, close to record heat all July...best strategy, get in the water. Hike or ride bicycles early in the morning but make sure you are in the water by late afternoon. For me this has meant...climb in the shower and leave it on cold..."the European shower"... We pedaled through the (closed to cars) portion of Lassen Volcanic Natl Park yesterday and I noticed the possibility of gaining 8 big lake-bagging points because Emerald Lake and Lake Helen are covered with ice (remember, 4 points for breaking ice and jumping in naked). I was too afraid of cramping up, we had a forty mile ride yet to accomplish.    
        We have found our way to the big lake a half dozen times this month (that would be Lake Almanor), it's big and fresh and the water temperature is mid-seventies. When the air temperature sits at 90 in Chester/ Lake Almanor you can bet it's close to 110 degrees in the big valley. This is what we hope for every April when we are purchasing inventory for the summer.
        August, I resolve to get in the lake more days than not, during the month of August...any lake will do.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer, Full on.

        It's been two weeks since my ice-filled helmet-vents bicycle ride (see my last entry)...and for ten of those days the high temperatures have hovered in the 90's, easily near 110F in the valleys below here. I actually love this heat...as you know, I am like a four year-old boy, the less clothes...the better. Especially in the lakes. This may have something to do with me being not very social. I am always looking for the secluded beach, in the secret cove. I only chunky-dunk with family and friends.
        Really, no one else should have to put up with the view of my white butt plunging into the water. When it's this hot, physical modesty takes a backseat to the giddy plunge. Even though it's blazing hot in the afternoon I love starting the morning with a sauna or even an uphill bicycle ride. Keep the furnace (body) burning...it's the only way to avoid becoming a 300lb. buffoon...nuffoon for now.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Winter Weather Mountain Cycling In June...

        Second Sunday in June and snow is predicted. I get two, sometimes three, good morning bicycle rides a week. You see, I am not retired but, my job is not that demanding and my credentials must be kept to a high standard as I am a cycling consultant and I have to know what it's like out there in the saddle. Even though the wake-up temperature is 39 and the storm is moving in, I suit up for a solo adventure into the hills between my house and Lassen Volcanic National Park...not even ten miles to the north. For the first time in fifteen years I am riding a new mountain bike (a Trek Procaliber) and I am excited to give it a workout. I'm in knickers and three layers on top, just in case the prediction comes true.
        I'm climbing a trail behind my house and in the first mile it starts to hail,  just little balls, better than rain, I'm thinking. My usual route is a little torn up (logging activity, they think they own the place) so, I take an alternate...it's been years since I took this old logging railroad route. The hail turns to rain, no big deal...I'm sweaty now. Five miles up this route and I come to a dead-end. I know the creek in the canyon to my right so, I decide to carry my new carbon fiber steed,  over downed trees and through the brush...no problem.
        My wife hates these hike-a-bike adventures. She especially wouldn't like this one as the Buckbrush is tearing at my shins and calves. I decide that crossing the creek (only two foot deep here) is the best plan. I'm already wet and the forest floor is much more open on the other side. That same open forest floor is turning white with accumulated hailstones. I'm squishing in my leather cycling shoes. Within minutes I find another remnant RR grade, now two hours into my "short workout" I find the paved Juniper Lake road...only six miles downhill to a warm shower.
       The hail comes down with a vengeance,  it's looking a lot like Winter...my knickers are white and my helmet vents are filled with ice...without my riding glasses this wouldn't have been possible.  I pull into my neighborhood, the lawns are white and the road is grey with slush...oops, I may be late for work...it's going to take an hour for me to thaw before I jump into the shower. I don't have an hour...I'll have to endure the pain of thawing in the shower and get into my work clothes. There it was, my first offroad adventure as a 67 year old...reminiscent of many other mountain bike excursions over these last 45 years...and I lived to tell about it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Getting My Legs Back

        Gnarly, knotted, under-inflated quadriceps (about the size of my thumbs) were talking and complaining to me this morning on our climb up Juniper Lake Road. These upper leg muscles were once the size of my wrists or forearms but now, there is no place for the increased blood flow to go. So, they scream and threaten to cramp and revolt....I keep finding a lower gear, to shut them up!
        I definitely need more saddle time. No progress is seen if I only ride one day a week. I really have to "get after it" three or four days a week to feel real improvement. My wife would have me out there hammering the hills with her every day, if she had her way...she's retired and a half-dozen years younger.
        We go on a cycling "fitness vacation" every other year, to some place where cyclists are loved and respected. We camp and ride hills every day...classic hills that most Americans have only heard of if they follow the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France. We do it for weeks on end, usually about six weeks, this, combined with good eating and disciplined drinking, never fails to return us to a much healthier condition. The deal is...you really have to "want it"....feeling lighter, big airy lungs, blood zipping easily through the arteries, capillaries and veins.
        Just a few days before I complete my 67th year and I realize that I won't get all the way back to how I felt on my 57th, 47th or 37th but, I am out there cranking and turning them over...knees, ankles and quadriceps getting up the hills and down the road. Getting my legs back, it's a fantastic feeling.