Wednesday, December 28, 2016


        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 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 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'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 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" 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? 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 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'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.

SUMMER...I get it, three months of perfection.

        Warmth...steady, reliable ...a little sweaty, days with less clothes and a lot of cold water; to drink, to dip in, to open your eyes in...ohhh, heaven. I think it's the thing about living in a region of four seasons. Each new season titillates different senses. People are suckers for warm climates...after a handful of season-less years, you begin to forget how sweet it is to enter a new season. You won't know what I am talking about if you haven't spent time, extended periods of time, in both zones.
         I grew up in Michigan and then invested fifteen years in the largely season-less lowlands of California. Now I've accomplished 30 years in the northern mountains of California...real mountains, the mountains that give you a very definite taste of each season. Let me just say...Summer is much appreciated. I live in a quiet corner of this 1,000 mile long state...I might not be so in love with Summer if I had to live in one of the urban pockets that infect much of California. The noise, the lack of respect for each other's territory (and mind space) would probably drive me Lake Tahoe. Chester/ Lake Almanor...ain't no Tahoe.
        So far, snow-birding has not been for us...we stay in snow country to fight the good shovel, to keep an eye on the ice dams and to make sure the windstorms don't cause havoc with our cherished structures. Our pipes stay thawed and our driveway remains driveable. We cheat just a dropping to lower elevations for bicycling, camping, shopping and visiting grandmother.
         It is somewhat odd to add 50 degrees to your daily high temperature by migrating to another corner of your same state for a week or so. No other state in the union features this possibility. Snowbirding for a week or so is not the same as snowbirding to avoid an entire season. Well, maybe Arizona, if you live in Flagstaff.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Letter To The Bodfish, Expedition Leader

Dear Mr. Bodfish,  
       My wife tells me that you took her on a week long bicycle tour in 1978. She says it's still the best vacation/ outing she's ever been on. I'm trying to recapture some of the details here. (As you can imagine, I was starting to worry...  husband retracing events of the ancient past). You and her, (We were not alone, there were at least twelve others with us), rode for six days mostly on dirt.        
        You bathed mostly in cold streams but, managed to camp two nights at hot springs resorts. My wife is no geographer, she remembers that there were sixteen in your party, (Whew!) and that you all got naked, a lot...(Whoops) but, she can't remember what roads or even counties you visited. We know that the entire week of riding took place within a two hundred mile radius of Chico, Ca.
        I'd like her to revisit this "Greatest Outing" as much as possible. I'm not inviting you to come along but, I would like you to indicate the route on this map that I've enclosed and please send along any current hot springs resort information that you have.   Sincerely, Rich W.

        Whoa! I'm not invited to come along? We were young, carefree and on skinny tires. Rich, This experience cannot be re-created. I remember now...twelve women and four men wandering the Mendocino, Trinity and Six Rivers National Forest, with sleeping bags, simple tents and a single change of clothes, which often had to be rinsed in cool creeks. I realized at the time what an exceptional journey we were on and that it was not repeatable. Those were the days...just take her to these suggested hot springs and relax as much as possible.....Bon Voyage, Bodfish

Friday, May 6, 2016

Two Women Passing The Bicycle Shop

         It's waaay too easy to get into trouble these days. A pair of overlarge women were walking by the bicycle shop just as I was rolling the fleet in for the day (A ritual that I have performed for over 22 years), Both were smoking and trying real hard not to look at me or my colorful array of cycles....          Here's where I possibly went wrong, I dared say, "Afternoon ladies, looks like it's going to rain." The shorter one snapped, "We are not into bicycles!" I answered, "I knew that." There was a slight pause before she hollered, "What did you mean by that?"           Rude comebacks flashed through my head but, I calmly explained, "Usually people who are into bicycles aren't smoking and they look at a row of beautiful bikes." (Instead of, "You don't look like bicyclists"...or, "you look more like coal powered oil tankers than cyclists.") No,  I was pleasant ..."No offense intended." I cowered...."We will never come into your store." she finished. Awww geez......what's a merchant to do?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Red Meat or The Other White Meat

        I haven't had a single bite of red meat (or 'the other white meat') for 45 years. The average American eats 71 pounds of red meat a year. I saved six bulls or 3,200 lbs., due to my abstention,  over four and a half decades of consuming protein. It's due to a lack of trust, you may have guessed...a reluctance to slaughter docile and unsuspecting animals.
         I was informed in 1971 that US meat producers had not one worry about the health effects or consequences of their product preparation. Steroids, growth hormones, antibiotics and various other chemical tools were used to maximize profits. Feed lots were already dominating the Central Valley agricultural landscape. Warnings of health dangers were shrugged off as speculative and burger restaurants under neon plastic signage dominated busy suburban corners. I remained suspicious and unwilling to partake.
        I realize that it is absolutely not possible to avoid every environmental, elemental and nutritional hazard/ hurdle placed in front of us. We can, however, set some limits to our consumptive behaviors and avoiding red meat was one that I found easy to practice. Friends have encouraged me to sample their wild/ or grass-fed animal thank you, I might like it...who needs to risk prions in the brain from consuming animals suffering from "wasting disease" (look it up), resulting in dementia, mad cow, Alzheimers or Jacob-Crutzfeld .
         Yes, I do consume animal products in the form of cheese, ice creams and yogurts. I know, the rennets are unavoidable in the cheeses I like most. Technically I am not a Vegetarian...or a Lacto-Ova Vegetarian... but, I am not attached to any such labels. I occasionally consume fish and fowl and I am aware that both carry a chemical soup of undesirable elements. No apology...when you are young you set rules to live by and hopefully these keep you out of trouble and result in long life and happiness.

Friday, February 12, 2016

On Two Wheels And Self-Propelled

        Forty-three years ago I decided to share my fascination with cycling with the people around me by publishing a weekly column. I used the nom de plume "Bodfish" from the very beginning. My bicycle adventures and writing about them were my personal I tried to make sense out of the world around me. Mapping and exploring helped me locate myself on the earth and in society. I was excited to share these discoveries with everyone so, I wrote about them.
       The miles covered, the exercise, the heavy breathing, the heart pumping, working through bodily glitches...the chaffing and the blisters...were secondary. I was fast becoming an exercise evangelist, or at least, that's how others saw it. My 'following' has always been small but editors were always hard up for copy.
        At 65 I am still maps, to exercise endorphins and to getting the word out about cycling therapy. At thirteen, a neighborhood kid talked me into joining the high school cross country team. I was never very good but, like everyone else on the team, I ran forty miles a week with hopes of finishing in the top five during the next meet. Running through the pain and exhaustion, listening to my heart and lungs coordinate their pace to promote my goals, for the next four years, taught me that there were rewards for constant effort...never take the lazy option, always get out there, work it and tell the world how good you feel.
        Another attempt at changing the world commenced when,  in 1976,  I invited others to join me on a 100 degree day in August to ride The Bidwell Bump, (which I very nearly christened as The Bodfish Bump however, I thought geography was more important than my chosen "handle")...a ten mile bicycle race on dirt in Bidwell Park. A dozen hearty folks on a variety of two-wheel steeds, raced and everyone won a prize...including the first female mountain bike racer ever, Lisa Sedlacek whom, I later married.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why France For Cycling and Camping

        When we plan a journey...we think bicycles. When we think cycling...we think France. No where else have we experienced such courtesy and love for the self-powered traveler. Another reality that sets France apart from other european countries we've ridden in,  is the road network that spiders throughout the countryside...impeccably maintained  and every one of them leading to magical experiences, stunning views and time zones long forgotten. "Our land is our art," revealed one of our campground/ fruitstand hostesses. The French are proud people...proud of their agriculture, proud of their politics and most proud of their scenery.
        The villages in rural France strive to win awards for best kept streets, parks, visitor information centers and floral displays. When we pick a camping spot each day, during our September/ October visits, the campground hosts are relaxed and relieved to have survived another busy summer season.        
        The hosts are generous beyond belief...often-times bringing us a bottle of local wine and/or part of the local fruit/ vegetable harvest to enjoy at our campsite. They keep at least one shower/ sanitaire open and are quick to tell us about our hiking/ biking and swimming options nearby. Outdoor showers and laundry hanging are always acceptable.
        Once we set up our tent and lock our rental vehicle, we can always be assured that our belongings will be secure and in the same state we left them.  During a two hour ride through the hills of France we often see other cyclists and there is never any doubt that they will acknowledge you and want to converse.
        We are planning a fifth bicycle excursion to France, once again focusing on the South of France. As long as we are capable of climbing the numerous "cols" and "ports" we are excited to do so. As we get on in years we may have to focus on the flatter roads to the North of France. The hospitality and incredible diversity of scenery encountered each and every time we vacation on bicycles in France causes us to happily spend our modest savings mingling with the citizens of this amazing country.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Bodfishttva...Bicycles Are Forever.

        In 1846 Robert Thomson patented the pneumatic tire in France....and this changed everything. Before this time wheels were solid, rough riding and made quite a clatter. Having air in your tyres (as they spelled it back then) was magic. During the second half of the ninetenth century bicycles gained favor with thousands of travelers, in fact, by the 1890's more people were on bicycles than any other form of conveyance in the "civilized" corners of the world, including the horse and buggy. Imagine, you didn't have to feed the bicycle and you could easily lift it over obstacles...and be free of stubborn negotiations.
        Every generation, for hundreds of years will appreciate the bicycle for it's simplicity and utility...the bicycle will live on FOREVER.
        Putting a motor on the bicycle and the subsequent invention of the motorcar, has been a setback for cycling enthusiasts around the world....however, for those of us who can see into the future, we realize that this noisy, smelly, resource-depleting bastardization of the original human-propelled two-wheeler has had it's day and will undoubtedly be relegated to the footnotes of human history.
        There is an undercurrent of love and energy for the bicycle, this most efficient mode of transportation and recreation. We are recreated each time we settle into our favorite saddles above our spinning cranks and blood-filled legs. It is the next best thing to love-making, caressing and cuddling with your favorite fellow human being.
        Yeah, it's that good. This simple fact ensures that bicycles and bicycling will be celebrated forever.  The power of the bicycle is so great that we ride them across entire continents. Some of us seek out the longest and steepest hills instead of rolling through the lowest valleys, (so as to avoid excessive perspiration and toil). Many of us have experienced the meditative value of silent foot-twiddling over natural and even over-civilized landscapes.
        Our senses are sharpened, our awareness of the natural world is heightened...and, unfortunately, our sensitivity to the impacts of our motorized/ speed oriented fellow travelers is also foisted upon us. At some point, possibly before the end of this century, our descendants will once again appreciate the two-wheel self-propelled cycle as the finest and most rewarding form of transport ever developed for land travel. The bicycle will live on FOREVER.