Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Third Wave Of Off-road Cycling

        This new wave of off-road cycling may be the biggest yet. The first wave rolled in slowly during the fifties, sixties and early seventies. The Rough Stuff Fellowship met weekly for explorations throughout the British Isles from 1950 well into the 70's. Stateside, explorers like John Finley Scott and unheralded others were adapting bicycles for the exploration of abandoned railroad grades and forgotten roads throughout the West. I was riding "bombproof" ten-speeds up rugged lookout tower roads in the southern Sierra Nevada.
        In the late seventies an entrepreneurial group of young suburban men had the wherewithal to weld up a new kind of bicycle for accomplishing off-road explorations and expeditions into the unpaved tracks beyond American neighborhoods.. After a handful of years of experimentation with steel tubes, the money changers entered the temple and promoted "Mountain Biking" into a monster bigger than all other types of cycling combined. Here began the Second Wave Of Off-road Cycling.
       Through the subsequent decades the machine became much more specialized and complicated, therefore exceedingly expensive, (incorporating sophisticated suspension hardware, hydraulics and electrification)....again putting the cost out of the reach for the common person interested in cycling.
       It wasn't until the second decade of the 21st Century that folks remembered that almost any bicycle can be ridden on the seldom-motored backroads of North America.
       In what I'm calling The Third Wave, "Gravel Grinding" has become a "thing" and is getting a remarkable amount of press.  Hundreds of young outdoor enthusiasts are signing-up for organized events that feature trails, double-tracks and dirt or gravel roads. The real attraction, I think, besides the lack of motor traffic, is the space to use individual creativity in designing and constructing the "perfect ride" by using the entire pallet of cycling components and designs developed over the last several decades.
        In our local new event...the "Grinduro"...cyclocross, fitness hybrids and mountain bikes ride side by side without obvious criticism or judgements that were common during previous events structured around specific competitions. A festive and all-inclusive vibe brings a whole new contingent together for nothing more than... "fun on a bicycle".

Friday, December 8, 2017

In The Sauna In My Half-Birthday Suit

        Celebrating and starting the day in my Thera Sauna with my wonderful best friend, Lisa. I'm going to's not a great time of year for those of us who'd rather be naked. In public, I prefer clothes, just so you know. Swimming, sunning, soaking, sauna-ing and gardening however, are performed better without. I don't think this is too radical, but then I'm a Left Coast man...a little different. Skin cancer is a bitch. I've  had a few. My dermatologist worked on me this week...Cryotherapy (freezing several spots).
         Sun is good, vitamin D is good, but small doses, please. We take advantage of "pinking opportunities" when we can...twenty minutes of full sun does every body good. We are not exhibitionists, we prefer to not get caught. Interesting though, in France and when visiting family in SoCal there is no such thing as "getting caught". No one cares.
        Showers, pools, beaches and campgrounds in France and Germany may not be smokefree, quite often however, they are suitfree. The campground bathrooms/showers are often coed/ mixed sex or must be executed in such small cubicles that you must leave your clothes outside and therefore enter and exit naked making shyness impossible. So...get over it or stay dirty, sticky and miserable.
        The solstice is in two weeks. The sun will rise earlier and climb higher in the sky every day. Welcoming back the warmer days of 2018 and inviting us to seek out more dips and flips into mountain lakes and streams...oh, the stories we will tell. I only "bagged" twelve lakes last year. I really thought I'd plunge into twice as many. I will most definitely keep you, I still don't know how to put pictures on my blog page. It's just as well, we'll leave it that way.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Shorter Days

        I continue to show up for work, (75% of success is due to the act of....) however, I am less 'into it' than in previous years. My wife is retired now and she constantly asks, "Wouldn't you rather go on a hike or ride your bike? " Well, of course I would. This next Spring will begin our 24th year as an independent Main St. business. The next time one of my wealthy customers says, "I would love to have a little bike shop in the mountains." I'll throw up a price. We'll see what happens. SF Bay area people are selling one bedroom/ fifty-year old bungalows for $600,000....or more.  
        Follow your passion. Own a business in a mountain, buildings, awesome name, on Main St. in the Sierra/ Cascade region of California for $600,000,  plus inventory. I need to work on the sales pitch a little but as P.J. says in the movie 'Angels In The Outfield' "It could happen."... Some "angel" refugee from the urban craziness 200 miles south of here may read my blog. When you've nursed a Main Street business from infancy into a responsible 23 year old, you know it's getting near time to "let go ". I love him/her still and it will always be part of me....but, just possibly, it's time to wander.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Blagnac Blog Block in Burbank

        SoCal...a different world. Not Baja or Costa Rica or Cancun but warm and comfortable and the natives are friendly. We have developed patterns that have made these family visits mighty rewarding. Starting with hugs, even the dog stands for the family hugs. We normally keep shopping and freeway driving and social amusements at a minimum...driving down to the car wash is our "big event".
         We have a private pool and sunning deck for our vitamin D enrichment and hydro-therapy. We eat fresh and healthy. We do a considerable amount of gardening and house maintenance.   We inject humor and enjoy laughing every chance we get. Foothill surfing with bikes and boots is part of our daily regimen. Our fellow walkers and cyclists are courteous and surprisingly friendly...even the blower-holding yard workers show us respect.
        Shouldn't we be flying off to Blagnac with our skinny bikes this time of year? We actually only afford a vacation every other year...our obligations and limited funds keep us within the borders of California. It's all good, not a horrible imprisonment like you might think. We adore several corners of the Golden State ...our ongoing "good roads" research has taken over forty years and should continue for many more. Is There another book "in the works"?  The answer is yes, there is always another book in the works.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Thoughts About Riding Across The Country

        It was nearly 40 years ago when I said to my girlfriend, Let's ride our bicycles all over the West. Amazingly she said, "OK". We pedaled for three+ months, north and then east and then Kalamazoo, Michigan. We had laughably basic equipment...old steel ten-speeds adorned with adapted canvas saddlebags from the Army Navy Store in Chico. Wool Navy bell bottoms converted into knickers and odd flat shoes (bowling shoes, I think) which we wove into toe clip pedals so that we could slide into them barefoot. Yet, we easily covered 75 miles a day.
       I haven't told her (now my wife) but, I've had thoughts of doing it again. We could hopscotch with Amtrak, jump out with our bicycles for the pleasant stretches and get back on the train for the bleeker portions of the nation. How different would it be? We met many fantastic mid-country Americans along the way...people who bought us lunch, offered us camping, showers, saunas and swims in their barns and backyards. Politics and poverty were never discussed...these people wanted give us a taste of their "good life" in America. This was 1978. Would it feel the same in 2018?
        We still love riding our bicycles and enjoy conversations with new people (we've been Main St. merchants for the last 24 years) but, is America a different place than it was during those "good" years? I'm guessing that they're still out there...fantastic mid-country Americans.
        People respect that you are making your own way...self-propelling at a slow and easy pace. They know how you arrived and they know you aren't going to ride off with any of their stuff, because you are easy to catch and you don't want any excess weight or worries. (I won't be carrying your flat-screen TV from Iowa to Wisconsin.)
       Hmmm...don't tell my wife just yet but, I'm coming up with a plan...we really aren't that much older and I know we are capable. The only drawback? There might not be many wild swimming opportunities in Iowa.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I Was A Teenage Motorcycle Guy

        I learned that it hurt to crash a motorbike. It wasn't so much the loss of epidermal layers that impressed me, it was the fact that this three hundred pound machine just wouldn't take it's own route when I was hurtling through the wouldn't leave me alone, our direction and destiny were always the same... toward the object that finally brought us to a sudden stop. Problem was, I always arrived first...guard rail, back end of an Impala, side door of a Plymouth Valiant, curb or tree. I was a little heavy on the brakes so, the machine would hesitate and I would continue on...just ahead of it.
        In my early twenties I was smarter, in fact, I was a frickin' genius. I bought a bicycle and became an avid cyclist. My bike was electronics or hydraulics or fluids of any sort and it weighed one tenth as much, thirty pounds (a Columbia 10 speed). Even in these early years I was impressed with the fact that my vehicle was of little consequence to the environment (remember, the first Earth Day was in the Spring of 1970). It took me longer to arrive at my destination but, because of this I was more judicious in my choice of missions and I would combine errands. There were numerous new lessons being learned here. My next bicycle was five pounds lighter, shifting and braking were so much easier. Simpler was better...lighter was incredible.
        This brings us to the second decade of the 21st Century...most cycling enthusiasts are adding weight, adding electronics and adding fluids and even worse they're worshiping brakes that can be operated with pinkie fingers...greatly increasing the chance that one will leave the two-wheel steed suddenly when an obstruction appears "out of nowhere".
        Call me a Weight Weenie, call me a Luditte, call me a retro-wank...I think we are headed in the wrong direction here. Somebody needs to call a halt to this Industry-wide tendency to make the bicycle operate like a motorcycle.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Tickled To Be Plumas People

        They say small towns are drying up, shuttered and being abandoned by Americans who want better WiFi, bigger medical facilities and fresh dark-roast coffee available on every corner. Well, there are those people and they are folding their tents and heading out of the hill country in favor of more urban settings. Plumas County is definitely hill country.
        This county is more than twice as big as Rhode Island and has less than 1/50th the population... less than twenty thousand souls, we find it easy to take care of each other. There's always a new crop of wanna-be residents, each Spring...hoping to not be too inconvenienced by Winter, and able to find new cultural entertainments and friends. We moved to remote Plumas County from a vibrant, low elevation college town 32 years ago.
        At first, I thought I'd miss the friends and activities that come easy in a California college town...and I did. However, there is joy in living through the seasons, knowing and taking care of your neighbors. There is comfort in the safety of a neighborhood and never having to wait in line...for anything. Well, once or twice in the Post Office and on a holiday in the Holiday Market...but really, that's it. There is not even a traffic signal in this village.
        I built a house and a business with my own hands here in Chester. We grew a child, established a garden and earned a good reputation without joining a local church or service club. We do worship each day and we work to improve the health and well-being of our community every year. I have become reluctant to travel to the big city as I am more sensitive to noise, rudeness and pushy people. I don't need that type of exposure. I don't want to toughen-up. Let me live my new found fairy-tale of the Perfect Life In Plumas.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

PrimeTime Plumas, continued.

        In my previous entry I referred to Prime Time Plumas...let me expand on that theme. Autumn is almost here. This has, without a doubt, been the hottest Summer that I've experienced during my 32 years in Chester, California. Yet, I am inspired...this green lush water oasis is the place to be. A healthy, wet Winter helped accentuate the upside of life in Plumas county.
        We are physically working extremely hard on the Wagon Rd homestead, as I mentioned last week. Lisa will say, "Let's go do the Juni-jump or... let's bring chairs and a Torpedo to Silver Lake or...let's put our butts in Butt Lake." It doesn't take much to get me to drop the chainsaw or big rock lever and change to my sporting clothes. Also, when we hit one of the area's pristine bodies of water, it doesn't take me long to shuck the sporting clothes and swim like a fish....underwater with swift, cleansing movements, well, maybe more like a frog.
        How much longer can this go on? Lisa asked me yesterday, "What kind of Winter do you think we'll get?" I am thinking...drought-like. Five out of the last six were warmer than usual and I'm seeing us riding our bicycles up the paved portion of Juniper Rd. during most of the season...which was freaky and unusual but,  possible during most of the last handful of years.
        If I am wrong we can always drop down a thousand feet in elevation and ride in the American Valley or the Indian Valley. A little extra snow higher up however, will make the American Valley... Great Again! Battered by fires in 2017, we are looking forward to this regeneration of the "good life" in Quincy.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Reasons Not To Travel Far

        Unusual Summer snowstorms in the Pyrenees, hurricanes popping up out of the Atlantic, financial systems teetering on the brink, airline pilots and passengers getting goofier by the week, a pall of dense smoke covering Oregon, uninformed lemming-like people racing into the smoke (therefore adding to the ridiculous lack of air quality) so that they can watch the sun blink through the smoke. Europeans questioning the sanity of all New World cowboys who are shooting to Make America Great Again. It's complicated.
        We have decided to "focus local" for the next several months. Swim local, ride local and work our butts off on projects that scream for attention...and, go to work at least five days a week. I am even plotting a couple of overnight bicycle tours. The motorized tourists and second-homers have headed home leaving us with space and time to twiddle our thumbs and chunky dunk most anywhere we like. This really is primetime in Plumas. I have rock retaining walls to build, a dangerously rotted deck to replace, wood to split and stack and an eroded driveway to repair....focus local because you can't do anything about the big picture.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pouring Over Maps Of France

        The summer business cools to a simmer right before Labor Day weekend...and what do I find myself doing? Studying maps, electronic maps, folded paper maps and the maps in my don't have those?
        The river drainages of France...geez, we've not explored the river Loire (which starts on the northslope of the Massif Centrale and rolls west to Nantes and the Atlantic Ocean). There are more than a few hundred kilometres of bicycle trail along the Loire and there is a plethora of camping possibilities.  We would be zigging and zagging the heights of the drainage, the side canyons, the mountainside villages. The riverbanks of the Loire are undoubtedly noisy with motorists but, that's where the camping will be located. Ahhh...the trip of a lifetime. No, we are not flying to France this autumn, nor at any time in 2017.
        We must save miles and money and get the deck rebuilt but, I am plotting an excellent adventure that will include miles of cycling, gourmet camping (which is not the same as "glamping") and numerous wild swims....or saunas...or naked afternoons. I can't imagine a better location for all this to come together than France...unless, it would be Northern California and Oregon. Aren't we fortunate? We have all this at our fingertips but, we fly across the pond and find the experiences that we love most in rural France. For now, we plot mini-vacations to wild places in our own backyard but, believe me we are casual-mapping another escape to wild and wooly France.

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 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 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 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 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 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)'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'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 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 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'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 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.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Keep It Simple, Keep It Fun...Part 2

         We have ridden across the continent...West to East and South to North...and then some.
Cycling fulfills the need for independence, freedom and saddle-time meditation. Why complicate that? We are such suckers for "advanced" technology and we strive daily to fulfill the popular definitions of "cool" and "clever". The bicycle is an outstanding mode of transport because of it's Simplicity and Efficiency. Gears are good, brakes are excellent and pneumatic tubes make life almost perfect...cyclists haven't always had those conveniences and cycling wouldn't be near as popular without them.
         Complicating that sensation of "almost free" locomotion has fascinated progressives for over 120 years. Put a motor on it, add more gears, construct them with space age materials, electrify, superfly and  mystify the pedestrian bicycle users..."We can make some real money here." We all fall for "gotta-haves". Promotion and glorification of the latest and greatest products has run our economy for decades, but this really necessary in the realm of simple transport?     Not to the degree that we've witnessed with self-propelled two wheel cycles.
          When pedaling out across the countryside, unwinding from the daily complications of family crisis', workplace worries and world really don't want breakdowns that you can't remedy with tools you are carrying on your cycle or in your back pocket. If you are rolling on tubeless tires, carry a spare tube. If you are depending on electronic shifting, bring an extra battery. If you have an electric motorized ride, make sure it can still be pedaled if you run out of's called an "electric-assist" bicycle. If you depend on your phone for rescue or directional information, make sure you have a small solar collector stuffed in your bag (or seat tube) to recharge your lifeline.
         If you 'keep it simple' and think ahead about your ride (and what it takes to keep it rolling) you'll re-fall in love with cycling every time you crank beyond the borders of your village.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Keep It Simple, Keep It Fun

        I've been trying to explain where the bicycle world (mainly the bicycle industry) has seriously gone wrong. I keep coming back to the same realization... 'Died in the wool' cyclists are cyclically victims of a "motor mentality"...specifically, direct attacks from the motorcycle "schwabs" who are continually trying to make our sport and livelihood, theirs.
        This began a half century after cyclists had been earning their way on the cobbles and dirt paths around America and Europe. The internal combustion engine was introduced to (and fornicated with) the convenient triangle at the heart of the bicycle frame. Indian, Harley (originally bicycle manufacturers) and others locked us in a fume-filled room, tied us up and extracted some of the valuable secrets concerning two wheel travel that we held close to our souls.
        It took seventy years for the self-propelled cycle-lovers to get our mojo back...thanks to pods of Hippies and College professors on both coasts of North America a new bicycle energy was born in the mid-seventies. We had a new secret code...we were lifting our steads over fences and boulders, we were traversing washouts and exploring the small paths where motorbikers were not capable or welcomed. Their bikes were too heavy and too loud and they were dependent upon petrol...we had none of these limitations.
        During the last couple of decades, however, the motorcycle (and technology) "schwabs" are making inroads again into the simple and sacred world of the bicycle. Battery power, fluid charged brakes, electronic shifting and analytics have attached to the perfect machine like Louisiana leeches on a swamp dog. The bicycles are heavier and complicated with gadgets that are seriously superfluous and limit our ability to enjoy economically the freedom that comes with pedaling the damn bicycle down a country lane.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Boy In Search Of A Plan

        I was eighteen and I had to get out...I had a thirst for adventure. I had digested every Herman Melville book (mostly about traveling the South Pacific)  in the Portage Northern library. An imperfect relationship with my stepfather in a small suburban home, in which eight of us shared one small bathroom...helped pushed me out the door.
         I'd applied to Universities in Hawaii, Alaska and Annapolis, Maryland. My good citizenship in academia, not my grade point average, resulted in acceptance to all three directions from Michigan. I was a hard worker throughout my teens and an avid baseball fan. The Detroit Tigers had World Series rings for the first time in my lifetime so, all I had to do was sell my 1965 Ford Mustang and buy an airline ticket out of there....chapter complete.
         I decided against an 'all expenses paid' six year commitment to the US Naval Academy or a period of study on Alaska's frozen tundra, in favor of, a Melville-inspired move to the remotest archipelago of year-around warmth on the planet. Yes, I was running away to "find myself". During the summer of 1969 I found myself wrapping silverware and cleaning ovens between two of Honolulu International Airport's two busiest runways...working in the United Airlines flight kitchen. Hawaii was complicated, I crashed my newly acquired Honda motorcycle three times and met the perfect 19 year old girl, on vacation from the San Francisco Bay area.
        An airline ticket to SFO cost me $12.42 (taxes only) a few months later...I was following a tip from my U of H advisor that San Jose State College had the best journalism program in the western US and he could get me accepted there. I was also chasing "the perfect girl. I got an internship at the San Jose Mercury News and a month later they put my picture and an important fragment of my story on the front page of the 'morning edition' be continued.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Good Times Ahead

       " It has to get worse before it gets better"...who said that? Yeah, like remodeling a home or reshaping a life. We all need perspective...before and after pictures. Well, it's early February and NorCal is having some weather issues that revolve around excess precipitation after five years of drought. Which is worse and which is better? The pendulum swings to and fro, at what point do we decide we are satisfied? Some are never satisfied. 
        I am making a concerted effort at adopting "perpetual satisfaction"...focusing on those things that are perfect right now. My relationship with the 'Love Of My Life' which next week is a 41 year bond. The fact that I have two workable legs, two workable arms, two good eyes and two good ears... I've been concentrating heavily on Thankfulness during the last year or has made a difference.        
        I'm particularly fascinated with Mockingbirds... their song changes so radically every twenty seconds. You might think that they are not happy with who they are...but, I think they just enjoy being every bird out there...searching for excellence in song, the tune that makes them feel great for the moment.
        My advisors in the early 70's would say, "Be Here Now" and "Don't Push The River"and "Just Feel It."  I get that, we are only influential through how we live our lives...not by what we preach. We cannot change the circumstances of the day but, we can tune in to the excellence of each moment. I try to stay with that for the majority of my waking hours...not easy but, I think a worthy goal. It's right there in front of you, the green leaf, the flower, clear water, birds, little critters, blood coursing through your veins....miracles that we witness every second. Take a moment...because that's all you get...fantastic moments.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Getting Out There

        So stormy since September....California, north and south, is brilliantly green. Our Governor Brown wants it to stay that way...he offered token resistance to Trumpty Dumpty in the "state of the state" message today saying, "California is going forward, not backward." I'm not sure we can fight the undertow.
        I spend way too much energy and emotion fretting about the direction our state, nation and environment are headed. There's not much that I can do about it, that I am not already doing. Repairing and launching bicycles back into my neighborhood still feels important and may become increasingly important when gas prices return to four or five bucks a gallon...and they will...we are still talking "finite resource" here. As John Muir once exclaimed, "The money-changers have broken into the temple we call Planet Earth." ...and it ain't pretty.
        As I've said before, I feel like an alien in this resource-depleting culture...and yes, I know that I am part of the "problem". Our aim, as a society, has lost sight of the target....Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All Living Things.
        These green hills and the coming phenomenal wildflower displays and the full-to-the-brim mountain lakes are inviting me to immerse my heart and soul (and bod) for most of 2017. This will be an exceptional year of refreshment, recreation and, don't forget to "Get out there" and breath it in... suck it in with your pores and let it cleanse you of negative energy and emotions.
        This is advice I give myself and anyone else who might be listening. Life is too short to waste the rest of it cowering inside and "grumping" about the issues you can do nothing about. When I go to the polls I usually vote for Peace and Freedom (four out of the last five Presidential elections). Every morning that I awake I celebrate the new sun and I pray for Peace and Freedom.