The place to come to wag more and bark less...


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Told You So, Long Ago

I’ve compiled some quotes here from journalists on the subject of child separation at the US Mexico border.

If I seem nonplussed by this turn of events, which is not uncommon in this sense, consider this; I grew up in a home that was shattered by domestic violence. I know the pain of having parents who were not initially completely committed to the idea of having children at all.

But I never knew the pain of separation from a family member until I was unduly separated from my service dog at - guess where- the Arizona/Mexico border.

For the first time in over six years my seizure dog and I were separated, leaving me and my dog alone, injured and scared. It wasn’t until seven days passed that we were tearfully reunited again. This thought remains one I entertain shrewdly, for it’s still unpredictably upsetting.

However, my familial separation occurred just last year, in February, 2017. As an adult and in my home country, I speak the language, know the customs and probably take for granted lots of other things that would-be refugees escaping tyranny and violence aspire to themselves.

Just about the only idea that I rightly share with the immigrants is a common distrust of the Law of the Land on the American border. Sadly, I happen to know the horrifyingly sudden and violent lawlessness that exists along our southern border.

In our case and most certainly every case concerning the immigrant kids, they will face charges alone in what amounts to a wholesale charade of “justice.” Most likely these kids will be convicted and treated as adult cons, living with the stigma and self-doubt only one with a clean conscience may feel.

This is in keeping with the trump philosophy of creating long-term snags for those least equipped to deal with it; a criminal record creates a powerful incentive for employers to justify discriminating against immigrants through no fault of their own.

Now in my early fifties, I don’t mind foregoing the 9 to 5 and other hamster wheel pursuits that have only offered me a slim return on my investment of time and energy. Nor do I plan to run for office though, like Nixon and Clinton before him trump is further evidence one not need a clean criminal record to attain the highest office in the land.

I am a person who happens to have a highly obvious physical disability and am in average physical condition, with a protruding belly that belies my once-powerful physique. At first glance, I’m a pretty easy mark for a rogue federal agent, my generic term for a twenty-something kid trying to make a name for himself.

But my service dog and I survived our ordeal-what else could we do? But we’ll likely deal be dealing with the insidious after-effects of this trauma forever. And I say this as a grown man, able to eventually size up the situation that seemed to suddenly materialize out of thin air. In short, I had every practical advantage.

However, the immigrant families attempting to cross into America aren’t as fortunate as we were. We escaped the situation with our freedom (more or less) and left the horrible place that the Ports of Entry.

We crossed in our RV once at Lukeville, AZ about 25 miles south of Ajo, AZ and again at Mexicali. We also walked across once, into Juarez for some dental work. As pedestrians, we weren’t required to provide any documentation beyond my passport.

Despite current claims that Mexico is the world’s most dangerous country I was hesitant to leave its relative safety to return to the states. Perhaps it was my vague understanding of the macho American law enforcement culture that led to my gut feeling that dancer was ahead no matter which way we traveled.

But again, I’m an American citizen who speaks Spanish well enough to interact with just about anyone there. It’s the call of this cultural draw that kept me going back to Mexico time and again.

But because of the intense and rapid escalation of National Guard troops and other Americans who are enlisted to help this unconscionable practice of ripping immigrant families apart, I am too frightened to return to the border and into Mexico anywhere; I know what I might be in for because it happened once. Only a fool - or an extremely desperate person - would knowingly risk such a fate.

Again, I’ve no idea for what the immigrants who have fallen prey to Trump’s horrible policy of family separation at the border are feeling. But I needn’t be an immigrant to empathize with their plight and to do what I can to support them; only a civil human being.

Given that there is no family reunification plan, and also the different times in processing parents vs. their kids in detention may not see each other for days, weeks, months and maybe never.

I have immense respect for the immigrants who are trying to cross into the US in the face of so many unknowns and certain danger. Being thankful for my own freedom is cold comfort when I consider the suffering of the children and their mothers and fathers.

Those who are daring enough to try their crossing alone are among those I feel for most; it must be the most dangerous and terrifying way to cross for the same reasons my dog and I suffered. There are no witnesses to see what happens.

Some agents have it in them to rip families apart and to put others in chains, minors included. It’s possible that an agent, alone in the dark with a would-be lone traveler and free to create and interpret the law according to their judgment could easily make a traveler a free for all.

Still, I know only a little about the trials immigrants will face on their long journey. But I can only imagine what drives them to come to the Mexico/American border.

Eighteen months ago I spent an afternoon at an open, unfenced section of the Arizona/Mexico border. I was in what can best be described as a dry wasteland that couldn’t support life of any kind and, indeed there was little to be found.

Standing on the Arizona/Mexico border, wondering what the dangerous migration means to those for whom such a trip is a reality. Life and death literally hangs in the balance for even the strongest who have no choice but to go despite the risks.

I saw firsthand the torn and faded clothing lying in the very spot where they were left behind who knows how long ago. A boy’s shoe, worn through A little girl’s old denim jacket with flowers sewn on the trim brought to mind the same items their American counterparts would wear to school, unaware of the horrors the border crossers survived just to be there.

These items were left by the fortunate ones who made it that far. Who knows where their journey began?

Other items, such as quart-sized black plastic bottles shaped like the oil containers on our store shelves here were also found in large numbers.

The quiet, sun baked terrain is actually a potentially sacred site upon which someone’s dreams- or nightmares - hang in the balance. These mundane items are remnants of someone’s final, several hundred yards’ sprint to the Arizona border to what they believe is safety, if they can only make it through. But perhaps the most dangerous crossing awaits them at the dusty border road which is traversed by American CBP- Customs and Border Patrol- vehicles piloted by any agent.

Some of these agents may actually have a shred of a conscience and even a spate of empathy for the immigrants’ plight. But the exaggerated John Wayne-macho law enforcement culture there would never allow such an emotional expression. They’d immediately be labeled as “soft” and “weak.”

The apparent disregard and inherent disrespect for border crossers from Mexico was evident in every way with those dyed-in-the-wool anti-immigrant, pro-Trump agents. I remember feeling fortunate that these men, armed to the teeth with deadly weapons and a swagger to match were not after me.

Those agents I met and chatted with who patrolled that segment of the border seemed short on morals and what I saw as s clear inability to think quickly should the need arise.
And why not? According to them their job consisted mainly of keeping watch for “illegals” attempting to cross using the only cover available; darkness.

Dimwit may be a strong term but I call them as I see them. I left each conversation, which I managed to do one-on-one to hopefully get a true sense behind their thinking. After all, these people were restraining unarmed men, women and children and taking them to detention centers for processing.

Perhaps I’m conjuring an energy from these men but, even as an American I felt that anything was possible with them, no cruelty too great. And this was before I was wrongly accused of an incidental malfeasance by a colleague of theirs patrolling the Arizona/California border.

In this part of the desert there is no cover for would-be crossers. The placid sight, which clearly takes on a life of its own after dark conjured many uncertain outcomes for the unfortunate ones who are caught in the process.

Here’s the most recent quote I’ve found in the news regarding the emotional and developmental disruption for the most vulnerable of all immigrants: Children.

“There is no one-on-one care," said Fox. "There is not an adult who is the child’s caregiver who is buffering that child’s stress and to whom that child looks to for safety, protection and security.”
  • Nathan Fox, a child development specialist at the University of Maryland

It’s worth noting that these displaced and terrified children are facing an emotional backlash that may take them a lifetime to realize the extent of the damage. Anxiety, depression and suicide are natural outcomes of such childhood trauma though each person’s resilience will differ. Still, there’s nothing positive to be gained here.




*Please note that I’ll be updating this post with additional quotes as they become relevant to this subject.





Monday, June 11, 2018

US Presidents: Some We Loved to Hate, Now One That Hates Americans: It’s Time to Break That Glass Ceiling

This evening I found some perspective on the subject of American Presidents and their legacy. It was through the rear view mirror of a man who, given his lineage knows more than most folks on the subject: President George W. Bush.

President George W. Bush makes his Farewell Address to the nation on January 15, 2009 from the East Room of the White House. Source: Pool/Getty Images

In watching Bush’s final press conference in November, 2008, it was easy to see that W’s departure from the White House was somewhat bittersweet.

Clearly, W looked tired, not at all the same energetic guy he was eight years prior after putting the long campaign, with all its demands on his time and energy. The stressful situation that the election placed on him, the “Will we win the White House?” stress is just part of the package.

With the support of his party and, during his second presidential bid Bush had the benefit of one term under his belt to lead the country along the path he’d already begun blazing over the previous four years.

Enough Americans supported what Bush stood for and had begun building during the previous four years that they granted him another four years to move further.

It was late November when Bush made his final appearance as the 43rd US President, back when I still felt comfortable using a capital “P” for that honor.

In the moment I had that thought and all throughout the press conference I was struck by W’s humble expression of thanks to the White House press corps, addressing them not only by name but almost with an air of personal reminiscence considering the subjects they’d all confronted in their own capacity.

W thanked them for their dependable professionalism throughout his term and graciously noted that, though he didn’t always agree with what they wrote he always respected the fact that, like W himself they had a job to do.

It was readily apparent that the press corps had, with the president a mutually effective relationship. It was during the transition from Bush’s administration to President-elect Obama’s, when Bush could open up and speak to the press with more candor than ever.

While no such relationship is without its trials the emotion in the briefing room was one of fond farewell, mostly on the face of the outgoing president, and rightly so; Bush 43’s job was through, his time in office up and a life out of the ever-waiting and watching spotlight awaited him at his Crawford, Texas ranch.

This was his last opportunity to interact with members of the press and, despite how dog-tired Bush seemed he nonetheless didn’t squander the chance to thank them for fulfilling their responsibility as only members of the Fourth Estate can.

Out with the old and in with the new. It was clear both Bush and members of the press had, for better or worse a true working relationship. Personal differences were set aside, for ol’ George was headed home, while members of the press could put a little closure on their work with the Bush administration.

Then they’d focus upon the incoming agenda of America’s first African-American President, President-elect Barack Obama’s and the cycle would begin anew. And away both sides went, to dive in head-first into their new lives.

Back then I was largely removed from the process, having suffered a near-fatal bicycle accident with a car at the beginning of Obama’s second term.

My general absence from the novelty of Obama’s presidency was tempered by my trust that all those in charge of keeping the wheels turning smoothly in Washington, DC were there, working their best.

My how times have changed. The old codger who currently occupies the White House is the moral and emotional antithesis of nearly everything I’ve come to expect from my limited understanding of how Washington works, so to speak.

For the past year and a half, my trust in US President #45’s ability to not only be a strong American and dependable world leader but to respectfully be the face who represents the global face of America.

In fact, the rest of the free world was also sizing up Trump and had no reason to think this president would be different is the reason many unthinkable things. But the sharp departure from the behaved and civilized presidential comportment the world has long expected American presidents to observe is evident.

Today’s president is one that is anything but forthright and becoming.  He is incapable of seeing any situation that he begrudgingly addresses and dismisses other Americans’ plight as really being an opportunity for self-enrichment and self-promotion.

Historically, our democracy clearly lays out its bedrock principles as those upon which the foundation rests. It allows for many different interpretations of American law and, up until January 20, 2017, the day when #45 took the reins of government into office the campaign for self-promotion and its reliance upon a pandering.

Despite our shaky experiences with Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon it’s certain that today’s codger-president has never been seen before. Presidential party affiliations aside, there exists no contingency for handling such a self-serving specimen of a person.

Today’s president has yet to engage in positive and productive pursuits. His blatant and self serving PR efforts are little more than coverups and excuses for his abysmal job performance and self-enrichment schemes.

Clearly, a change is in order, and it’s up to those who voted the current American president in to inspire Congress to kick him out. Up until now, the silence that House Republicans have maintained in the face of their egregiously corrupt president and his Cabinet makes them every bit as complicit in this corruption.

Therefore, American Republican voters who are staunch supporters of the president will likely never change their beliefs and that’s okay.

Unless you were a Revolutionary War-era slave, America was founded on the principle that its citizens have a right to one’s political beliefs no matter the reason; the monarchy the Founders had overcome on our home soil absolved all future Americans from having to face such oppression ever again.

Those who resist do not and cannot possibly support this president on the basis of his agenda or his principles, for this president has neither. He has never had a discernible, tangible plan beyond sizing up options that will maximize his positive revenue flow.

It’s the sort of situation the Founding Fathers had fought against and won. Ironically, these same American revolutionaries wrote the Second Amendment so as to always have an armed militia at the ready lest an oppressive regime try to hijack America’s newly-won freedoms again.

Though America is the most powerful globally due to its economic and military strength, its greatest weakness currently comes from within and at its highest levels of leadership.

Therefore, those voters who are aware that their currency is no longer the musket ball but the ballot box owe it to the Founding Fathers to step up and stop the ever-faster downward slide America continues. Its future as a global leader capable of fighting oppression elsewhere in the world is not holding water given the upheaval it faces from within.

Today, Americans have few options but to live with its current promise-the-world-then-let-them-eat-cake bait-and-switch administration. However, Americans’ current predicament with a would-be authoritarian at the helm is a prime opportunity to re-establish itself as a shining example of democracy.

Overthrowing a tinpot tyrant like trump is something that, until recently only takes place elsewhere; to other people in other countries. Despite American troops being dispatched to these faraway lands to do their work, American voters can reel in their misguided president and restore order to the White House where precious little currently exists.

These silenced legislators, pressured by their constituents will see their silence as diminishing their chances at reelection. They will suddenly find their voice and become agents for change, upholding their vow to defend the Constitution as required by their oath of office and demanded by all their voters.

Now that we’re here, it’s time for voters to demonstrate a grand display of the democratic principles American troops fight to install abroad. From this experience America can prove to the world that democracy will always prevail, and that it can work for your people, too if you are willing to embrace it.

The president has proven that his “I alone can fix it” mentality could never work in American democracy, hence the collective brain trust by the Founding Fathers, not the Founding Father.

America will not be toppled by a tinpot tyrant, but will continue to lead through the civil-minded efforts of the new leaders who have long begun emerging from the ashes of the current American political leadership.

We’ll know with certainty that we will again deserve the world’s respect when we vote in a president who supports America, and not just himself. There are numerous American legislators who can step up and do justice to the Presidency and restore its dignity, both at home and abroad.

Who better to put a truly new and resolute face on women and on people of color, people like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris? We are newly reminded as to what the alternatives can be if we become complacent about who we elect to lead the country.

That said, I say with heartfelt sincerity Thank You, King George III, King Nixon, King Clinton and about to be-deposed King Trump.

Except for being a cautionary tale for civics class students, you won’t be missed once you’re gone; the country will rebuild and restore everything yet again: Our governmental system, our right to believe in our elected officials and that they’ll truly honor the Constitution and Oath of Office.

Our country is not one of “I alone can fix it,” but “We will work together to improve.”

Even if it’s the only positive thing your administrations have taught us it’s that each of you remind us that American democracy will always prevail. So thank you for that critical reminder.


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The King, The Clinton, The Nixon & The Donald: Thank You

This evening I found some perspective on, among other things the subject of American Presidents and their legacy. It was through the rear view mirror of a man who, given his lineage knows more than most folks on the subject: President George W. Bush.

In watching his final press conference in November, 2008, it was easy to see that W’s departure from the White House was somewhat bittersweet.

Clearly, W looked tired, not at all the same energetic guy he was eight years prior after putting the long campaign, with all its demands on his time and energy. The stressful situation that the election placed on him, the “Will we win the White House?” stress is just part of the package.

With the support of his party and, during his second presidential bid Bush had the benefit of one term under his belt to lead the country along the path he’d already begun blazing over the previous four years.

Enough Americans supported what Bush stood for and had begun building during the previous four years that they granted him another four years to move further.

It was late November when Bush made his final appearance as the 43rd US President, back when I still felt comfortable using a capital “P” for that honor.

In the moment I had that thought and all throughout the press conference I was struck by W’s humble expression of thanks to the White House press corps, addressing them not only by name but almost with an air of personal reminiscence considering the subjects they’d all confronted in their own capacity.

W thanked them for their dependable professionalism throughout his term and graciously noted that, though he didn’t always agree with what they wrote he always respected the fact that, like W himself they had a job to do.

It was readily apparent that the press corps had, with the president a mutually effective relationship. It was during the transition from Bush’s administration to President-elect Obama’s, when Bush could open up and speak to the press with more candor than ever.

While no such relationship is without its trials the emotion in the briefing room was one of fond farewell, mostly on the face of the outgoing president, and rightly so; Bush 43’s job was through, his time in office up and a life out of the ever-waiting and watching spotlight awaited him at his Crawford, Texas ranch.

This was his last opportunity to interact with members of the press and, despite how dog-tired Bush seemed he nonetheless didn’t squander the chance to thank them for fulfilling their responsibility as only members of the Fourth Estate can.

Out with the old and in with the new. It was clear both Bush and members of the press had, for better or worse a true working relationship. Personal differences were set aside, for ol’ George was headed home, while members of the press could put a little closure on their work with the Bush administration.

Then they’d focus upon the incoming agenda of America’s first African-American President, President-elect Barack Obama’s and the cycle would begin anew. And away both sides went, to dive in head-first into their new lives.

Back then I was largely removed from the process, having suffered a near-fatal bicycle accident with a car at the beginning of Obama’s second term.

My general absence from the novelty of Obama’s presidency was tempered by my trust that all those in charge of keeping the wheels turning smoothly in Washington, DC were there, working their best.

My how times have changed. The old codger who currently occupies the White House is the moral and emotional antithesis of nearly everything I’ve come to expect from my limited understanding of how Washington works, so to speak.

For the past year and a half, my trust in US President #45’s ability to not only be a strong American and dependable world leader but to respectfully be the face who represents the global face of America.

In fact, the rest of the free world was also sizing up Trump and had no reason to think this president would be different is the reason many unthinkable things. But the sharp departure from the behaved and civilized presidential comportment the world has long expected American presidents to observe is evident.

Today’s president is one that is anything but forthright and becoming.  He is incapable of seeing any situation that he begrudgingly addresses and dismisses other Americans’ plight as really being an opportunity for self-enrichment and self-promotion.

Historically, our democracy clearly lays out its bedrock principles as those upon which the foundation rests. It allows for many different interpretations of American law and, up until January 20, 2017, the day when #45 took the reins of government into office the campaign for self-promotion and its reliance upon a pandering.

Despite our shaky experiences with Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon it’s certain that today’s codger-president has never been seen before. Presidential party affiliations aside, there exists no contingency for handling such a self-serving specimen of a person.

Today’s president has yet to engage in positive and productive pursuits. His blatant and self serving PR efforts are little more than coverups and excuses for his abysmal job performance and self-enrichment schemes.

Clearly, a change is in order, and it’s up to those who voted the current American president in to inspire Congress to kick him out. Up until now, the silence that House Republicans have maintained in the face of their egregiously corrupt president and his Cabinet makes them every bit as complicit in this corruption.

Therefore, American Republican voters who are staunch supporters of the president will likely never change their beliefs and that’s okay.

Unless you were a Revolutionary War-era slave, America was founded on the principle that its citizens have a right to one’s political beliefs no matter the reason; the monarchy the Founders had overcome on our home soil absolved all future Americans from having to face such oppression ever again.

Those who resist do not and cannot possibly support this president on the basis of his agenda or his principles, for this president has neither. He has never had a discernible, tangible plan beyond sizing up options that will maximize his positive revenue flow.

It’s the sort of situation the Founding Fathers had fought against and won. Ironically, these same American revolutionaries wrote the Second Amendment so as to always have an armed militia at the ready lest an oppressive regime try to hijack America’s newly-won freedoms again.

Though America is the most powerful globally due to its economic and military strength, its greatest weakness currently comes from within and at its highest levels of leadership.

Therefore, those voters who are aware that their currency is no longer the musket ball but the ballot box owe it to the Founding Fathers to step up and stop the ever-faster downward slide America continues. Its future as a global leader capable of fighting oppression elsewhere in the world is not holding water given the upheaval it faces from within.

Today, Americans have few options but to live with its current promise-the-world-then-let-them-eat-cake bait-and-switch administration. However, Americans’ current predicament with a would-be authoritarian at the helm is a prime opportunity to re-establish itself as a shining example of democracy.

Overthrowing a tinpot tyrant like trump is something that, until recently only takes place elsewhere; to other people in other countries. Despite American troops being dispatched to these faraway lands to do their work, American voters can reel in their misguided president and restore order to the White House where precious little currently exists.

These silenced legislators, pressured by their constituents will see their silence as diminishing their chances at reelection. They will suddenly find their voice and become agents for change, upholding their vow to defend the Constitution as required by their oath of office and demanded by all their voters.

Now that we’re here, it’s time for voters to demonstrate a grand display of the democratic principles American troops fight to install abroad. From this experience America can prove to the world that democracy will always prevail, and that it can work for your people, too if you are willing to embrace it.

The president has proven that his “I alone can fix it” mentality could never work in American democracy, hence the collective brain trust by the Founding Fathers, not the Founding Father.

America will not be toppled by a tinpot tyrant, but will continue to lead through the civil-minded efforts of the new leaders who have long begun emerging from the ashes of the current American political leadership.

We’ll know with certainty that we will again deserve the world’s respect when we vote in a president who supports America, and not just himself. There are numerous American legislators who can step up and do justice to the Presidency and restore its dignity, both at home and abroad.

Who better to put a truly new and resolute face on women and on people of color, people like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris? We are newly reminded as to what the alternatives can be if we become complacent about who we elect to lead the country.

That said, I say with heartfelt sincerity Thank You, King George III, King Nixon, King Clinton and about to be-deposed King Trump.

Except for being a cautionary tale for civics class students, you won’t be missed once you’re gone; the country will rebuild and restore everything yet again: Our governmental system, our right to believe in our elected officials and that they’ll truly honor the Constitution and Oath of Office.

Our country is not one of “I alone can fix it,” but “We will work together to improve.”

Even if it’s the only positive thing your administrations have taught us it’s that each of you remind us that American democracy will always prevail. So thank you for that critical reminder.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Your Crash Ain’t Nuthin’ But Trash

No, that’s not a typo; I really did crash today and it sucked. Then again, I’ve never had a crash that didn’t suck.

But this crash was special. Besides being my very own crash and nobody else’s it also had all the fine nuances of a good solid crash, the blood, bruising, and pain, topped off with a guarantee that you’ll have to explain “What the hell did you do to your leg?” Usually it’s other guys asking me this. Not that they care, really. They often just see it as a morbid opportunity to show off scabs and scars of their own, as if I care, which I don’t. Unless you have a picture of it.

Today’s crash is proof positive that I needn’t be moving fast to enjoy a good wipeout. (See Fig. A, unless you’ve just eaten, or are planning on a meal like pasta with red sauce. If you’re a mountain biker, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before).

I used to indulge my morbid curiosity with pictures like these, often while carbing up with pasta carbonara. Then I turned fifty, and I took a long, thoughtful look in the mirror… and realized that’s one part of me that’ll never change.

Fig. A “Looks worse than it is…”

As with every crash I’ve known involving muscle powered action, from BMX bikes to skateboarding, upon realizing that another painful crash was imminent things suddenly went into slow motion. I had forever to think about what hitting the ground this time would feel like and what part of me would hit first.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it still freakin’ hurts and that my left shoulder (of course) hit first, taking my entire body weight on it in the process. Such a nice surprise.

But it’s okay, for I’ve crashed many times before and seen my share of others going down, too. There’s nothing finer than the sound of someone else’s body hitting the dirt and, if I’m lucky I’ll hear the verbal aftermath, too: “Fudge!” “Gosh darnit!” and “Heck!”

So welcome to my world, one in which every ride I now take on a bumpy gravel road or on loose singletrack is like always riding with a tacoed front rim (see below).


Fig. B: All riders are eligible for a free, hot & fresh taco (limit 2 tacos per rider)

Anybody who gets on any kind of bicycle, on- or off-road must respect the inherent dangers of this wonderful sport. And by the way, no cyclist I’ve ever seen said “fudge” or “gosh darnit” upon impact. Unless they’re knocked out, of course.

I’m not preaching from my chair though, for I know everyone has their own challenges. I’m no more or less special than the next rider. My challenge just happens to be an unusual inability to keep the rubber side down. I’m sure it’s a lot of fun to watch me crash but, as I said before, to me crashing sucks.

So today, after hitting the ground I immediately jumped to my feet in order to assess the damage. It’s something I’ve always done because I like to be sure that all or at least most of my moving parts still work. So far, so good.

I should note that this crash didn’t occur out in the boonies as I was descending a gnarly, super technical downhill. Not today. Today’s was a classic crash, right in the middle of the parking lot across the street from home. I can actually look out my window and see where it happened. Duh!

And it began innocently enough. All I did was reach my right hand across the handlebars to shift into my big chainring. You know, the same hand motion my left arm had did a million times before with no trouble at all.

However, because I've put off configuring a shifting system that shifts both right and left sides of the handlebars I’ve gotten used to the quick and daring right-hand-shifting-the-left-lever maneuver.

I’m not lazy, mind you. Many times I’ve looked at my bike intending to make the necessary customizations. But then, after running out of ideas (I’m no MacGyver) I say “I’ll do it next time” then jump on my bike and ride.

My heart always skipped a beat or two in doing this right-over-left hand shifting, though anyone who’s ever asked me about it got a nonchalant response: “It’s not a biggie. Try it for yourself sometime.”

Some folks are a natural at it, and then there’s me. Screw my nonchalance; I’m an accident waiting to happen. But I love cycling so much that I can only bear watching others out riding without me for so long until I give in to temptation.

“Damn the risks,” I say, “if I die on my bike at least I’ll have gone out doing what I love most.” The only problem with that thinking though is that not dying makes the near-fatal accident into just another crash.  

Such a crash could be what some riders and perhaps witnesses whose statements appear in the accident report rightly call “epic.” Well, one man’s “epic” is another man’s “long and painful recovery, possibly even following a brief hospitalization.”

There’s no doubt that cycling is a dangerous, even crazy sport to partake in. And anyone who tells you they’ve never experienced the pleasant sensation of hitting the ground is either lying or already dead as a result of a crash.

But there’s also no other endorphin-inspiring activity that gets me so high so fast. Even today, despite the danger and craziness involved I still hit the tame, non-technical trails until I once again feel immortal, shouting joyously at the sky with tears of happiness in my eyes.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: Everyone should have something like this in their life. I believe the willingness to take a chance in order to become better at what you love is perhaps the single best measure of success there is.

I’m lucky because I’ve been granted a second chance to pursue the one activity I still know best and love most. Granted, I don’t get to compete any longer and I will probably carry the resentment I feel about that into my grave.

It’s my cross to bear and, admittedly I’m not always gracious about it. But I try my best and that’s all I can ever ask of myself.

An oversimplification, perhaps but if you’re still reading this it’s most likely because of the gory picture I’ve posted, not because you were hoping to learn my philosophy on life.

Just in case, keep this in mind: Nearly everything has some relevance to some aspect of cycling. Hill climbs, downhills, road races, time trials and triathlons and more are amazingly accurate metaphors for life itself.

Criterium racing is tops among them all in this regard. It involves racing a gaggle of other riders on a short, circular course for one hour. It’s harder than it sounds, and not everyone even makes it all the way (see Fig. C). The first one to cross the finish line wins! Is that not a perfect metaphor for life?

Some days are simply better…

...than others

That said, after a lifetime of cycling - and still today - I’m fond of thinking of the world in such terms, stating “In cycling as in life, (fill in the blank with just about anything here)” and most cyclists to whom I’ve mentioned this agree.

Perhaps it’s because cycling is Life, and old habits die hard. One thing’s for sure-In cycling as in life, the world is a sweeter place when you can keep the rubber side down.