Reflect on Surroundings

This body is telling me that their legs need a break. So, I sit and reflect on immediate surroundings

Being a twenty-something has proven to have more pros than cons. Privileges present themselves in subtle and rewarding ways. Not in the same polarizing way as a middle-aged adult demands respect from their younger counterparts, but in a similar ballpark as such. This age field has come to be the point in time in which we know what we like and what we don’t like. We as humans know whom we want to surround ourselves with (and here’s the best part) we act on those feelings. If you no longer wish to be around a group of friends you were once tight with in high school or any other formal / informal setting, there is no social stigma that compels you to stick around that group. Talk about a liberating time to be alive.

The reason I bring this up is because through being mindful of my own decision making ability on a social level, I have come to notice that there are ideas and concepts I have grown away from, and others I can’t seem to find an rational reason to shed these views. Social norms have less of an effect on my decision making on a day to day basis. It may come off as harsh or cold from time to time, but my views on the world (at this point in time) are important to me and should be respected. While this may appear like a setup into a bigoted rant on the state of Europe and the middle east (don’t worry, I’ll return to this in a bit) I assure you, it is not. I will admit that I am not formally educated enough to hold an opinion I would be able to stand behind in conversation, so, I will abstain from touching up on the issue in direct detail. Which brings me to my next point (must. stay. on. topic.)

An example of a concept that I can’t seem to shake with age and insight is (and is the main theme and purpose of this post) is redundancy. Redundancy has been a figurative thorn in my side for most of my life. All forms to an extent are met with low tolerance in my head (coming from the guy who rides a bicycle hours on end in the same areas of southern California.) Conversations are a medium in which I am hyper-aware of repetition. Most social exchanges have a flow in which people share thoughts and concepts with one another. Part of being a good listener is knowing when that person has made their main point. Where you (the listener) choose to go from there is up to you. I personally choose to wrap it up so we can continue a healthy social exchange. When met with redundancy, it begins to strain my attention and empathy in a short amount of time. I can remember when my dad and I weren’t getting along and his defense mechanism in a heated argument was (and probably still is) to make a point, make sure I understood, and repeat the same point using different language regardless if I understood where he was coming from. Something about older males and this empty space at the time a discussion should have ended doesn’t seems to bother them. To this day I have a short fuse for unnecessary repetition, and disconnect from that particular source sooner than later.

A trend I am seeing on the internets are a growing interest to share all the wrongs that are currently going on on this planet. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the way global issues should be resolved. I can’t shake the feeling  that we as a people have become overnight diplomats and activists to talk about some hot-button injustice that is honestly quite exhausting. Rather than hold my own opinion on how I think things should be, I would like to point out how silly nitpicking issues like these are in the grand scheme of things.

We live on a planet that is heavily populated by other human, animals, and other living things alike. When dealing with high volumes of species, there is going to be both good and bad things that happen in the world. People are going to die. People are going to bring new life into the world. This is the world we live in. With as many people that are living around the world, it takes little effort to submerge yourself in focusing on all the positive, or all the negative things we humans do. This can turn us either callus, or delusional. Neither of which is a healthy way to live your life. The solution? Try and maintain a balance between the two extremes.

To add to the topic of global issues (and the slacktivism that ensues) I cannot unsee the bandwagon we as a people seem to hop on when the media chooses to share a piece of tragic news with the world. I am not implying that we throw the field of journalism out as a whole and begin to live lives where we are only aware of our immediate surroundings. What I am getting at is I am not convinced that we are concerned about certain social issues as our social media accounts make it out to be. I know for a fact that I do not see myself helping out with the attacks that have been going on in Paris, Syria, or any other affected part of the world (and while I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, I have my doubts on those who choose to share their views on the matter.) The way my twenty-five year old brain works, thinks that while talking about all the wrong that is with the world may be an entertaining conversation piece for a short amount of time, it has a limit to the effect it can cause. As the redundancies intensify, we reach our limits in what conversations can do to help the situation. We all seem to reach a point of saturation in which we discuss a topic to such an extent that the inevitable question presents itself (what are “we,” “you,” or “i” going to do about it?) and is met with, in my experiences a majority response (-silence-)

Perhaps I am just jaded and need to be alone for a bit. Perhaps I have spent too much time alone and need to have a talk with someone who can sympathize with where I am coming from. I know I need to give my Facebook account a break because I am not liking what I see on my feed and will end up being more bothered the more and more I log on, expecting to see something other than “Look at this global issue we’re choosing to shed some light on right now” “You thought all was well with the world, wait until you see this” “Here’s something to get mad at the world about” and all the other side topics that come with this territory.

Welp, this is what happens when I begin to take some time off the bike and begin to reflect on the world and state of affairs, can’t wait to get back on the road again. Until next time….


Random Acts


1. Corn-ball sap story ahead

2. I’m okay

Out on the group ride today, some new faces showed up and when things got hot approaching the first sprint point, there was some jockeying, bunching, and half-wheeling. 

Two riders were staggered in front of me, the one in the back was about a half a bike-length from the guy in front from the right. The guy in front decides to cut right and takes the other guy out. We were going pretty fast so I- no wait, I take that back, this could have been avoided and I don’t forgive the guy that went down.

After being behind and to the right of the crash, the guy who caused the crash by being in the front rider’s blind spot immediately went down on his left. His bike went to the right so I couldn’t avoid running over his bike (or give a half-hearted attempt to run over his neck.) his RD ended up caught in my front wheel, cracking the fork and unspoking the front wheel. 

I went over the bars and rolled on the left side of my helmet, shoulder, and lower back.

  No broken bones, no deformities, or anyone to call to get a ride home. Just some soreness that is now setting in. My phone screen even www intact and untouched. 
The best part is while I was waiting on possible rides, a stranger pulled over to the side (within five minutes) and offered me a ride home. Given the context and nature of the circumstance, I didn’t hesitate to ask if she was insured by survival and turned the ride down when I found out she wasn’t (see what I did there?) 

Our ride back home was pleasant. She shared stories about her neices, nephews, and holiday plans. Her name is Laura and she is a kind soul who did not think twice when an opportunity to show an act of random kindness presented itself. 


To top it off, we got photobombed

I thought today was going to be the start of a rough day, but I am mistaken. A little cynicism died in me today. Feels good. 

Cycling is….

There are many thing I love about riding bikes. At first glance it is easy to note the positive physical change that comes from any athletic activity. If you were to talk with someone long enough, you would discover that there is an element of psychological conditioning that is present. People (myself included) begin to create a lifestyle around their bike(s) whether it is how we get from A to B, or how we will become faster and stronger for the upcoming year. After many years of pursuing an undefined love for things two-wheels, only few begin to discover a deeper, philosophical outlook on cycling. In this intimate understanding of discovering why we as a culture spend so much time and money on this craft, many lessons are learned that can rollover to other aspects of our lives that hold a lot of value. If you asked me to summarize what cycling is in one sentence much like the title implies, I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. I can share a few examples of philosophic explanations as to what cycling is exactly.

Cycling is near the top of my priorities list in life. Similar to that of a religious obsession. Much like any mature adult who holds things close to their own personal character and identity, I save the deep conversations for those who are willing to understand where I’m coming from with an impartial and open mind. Sure cycling may be the best thing in the world, but not everyone is willing to hear that. You could have all the correct information about the universe and feel obligated to spread your dogmatic doctrine to the world, but will have your message fall on deaf ears by those not willing to receive what you have to say. This is a crucial thing to understand at in doing so, we as people are able to strike a balance between our joys and sharing our joys with the right people. Cycling isn’t for everyone, and trying to explain the cyclist lifestyle isn’t for everyone either.

I bring this up because in my day to day life, I try and reflect and understand from a mindful perspective just what is cycling. This is a difficult answer to come up with, especially if you have ever tried to explain why you ride bikes to someone who doesn’t ride bikes. I met someone on the train last night who is a daily cycling commuter. We began to talk and discuss what it was about bikes that grabbed hold of our lives. Normally I tend to back out of these types of talks, but his situation of cycling strictly for functional purposes left him with some confusion on the recreational and competitive justification of cycling. He had been on group rides before and jokingly admitted to still not understanding why people would push themselves to mental and physical exhaustion for sport. Having thought about this for some time, I did my best to explain to him that cycling is how well we can focus under mild to severe discomfort.

To better understand this phrasing, we need to break this down in reverse. If you have ever ridden a bike for an extended amount of time (minimum 1 week) there most likely has been an instance where you have pushed yourself up a hill, or through an intersection to make a light. When you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and beginning to feel the aches, pains, and burns that come from physical activity, your natural reaction is to try and stop this physical harm you are ensuing. In realizing this we have come to a mental landmark, we have the ability to stop whenever we want. You can always slow down, stop, and throw your bike in the trash if you want. It is unlike the pains that come from terminal illness, that has no off switch. We are choosing to inflict pain on our bodies and because we choose to turn it on, we can also turn it off. This is my best paraphrased example of a discomfort.

Next, we must factor in our focus and concentration under these times of stress. Our bodies both physically and mentally are telling us to stop and (without focus) will begin to send signals to get us to return to this homeostatic state. Once we begin to let these thoughts enter our minds, we are no longer focused on the task at hand. I have to remind myself that I am riding this fast, or climbing this hill at this speed for a reason, and focusing on this goal, along with the idea that this is a temporary inconvenience (the pain) I am more mindful and in doing so, can maintain my composure to carry on. I can relax the muscles in my face and reach new physical and mental ground.

This was one of the ideas that stood out most to him and I feel is a good representation of why cycling is the freak of nature obsession only few know it to be. This self-actualization makes me elated and is why I continue to do what I do. I am glad I have this in my life and cannot comprehend a life without a means of discovery, escape, and wisdom. That and I look great in form fitting clothes.


Track Certified!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to expand my cycling resume by becoming certified to race at one of the most popular track cycling velodromes in southern California. This particular one happens to be in Carson. A bit of a jaunt for me, but nothing of unreasonable distance. Being the single male with a day off work I made a day of it and decided to ride to the track, become track certified, then ride back home (that and I had driven all day prior to this so I thought I would even things out a bit.)

I’ve never been one to arrive right on time for most time based appointments so I usually make an effort to be early for most of my outings. The morning of was no exception. Since the class was at 10:30 am I made sure to give myself plenty of time to get across the city so there would be no pressure and (added) stress heading into the situation. So at around 7:00 am I left my house and on I went.

My current rig

My current rig

There are a number of ways anyone can get from the valley all the way out to the south bay.I kept things simple and went through, Hollywood, Downtown, then proceeded down Avalon through all the cities in between. From downtown, I watched the city go from a nice suburb and hustling entertainment industry to a third world. I don’t want to get too detailed about the things I saw (nothing graphic or vulgar) but sometimes we forget about other people in the city who come from rougher upbringings that may be struggling more than us with things we might take for granted. I couldn’t bring myself to capture some photos of the line of tents that were set up down San Pedro before turning onto Avalon. This is truly a sight worth seeing for yourself.

After my jaunt down the city, I made it with about a half hour to spare (perfect timing in my book.) The track is in a building off the side of this giant sports stadium and college campus. After registering and finding where I needed to go, I met the instructor and the class had begun.

There were seven of us total, five who had taken the four week class, and one other person who (like myself) decided we could knock this out in one class. Our instructor was an older gentleman by the name of Andrew. Andrew is someone who is not afraid to share his opinion with those around him. A real character in his own sense. Someone who isn’t afraid to bust your chops, and humble your ego to prove a point. My wrestling coach in high school was a lot like this (only scarier) so I stuck to yes and no responses, remained respectful, and tried to only speak when spoken to. Before the we hopped on our bikes there was some lecturing involving the mechanics of the track and how the rules translate to other velodromes. It was then that I got a few photos of the scenery.


One of the biggest points that were made was that the format in which all of the riding that took place on this track was internationally fluent. Meaning you could travel to a foreign land where no one speaks your language, hop on their track, and with the knowledge we were taught today, still be able to show to other riders that you knew what you were doing.

Coming from a road bike cycling background, I understand that cycling etiquette is important for many reasons, (mainly for safety and efficiency.) Track cycling is not much different, except a new level of physics is introduced and that to keep from sliding off the forty-five degree banking, you need to maintain a faster speed, and be sure to scan ahead once you enter a turn. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to ride on a track, the rules are similar to that of a highway, you have a designated enter and exit lane, your fast and slow lanes, and passing lanes. All which need to be met with a minimum amount of speed to keep from falling. The banking can be intimidating (especially when riders are traveling the bare minimum speed to keep the tires from slipping off the wooden pavement (there’s a loud, squeaky noise that sounds like the planks of wood are shifting below you.)

Having already had two hours of ride time in me, I was ready to go. After a brief introduction, me and another rider first started towards the bottom of the track, first getting familiar with the feel of riding at such an angle. Once we got up to speed we were told to move up track, where the same principles applied, but a higher speed must be maintained. I didn’t realize the guy behind me was struggling to keep up behind me as we showed we were able to ride half way up the track. I think it was the fear of slipping off that inspired the hurried pace.

After our two-man rotating paceline drill in which we had to pull  off all the way up towards the railing (a tall 3.33 meters ( about 10 feet)) when entering a corner. The trick to this is keeping your speed as you enter the steeper banking. Naturally you will slow down if you maintain your current effort, so more force must be applied to make it up. From here, you wait for the partner (or group) to pass by you, in which you then drop down and hop behind them and the cycle then repeats. Dropping in had to be the most nerve racking. When I was up top waiting to hop back in, I found myself slowing down in anticipation. From there I was never sure if the speed I gained by dropping back in would be enough to grip the track. All in all, nobody fell, and everyone had a good time.

One of the final drills was an eight lap scratch race. This in a nutshell is an eight lap, rolling group start. I wasn’t able to gauge other rider’s experience levels, but I know how to approach an eight lap rack on any track. With two laps to go I was third wheel, and coming out of the first corner, I accelerated and went all out. No one was able to respond to my attack and I ended up finishing on my own with no one attempting to sit on my wheel to contend. At this point, the angle of the track didn’t matter. I have a basic idea of how to approach mass starts like these and feel comfortable enough in my racing experience to get close to other riders. Thankfully, things never got too hairy, but I wouldn’t mind.

Once this was all over, we received our certificates and I was on my way.

Race ready!

Race ready!

At this point I was a little low on food and had enough water to make it to the next convenient store when I was back in familiar surroundings. I was beginning to dread the commute back to the valley but instead, made the best of my situation and trekked back home. I took some more photos when I hit the coastal route.

Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach

I hadn’t ridden my track bike in a few weeks. I began to realize that I use more muscle groups on this bike than my road bike (muscle groups that feel pretty beat up as I write this today.) However in times like these and with the increased riding time I’ve been targeting (an average of 16 hours a week) I knew to keep the pace mellow and I would catch a second or third wind.

Black Hlemet

Black Hlemet

The track was a great learning experience for me. Next week they are having resume builder races to which I hope I can get the chance (and the funds) to show up and see what I’ve got. I know I’m not my best right now, but riding with other novice riders and showing that I had the speed to not only keep up but stay away from them had boosted my confidence just enough that I might sign up in my off-seasoned state.

This has been a great opportunity for me and I hope there are many more to follow. Oh!, and BTW I’ll include my route to, and from the track (not counting the laps we did while on said track) below.



Ebb and Flow

Listening to: “On GP” by Death Grips

On today’s ride, as I wrapped up my now 20 hour week on the bike, (legs are still in shock) I had mentioned to a good friend and bike shop owner on how my perspective towards bikes and racing has taken a relaxed approach. Ever since I moved out in April, there has been a significant shift in priorities on all levels. When I was still living with my folks, I was thirsty for all things bike related. This caused me to become hyper-critical, almost neurotic, when it came to the craft of cycling. Everything had to be as close to the best of the best. I needed to be in my best form all the time. I always needed to be as fast as whoever I was adjacent to. I cannot tell you what a relief it has been to no longer feel those feels and think those thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, 20 hours on the bike is no task for your typical recreational weekend warrior. The passion for the craft is still there and it is still strong. I would say the difference between then and now is I have become more aware of the ebb and flow that comes from the athletic lifestyle.

Racing season is beginning to wrap up for road cyclist. Fixed gear racing is hitting its peak for the year, and cyclocross is on the horizon. There was a point in time where I found myself hopping from one type of racing immediately into another, unaware of the peaks and valleys one must accept. Like it or not, there is an off season for every time of sport. You can sure as hell try and be the best at all different disciplines, but that is a self-destructive route I have been on the end of. Most of this anger comes from a misunderstanding of what our bodies are trying to tell us. There is a time to push through the pain, and a time to spend the day on the couch. Both are arguably beneficial in the grand scheme of things and should not be mistaken for weakness. In my personal experience, aging has brought this to light in a humbling and satisfying fashion.

I know when I’m having a good day, and I sure as hell know when I’m not feeling my best (the final climb in our group ride made it very clear I had spent a lot of time on the bike.) No longer does this bother me as much as it used to. There was a time when I would get caught up trying to focus my riding towards that of someone I’ve admired, not realizing that this may sound poetic and plausible in theory, but in reality is far from possible. Most of us hit our highs and lows in fitness at different times. The sooner we are able to realize this the better. That way we don’t keep pushing ourselves past the point of benefiting and into a state of confusion and often times asking, “Why am I not (insert goal in the box provided.)” This mental clarity has been tremendously helpful for my mental and physical well-being. None of us can be superheros every day we ride the bike. The sooner we can come  to terms with this, the sooner we are able to use that to our advantage. This may seem a little vague right now, but there is a flow of fitness our bodies goes through. And once we are in sync, (insert corny motivational, you-can-do-whatever-you-want-to-do phrase.)

My mental has been good these past few months and I can tell from a lot of little things that go on on my weekly routines. I may be overweight and drinking with my buddies more often. However I still enjoy riding and keep up with my weekly fast-paced rides, and continue to try and push myself to a new level that I used to question. There are times I’m deep in a work hangover but still manage to keep moving and realize that I am capable of more than I thought. No longer do I want to be caught up in the distractions of those who are out every other week racing there bikes. I know when I’m ready, and will be there when the time comes. Until next time.


You Shouldn’t be Ashamed

I’m approaching the halfway mark in a book I’ve waited four months to read. The book discusses shaming and its significance in our specie’s history. At this point I am convinced that the concept of shame is the most powerful socio-emotional weapon we have as a population. Imagine all of your inner most insecurities finally blossoming into the public eye and not only must you have to cope with what people might be thinking, the people have already spoken and have disagreed with your stance on a topic. Public opinion, as subjective as it may seem, has a permanent effect on others if enough people share the same view. An important part of shame is the number of people who cast judgement resulting in the shame of an unfortunate party.

Pop culture has a plethora of examples of celebrities popular and unpopular in a publicly shamed episode once every so often. As devastating as this may seem, the author begins to explore the type of behavior that create negativity in a strong amount. There is something about when groups of people get together, a type of cognitive dissonance takes place and the attitude is no longer the attitude of an individual, but of a group. Two completely separate trains of thought.

It is unfortunate that the internet (certain social media circles) have turned into a metaphorical thunder dome nowadays. With people becoming more and more critical about what is said and sometimes what is simply implied. Here in California the spotlight is on police officers in the mainstream news media. I will not site a particular case or occurrence. I am simply making an observation on what happens when individuals act in a certain way whether it be good or bad, the public eye attempting to make sense of what they have just witnessed (which sometimes isn’t the sole perspective of an entire story) then making rash decisions based on little information that would not hold up among a jury of peers. I’m all in favor of holding a strong opinion about any topic. What gets me is the people who act on those uninformed opinions (often times getting others to join them in that person’s personal outrage)and cause a tremendous amount of suffering towards another.

The book also gives an example of a situation in which shaming does arguably have a place. The justice system may have it’s share of flaws, however, some judges take it among themselves to seek alternatives to incarcerating the masses. Having seen the harm shaming can do to people, I see this act as justified when it comes to legal matters in which there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that someone deserves to be shamed. In the instances that shaming has been delivered as punishment (reducing the financial penalty from 10,000 to 900-ish dollars to be carried out by writing one dollar checks to the family of the victim a drunk driver has hit and killed) the culprits have admitted that the act of shaming invoked the worst feelings imaginable, have shown the be the most beneficial in the long run, and resulted in the least amount of repeat offenders than traditional incarceration.

Social power among groups of people can be a powerful tool. Mostly when dealing with people in similar classes as that of your own. We seem to underestimate the damage it can do. People’s lives have been ruined over something that was said (a constitutional right mind you) out of context. For people to realize this and to continue to do so for whatever types of gains one might be aspiring towards, (insert psychological interpretation mentioning this like “projecting” or “repression”) is sickening and arrogant. We as a population have more power than we are lead to believe. Reading this book has made me more aware of the harm we can cause towards others and to take a step back and realize the consequence an opinion I have gained in a short amount of time can do to another human being such as yourselves.



As years of neurosis and confusion can confirm, my commitment issues have held me back from a number of opportunities. When it comes to cycling, there is a lot of talk of making the best of the little time we are allowed between our work schedules and moral obligations. What is not discussed as much is the path for those of us who are able to dedicate a significant amount of time towards the path of making cycling a profession. I said I would ride twenty-four hours for the week to get a taste of what that type of dedication feels like. I started a little too late in the week and got called into work and having other plans, preventing adequate sleep and recovery. I know I’m able to do it, and there’s part of me that thinks that I don’t know when the next opportunity will come to give this path a genuine shot.

A big lesson to learn when preparing for the next racing categories involves mental training as much as physical. (Insert clever mind over matter phrase.) Mindfulness can be overlooked when dealing with the social pressure of your peers. Since the road bike racing season is slowly coming to an end, I have had time to get my mind back in the right place and continue to strive for success.

In other news, a recent catching up with a good friend has sparked some interest into alternative employment. Ugh, I can’t stand that word. Let’s think of it more as a “project” (much better.) A simple answer as to what would spark someone’s pursuit into a more serious form of writing (this is something I want to do) has lead to some motivating aspirations. I would like to hone my craft of writing into the realm of comedy. All facets of comedy appeal to me, from stand-up to improv, to sketch. Whether I see myself producing all of these mediums is a different story. Right now I would like to begin in a direction towards comedy based writing prompts and seeing where that takes me. That with learning the proper formatting and presenting an appealing product can result in some positive outcomes.

The truth is, I’m not sure the type of writing I can see myself doing. This blog is far from what I would consider comedy-based writing. I find the world of comedy (as well as the world of music) to be a fascinating and ever-changing field that I love to follow. I haven’t been doing much reflecting as to what my needs are further than riding my bike and attempting to enjoy more social interactions with friends. Complacency has been a bit of a dream killer for me and this realization is becoming more and more obvious.

There is a lot of anxiety that comes from making the first few steps into a long-term path. This anxiety is amplified if it leads towards a less formal route (entertainment, professional athleticism, etc….) Now feels like a good point to get the ball rolling and giving these options a heartfelt effort. As mentioned before, I don’t know when the next opportunity will come where I will have this much time to myself to pursue these goals. So what if it’s straying from the beaten path. Deep down I know that I find comfort in this alternative journey.

Projects are now in the works, and while there is tangible tension that comes with every step of the way (insert clever walking a tightrope analogy) the exhilarating risks keep me going.