RSSCategory: Uncategorized

The Simple Way

| August 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

Fuller Center riders enter the offices of The Simple Way.

At the start of each day on the Fuller Center Cross Country Bike Adventure, we have a “circle up,” where we get basic information about the ride ahead and, sometimes but not always, information about where we will be staying, which is almost always a church.  As we get to the end of the ride, my senses are heightened.  I begin take in the neighborhood to get some idea what the next 12 to 15 hours will be like.  I generally hope we will be near a commercial area where the basic needs are within walking distance, particularly things like IPA beer and ice cream.  You know, the staples.  I will also be interested in learning about the accommodations.  Will this be a big church with lots of room for our sleeping pads?  Or will we be tightly packed?  Will it have a lot of electrical outlets for all our rechargeable electronics, bike lights, smart phones, Apple watch, bike speaker, supplemental batteries, etc.  Will it have air conditioning?  How many bathrooms?  In-house showers or will we be shuttling offsite (and will the showers have hot water)?  A kitchen?  Will there be a welcoming committee of church members who can tell us about the town?  Will they be serving food?  Or will we just be handed the key and told to lock up when we leave?

The fact is that, after riding 70 plus miles on a bike, the answer to these questions are mostly academic.  It’s nice when we have a lot of creature comforts, but mainly what I want at that point is to stop riding a bike. Everything else is gravy.   For me, the exception is cold showers.  I HATE cold showers.  Every ride I’ve been on has had one or two.  It’s almost enough to keep me from coming back.  Almost. Continue Reading

Rozzie’s First Kill

| May 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

While I was working on installing the new fence at the Cape, Rozzie was laying out on the lawn playing with a toy. I didn’t pay much attention and assumed she was fine. Hearing the squeaking of the toy told me she was content. For some reason, I walked over to her to give her a pat and discovered that she didn’t have a toy. She had a baby bunny, about 4 inches in size. It was the bunny that was squeaking. I was horrified and shooed Rozzie away. The bunny was still alive and walked slowly toward the house, looking for some place to hide. She stopped behind one of the fence sections. I checked on her periodically as she sat there motionless. At one point, I checked and she was gone. I’m telling myself that she was fine. But….

Later in the day, Charlie hit a baby bunny with the weed whacker. He then had to put the bunny out of its misery. We don’t know if it was the same bunny. Apparently, we had disturbed a nest of rabbits when we ripped up the old fence.

Probably going to have nightmares tonight.

65th Birthday

| May 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

Rita arranged a birthday party for my 65th birthday. A good time was had by all. Very nice comments, particularly by Luke. I’m blessed with a wonderful group of friends.

This I Believe

| November 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

I believe the Russians tipped the 2016 Presidential election to Donald Trump.  I didn’t, at first.  But the more we know about the massive intervention they conducted through social media and the Wikileaks dump, the more obvious it is that it was sufficient to turn 80,000 votes spread over three states to give Trump the electoral college win.  I also believe the Comey letter tipped the election to Donald Trump.  And I believe that the fact that the Democrats nominated the quintessential establishment candidate in an anti-establishment election tipped the election.  And, yes, I believe the Clinton campaign strategy, which neglected Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin in the closing days of the election, gave it to Trump.

It is possible to believe all these things at the same time.  Flip any one of those variables and the Democrats win.  In a close election, everything matters.  However, only one of those variables has consequences for the future, the Russians intervention.  Frankly, I suspect that the Russians did not set out to elect Donald Trump, but rather to simply disrupt American democracy and weaken President Hillary Clinton.  They may have been as surprised as the rest of us the day after the election.  There were reports of celebrations in Moscow, but events since then may have tempered their euphoria.  Some in the Kremlin may wonder whether they overshot.  It’s nice to have a puppet, but maybe an incompetent puppet is more trouble than he’s worth.

But here’s the thing.  Whether the Russian ultimately conclude they overshot in their election meddling is up to us.  Will we, as a nation, respond in a way that will deny the Russians what, at this point, seems like the greatest intelligence triumph in human history, actually electing the President of the United States?  The answer to that question is in the hands of Special Counsel Bob Mueller and the Republican leadership of the Congress.  Mueller needs to build a rock-solid case that denies the Republicans the ability to rationalize away the reality of the Trump collusion in the Russian meddling.  And the Republicans will need to stop protecting Trump and take affirmative steps to impose accountability into the system.

So far, Mueller is doing his part.  The Republicans? Not so much.

The Best Shower….Ever!

| June 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
IMG_1638

Now, THAT’S a shower!

It is difficult to overstate the importance of showers at the end of a day of riding. Fuller riders rely primarily on donated shower facilities in the cities and towns where we stay. Sometimes this is a local Y, sometimes a nearby school and sometimes the churches have shower facilities onsite. Occasionally, the church community enlists its members to offer their homes. On this trip, particularly in Washington Oregon, we used campgrounds. A couple of times, we ended up with only cold showers. Those were memorable and not in a good way.

Today, I and my fellow rider Lauryn Kostopoulos scored big time. The United Methodist Church of Vista

Patricia, me, Lauryn and Victor

Patricia, me, Lauryn and Victor

enlisted its community to open their homes to the riders for showers. Lauryn and I were among the last out and traveled to the home of Victor and Patricia. He’s a retired conservationist and she’s an amateur genealogist, a very cool couple. They also appear to appreciate good showers because their shower had about 8 nozzles, up, down and sideways. It was the best shower of the trip, maybe the best shower facility I’ve used this year. Nice that it came at the end of the ride.

The Great Escape

| June 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
The view I first encountered from the bike path

The view I first encountered from the bike path

This is why they call it an “adventure.” Today, we confronted a challenge when the bike path we were on stopped abruptly at Camp Pendleton. Apparently, there were some maneuvers and they closed the path. I was toward the back of the pack, so can take no credit for the ingenuity of the faster riders in coming up with a solution.

We had to move our route to I-5, an eight lane highway that the bike path was designed to avoid. The riders at the front of the pack found a gate in the chain-linked fence that divided the bike path from the highway, which gave us access to the highway. However, in addition to the chain linked fence, they had to carry the bikes through heavy underbrush, across railroad tracks and then through a barbed wire fence. I came by later after the system was in place and it worked pretty smoothly, although I did get caught in the barbed wire.

Crossing the tracks, underbrush and barbed-wire fence

Crossing the tracks, underbrush and barbed-wire fence

In tradition of mutual support that is part of the ethic of the Fuller Center, all the riders waited on the highway until everyone got through. We then had to ride 10 miles along I-5, with cars and trucks constantly roaring by, before we were able to return to our more civilized riding off the highway.

Whitey’s Place

| June 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
Whitey hid in plain sight at this apartment building

Whitey hid in plain sight at this apartment building

I found time to stop by Whitey Buler’s “hideaway” in Santa Monica.  It took a little research to find it, since the owners changed the name of the apartment building from the Princess Eugenia to the Barbas Apartments.  And I did have to backtrack a bit, which annoyed my fellow rider, a young woman who had never heard of Whitey Bulgar.  But it was worth it.

If you want to hear a hilarious story told by the manager of the Princess Eugenia about when the FBI came calling, check out the episode of the Moth Radio Hour where he tells what it was like.

 

 

 

https://themoth.org/stories/call-me-charlie

 

Best Biking Songs

| June 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

Music was enormously influential in helping me complete the West Cost bike ride.  I had a bluetooth speaker mounted on my handlebars that played music from my IPhone.  I learned the power of a good song at the right time in one of the early days’ rides when I was riding – typically – at the back of the pack and we were beginning to climb a hill.  Just then Bruce Springsteen Thunder Road started to play and I cranked up the volume.  It was like the afterburners kicked in.  I began to pedal furiously.  I caught up and eventually passed a group of more seasoned riders up the hill.  It was exhilarating.

Of course, going forward, I had to use this device carefully.  I couldn’t keep going back to the same few songs as they would lose their power over time.  But this discovery helped me clear some pretty big hills.

These were my “go to” songs when I had a big climb in front of me:

  • Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen
  • Jungleland – Bruce Springsteen
  • Sympathy for the Devil – Rolling Stones (Live version)
  • Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue – Duke Ellington (Live at Newport)
  • Casa Loma Stomp – Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra
  • Maniac’s Ball – Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra
  • White Jazz – Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra
  • Dawn – The Four Seasons
  • Walking Blues – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • The Love I Lost – Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes


On one occasion, Bruce also helped with a downhill ride.  The good news about climbing hills is that there is often a long downhill ride on the other side.  Once in Oregon, I got to the top of about a 2 mile climb and, as I began to descend, the Springsteen song came on coincidentally that has the refrain, “I’m goin’ down, down, down.  I’m goin’ down, down, down…”  This added to the euphoria and racking up some distance without pedaling.

Finally, I couldn’t get Willie Nelson out of my head when I finally got my new bike and was “On the Road Again.”

FCBA – Day 1

| June 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

Today was a relaxed day in Seattle.  We were mostly just getting ourselves situated.  Still a few riders trickling in, which involved a trip to the airport for pickup.  It was technically a “build day,” but that meant moving boxes for a few families whose apartments had been renovated by the Fuller Center.  I skipped the “build” to assemble my bike with the help and guidance of my friend and partner, Peter Asmuth.

Peter Reconnects with 2016 FCBA rider, Joseph, also known as "Pui"

Peter Reconnects with 2016 FCBA rider, Joseph, also known as “Pui”

One surprise visitor was Joseph, aka “Pui,” who rode across country last year.  He was one of the “Three Stooges,” which included Peter, Pui and Fred Smoak.  They were inseparable during the ride.  Since I arrived in Peoria, I was not eligible to join their fraternity.  I guess I was Shemp.

After getting the bike outfitted and making an aborted run to the airport, I connected with my cousin, Paul Campbell.  Paul’s like the big brother I never had.  He’s the second oldest of my 40 or so first cousins on my mother’s side.  I was close to his brother Gerald, who was born 2 days before me, and did a lot of sleepovers at his house.  He was, and is, a huge outdoorsman, which is probably why he moved to Seattle decades ago.   Given the distance, we don’t get to see enough of each other.

We did a driving tour of Seattle, including a stop at the Troll Under the Bridge, a landmark little known

Paul and Me at the Troll Under the Bridget

Paul and Me at the Troll Under the Bridget

outside of Seattle.  It was constructed by a group of local students.   When we went, there was dozens of people taking their pictures with the statue.  It is also an important site in that it is the place where Paul and his wife, Helen, were married.  Yeah, Paul’s a bit funky, which is one of the many reasons I love him.

As to the ride, I have been interested with the role of “team leader” for a chore group.  My chore this week is “Snack Bins and Coolers,” both of which I need to ensure are full for the riders.

Tomorrow we ride to the Space Needle and back, 24 miles, not too many hills and extraordinary views of the harbor and Seattle skyline.

A Note to Supporters of the Fuller Center

| June 2, 2017 | 0 Comments
Heading to Seattle with Bike

Heading to Seattle with Bike

To get myself into the swing of things, I am posting the note I sent to those who have supported my bike rides on behalf of the Fuller Center for Housing. 

If you are getting this email, you have supported me in some way in my bike rides for the Fuller Center for Housing.

As I write, I’m flying over the “Trump Belt” on my way to Seattle for the ride to San Diego.  While I did a similar ride last year from Peoria to DC, this one is a bit more daunting.  On the other hand, I have a new bike with much lower gears (for the hills) and I actually did some training in advance.  So, I feel like I’m reasonably prepared.  I’m still not sure how we’re going to get across Big Sur, since much of it has slid into the ocean.  But mine is not the reason why….  I’m sure they’ve got it figured out.

I do hope to do a better job of “journaling” along the way this year than last.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to be sending any more emails.  It’s a purely “opt in” system.  My plan is to post regularly to Instagram and Facebook with short updates.  When I’m feeling more literary, I will post to my blog.  There’s a subscription option on the blog if you would like to be notified when I’ve posted.  The more who do that, the more incentive I’ll have to post.

Here are the links:

Blog www.preferentialoptionblog.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bill.black1

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/guynoir53/

The Fuller Center also maintains a blog for a less subjective account of the ride:

http://www.fullercenterbikeadventure.org/category/blog/2017westcoast/

Having experienced last year the Spartan lifestyle that the Fuller Center bikers enjoy on the road, I can assure those of you who contributed that your money is well spent.  Imagine St. Francis on a bike, sleeping in church basements and eating donated food. None of the money goes to creature comforts.  Frankly, our only real indulgences are the bikes.  They are pretty high end, but we obviously pay for those ourselves.

So, I’m off and, again, thank you.

Bill