How crazy is this? Crazy fun? Crazy memorable?

Part of the course in the recent Rock Cobbler, Sam Ames’ 90-plus-mile race/ride that has 6,800 feet of climbing, included riding through Randy and Kim Martin’s living room near Thorner School.

Run Feb. 10, the Rock Cobbler had 317 riders from 10 states and one each from Japan and Iceland. That’s a lot of people coming through your living room.

It's easy to understand why Randy was on board; his business, Covenant Coffee, which assists foster kids, is one of the race's sponsors. But can you imagine the conversation between him and his wife?

Randy: “Honey, I want to help Sam with the Rock Cobbler.”

Kim: “Sounds good. I like Sam.”

Randy: “In order to spice it up and really give the Cobbler a signature feel, why don’t we have racers drop down from the foothills, come through our backyard, ride over the cobblestones, around the pool, through the back slider, into the living room, through the foyer and then out the front door?”

Kim: “What?”

My imagination was way off because apparently Kim Martin is a good sport — and made sure they laid down tarps and rubber mats through the living room. According to Ames, the three of them got together before the race, killed off a couple bottles of wine and came up with the idea.

“My wife would do it again after seeing the expressions on the riders' faces and hearing their comments,” Martin said.

“I did not expect that,” said one rider.

“Love the portrait on the piano,” wrote another on Facebook. “You have lovely decorations.”

A couple of the riders got off their bikes and jumped in the pool doing cannonballs.

The living room touch not only energized the riders but got the attention of cycling magazines and media outlets. This was not surprising because the Rock Cobbler has always been known for two things: the toughness of the ride and its sense of humor.

“Each year, Sam likes to add at least one twist,” Martin said.

Past years have included running up a massive 300-foot hill while a local bike club rolled beach balls down on you, Jalapeño Zeus shots by Lengthwise Brewery, taking your socks off at Ethel’s and pinning them on your jersey, pushups in a kiddie pool, throwing darts at a cardboard cutout of Sam Ames, crossing a 2- to 3-foot-deep creek with a safety rope, a margarita stop at an aid station and a dead cow and horse manure crossing.

Trophies have been a rock, a hammer, an apron, a bike tool and a Swiss Army barbecue.


The column on the “The Stable Song,” by Gregory Alan Isakov, got this reaction from Sara Rodriguez.

“Hi Herb!

"My husband just sent me a link to your article, 'Hallelujah to New Songs in the Rotation.' I walked down an 'aisle' strewn with pine needles and dirt on my wedding day, with this song playing. It was around five o’clock on an early June evening. I could hear the wind moving softly through giant mountain trees.

“What says ‘wedding day’ more than lyrics like, 'Now I’ve been crazy, couldn’t you tell, I threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell'?

"I picked this song because it spoke loudly of love. The song makes me feel alive. It speaks of facing the beautiful and the ugly head-on.”


Bart Hill writes about the CLS, the pet store on F Street that recently closed.

“The store is empty. There's a poignant hand-scribbled note taped to the inside of the front door which reads 'closed forever.'

“When one of our girls had a prom dinner party she wanted a small bowl of goldfish on each table. I went to CLS and asked to buy the cheapest fish they had. I explained to Joey, the owner, that it was a temporary purchase. He said, 'Why buy? I'll loan them to you.' And, so he did.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or 661-395-7279.

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