sea and sand





Biking With C. MacDonald

NEAR THE BEACH--I look forward to riding my beachcruiser along the spectacular sandy landscape from Seal to Sunset to Huntington to Newport and beyond. It's invigorating, it gets the heart pounding, it cleans the cobwebs from the mind, it makes me happy, it educates me about people, dogs, pelicans, seagulls, lest terns, cloud formations, sail boat races and the wind. I'd love the wind always to be behind me, coming back from a 20+ mile journey but usually it isn't. Most of the time, the wind's behind me when I head out, and in my face, while returning. "So, why don't you just reverse your direction?" you might be thinking. Not a bad idea but sometimes that just doesn't work because the wind will shift. I've started off riding into the wind and heading back with the wind still in my face. Funny thing that wind. I like it because it often blows the pollution away and helps me with my muscle tone, especially when I'm meeting (struggling with) it head-on. I do like the challenge of "taking on" the wind when it's blowing at maximum force. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's a David vs. Goliath thing. The wind can be unpredictable and so can the people and animals along the way. When you're peddling on weekends or during the Summer, on a beach trail, you've got to keep your eye on the folks around you. I've seen it all.

Some have things in their ears, listening to music or talking; some are chatting with their friends alongside them; some are mesmerized by the beautiful Pacific, the waves or what's in the water (I even saw a whale last week; dolphins are much more frequent); some think they own the spot they grace and everyone else should stay clear; some are inebriated and don't know what's going on; some are walking with a dog (one woman had 5 canines), if another dog comes along, there may be a peaceful get-together or one may viciously attack the other; some cyclists are racing along the trail at high speeds, others may be doing stunts, as if practicing for the US Open....
 One huge football player-type guy was walking innocently in front of me, then turned to the right heading for the sand. (Seems simple enough.) But right as I start to go around him to the left, he decides to spin left and we both got knocked to the ground. (I needed to whistle to let him know I was there.)
If you see a bunch of people, they may act like a Slinky--they could break like bowling pins, heading in different directions; a kid might all of a sudden dart away from the pack and run right into you; some are carrying things and might walk faster to get rid of their load sooner, while others dawdle. At Christmas time, I came up upon a group of probably 30 dressed-up Santas on rollerskates. You really never know what's going to happen. That's both good and bad. Variety and the unexpected make life exciting but it can also ruin your day.
One thing I've learned in many decades as a bicycler, I try not to let anything get me down. It's great seeing several of the same regulars each day. I smile and say, "Good Morning" to nearly everyone. Remember the phrase: "A stranger is a friend you haven't met." If someone does something really dumb or outrageous, I don't let it bother me (at all or for long, depending on what it is).  I keep focused on the trail and if it's uncongested, I look for the good and the beauty around me--newborn ducklings waddling with their mom, pelicans gracefully soaring through the sky, whale's spouting offshore, the fascinating tide, coming and going. You never know what odd things you might see. Sometimes movies and TV shows are being filmed; a couple of days before the recent Academy Awards Show, I came upon Sandra Bullock, walking in a black tight outfit in Sunset Beach. She was alone and I really wanted to wish her good luck in getting the "Best Actress Award." But I didn't. I decided I'd play it cool, give her her privacy and I just smiled. Thought maybe I'd see her again around there. Little did I know....
Some days, I really don't feel like going on a bike ride; maybe I'm 1/2 asleep; maybe I have a headache; maybe I'm lazy and just don't want too, period! But almost always I kick myself in the behind and get the heck out there. Hey, life's short. You gotta grab for the gusto; you gotta realize how darn lucky you are, even having the opportunity to go on a ride. And, you know what, I'm ALWAYS glad I climbed up on that bike and headed out.
"Exercise is the best medicine." (I think Jack LaLanne said that and he's almost 96.) And bicycling is one of the best exercises you can do, not only for your body but your mind. I'm a writer and I think up all sorts of new ideas, while on my bike. Sometimes, I'm able to  develop an entire story, song or poem on my trip. This "creativity while crusing" should carry over to any occupation from homemaker to psychiatrist. My dad used to say, "If you have a problem, ride around the block 10 times and you'll either be able to figure out how to solve it or at least you'll feel a lot better." He's right.
If you don't have one, check out bikeshops in your city. Employees often are very helpful in assisting you in finding just what you're looking for at the price you're able to pay. If you find things too expensive, try garage sales, swap meets (like Golden West College in HB every weekend), police auctions, thrift stores or a neighbor may have an extra to give or sell you cheap; sometimes it's just a matter of opening your mouth to your friends or co-workers.
So you need to get out there and bicycle. Whether it's a short ride or a long one, chances are so good that you'll be glad you did. You can bike alone or how about with family members or friends. It will open up a lot of new opportunities for you. Some people have gotten new jobs from fellow riders. You'll meet new friends, see new things, get in better shape and have a heck of a lot of fun. Why not even try to ride your bike to work? You won't be the only one. May 17-21 is National Bike To Work Week and May 21 is National Bike To Work Day. To find out more, go to Some cities have events and special deals for bicyclists. Happy Biking!





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