The best part of these rides is the sensory overload of feeling the wind, especially at your back, the smells of whatever is drifting through, the physical exertion of repetitive motion, and catching unusual sounds you snare while cruising through town. With crashing surf and cool breezes off the water its pretty easy, like yesterday, to enjoy a ride up the Pacific Coastal Highway.
Heading inland today was all city riding with the goal, 60 miles, to reach a county campground. Even without significant climbs I could feel the steady tug of sluggish pedals as I'm "riding myself into shape." We Midwesterners must do this mental juggling act whenever confronted with impending hills greater than a Mack Ave overpass over the auto factory trainyard. Never ending traffic lights and intersections are my destiny until I hit a bike path. It's gonna take some work though getting there before dark, around 5pm.
At this point, even though it's supposed to be the rainy season, it's midafternoon and the 86-degree sun is just smoking the pavement. So, I am not complaining. I'm toolin along, easy clip and all of the sudden this guy in an orange safety vest comes flyin up from behind on an old mountain bike and exclaims "Hi." Who can resist a solid smile with a solid greeting like that? For the next 10+ miles we just pedal and talk. In all honesty, doing more talking than earnest peddling.
We're discussing his enthusiasm for riding and how he wants to do extended rides. With his apples, bananas and other fruit snacks dangling from a plastic bag twisted around his handlebars, he excitedly exclaims why he is so energized and smiling while riding. "It makes me feel so happy inside. I love the outside air; so much better than stuck inside. People who spend a lot of time outside are so happy, giving them energy to live. What are you going to do when you're stuck inside, but be sad? Like I can add anything to this philosophy? Just nod and smile.
He said he worked for decades with LA County as a heavy equipment operator but is now retired. He just likes getting outdoors and meeting others. It's a way to connect and stay healthy.
When discussing family, he said his dad spent time in Muskegon and Lansing. He preferred life in LA. Who could argue with that perspective when comparing December weather? I got a feeling though if he was dropped into SE Michigan today, he'd find something positive to say. "Positive people attract each other, just like positive energy attracts positive energy."
At the point of discussing families, I probably need to be polite and at least introduce myself. I must've had that cock-eyed head tilt when you think you've heard something but are afraid to request a redo on a name. "Nacho, my name's Nacho, like the chip." At this point, I've realized he's probably done these routine countless times at introductions. It's such a gift that Nacho, with such a beautiful soul and positive spirit is doing so much for those around him.