“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson
The aftermath of Christmas is not unlike bringing a newborn home, there are the sleepless nights (overindulging on Netflix much), people in need calming (as the bills come in), and for reasons unknown, the laundry room is full of soiled garments?
Am I the only one?
So out of these domestic affairs, Larry says early one morning, “pack a bag, honey, we’re going on a ride.” And by ride, he means as in the Flintstones, where my feet are actually what power the vehicle. In this case, we’re talking about a tandem bike, the Christmas gift I somehow got roped into, the thing that has become our 2022 linchpin, along with padded biking pants (like my butt wasn’t big enough), and riding gloves.
“Wait a minute, my weather app says a storm is coming in later today and tomorrow, and I’m not keen on riding in the rain.”
“If we leave by 9:00 (mind you it’s currently 6:45 am) I think we’ll just make the window.”
“Yes, as in we’ll ride in between the two storms.”
“It’s rather cold and windy don’t you think?” The truth is I’m snuggled in my warm bed, fire softly burning, contemplating my next post. I would prefer to remain in this state of utter bliss for the next several hours, after which I plan to exercise on my stationary bike (not in a storm) and maybe organize the fish bathroom, spruce up the kitchen. I know…gives me the shivers.
Speaking of shivers, he says, “Yeah, you’ll need gloves and a warm jacket.”
Out of curiosity, I say, “What exactly am I packing for? And where are you (emphasis on you) planning on riding?” I think those are fair questions given the circumstances.
“Half Moon Bay. I booked us a room, the hotel is right across from the beach, our balcony actually faces the ocean. The paved trail we want to catch runs right in front of the hotel. It’ll be the perfect practice ride for our Palm Springs trip.” (Larry signed us up for a 50-mile ride in the desert in February, which seemed miles away in 2021, but inches closer as if a tarantula.)
Here I’m visualizing a warm fire, endless cups of coffee, reading a few pages from the book Seth recommended, a novel so important it has the capacity to change the trajectory of the entire world. The one that came in the mail two weeks ago and I’m still on page seven (Seth Godin’s post linked here).
As G.K. Chesterton claims, an adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. Interesting, don’t you think? Adventure and inconvenience appear in both statements, like marriage, they’re a pair.
I say, “So we’re spending the night?”
He says, “Yes, and there’s a great restaurant we can walk to for dinner.”
“So I’ll need heels and a dress?”
“It’s casual, you can wear your biking pants if you want.”
“I’m not that kind of girl.”
“Don’t I know it, hey, I’m going for a ride with Stu, be ready to head out by the time I get back.”
“You’re going for a ride before our ride?”
“Yes, a warm-up.”
“A refill before you go,” I hold up my coffee mug.
When he returns with the hot mug of Jo I lean back into my pillows and consider falling back asleep. I mean he’ll be gone at least an hour or two. I’m not washing my hair just so I can stuff it into a bike helmet all day, sweating, and windblown. I calculate a five-minute shower, slipping into my biking pants, throwing on a couple of warm shirts, my ski coat, tennis shoes, and gloves in less than ten minutes. I can pack a pair of jeans and a sweater for dinner, a toothbrush, sunscreen, some earrings, and my adorable booties.
In my mind, I’m done, so I relax, knowing I could be ready in 15 minutes tops.
Relaxing back into my pillows I grab my new book and return to my musings on page seven.
That’s when I hear the door open? What the hell? Has it already been an hour? Shit! It’s been over an hour. My how time flies when you’re relaxing for the first time all damn year (granted it’s only the 2nd of January, but still)!
Larry blasts into the room, bringing the cold air with him, he says, “well, I can see you’re ready to go.”
“That was a fast ride?” I say as I scramble out of bed knocking a pile of folded laundry off the hope chest at the end of the bed.
“Not really, it’s been over an hour, and by the way, we’re leaving in fifteen minutes.”
“Stop for coffee’s on the way out?”
“If you hurry.”
When it comes to coffee I can be quite motivated. Showered, geared up, and packed in mere minutes. It may have seemed longer to Larry, but he’s a type A, he doesn’t understand time as I do. It’s not an exact science, time follows my schedule, not the other way around.
He had to take both the wheels off the bike to get it in the car, the contraption has a massive frame, we had to put our bags on top, helmets on the floor, while my boots got thrown under the wheels.
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences says Eleanor Roosevelt.
There’s wisdom in that statement, I just can’t find it?
Arriving in Half Moon Bay we’re lucky to find our room at the Ocean Front Hotel is ready and we don’t have to leave our belongings in the car. The hotel is what I would call unique, to say the least, the word funky comes to mind. Larry was right, it’s located right along the coast, literally the waves are crashing not twelve feet away. The entire building is elevated by gigantic cement stilts, as it appears the tides wash up on occasion and can just flow right through the building. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen tonight.
The structure is old and fairly dated but I am charmed by all the trinkets and paraphernalia the owner Ann has stashed all over the place. The lobby is full of surprises, a coffee bar was set up in the corner, all for free, a snack area by the front desk fully stocked with fruits, beverages, wine, and nuts. There’s an old dusty bookcase stuffed with classic novels from floor to ceiling and on every available surface are nautical doohickeys that are somehow pleasing to the eye.
Our room, named the Carmel, is gorgeous and I can’t stop gloating over the fact the floors are heated. The spacious room is anchored by a beautifully dressed king-sized bed, a small balcony overlooking the ocean, with two large windows that let in soothing light, and a cozy gas fireplace for even more ambiance. The jacuzzi tub in the bathroom looks brand new, it buts up against a glass shower, double sinks, and the floors are heated in here too. In the closet two vintage robes hang on wooden hangers, one grey, one pink.
I’m barely able to use the facilities when Larry is chasing me out the door so we can put the bike together and get on with our ride.
Putting the wheels back on the bike is not as easy as taking them off, it never is, but we manage with a fair amount of cussing, straining, and complaining. Before I could remark about the shockingly cool temperature we were on the bike and making our way along the mesmerizing coast.
The trail is nicely paved, but apparently, everyone else had the same idea, and maneuvering our huge monster bike past groups of walkers and other bikers is tricky. I’m on the back, I can’t see anything in front of me as my view is blocked by Larry’s back. I have to depend on him to warn me about what’s coming up verbally, when I’m supposed to glide, when to lean into a sharp turn, etc.
Let’s just say it’s a work in progress.
The responses we get from the people we pass on the trail are hysterical. One couple felt the need to yell out, “we used to have one of those.”
Larry slows the bike to say, “yeah, how did you like it?”
The wife says, “it didn’t work out for us, I couldn’t stand being on the back, no control. We sold the tandem, we’re much better riding our own bikes, at least we’re still married.”
The husband says, “this woman is particularly difficult, you’ll be fine, trust your husband.”
I yell back, “he keeps telling me control is an illusion,” I hear them laughing as we round the bend.
After about six or seven smooth miles, I find myself marveling over the beauty of the ocean, the charming houses docked along the path, the flora and fauna, the sun warming my back. I’m silently overflowing with gratitude for the opportunity to experience this exquisite scenery, when suddenly the topography changes, as in life, things get turbid.
Just beyond the pine trees, the trail is no longer paved, in fact, we find ourselves riding on a bog. It’s wet, extremely muddy, and not easy to maneuver this monstrosity. We have to get off repeatedly and walk the bike through the worst areas or should I say Larry has to walk the bike through the muck, I tiptoe around the worst of it, leaping over the puddles as if a ballerina.
Larry looks bedraggled, he says, “this is not fun.”
Every time we get back on the bike we practically tank on the slippery ruts, I moan, “the mud is spattering off the back wheel, it looks as if I pooped my pants, I’m a human fender.”
He laughs, “that happens when you’re riding in the mud, we should get back on the paved trail, this is not working.”
“See, we do agree on some things.”
So after walking most of the way back we return to the paved trail and try to avoid mowing over the pedestrians milling about.
There is one tense moment when we come upon a group of eight or so walkers, they’re chatting it up, taking over the entire path, Larry yells several warnings, “on your left. On your LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT.” No response, they just keep sauntering along until we almost crash into a few of them as we attempt to come to a full stop. The bike is heavy, especially with the two of us riding, it’s impossible to stop on a dime, if people don’t move over to allow us to pass it gets ugly.
Well, they have words, Larry has words, while I try to pretend to be Switzerland, and remain perfectly silent until I’m sure no one was going to throw a rock at my back.
Then I say in a loud clear voice, “if I am going to be riding behind you, TRUSTING MY HUSBAND if you will, I expect better behavior when it comes to the pedestrians.”
“I know, I was out of line.”
“Good, I think I need a Bloody Mary.”
“Sam’s Chowder House is about five miles up the road here, we’ll stop there for lunch.”
“Well earned I’d say.”
“It’s been an interesting ride.”
“That’s one way to put it.”
After lunch, we get back on the muddy bike and ride another ten miles before calling it a night. We completed about twenty-five miles total between storms and I was ready for a warm shower, warm meal, and a glass of wine.
After sprucing up, we come downstairs and linger by our car for a minute trying to decide if we want to drive across town to the Mezza Luna Italian restaurant or just eat at the local joint, Miramar Beach restaurant, located right across the street. While we’re standing there in the dark this random lady walks up to our car, parked not ten feet from us, and starts looking in the car windows.
Now if I were to describe her, I’d say she was shady looking, with a creepy presence (I really should have gone into law enforcement).
Larry walks up behind her and says, “what the hell are you doing? Looking for something to steal?”
I’m desperately digging my phone out of my purse in case I have to call 911.
She moves around him, ignoring his question, and starts walking away.
Larry says, “I’m taking your photo and I’m sending it to the police.”
Doesn’t faze her in the least, she just keeps walking and disappears into the night.
I’m like, “that’s crazy.”
Larry says, “she was casing the parking lot for cars to break into.”
We decide to move our car closer into the hotel parking lot under a floodlight and eat across the street so we can keep an eye on things. I can’t imagine she wants a muddy tandem bike?
After a scrumptious dinner, we fell asleep listening to the sound of the surf crashing against the shore, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast near the wharf early the next morning, and while driving home along the coast we identified several other biking trails we might want to try someday.
I say as we pull into our driveway, “now that was a great adventure.”
He says, “I told you so.”
I smile and say, “My knight in shining armor would never say I told you so.”
“I’m not your knight, I’m the guy who brings you coffee in bed, I’m more like your houseboy.”
“In that case, if you could bring in my boots, and my bag.”
I get the look, the one I’ve come to know, to love, and trust.
I’m Living in the Gap, doing it tandem, join me in the comments!