What’s the essence of cycling?
What kind of people?
Pablo Maida, West Side legend, all-round nice guy, and champion sporty goatee wearer, celebrated his 50th birthday on Saturday with a party. A rolling party. On Pacific Coast Highway.
Between a hundred and four thousand people showed up to celebrate with him, and we didn’t simply ride down PCH and take the fuggin’ lane.
WE TOOK THE WHOLE FUGGIN’ LANE.
I have never seen a group ride go three abreast (four abreast in places) along the world’s finest bike path, but we did today. The pace was steady but not too quick in order to accommodate the various abilities out on the ride. I got to enjoy the thing about cycling I love best, which is yelling at people to “Slow the fuck down!” and “Call that shit out, fer fuck’s sake!” and “Quit half-wheeling, dogdammit!” and “Get your ass back there!”
What should have been a free-for-all down PCH turned into an orderly, disciplined mob that cruised all the way from Helen’s Cycles in Santa Monica to The Rock and back without shattering into a billion slivers of pain and broken dreams. Head Down James never attacked, if that tells you how orderly it was.
When we got back to Santa Monica, Pablo’s beautiful and awesome wife May May had put together a massive party at the S&M Brew Works, where tired baby seals feasted on mackerel, beer, and the amazing food truck parked in front. Free beer? Free food? Hungry cyclists?
Pablo and I got to spend some time preening and showboating on the front as pro photographer Steve Cohen snapped away throughout the ride. Friend Dan Mitnick also shot a huge number of great on-the-bike pictures, which he’s generously shared and which are posted below. It’s no accident that Pablo is beloved. He’s taken some hard knocks in life and instead of becoming bitter, has used those experiences to become a more compassionate and understanding guy. It shows in the people who surround him.
We talked about the team rider who was killed during a race several years ago, and about how that death completely changed his perspective on riding a bike. Instead of riding to be first, he began riding to appreciate the things around him. Pablo told me about what it was like post-epiphany to climb Latigo, a ride he’d done countless times, and how with new lenses he saw the landscape, the sky, the beauty of the earth … all things that had been invisible when his face had simply been shoved down against his stem.
We talked about how randomly lucky each of us was to simply be there at that place and time. And then, the 80-mile ride ended in a flash, washed down with a delicious burger, fries, and a Coke.
Happy birthday, Pablo. You’ve made each one of us a little bit better. Thanks for taking us along on your ride.
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