Lying in the tent last night I heard sounds that I haven’t heard in years, the sound of little kids screaming, yelling, and playing in the dark.
Remember what summer nights were like as a kid? Riding your bike with no lights, no helmet, over to meet up with your pals in the vacant lot? Playing truth-or-dare? Hopping fences and sneaking through the yards of especially cranky old neighbors who hated little kids? Smoking cigarettes?
Remember the racket kids used to make?
The Internet and the cell phone and a TV in every room changed all that. Kids became indoor animals; they didn’t go outside at night and they didn’t WANT to.
At Leo Carrillo State Beach, a big chunk of the campers were families from the area. It was a plain occasion for the adults to draw their chairs up to the campfire and alcohol the night away while letting the kids run feral. And run the kids did. I haven’t heard that much joyful screeching and hollering in decades, and even better, it was done on bikes. It wasn’t until pretty late that you could hear the kids, finally having ditched the bikes, stomping around in the trees.
The moon was out. You could hear the waves on the beach across the highway. And the tenor of the kids’ yelling was different. It was the sound of … exploration.
First thing I did when I awoke was worry about my taint. The previous day’s ride had been okay but things were still pretty tender down in the gearbox, and the idea of riding all the way to Houston and back on a sore taint didn’t sound as much fun as it had earlier, so I texted Baby Seal.
We had eggs for breakfast, packed up, and started what we thought was going to be a parade lap back to Torrance but turned out to be fifty rather tiring miles. At one point we hopped in with a small group of badasses who towed us to Temescal Canyon before we peeled off and continued alone to Santa Monica.
In Marina del Rey we got passed by a suspicious looking pair of legs. “Tony!” I yelled. I’d recognize Tony Gonzalez’s legs anywhere.
“Seth?” he said, staring at my raggedy visage. “Is that you?”
“What the hell happened?”
“I fell off my bike and landed in someone else’s life.”
We laughed and talked all the way to Manhattan Beach, where we were overtaken by Todd Bernhardt, just finishing up his Saturday ride. It was great to be back in LA for a little bit and see familiar faces on the road, even if my face wasn’t especially familiar anymore.
In Redondo Beach, just a few minutes from home, we stopped at the Von’s and ate a pint of ice cream, because when you are a bicycle tourist, YOU CAN.
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