When you live most of the time on a bicycle you see things you would not see in a car. This is usually a function of necessity by which I mean when you are carless you have to go out and ride places even when you would rather not.
For example last night. I had already ridden to Long Beach and back. The ridden to Long Beach part was fine, but the and back part was not because it occasioned a really nasty 25 mph headwind.
It doesn’t make the headwind any easier when you remind yourself that “This is exactly what it’s like in Belgium, only fifteen degrees colder and raining and on cobbles.”
I had been home for exactly thirty minutes when it was time to go out again, this time to meet up with friends for dinner. They live in headwind so I had to pedal there. How strong was the wind blowing? I had to pedal really, really hard to go down the 15% grade. As I did I got a great view of the ocean. It was roiling.
If I had been in a car, a) I wouldn’t have seen. the ocean because I’d have taken a different route and b) I wouldn’t have realized how crazily the strong the wind was.
But on a bike, sprinting downhill and barely hitting 15 mph on a steep hill, it became obvious that I’d have to detour to the oceanside bike path and get a look at the waves. It was Sunday night, cold, overcast. Did I mention it was windy? There were hardly any cars out, and no people on the bike path except one.
He was doing something weird for a day like this. He was carrying a surfboard.
I don’t know much about surfing but I know that a 25+ mph onshore wind with waves blowing sideways, backwards, and every which way is not good for surfing. This guy waded out and started paddling into an unbroken wall of whitewash.
It mashed him back, he paddled some more, it smashed him back, he paddled some more, it smashed him back, and he paddled some more. It made no sense. There was nowhere to paddle to. Even if he got beyond the whitewash, which even an Olympic swimmer couldn’t have done, there weren’t any waves to ride. What there was, was a submerged stone jetty that he was being pushed towards and would eventually get dragged over like a monster cheese grater.
I stopped and watched him totally killing it with the horizontal distance he was making, trying to figure it out. I have seen a lot of stupid things while out riding, and have been the protagonist in many of them. But I have never seen someone mindlessly paddle into oncoming crashing surf where the only possible outcome is more crashing surf.
That’s when I spied his buddy. Off to the right a super pro #fake photographer was all squatted down with a huge lens capturing this epic moment for the Gram. Or the Bag. Or for his MeTube channel.
“I would have never seen this in a car,” I said to myself.
Score one for the car.