Mountain Bike Encounters

Part of what I love about being a director is the random breaks I’ll have in my schedule. Really, I could be working all the time and still not be able to get everything accomplished that I want / need to, but I learned a long time ago that if I can get in a ride or a run, I’ll be ten times more productive afterwards. So I’ll leave my studio in the middle of a weekday and hit the mountains – on the weekends they get a little dense with other riders and hikers. But in the middle of the week they’re pretty much deserted. Two or three hours up in the middle of the Santa Monica Mountains where there’s no sign of the city – it clears ones head.

532I do worry about a few things – accidents, mountain lions, murderers – but rarely does my mind wander to those dark places. Instead, I focus entirely on being in the moment and engaging with the mountain. This is one reason I don’t love riding with groups – people chat and it becomes difficult to keep an exclusive focus on ones surroundings.



Couple weeks back I was about 2 hours into a ride when I stopped for a break at the top of a mountain. I had one headphone in (I was listening to Metallica) and was checking my phone for the weather report. At some point during the song I heard a rattle and thought to myself, “I don’t remember a rattle in this part of the song… huh.”

And then I happened to glance down and saw a giant rattle snake inches away from my foot. It was coiled up and ready to strike.

I was out of there like bottle rocket.



There’s a trail along the Santa Monica Mountains called Backbone – it rides along the crest of the mountain range, dipping up and down either side, for over 30 miles. Parts of it get insanely steep with little room for mistakes. And with the drought mixed with sudden downpours there’s a lot of washout along the ride.

Hitting this trail in the middle of the week is ideal as there aren’t too many people on it. Thus, it becomes a place where I can get some exercise and decompress a bit.  In the midst of climbing a massive uphill – it typically takes about 20 minutes of hard pedaling to reach even ground – I saw two white beacons amongst the dusty backdrop of the mountains.1956

As I got closer I saw they were two hikers sporting hiking packs and matching immaculate white sweatshirts adorned with a big, bold “USA” in red, white, and blue. The couple – in their late 60’s or 70’s – had a look of exaggerated happiness painted across their glistening tan faces.  Seriously, the two were straight out of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”.  As I rode past them they both gave me matching thumbs up and cheered me on.

“Way to go!”

“You’re doing it!”

I smiled and waved.  And wondered if I’d actually seen what I just saw – it seemed so surreal and out of place amongst the wilderness. I kept riding, drinking even more water to ensure I wasn’t getting dehydrated. After I turned around and headed back an hour later I saw them again. They were real – or I was still delusional.

I rode past and they stopped once again to give me the thumbs up.

“Look at you go!”

I smiled and waved again.



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