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Vivian wanted to go to the beach. I didn’t. The problem is I burn easily. I got burned last week when I stood in front of the refrigerator light too long. I started peeling so bad I look like a character in Mission Impossible pulling off his fake face.
“What are we going to do at the beach?” I tried to delay.
“Swim,” she said.
“Don’t know how to stop.”
“Ride bikes,” she persisted cheerily.
I hesitated. She looked at me.
Her look said, “Surely you know how to ride a bike?” I knew she did. She grew up in Yantai, China, riding her bike everyday.
“Bikes it is!” I conceded.
I pulled out my standard beachwear: flowing Arabian robes with head cover. I left a small slit for my eyes which I covered with sunglasses.
We drove down to Hermosa Beach and went to the rental place. We picked out a couple of basic Schwinn six-speeds and set off down the Strand, a cement walk that runs all the way from Malibu down to Huntington Beach. My seat was set too low so my knees stuck out as I pedaled.
My flapping knees prompted bicyclists coming up behind me to yell “On your left!” as they went around.
This is supposed to be good biking etiquette but it just scares the hell out of me. If I was walking down the hall at work and someone came up behind me and yelled “On your left!” in my ear, I would jump out the window into the dumpster.
We pedaled up to Manhattan Beach. This is a nice neighborhood. The average home price is $70,000,000. That doesn’t even include the mailbox. A lot of people move there because the schools are so good.How would you like that pressure on you in kindergarten? “Your room alone cost us $10,000,000, Johnny. You damn well better get an A in napping!”
I looked at one home there. It was $400,000. But the house itself was worse than a shack. I kept waiting for a Unabomber-looking dude to walk out in flip-flops carrying a surfboard.
The bicyclists in Manhattan Beach are very serious. One guy shot around me as he yelled “On your left!”
What he really meant was, “Hey, rental bike boy, get your six speed Schwinn tank out of the way! I’m coming through with my $2700 Mongoose Pro Titanium RX 9.9 Triathlon Racing Bike with Shimano Ultegra Brakes and Derailleurs and Selle Italia Nitrox Gel Saddle. I’ve got on my special skin hugging bike shorts that are so tight my butt is now one big cheek! Outta the way, knave!”
Some couples ride tandem bikes. Somehow they don’t look complete. I figure if you are going to ride a tandem bike the guy should have on a seersucker suit and a straw boater singing, “Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day!”
Another wacky setup you see is a parent pulling their kids in a little bike “trailer.” It attaches to the back on the big bike like a little rickshaw. What little kid would pass that up? “Mummy, please hurry, we’ve GOT to get home in time for cartoons. Oh, please hurry on!”
One word of advice for guys: If you go bike riding with your girlfriend in Manhattan Beach, always ride a tiny bit behind her. That way she can’t see you staring at the girls coming the other way.
At one point the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen came around a corner. I tried to look inconspicuous as I stared at her.
Then I heard “On your left!”
Oh, no! It’s Expensive Bike Guy again! Just as he shot around me his eyes fell upon the gorgeous girl. He lost control and his expensive front tire edged off the sidewalk into the sand and stopped dead. He went flying over his expensive handlebars into a sand dune.
“On your back!” I yelled.