Weekend Break


Saturday morning dawned with a flawless clear sky, the sun was peaking over the horizon and it felt like time to take the skateboard to the streets. As this was my first proper go, I decided to play safe and go somewhere flat and with a clearly marked cycle path, separate from the road as traffic takes no prisoners here… Best place for this was down towards the beach where the footpath caters for both pedestrians and cyclists, is separated from the coast highway by a metre wide flower bed with hefty kerbstones to deter vehicles from encroaching and is pretty much a straight line between San Clemente and Doheny Beach. I had a few trial runs in the car park to get a feel for how maneuverable and responsive it was and once reassured that I could go, stop, turn etc it was time to go.

The path is very smooth as it is essentially a tarmac extension of the road it runs beside and despite a headwind I quickly got the hang of it and started making good progress, fluidly turning to avoid any stones, sticks or other debris in my way – using the same skills to steer as those for surfing, as that’s really all about angling and turning your body to shift your weight from one side of the deck to the other.

I got a great perspective gliding along the road, one that differs greatly from that in a car as I was able to look around the scenery and houses which I was passing and as this is a stretch with some of the most sought after (and therefore expensive) prime Orange County beachfront properties there are quite some houses to take in. One is built in the shape of 3 Arks (see Noah), with a large one pointing East-West towards the ocean which makes up the ground floor and then has two smaller ones crossways on top forming the 1st floor. A little bit bonkers maybe, but if you’ve clearly got more money than you shake a stick at, why not? Whatever floats your boat – or in this case Ark…

I wouldn’t say I was travelling at tremendous pace, I did pass all the pedestrians – now that would be embarrassing to be overtaken by walkers – as well as a the few runners who were out. Although a showboating pair of Mo Farah wannabes did nip by me at one point, however I pleasingly lapped them a mile further up the road, both bent double, breathing heavily and looking suitably knackered – I gave them a wave and cheery “Alright” as I glided by.

Unsurprisingly, it being the weekend and a glorious day, there were a lot of cyclists about, all of whom were going quicker than me and, my God, some of them were a sour-faced and silent bunch. All of the folk on foot – even the runners – would smile and pass a greeting, but apart from the leisure cyclists, the most I got from the speed merchants would be an infinitesimal nod of their helmeted and sunglass covered heads as they belted towards me and then schloofed by. But most just ignored me as they seemed to with everyone. Why that should be I don’t know, perhaps they feel their greater velocity makes them a cut about the average bike/pedestrian lane user, quicker being superior perhaps and therefore us slower folk not worthy of their attention. Whatever it is, it seems an odd way to behave.

My own personal theory is it’s caused by an over-use of man-made fibre – namely Lycra. What is it with cyclists and Lyrca? I can understand if you’re Geraint Thomas or Laura Trott that wearing something sleek and figure hugging makes you more aerodynamic and in their case, fair play, speed being key to their success and any small advantage over rival they can get, be it training, breathing exercises or wardrobe etc. they need to take. But weekend cyclists??? Come on, who are you kidding? I get that they may be looking to get fit and healthy, very commendable and well done. But is it really worth doing it looking like a badly packaged bratwurst and then inflicting that look on the rest of us? I’m not convinced.

Come on guys, know your limits!

Anyhow, I got to Doheny in once piece, having taken just under an hour to cover the 4.5 miles or so. I had a restorative drink and ice cream while watching the surf action and reading a copy of Viz – yes there are still some very guilty pleasures left in life – before heading back. With the wind behind me, I was a bit quicker and so was back where I’d started in about 45/50 minutes. No spills, no wipeouts and just the one near-miss involving an ice cream, a tennis ball, a small dog and an arrestingly large and tattooed man who, to be fair to him, did accept full responsibility and said that he’d meant to throw the ball for the dog and not his Cornetto. The pained and wistful look he gave the rapidly melting mess was confirmation enough for me and on I went.

Not a real depiction of me…