Check the Surf

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Two men sit at the pier, fully clad in lycra and colorful shirts and vented helmets. One, an older gentleman, with gray hair covering his head–the other, a few years younger with only a little grey around his temples, young enough to be the other man’s son, but much too old to be his grandson.

 

“It looks pretty glassy right here,” says the older gentleman, “but they’re getting some pretty good waves near the jetty.”
 

“Yeah, it looks smooth enough to ride a bike.”

 

“The advantage of surfing is that it doesn’t hurt as much when you fall.”

 

He is an accomplished bicycle racer, artist and teacher. “Keep both wheels on the ground” he always says. “Ride on” answers the younger man. He tries to learn from him as much as he can, but limited himself to learning about bikes.

 

Their normal ride is south on Pacific Coast Highway, from Seal Beach to Newport Beach, about ten miles from the start, and then ten miles back.

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During the summer they can do this ride any day because it gets dark so late, but now that daylight savings is over, it’s a race against the sun. They’ve hurried before, even in the summer, when one has another commitment. Yet every ride that they take, whether racing the sun or the clock, they always stop to check the surf.

 

As they sit near the pier in Seal Beach, the smell of salt water pervades, it tastes like a rinse at the dentist’s office, the seagulls scatter and dive into the water, and the ocean reaches as though it is trying to grab the people on surfboards then crashes back down with the melody of Miles Davis on the trumpet; it is a scene that the younger man holds in his memory and it reminds him of his friend. Strangely, the younger man is not reminded of expensive bikes, or how amazing it is that despite being twice his age, the older man is still faster.

 

He is reminded instead that no matter what cards life deals, no matter how gray his hair gets, or how fast he is able to ride his bike, or how quickly he will need to get back home, there is always time to stop and check out the surf.

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