4/06/2006

Flying Solo

Alissa's back in Norman with Sam, getting our new house ready and settling in. I've been in LA all week, wrapping things up at MTV and seeing a few friends before I head East. Work has been slow, but I've enjoyed the time to relax a bit and recharge for all the work ahead.

Last night my friend Jeff and I took a ride up Sullivan Ridge at sunset. I've been doing these MTB rides with Jeff occasionally over the last several years. He's a huge MTB junkie, and started loaning me a bike as a means to get someone to go along with him. After the first ride, I didn't need much encouragement. The Santa Monicas are even more beautiful from the fire roads and although I can't keep up with Jeff on the single track, I still enjoy the change in scenery. Last night was no exception.

We headed out at dusk, just as the last of the riders, runners and walkers were coming off the hill. The sun was setting and the skies were finally clear, after days of rain. We chatted a bit and then the conversation slowed as we started the climb, warming up slowly. The fire road runs along the backbone of Sullivan Ridge, one of the many southern ridges of the Santa Monicas that dip down into Brentwood and Pacific Palisades, and offer easy access to the dozens of miles of trails above. As we climbed, rabbits and small birds scurried into the bushes on either side of the road, and occasionally a deer would bound into the brush ahead of us. The air was cool and smelled of sage, after the rain. I couldn't help thinking how much I'll miss things like this about LA; the ability to go from the bustle of the big city to the hush of the wilderness in a matter of minutes.

After about 45 minutes of riding, we reached dirt Mullholland, where we could look down into the San Fernando Valley. As we sat watching traffic crawl along down below, Jeff reached into his pack and pulled out a big bottle of Fat Tire Ale, which we shared before turning around and heading down. By then it was dark, so we switched on our head lamps and started the descent. Flying along in the blackness, with only a small circle of light to mark the path ahead was both scary and thrilling, like a fantastic roller coaster ride. Initially I pumped the brakes cautiously at every turn, but gradually I allowed myself to relax and let the bike do the work. Before long, we were screaming down the hill, laughing like a couple of kids. At the bottom I could feel the adrenaline pounding through my veins and a part of me wanted to climb back up the hill and do it again. But it was getting late, and we both had plans for the night.

So we packed up the bikes and headed home, buzzing with the energy of the effort. Jeff promised we'd do it again tomorrow night, one last time before I go. I know I'll miss these little moments here more than almost anything else about LA. Flying along in the cool air above the city lights, focused on the simplicity of turning the pedals, feeling my cares fall away.

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