Last weekend I decided to take my bike out for one of my rides. The weather had cooled down and I had been back to the gym. I thought to myself, I can do this! I can power through 15+miles and conquer the slops on the boulevard for a bike ride, and just maybe I can slide in the Santa Monica Stairs while I’m at it.
I so needed this! I finally have some free time to get back into shape. Well, not completely free because I do need to do other things while I have time off from work. But, I should try really hard though to squeeze in some time to get back into shape because who knows when I will have this time again.
Earlier in the week I had been to the gym and successfully went everyday. I always begin my workouts at the gym on the treadmill – 30 minutes are required, but 45 minutes are better! I love to run on the treadmill. I have only been walking though because I am worried of getting shin splints, again. I’ve been told that I should ease into running, so possibly in the next coming weeks I will be running. I’ve always been a runner since junior high. And, I was so good that the high school I went to wanted me to be a runner for their school. Running, nowadays, is my form of relieving stress and it helps me with making any decisions on situations I am trying to work out in my life. On top of running being therapy for me, when I run I feel I am actual burning and shedding some fat, which makes me feel proud about what I am doing. So, I thought since I seemed to be able to just glide back into the gym and have the endurance to walk for 30 minutes, that I could do a little over 15 miles on my bike. Was I delusional? This 1st ride back after so many months was going to be a challenge for me, I thought.
My bike rides take me back to my Houston days before I was a teenager. We had moved there when I was 10 and almost immediately my sisters and I all got our 10 speed Schwinn’s. I could ride mine for forever though I don’t remember going much further than our neighboring neighborhoods or my school. I have had a bike since I was a very young child and until I was 16. Bike riding was in my DNA. And somehow, as many adults do, I lost touch with this thing I used to do that brought me so much joy. I went many years without riding. But, a few years back, I bought my son and I bikes. I still have mine. Every time I ride it, I am brought back to being that 12-year-old girl who could ride without holding the handle bars, wind blowing in her face. I have to hold onto the handle bars nowadays, though. I’ve kinda try it out, but haven’t gone all the way. I get scared because it gets shaky. But, maybe because it is the type of bike I have or maybe it is just the fear of being old that holds me back – knowing – I don’t have the balance that the young me used to have.
So, I headed out early on Saturday, about 9:30a.m. I took the hilly path, down the boulevard, so that I can do a better strength enduring workout than the alternative – a flat-level path. The first time I took this path, after the first incline, I had to stop and throw up a little. It’s not a piece of cake, but now I don’t stop or get sick to my stomach, which I am so happy because throwing up a little bit of your morning coffee at the side of the road is no way to start your morning. While riding I listen to music on my Walkman – yes, I have a mp3 Walkman. I have had it for years and my better excuse is that: I am a product or in love with everything from the 80’s. Sorry that’s just me!
After about 5 miles of riding and a block away, the beach was in front of me. I made a right to head over to downtown Santa Monica, which is about another 2 miles away. I wanted to walk through the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. I always like to pick up a plum or a peach at the market. After I take my walk through the market of so many things I would like to take home with me, I get onto the next street and take it all the way to where it ends.
This is where I find 2 sets of steep stairs. I am not quite sure if both of them are The Santa Monica Stairs. The first set is made of cement and has a few turns while going up and down. The second set of stairs, a little walk from 4th Street, are wooden stairs and go straight up and down. The people who you will see here are intense. They are either professional fitness gurus, athletes, or the ones like me that think – I just want to do something extreme to shed an inch or 2. And, yes, I can shed an inch or 2, but I know it takes coming back, which I hope I will do.
View of the ocean from the SM Stairs
Thankfully, both stairs have handrails because anyone who knows me, knows I am scared of heights, so I have to hold on, at least going down. There are times when I have started down the wooden stairs and think to myself – why I am doing this? I get scared. If I think about it for too long, I mess up and trip myself up, so I try to focus – or not to. Is this what vertigo is? Anyhow, I ended up doing 2 sets of the wooden stairs. To me, the cement ones are harder to do, so I will do them when I am better fit to do so.
I got back on my bike and rode down another boulevard, parallel to PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). This ride is probably the most serene part out of the whole ride. Palm trees everywhere. Luxury condos to my left. The Pacific Ocean to my right. And, the endless sight of sand and water is just what a mermaid like me dreams of.
Finally, I reached the Santa Monica – PCH connector road. I was happy to see that it had been finished. It was being redone for the last year or so and was closed. I didn’t go down the bike path to PCH or the ocean, but I decided to stop off right after it to just sit, view and have a moment before I headed back home.
I thought about how I love sitting here and seeing what I was seeing. I was proud of myself that I could arrive at the SM Stairs without feeling like I wanted to die. My body felt good about the ride so far and for doing the stairs. I thought of how great it is going to be when I finally have a professional camera so that I can capture everything I had seen on this trip. In the meantime, the phone will do! And, then after taking some pictures, enjoying the sun, people watching, and eating my plum, I really took a look at my lovely bike that got me here. My cute, blue, Schwinn. Schwinn, of all the bikes, I bought a Schwinn! I giggled at myself. And, it is blue. I giggled some more. My first bike in Ohio, I must have been 5, was blue. Lastly, my bell on my bike. It has Mickey (Mickey Mouse) on it. I used to watch the Mickey Mouse club with my Mickey Mouse ears on when I was a child and just absolutely adored Mickey and Minnie.
I laughed, well, giggled to myself some more. How embarrassed I would be if anyone pointed this out to me. Well, maybe some would think it was cute, like I did. And, I know this about myself already, but in this moment I saw how in touch I am with the different stages of my life. They show up, like on a bike ride or when I take my road trips and blast my music in the car. How funny it is or how ridiculous it was at that moment that this 46 year old was sitting here with all the things I was seeing before my eyes.
For most of us, we don’t lose a sense of who we are at any age we’ve been. We may not realize it, but we are a sum of all our years and some of us have the fortunate sense to reach back to our childhood and grab the parts of what we liked and bring them into the present. We should just have fun with it, carry the things we loved or loved to do and keep doing them because life is too short, and at least for me, I never want to completely grow up. It is an essence of me I like about myself.
Before I hopped back on my bike, I embraced my younger self with a big smile and rode off to finish my 15+miles.
The plan for the future is to continue hitting the gym as often during the week and then cycle 1 day on the weekend – other weekend day is for rest! Wish me luck!