After climbing a score of miles with my insane friends from back East climbing the Malibu mts felt like a lark.
A painful lark, but the conception, the projection of one's fear of a task makes the pain of the task so conditional. One day it seems monumental and then another it's just a step at a time you find yourself dancing thru. Funny. Pleasant.
Lots of cars thru PCH and Malibu itself which is a given. The price of doing business and the ever present gravel. What is it with these insanely wealthy towns and their reluctance to sweep or repair their streets? Besides Bev Hills where the streets are like glass. But no one rides.
Anyhow ran into a trio of bikers wearing matching Tour de something fundraiser jerseys followed by a determined old man on a steel bike with old clip on pedals. He was gonna chase them till he collapsed. Folks from Colorado riding in California for the winter. We'd both done the same fundraiser ride, a different one, up and down Vail pass some years back. Typical Westerners, half smiley friendly, half aggressive. Annoyed I was hovering about them asking questions so I left.
And it was 7 miles of climbing up and over Latigo back to the ocean side but mostly what I thought about was all the places Ive never stopped, or never come back to to see and visit. The Peter Strauss ranch and its parklands. The old town bar across the street. The Malibu cafe up where Mulholland hits Kanan. Pepperdine University. They must have an art gallery or a cool library. Never done it. Just blown by them and glanced. Doesn't make much sense now that I look back on the 20 years Ive spent riding in LA.
Makes ya think.
Before I climbed up Latigo switchback and ran into a film crew shooting some sort of car commercial, or maybe the Fast and the Furious 85 (I hope!!) and chatted briefly with the State cops guarding the roadway because I was going so slowly on the ascent we could trade 3 or 4 sentences which weirdly made me happy not ashamed before I got to the top and the First AD laughed and yelled "Do you know how much you just cost me!?" Time is money aint it?
But before doing all this and feeling the sweetness in your gut when people touch base with each other as they do something difficult, when strangers tap each other on the back and nod, just before I started the climb I saw a dead squirrel by the side of the road. He was right on the roadline so sure to be smashed into carbon mush as the day went on. I turned around and picked him up and put him in some bushes off the shoulder as some dude's dogs barked at me from the trailer park below the grade. No bad dogs. Ain't it the truth.
When I touched him he was still warm and supple. The car that hit him I'm sure had just passed me. He wasn't bloody or crushed, no entrails coming out of the mouth, he just got bonked and died from the impact.
So odd to touch a wild animal. To feel the bones of them. The weight. The heat of life still intact. He was bigger than I imagined a squirrel would feel in the hands. His toes and fingers miracles of design. Delicate digits. His nails caught on the ridges of my forefinger. Wonder.
I thought of all the little beings Ive smashed crushed killed and swatted away. Some with great determination and glee (Hear me cockroaches) but as I get older, really since my brother's death I feel the pause, the intake immediately. The passing on of the spirit. The little gust that comes from the erasure of a silly gnat bothering you in your house but really doing no harm. The spider in a bathtub who struggles to climb out of the water sent his way. The fly rattling the windows. I was in a cafe yesterday reading a book sitting in some lovely dark wooden pews when a tiny tiny thing landed on the headboard next to me. I could barely make it out but it was a beautiful winged triangle of a being. Feet sticking out below its mini membranes which looked like sails tucked away for speed. A tiny fighter.
How easy and without consequence to react and erase him, her, it.
But how untrue.
How very untrue.
Not a car, not a bike on the 7 mile descent just a couple odd guys walking their dogs up in the highlands nodding as I went by.