It had been raining off and on for the majority of the day on Wednesday. Kyle sent me a Facebook reminder midday advising that there would be the weekly Wednesday bike ride regardless.
The call time was 9 PM at the flagpoles. I rolled up fashionably late to see Kyle and Shaun waiting for me. That was it, just us three brave warriors mounted proudly atop our pedal powered stallions.
We set out with our eyes fixed on some quality hot chocolate and hopefully a night of easy riding. The first five miles were smooth sailing and our conversations varied from school to music to movies, which is what normal social bike ride conversations looks like.
The roads weren’t too wet, nor was the weather too cold. Just cool enough to make your eyes water and fingers burn at speeds excess of 25 mph, but I survived in my stylish cut-off jean shorts.
As our pedals turned, the hum of our bikes contrasted with the crisp silence of the night. We encountered a group of hooligans up to no good and about three people out walking dogs, but besides that the night seemed to be pretty routine and docile.
We made our way to the coast and pointed our handlebars south. We rode past the Newport bars dodging saucy patrons making their way to the beach to either sober up or snuggle up with the night’s catch.
Then off in the distance we saw her. She sits quietly at the beginning of the parking lot with a perfect view of the pier and its peeling waves. We rolled up with sand crunching beneath our tires and dismounted. Seaside Doughnuts. We made it.
We shuffled inside and made our purchases. I got the classic glazed doughnut and hot chocolate combo. I figured that would not only help warm my core but also quiet my rumbling stomach.
We ate, talked to the local crazy homeless people, and soaked in the ambience of Newport at 10 PM.
With our stomachs smiling we clambered back on our steeds and started the journey back home.
There’s something magical about it. It must be the feeling of freedom. As we rode down the Pacific Coast Highway I turned around to check for traffic, and seeing that there was none I slowly merged into the right most lane, sat up, extended my arms, and felt all other cares melt away. It was just me, in that lane, pumping my legs. There was no one to stop me, no one to honk at me, no one to curse at me and tell me to “get out of the road!”
We turned off of the PCH and found the road that would lead us back to campus. Unlike the PCH, this road didn’t have any streetlights so Shaun and I filed behind Kyle and trusted that he and his headlight weren’t going to lead us astray. The final last miles were quiet and cold. The bitterness of the night was advancing and we were racing the clock to get home at a decent hour. We made it though.
I parted ways with Kyle and Shaun and turned into my apartment complex. I unlocked my front door, and was cheerfully greeted by my roommates and some other friendlies. I changed out of my riding clothes and did my best to thaw my toes before I made for bed.
As I lay there underneath the safety of my covers a feeling of satisfaction rushed over me. I may still be a student tied down by tests, homework, loans, and rent, but for those couple of minutes on the PCH I was free, I was unstoppable.