Abe Moore Guest Contributor
I was 16 years old.
I borrowed my mom’s car (using the term “borrow” loosely) and went to Magic Mountain with some friends. After meeting some girls there and after talking to them on the phone for a couple of weeks, we wanted to go see them. Since I couldn’t take the car, me and two buddies, Eddie and Todd, decided we were going to ride our bicycles from where we lived in Redondo Beach to where they lived in Yucaipa.
That’s over 90 miles.
We considered ourselves very experienced bike riders as it was our primary mode of transportation. In our minds we saw this as an adventure, something exciting to do, something we could tell stories about long after, not to mention something to impress the girls we were going to see.
So armed with backpacks filled with party supplies we packed up on a Friday morning, we headed out on our ten speed bikes. It was one of the craziest things I have ever done!
It took us about 12 hours to get to Yucaipa, and it was certainly an adventure.
We had more than a couple flat tires and encountered some not so friendly folks on the way as three long-haired stoners rolled through the streets of communities where the local jocks didn’t appreciate us. At one point I remember a truck load of guys running us off the road causing Todd to hit a curb. Although to their surprise when they got out of their truck they were confronted by Todd who was crazy as hell and armed with a 24 crescent wrench.
Well, that delayed our trip as we had to find a replacement bicycle rim for Todd. So we decided it would be safer to jump on the 91 freeway and also we could make up some time. Of course it was illegal. Needless to say we were greeted by the CHP who gladly wrote us tickets and escorted us off the freeway. That didn’t deter us from getting right back on and trying again. Eventually we made it to Yucaipa battered and beat. Somehow we were able to get a motel room even though we were only 16. We got some local to buy us beer. We stayed for two nights and had some fun with the girls we met.
The craziest part of our trip was coming home. We decided after looking at our trusty Thomas Guide that following the 10 freeway would be a better option. So heading out on Sunday morning, once again we found ourselves riding our bicycles on a freeway – the 10. And once again we were escorted and cited by the highway patrol.
Obviously that didn’t stop us from getting right back on and trying again. At one point we were able to bum a ride by someone in a truck for about 20 miles, which was huge. However they let us off was somewhere in the middle of Los Angeles. We had very little idea where we were, although we did have a Thomas Guide to follow. We eventually made our way to some of the streets we were familiar with like Vermont, Normandie, Western & Crenshaw. And to our surprise we three long-haired white kids were appreciated even less rolling through those neighborhoods. What we encountered can only be expressed using the words exhilarating fear, panic and terror. We had guys stepping off the sidewalks attempting to knock us off of our bikes, run us off the roads with their cars and even pointing their hands at us in the shape of guns pretending to shoot.
Man I will tell you this, you never saw anyone riding their bikes that fast. We went a good 25 or 30 miles without stopping for anything, not a single red light or any other obstacle.
Needless to say, we never saw a single police officer that entire time, and it would have been the only part of our trip that we would have wanted to.
So somehow by the grace of God we made it back home to Redondo completely worn out and in shock.
It took me at least a week to recover, but to this day I don’t regret the decision to make that trip. I haven’t seen or talked with Eddie or Todd in almost 40 years, but I am certain they still remember our bike trip together. I will always consider both of them as one of “my boys” and will never forget that adventure.
Man, looking back at my youth and at being 16 years, it seemed to be so easy … even though at the time it seemed so difficult.