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Michael Bolton is following me. In perfect cadence, he belts “When a Man Loves a Woman,” down the boardwalk. Okay, so maybe he’s inside this 60-year-old’s iPod, rigged to the back of his bike cruiser and amplified through portable projection speakers. Yet, I feel his presence, and so does every other living entity within a seven-block radius. I slow, veer my beach cruiser to the right and let Michael pass.

I did not choose to join the ranks of San Diego beach cruisers. It chose me. Pulling my Achilles tendon finally convinced me to ditch running shoes for rims. An athlete by nature, ADHD by diagnosis, I needed some form of outdoor activity to occupy my afternoon hours.

My search landed me on the steps of a beach-cruiser shop in Pacific Beach. The shop was of course “temporarily out of stock” of the $99 model they had plastered over every plaster-able surface of the storefront. I upgraded to the second-crappiest model on the lot and pedaled out of the store and directly into a pedestrian.

And so began my cruising bruising.

Luck favors me twofold. I am female, and I am wearing a low-cut shirt. I say sorry loud enough and enough times that I manage to mask his yelps of pain. My victim introduces himself as Marty, and we muse over whether his bruise will include the spiny imprints of new-bicycle rubber. He gives me his number, so I can call and check up on the bruise formation later in the week. I throw mine in for good measure. Luck favors me.

Not to be dissuaded, I pedal forward. A Saturday-evening boardwalk, with the sun setting at eye level, is not for the novice bike cruiser. Yet, when challenge calls, I ring my bell.

Well, I would ring my bell, except that I don’t have one. After smoothing out every bill in my wallet and talking the sales boy into a $3 discount, my bank account was depleted by my recent purchase.

While dogs communicate by barking, and cars communicate by honking, bike cruisers communicate by bell-ringing. Two longer dings mean I’m approaching, and I’m slowly going to pass you on the left. Three rapid-succession dings mean I’m barreling down on you, get out of my way as fast as possible, and what the hell are you doing on my boardwalk, anyway?

Not only does quantity and intensity matter in the world of bell-dinging, so too does tone. There are the high-pitched Tinker Bell bells. There are the low, resonating-gong bells. There are the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang bells and fog-whistle bells. Like the dog-walkers and their canines in 101 Dalmatians, every bell resembles its owner. Tinker Bell whistles are your Paris Hilton types. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, tourist. Gong bells, musclemen. Fog-horn bells, well, they’re just ringing for the hell of it because these fat asses are never going to pedal fast enough to pass you anyway. Unless of course, you are one of them.

In place of bell, I’m just being cautious, especially with my recent wounding. I slow for a tot chasing a pigeon. A homeless man smashing a can. A tourist in a three-for-$10 Golden Gate tee making a beeline for a temporary tattoo booth.

I have traveled precisely one block. I have also found a crumpled $5 bill in my pocket. Tired of being cautious, I pull over for a margarita. Something else to add to my equipment wish-list is a bike lock. Saddling my cruiser alongside the patio railing, I jump across. Still holding onto the handlebar, I yell my order toward the window.

The drink appears in the window, and I take a long glance up the boardwalk, then down, profiling every shady character in sight. Slowly, cautiously, I move toward the margarita, my back to the window, my eye on the bike. My back bumps against the counter’s edge. I whirl around, toss the crumpled $5 down, grab the margarita, and sprint back to the bike.

One hand on the sweating cup, the other holding on to my handlebar, I make quick history of the bottom-shelf tequila. I run my tongue around the salty rim. Michael Bolton cruises by on another lap, and I tap my toe, jump back across the railing, and onto my cruiser.

After the margarita, I’m not feeling so cautious. I want wind in my hair. I want people out of my way. With no bell to announce my approach, I improvise. I am not a gong, a fog horn, or a Tinker Bell. I am not a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I am an individual. I try warbling like a pigeon, but it ends up getting caught in my throat and choking me. I settle on a crow’s call. Down the boardwalk, I go, ca-caw ca-caw, clearing my way.

I get almost as much attention as Michael Bolton Man.

This is not a popularity contest, but it should be an Olympic event. I become increasingly convinced of this as I race down the boardwalk. San Diego boardwalks would be the perfect training grounds for an Olympic sport of bicycle obstacle-riding.

I am a contender in training. By the time I reach the pier, I have only grazed two of my obstacles (not counting Marty).

I hop off for a quick rest, watching as my fellow cruisers pass by. I notice with hilarity (minus the margarita, it would be slight amusement) that bike cruisers look incredibly cool. Pop them off the bike though, and it’s an incredibly goofy pose, arms flopped forward and over, tush thrust backward. I spend a good half hour imagining this, laughing to myself, getting a confused look from a homeless man.

Buzz wearing and sun setting, I hop on my bike and point it toward home. Wary of my skills, I opt for the sidewalks instead of the roads. My pedaling has improved, and I easily dodge a dog, a pedestrian, and a bush. However, the crosswalk proves to be too much.

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summerlonger Sept. 16, 2009 @ 1:21 p.m.

Nice article. I also purchased a cheap beach cruiser www.beachcruisers4less.com and pedal around the boardwalk where I live. Happy riding


gofurry Sept. 16, 2009 @ 4:27 p.m.

The heck with that place blogged above. Go to Walmart. $ 86.00 (such a deal! )


SDaniels Sept. 17, 2009 @ 10:03 p.m.

...just one margarita does all that? How many shots did they put in it? :)


SDaniels Sept. 18, 2009 @ 1:15 a.m.

You may be right, AG. --And what's that tiresome engigmatic reply? "Don't worry, go furry?" :) I still think gofurry is SurfPuppy.


Joe Poutous Sept. 18, 2009 @ 6:51 a.m.

Perfect story for a Friday morning Julie. I gotta get down to the beach.

  • Joe

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 18, 2009 @ 9:08 a.m.

I settle on a crow’s call. Down the boardwalk, I go, ca-caw ca-caw, clearing my way.

LOL...that was a well written article! Very funny.


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 18, 2009 @ 9:10 a.m.

I still think gofurry is SurfPuppy.

By SDaniels

If you want to remain part of the SurfPuppy pack you will not, under any circumstances, ever make that slanderous comment again.

Thank you very much.


SDaniels Sept. 18, 2009 @ 3:06 p.m.

SurfPuppy/Johnny Vegas, et al., you are known for having multiple identities, but it could be that in your toothless dotage you have given them all up, but the lovable plush pup you are now. Forgive us our speculations, as it makes for idle fun.


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 18, 2009 @ 4:04 p.m.

SDaniels, I use only ONE identity- Surfpuppy.

I do NOT use multiple identities (I have chagned handle names in the past though).


SDaniels Sept. 18, 2009 @ 4:58 p.m.

Hey, that's "SurfPuppy" with a capital "P." Get it right! :)


SDaniels Sept. 18, 2009 @ 11:18 p.m.

This suggests that you should stick to just one? :)


SDaniels Sept. 19, 2009 @ 3:28 a.m.

"the Pressing Issue: Is John McCain now or has he ever been a Furry?"

Ha ha, Joe! Thanks for making this burning of the midnight oil a bit funner :)


antigeekess Sept. 19, 2009 @ 10:37 p.m.

Tiki posted:


The best link in the history of links. :)

And Daniels, you just type "funner?" I'm pretty sure that's one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

Along with this, of course.


It should start raining frogs any minute.

Now there's a far more entertaining topic than most of the boaring crap that's on this site...

"Signs of the Apocalypse."

Ready? Set? Go!


gofurry Sept. 19, 2009 @ 11:06 p.m.

What the?....SurfPuppy is NOT gofurry.

SurfPuppy is a little BITCH.

Now THIS is all gofurry is concerned about....



SDaniels Sept. 20, 2009 @ 12:21 a.m.

AG: "boaring" for my benefit? And I like the nonword "funner." Bring on the apocalypse, but make it a garden variety--I've got work to do ;)

gofurry, congrats to you for finding focus above the belt!


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 20, 2009 @ 8:56 a.m.

Oh brother..... (SurfPuppy rolls eyes at such childish posts).....


antigeekess Sept. 20, 2009 @ 10:18 a.m.

Daniels sed:

"AG: "boaring" for my benefit?"

:D Ya like that? I thunk it up all by my lonesome. I'm pretty sure it'll be in the next edition of Webster's. I expect there'll be a picture beside it, too.

"And I like the nonword "funner." Bring on the apocalypse, but make it a garden variety--I've got work to do ;)"

Sunday's a good day for it. I'll make sure I get it brung by noon, right about when church lets out.

Nothing like a few frogs splattered all over a fancy Sunday-go-to-meetin' outfit. Adds color in a random, Kandinskyesque sort of way, don't you think?


Oh crap. That was an artsy reference, wasn't it? The (lack of) culture police should be along any minute.


gofurry Sept. 20, 2009 @ 12:58 p.m.

Damn. Stern switched pictures on the website. SP is now #18/91 for today - Sunday. Here's an alternate photo for today at least....



SDaniels Sept. 20, 2009 @ 2 p.m.

gofurry, we worried that all you and SurfP were concerned with is ruddyfaced German gents in lederhosen. Perhaps that is a deeper psychological truth for you, who must needs blurt your sexual preferences at random intervals?

antigeekess, you are a poetess. Between the splatting frogs and the Oktoberfest drunks, I'm dyin' here. :)

So "Stern," by the way, is a pretty popular German mag. Is gofurry German-speaking or just posing tourist?

I'm sure at any rate we've all deserved a citation from the (lack of) culture cops.


SDaniels Sept. 20, 2009 @ 2:04 p.m.

BTW, gofurry, thanks for posting the pic of a worried-looking pooch forced by owners like SurfP onto wet, ocean-bound boards. Could that be a gesture of reconciliation?


SDaniels Sept. 20, 2009 @ 2:16 p.m.

gofurry is #46, for sure.

I am #25. :)


gofurry Sept. 20, 2009 @ 6:10 p.m.

Also,the guy in the green helmet is like gofurry - wondering if the women around him are waxed or fluffy....



gofurry Sept. 20, 2009 @ 6:25 p.m.

The heck with these photo-shifting websites! I'm going back to guesshermuff....


SDaniels Sept. 20, 2009 @ 6:38 p.m.

re: 26: I'd love to go to a real Oktoberfest.

re: 27: I would recommend breast reduction for this particular case. However else will she run that 10k? :)

re: 28: The guy has a helmet clearly because the brunette braided babe is about to give him a massive elbow blow.

re:29: "guesshermuff" is the only other word gofurry knows in German, besides "scheisse" and "tschuss" ('sh*t' and 'later,' minus umlaut :)


SDaniels Sept. 20, 2009 @ 7:21 p.m.

Nice gator, tiki.

Deutsch? Nah, my man does, though.


SDaniels Sept. 21, 2009 @ 1:15 a.m.

Which one did you mean to post AG? The pics on the Stern site change frequently, to gofurry's chagrin, so call it by #.


antigeekess Sept. 21, 2009 @ 6:16 a.m.

Aw, crap. It was right last night.

Pooch hanging ten. It were perfect.



Joe Poutous Sept. 21, 2009 @ 7:42 a.m.

That is crazy. I wonder what pix will be there in a week...

Maybe the jumbled pictures hold the real signs of the Apocalypse. Not that anyone will pay attention.

  • Joe

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 21, 2009 @ 11:36 a.m.

SurfPuppy cannot take much more animal abuse............that is against the law you knwo....


SDaniels Sept. 22, 2009 @ 2:01 a.m.

Quick! Someone call Animal Control! :)


SDaniels Sept. 30, 2009 @ 11:54 a.m.

Redbaron, because you are illegally embedding ads within these threads, I will make sure to NEVER ever buy a bike from either of these sources.

Guess what I purchased the other day at Walmart?! A really cool bike for $86 ! It's pink and green, and I like to ride it everywhere!

See how obnoxious that is? :)


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