Happiness is Just a Bike Ride Away!


At the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown, I was overcome by a palpable sense of lethargy.

All I wanted to do was sleep in and eat toast.

I stopped running with my partner, because our usual route — the beach bike path in Venice and Santa Monica — is closed, barricaded by mounds of sand.

For me, and I imagine for everyone else, the first month of the lockdown was a time of major mood swings and a bizarre feeling of dislocation.

From the safety of our living rooms, we saw hellish scenarios in nursing homes and hospitals, where patients with COVID-19 struggled for their lives, where front-line health professionals raged and despaired about the lack of protective equipment.

As I watched from my couch, I was horrified, outraged … and sleepy.

And then, sometime around Week 4, I woke up. I got the bikes out of the garage. On two wheels, after all, it’s easy to practice social distancing. My 10-year-old niece and I strapped on our helmets and plunged into the world. We could not waste this glorious spring weather one more second.

Since we couldn’t ride at the beach, we explored Marina del Rey, the pleasure craft harbor that was conjured into existence out of wetlands in the 1950s and ’60s.

At the west end of Burton Chase Park, we discovered a colony of sea lions that has taken over some of the guest docks. We often stand behind the fence, a few yards from the sleek creatures, and just watch.

Seeing these guys frolic and bark like puppies, roll around in their sleep and salute the sun propped up on their flippers with their eyes closed and noses pointed up has been more satisfying than any of the nature documentaries we’ve seen lately.

A little farther south, we came upon the Ballona Creek bike path. The bike path runs for 6.5 miles, all the way from the beach to Culver City. At the moment, it is awash in glorious yellow daisies, mustard flowers and rosy iceplant blossoms.

At this weird moment in history, with an invisible virus making life hell for so many, I daresay that getting outside and communing with nature, where it can be done safely in a socially distanced way, is one of the best ways to regain a sense of well-being and optimism.

I defy you to wander around the wetlands, or get up close to a colony of frisky sea lions, and not be thrilled to be alive.