On an adventure ride this last weekend to San Clemente with my partner Catrina, we ran across what I initially thought was just a homeless man and his dog on a bike. I mean he certainly looked the part: A rough, sun-baked looking fellow, complete with dirty clothes, a beard and bandana, a beater bike loaded down with every conceivable piece of junk, plus a trailer with an old hound dog riding along on top of a blanket and a bag of dog food.
Boy, was I wrong. And, I felt all the better for it.
We first spied this odd-looking pair heading south on Pacific Coast Highway (HWY 1) in Newport Beach. A few more miles down the road in Laguna Beach, we saw them stopped at the side of the road, and we pulled over to see if the man needed any assistance. Turns out “They” were both OK, were extremely friendly, and were just catching a quick breather, as the bike was completely weighed down with stuff. We introduced ourselves, and he told us his name was Bear, and the very well-behaved, friendly dog’s name was Tiger. They had both left San Luis Obispo (SLO) three days earlier, and were on the way to Escondido to visit Bear’s mother, whom was terminally ill. This was the only way he could get to her, so he loaded up the bike, Tiger and all, to make the journey to visit his dying mother. Wow!
You just have to admire the size of this man’s character to do what he was doing, and how he was doing it. Not only was he being loyal to his mother, but to ride that distance on an old Motobecane mountain bike, loaded down with full gear, plus a sixty-pound Pit Bull, camping along the way at various beach campsites, was nothing short of an amazing feat of humanity. It was a classic case of accomplishing what you can with what you have. There was no whining about the lack of a car, money, or a working iPhone, just honest, human grit and determination.
Bear also told us about Tiger, himself. Tiger was a rescue-dog, but not in the sense of a regular shelter dog. Tiger, as was his father, was bred for fighting, and Bear took him from the owner whom was breeding Bulls to fight. Not only has Bear since trained Tiger to be voice-command obedient, he has also trained the aggression out of him, and followed that up with reporting the breeder to the authorities.
In summation, I am reminded of a line by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie Men in Black: “Most people like to think they’ve got a good bead on things.” Well, guess what? A lot of what we make up in our own minds to be true is often not so. I, for one, am certainly glad that I am not so hard-wired as to dismiss others as being less than myself.
It would keep me from meeting people like Bear.