Ride of the Week: Remembering Ken Freeland and his beloved AVATAR TRIKE

A few weeks back, my wife, Kathie, and I were doing our thing at Ralph’s here in Malibu.

As we came down an aisle, I spotted a very cute service dog. I love dogs, and seeing one at the store is always a treat.

As we approached and started to pet the pooch, the owner revealed herself to be Pauline Freeland, and she lived here in town. I introduced myself and she immediately recognized me from this paper and began to tell me the story of her ex-husband, Ken Freeland.

Ken lived in Sylmar and rode a trike with paintings from James Cameron’s “Avatar” movie. He belonged to a motorcycle club and many of their rides were through Malibu.

“He would ride to some of the special rides out of state with his [black cocker spaniel] Tucker in a dog carrier,” began Pauline. “It seemed he had a pretty special motorcycle prior, but he had to give up two-wheelers according to some of his motorcycle mates due to his age.”

But, as Pauline continued, I could see that the story was going to end sadly. 

“He was on vacation last September with a friend from the club who also rode a trike,” she said. “They had ridden to Canada and were on their way back in Oregon when he wanted to stop and see a lighthouse.”

According to the friend he was riding with, he may have turned too quickly, had the sun in his eyes, or didn’t give the trike enough gas, but he hit an embankment and fell off the bike, which went over a small cliff, Pauline shared.

“He was airlifted to a trauma hospital in Eugene, Oregon … where he passed away 11 days after the accident,” she said. “His best friend Dave and I were with him at that time. Our son and several friends had been there with him the week before.” 

Surprisingly, the bike survived fairly well and the person with him on the ride eventually bought the bike. It next appeared at Ken’s memorial, given by his bike club in Simi Valley recently. He was 80 years old.

“Kenny won many trophies for this trike, which I believe Dave or the club still have,” Pauline said. “It was also mentioned in a motorcycle magazine that Kenny showed me one time which he was very proud of.”

Now, in a case like this, the least important thing is what kind of trike it was. No one cares. What they do care about was that Ken passed away doing what he loved. And I’m pretty sure that is the dream of most people.

Many of us strive to give ourselves permission to enjoy our lives. Society has created two days out of the week and two weeks out of the year for vacation. But, eventually, you wake up and realize that life is meant to be lived. And you begin to shift the focus of getting things done to pay bills and just start living.

Every Sunday, I pepper my calendar for the week with things that I think will make me smile. Sure, there are things I need to do and responsibilities, but, somehow, they seem less burdensome when I get to look forward to some coolness.

Let’s let Ken be the inspiration for this week. Go out and do something today that you truly love — something that puts joy in your heart, a smile on your face and brings you peace. It’s what Ken did, and he had thousands of wonderful experiences. It’s time we did, too.

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