Los Angeles County is so large that it is the nation’s most populous county. The Antelope Valley sits fifty miles north of Downtown Los Angeles, but offers great riding just like any part of Southern California.
Sharon Murdock grew up in Los Angeles and settled out in Palmdale with her husband, Clem, in 1996. While raising her family and starting her own business, Sharon picked up bicycling through her church, and Clem became a bicyclist too by proxy.
Being part of a group allowed them to make new friends and discover other places. Now, they can’t wait for their next adventure. Let’s see how Sharon’s cycling life has evolved.
Where did you grow up here in the southland? Tell us about your childhood/teenage years.
Simi Valley, California, was where I was raised. It was a small town. We could ride all over town playing all day long. I was very active. Track was my thing. In junior high, and high school, I ran the 440 and 440 relay.
What has endeared you most about being raised in Los Angeles?
I'm very fond of downtown Los Angeles. I remember going to Clifton's Cafeteria, having lunch, then walking to the theater to watch a movie (like Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee). They had these enormous drapes that would cascade up. Great times.
How did you get into the art of making soap?
I started soap-making because my skin is very sensitive. Everything I would use would make me very itchy, dry, or give me a rash. I began researching what is in soap. My findings were shocking. A lot of products on the shelf have harsh cleaning agents made for industrial cleaning, not for the skin. I made my first batch of natural soap, but did not put anything in it that is bad for the skin. I started giving the soap to family and friends, next craft shows, internet, and now in several stores.
What are some of the interesting connections you’ve made from this craft?
All Nations is the most interesting connection I have made with my soaps. Their motto is to support nationals efforts to eradicate poverty in Uganda. They teach women a trade, help to build community water wells and last year teaching them the importance of washing your hands before cooking and after using the bathroom. I have them soap to take back for the people to help cut the germs down.
What is it about Palmdale that would surprise most people in Los Angeles?
People would be surprised that a lot of people are riding in Palmdale. We have a lot of mountain bikers because of the beautiful hills and lots of dirt trails and road bikes because of our open roads, long streets and rolling hills with no stop lights or street signs. You can go for miles just enjoying the scenery.
How did you get involved with cycling?
My church has a bike ministry called the Spirit Riders. Pastor Lowell White is over us. He would ask me to come out and ride, and one Saturday, I did. I have been hooked ever since. I started riding longer and more often. The, I started doing organized events of 25, 50 and 70 miles. Last year, I did my century at the LA River Ride. I can't wait to do it again.
Some of Sharon's Forget Me Not Handcrafted Soaps
What is it like to bike in the Antelope Valley?
Biking in Antelope Valley is wonderful. Not a lot of traffic. Beautiful winding roads, rolling hills and water. Yes, there's water in the desert! We ride along the aqueduct. No cars, just miles of paved roads. It does get windy, but that just makes for more endurance training. We also have some bike paths as well.
Tell me about some of the special relationships you’ve formed on a bike.
I have met some very special people, including one lady I met on a ride training for a triathlon. She was out here from New York. She came for the warm weather staying with her sister. I told her I was thinking about doing a century and she said go for it. It is mind over matter. I learned a lot from her about training. She was very encouraging.
Sharon will be wearing her LA River Ride jersey again this year for the Century Ride.
Outside of cycling, what else do you like doing with your free time?
Outside of cycling, I like to sew, going on walks, working out, traveling, decorating, going to movies and dinner. I also love working in my garden.
What do your children think about all your riding?
I have two sons. One rides road bikes, the other one likes mountain bikes. They are amazed that I ride these distances. They think it's pretty cool. I have been riding with my one son on the road and he's much faster than me. Road riding is my preference, not dirt.
What would be your dream ride?
My dream ride would be to travel the California coastline from San Francisco to San Diego, riding along the Pacific Coast Hwy. The scenery is so awesome. Riding along the water with the rolling waves and all of the quaint towns you pass thru and meeting people from all over. WONDERFUL!