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JIM DOSS

Jim Doss walks every day. His is not a leisurely stroll. He doesn't walk with a group. He rarely stops to chat. He enjoys the solitude of his trek, one he has made nearly every day, along the same route, for the last fifteen years. He does a ten mile, intense power walk along a broad route around Westlake Lake. He chooses the same route because he knows how long it takes. Two hours, home and back.

"There's the walker, our walker," he's heard people yell. People smile when he passes. They honk their car horns. They wave. Most don't know him by name but they recognize him. He is so consistent in his walking that to most people he's simply the "Westlake Walker."

We live in a community swarming with bikers and walkers. So, picking out a single individual as "the walker" says a lot about Jim Doss' discipline, his physical effort, his consistency.

He's thirty-eight years old and works for a surveying company. He's usually off work early in the afternoon and that's when he most often walks. "I'm religious about it," he says. He walks every day, Christmas, New Years, in the heat, cold, even in light drizzles. In a downpour, he'll reluctantly do his daily walk on a treadmill.

Jim walks for his personal pleasure. He calls it a "positive addiction." He describes himself as a "loner by nature." But although he doesn't walk in the company of people, he enjoys a "silent camaraderie" with other walkers, bikers, and runners.

Besides walking Westlake, Jim Doss has also run eleven marathons and has biked across country by himself several times. His first cross country ride was in 1981 - Westlake to New York City in 35 days.

"I rode a hundred miles a day," he says, describing his journey. That's a good clip but he breaks no records and he stops to sightsee. "I'm an endurance athlete," he explains. "I can go forever."

He planned on biking to New York and back in '81 but on the day he arrived in New York City, after taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry to the Statue of Liberty, he came back to find his bike stolen. Only the chain it had been locked up with was left. So in 1984, he made the trip again. This time "double cross," round trip in 65 days.

Walking and biking, Jim says, you learn to appreciate nature. And in his travels across this country, he says, there are few places as beautiful as this area.

"On some days the lake is like glass. A blue sky and clouds reflected in it. I've seen beautiful rainbows. During the winters the hills are so green, so gorgeous. At night, I'll come down Lakeview Canyon, cross over the freeway, and see the lights of the golf course illuminating the trees. It makes them look absolutely white, like they're covered in snow."

Jim Doss is a little like Forrest Gump. Certainly there are no hordes following him. But there is something comforting and pleasurable about his familiar, reliable, and constant trek. Perhaps he reminds us of the beauty all around us that most of us are riding by too fast to see, and too busy to appreciate.