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November 14, 2007

Rolling, Rolling on the Rivers: San Gabriel River Bicycle Trail 4

Continuing my journey (Late comers can saddle up here!) along one of the three great rivers of Southern California I find myself, around mid-afternoon, passing properties with Horses before coming to Iron-wood Golf Course, in Cerritos, where I saw some kids playing in the river.

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Around 30 miles I notice a long forgotten piece of history.

For a short distance the Bike Trail actually ran in the river channel for some reason.

If you ride from the beach this novelty (Guilty pleasure?) can be experienced, (During the "Dry Season"!) just beyond the 10 mile point. ;-D

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A bit later I DID find one mysterious bit of graffiti worth sharing.

I pass Liberty, then Raymond parks, 2 huge stretches of parkland, along Studebaker Rd. in Cerritos and Lakewood, that have walking and horse trails, and are also bike accessable from the river trail.

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A bit later I have my last look at beautiful Horses, at the Lakewood Equestrian Center before heading into the home stretch.

When I stopped and yelled out a hearty "Hi gang!", the group in the back turned in interest to walk toward the fence.

That dark chap in the upper right, however, turned around, looked at me, then looked at the others and that was that.

Was I THAT disreputable looking? ;-D

After 33 miles, just after saying good-bye to the Horses, I come to the only blemish in an otherwise smooth journey.

It was at the Carson Blvd. underpass, except that there is no underpass.

Well, there is, but the pavement is gone, as is the pavement for the next mile of trail.

There is work being done and there are signs advising trail users not to proceed and guiding users on a short detour that totals about a mile.

As I stood there taking this in I see a cyclist walk his bike under the underpass, as well as a lady walking her dog do the same.

They came out the other side and proceeded to the alternate trail.

I could have done the same, I suppose, but wanted to see where the Orange "Bike Detour" signs guided, um responsible, safety conscious, law abiding trail users, hee, hee. ;-D

Spread out, in pairs, every few feet on light posts, these signs guide people in both directions on how to get from one side of the underpass to the other, and back on the trail.

Southbound users are led a short distance east to the crosswalk at nearby Long Beach Towne Center.

I cross the street and am led west, back over the river to a 1 mile stretch of pavement heading south that is normally inaccessable to traffic.

All is well and good until I reach the end, at Wardlow Rd.

There are no more Orange signs!

Looking east I see that the regular trail runs parallel to El Dorado Regional Park, in Long Beach, a massive park accessable from the trail, with trails, 2 golf courses and a nature preserve, that straddles both sides of the river.

I finally figure out that I have to ride on the sidewalk east a short distance, to an exit from the park, walk by bike a few yards to the 2 lane road in the park, then ride back west to the trail at the Wardlow underpass, where I can re-enter the trail south.

Northbound riders are left to fend for themselves in figuring out where to go next as there are no orange signs to guide them.

I spent a few minutes chatting about the trail with a father who had his toddler son in a child seat on the back of his bike, gave him one of my cards, and continued on my merry way.

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Safely back on track I ride for a while with the park on my left then, after passing Spring St., on both sides of the river, before having the park only on the west side of the river for a while, from Willow St. to where the trail meets Coyote Creek.

At 37 miles the San Gabriel River meets Coyote Creek.

Coyote Creek has its own bike trail that heads up river for miles almost into Whittier.

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As I find myself riding on the edges of two counties, with Long Beach/LA County briefly interrupted by a stretch of Seal Beach/Orange County, and the river begins the last leg of its journey to the ocean...

Mother Nature reminds me that Man doesn't always completely take over her space.

The water and the animal kingdom return in full force, concrete be damned! ;-D

The water level picks up as I head into the last 2 1/2 miles.

I pass marinas on the west side of the river and suddenly notice that spectators have begun to gather.

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All dressed in black.

I am left to wonder if they are there to acknowledge my accomplishment and cheer me to the finish...

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Or are they scavengers just waiting for me to drop in my tracks so they can divide the spoils?

Positively Hitchcockian! ;-D

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The trail officially ends at Marina Dr., in Long Beach, with the island community of Naples to the west, and Seal Beach to the east.

It is 530pm and my ride was 40.85 miles, from the start, at the new trail head, to Marina (Add the extra mile from the Azusa Parking Lot to the new trail head, if you ride it.).

And yet...it doesn't quite end there.

As you can see you can cross the street and enter a paved trail the last short distance to the shores of the great Pacific itself, at the famous River's End Cafe (M/Tu. 7am-245pm, W-Sun. 7am-8pm. Check out the pictures on the website!).

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Near the sand, and the entrance to the cafe, is a plaque:

In loving memory of

Helen Sanders

1939 - 2005

Passionate protector and devoted guardian of homeless Cats.

Now comes the time to reward myself for my accomplishment and find some grub before heading home.

If the River's End Cafe is closed you have to head elsewhere.

I exit the huge parking lot onto 1st street, then head immediately east on Ocean Ave., almost a mile, into quaint old towne Seal Beach and its famous Main St. and Pier.

Here folks can catch busses into Long Beach to begin the journey home to LA County, or catch busses into Orange County, even connecting to busses to get to the east end of LA County, or back to the parking lot in Azusa if that is where they left the car. (Details below)

But first take your pick of any number of places to eat, on Main, or on Pacific Coast Highway and dig in! ;-D

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I spent an hour relaxing with the Sunday paper at one of the finest establishments on Main. ;-D

Woody's Diner

I ordered the following: A Woody's Hamburger w/coleslaw, a plate of Biscuits and Gravy, and a Cup of Homemade Chile, all washed down by 3 glasses of lemon flavored water.

My waitress, Nicole, was appropriately impressed by my adventure this day, and was a very good sport for taking my picture.

Money well spent on a very tasty and filling meal. ;-D

For those wondering how to take the bus to get from here to there for this trip, here's the skinny:

The morning trip to the start:

For people in Orange County, using the OCTA to get to Puente Hills Mall in LA County is simple.

Many busses will connect you with either the 29 or 43 and they will take you to La Habra Blvd. and Beach Blvd., connecting you with the Foothill Transit 285.

At the Mall you transfer to Foothill Transit 280, and ride it to the end, at Sierra Madre Ave. and San Gabriel Ave.

Ride your bike North on San Gabriel as it winds its way past the small parking lot and the Ranger Station, until you arrive at the new start of the trail mentioned in the beginning. ( Remember there is a bathroom at Pioneer Park on Sierra Madre, a block east of the bus stop, if needed.)

For people in LA County, from El Monte to Claremont, or even in Montclair in San Bernardino County, there are several Foothill Transit busses you can take to connect with the Northbound 280.

For people west of El Monte some can take MTA busses to El Monte Station to connect with Foothill busses that will connect with the Northbound 280.

Others can take make their way to Union Station, where they can take the Gold Line Train to its end in Pasadena, connect with the Foothill 187 eastbound from Downtown Pasadena, then catch the Northbound Foothill 280, in Azusa. (Various busses also head to Pasadena.)

The after ride return:

In Seal Beach cyclists from LA County, west of El Monte, can catch 1 of 2 Long Beach Transit busses at Electric and Main.

#131 will take you to its end at, Wardlow Station, to connect  with the Blue Line Train.

#171 will drop you off at PCH Station where you can catch the Blue Line.

For cyclists from the OC or the east side of LA County, or who need to get back to their cars in Azusa:

On PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), OC cyclists can catch the OCTA 1 to start or, like the rest of us, start with the OCTA 42/42A.

This bus begins its route on the north side of PCH, a block east of Main, near Balboa.

This bus connects with the 29 and 43, for those going back to LA County, and to many other busses for OC residents.

Of course, if you finish your ride early enough and are feeling perky, you can always return up the river the way you came. ;-D

Thus ends the first of a series of reports I plan, in coming weeks, into the new year, that will explore the various Bike Trails along the rivers.

I hope my stories encourage readers to get on their bikes and take the trips themselves. ;-D

November 14, 2007 in Riding Los Angeles County | Permalink

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